THE BLOG

Put Your Flags Down - Voting Yes Is About Something Bigger and More Important

16/09/2014 11:09 BST | Updated 15/11/2014 10:59 GMT

When I was a child and counting down to something exciting, my mum would always tell me to count down in 'sleeps'; this was mostly reserved for Christmas, birthdays or the odd trip to the seaside. I was told that using this measurement should only be used for big things: as a 22 year old adult that's exactly why I am counting down in sleeps until Thursday 18th September 2014.

Over these past few months, I have witnessed Scotland become a hive of political debate that's seen pubs, community centres and the dinner table playing host to the discussions on the kind of society Scots want to build for themselves. This independence referendum has brought in a much needed new lease of life to how we do politics and most importantly reach out to voters. Last week it was announced that 97% of eligible Scots are registered to vote this Thursday - that is an incredible feat and showcases the excitement there is for this seminal moment in our history.

This vote is much bigger the any of the political parties and contrary to much of the UK press, it's bigger than Alex Salmond - this vote is about people. That is why I will be supporting Yes on Thursday, because if we can achieve excitement and hope at just the mere prospect of independence, imagine what we could achieve if we have full independence?

Better Together have cited many within the Yes movement as nationalists being obsessed with a flag. For me it's precisely because I am not a nationalist that I support independence. Unlike the UK Government, I do not need to wrap myself in the Saltire to demonstrate some Caledonian love affair. Nor do I need to go begging to a nation to 'pretty please, stay'. The notion of breaking the mould and ending quaint traditions is counter to the very essence of nationalism.

Issues such as the lettering of passports or the design of a piece of fabric do not even register on my radar, or the majority of Yes supporters, because we are striving for something bigger, something better.

But "global influence" we are told - tell that to the parents who rely on a food bank to feed their children. A "strong social union" others cry - tell that to every fifth young person in Scotland who lives in poverty. Or even that we're part of a "proud, welcoming nation" - tell that to the migrant who's moved here for a better life, yet faces threats to "go home".

This isn't about Scots showing the middle finger to the rest of the UK, or giving the "effing Tories a kick" or some wild fanciful idea about no longer wanting to have friendly relations with our neighbours - it's about giving people the people the tools to build the society they want to create. These chances don't come around very often.

One argument I will agree with Better Together is that things will not just happen instantly and the idea of Scotland becoming an instant champion of perpetual democratic socialism is not sealed with a Yes vote. It's likely that we would make mistakes and things make take a little while to slot into place, but unlike the structures we currently have, we would be solely responsible for making those decisions and fixing them.

This is a leap into the dark, but isn't that what happens every time we cast our vote in a UK election that gives us governments we never voted for? Unlike independence, Westminster policies can be overturned but look at our former industrial communities - they may no longer be subject to Thatcher's cuts, but the damage continues to scar generations.

The idea that parachuting Ed Miliband into Number 10 next May will solve all our problems and reverse the growing inequalities, is nothing more than short-term thinking. I don't want to have sit with my fingers crossed that Labour will manage to counter the modern day siren that is Nigel Farage in order for us to avoid another Tory government, potentially propped up by UKIP and then do it all over again in five years time.

So, if this referendum campaign has done nothing else, it has inspired millions of Scots to imagine a better Scotland and look past short-term politicking. However we get the chance to turn this vision into reality and let hope overcome fear - there may not be many sleeps left but there's still time to seize it.