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Let Glasgow Flourish

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It is entirely fitting that His Holiness Pope Francis, President Obama and the Chinese Premier, amongst others, should choose to speak out against a Yes vote and insist that Scots remain subservient to a Westminster government. In doing so, each have made it resoundingly clear that their concern is not for the people of Scotland as much as they are simply looking out for their own self-interest. Esteemed international figures though they may be, none match the political reverence of perhaps the greatest international statesman of our time, Nelson Mandela. A man granted the freedom of the City of Glasgow back in 1981 during his epic struggle for political equality. "One man, one vote" was his mission and it is worth noting that this is a basic democratic right still denied to Scotland when it is regularly given a government it does not vote for. To that end, the importance of your decision on Referendum Day cannot be overstated. Though free to vote as you please, it is an obligation that your choice is an informed one and based upon sound reasoning. Should it be the wrong outcome, the consequences will be transhistorical.

As the debate intensifies, what is accepted by both sides is that Scotland requires dynamic change if it is to lift itself out of its current malaise. Consider then for a moment what type of change each proposes: On the one hand, the thrust of the argument underpinning the Yes campaign is that only an independent Scotland would grant full decision making power and deliver the economic levers required to make decisions exclusively in Scotland's interest. On the other hand, the message from Better Together is that the best way to deliver change and reverse Scotland's fortunes is to remain in the hands of a Westminster system that leaves Scotland as an afterthought.

The question is moot whether any change could actually take place in the event of a No vote when nothing at all will change. It stands to scrutiny that the very same system, the same parties and the same policies that have led Scotland to the point it finds itself at today, simply cannot be the force of change and that is why the reality of what a No vote will deliver is abundantly clear: business as usual and the very same as has passed before. Broken promise after broken promise in addition to a distinct lack of humility towards the very electorate they are responsible towards.

At the most recent General Election in 2010, both Labour and the Conservatives campaigned hard on a ticket of social equality. "A future fair for all" was the Labour tagline despite their fateful economic record in office. As documented by Robin Mcalpine in his thoroughly enlightening article, the common perception of Labour as a party of the masses is bunk given that nobody quite shafted the working and middle classes as they did. An economy in peril, crippling national debt, record personal debt and the premier institutions of the country, such as the NHS and Welfare State at breaking point. It is this ghastly legacy that should leave voters in no doubt over exactly what a No vote means.

It is as a direct result of Westminster that the UK is now amongst the most unequal societies anywhere in the developed world and nowhere is this inequality depicted more starkly than in the City of Glasgow. For at one end of the River Clyde, towards the west, we have a naval base housing an arsenal of the most destructive weapons ever created by mankind and costing billions. Yet, at the opposite end of the same river, towards the east end of the city, we have some of the most impoverished streets in Western Europe, home to a forgotten generation many of whom now rely on food banks for survival. You see, it is not a question of money, it is simply a matter of priorities.

If you are undecided or find yourself wavering in your decision to vote Yes, pause, step back and take a clear-headed look at what more the Union could possibly offer. One glance at the political, social and economic landscape before you is evidence enough that it is time to take a different course. Yes, there will be challenges, yes there will be differences, yes there will be trepidation but that is why we must follow the words of the great Robert Frost who uttered that "I took the path less trodden, And that is what made all the difference."

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