Should I stay or should I go now? Scotland decides…

Stewart M, Unsplash

by Lauren Hunter (she/her)

It’s not often that we as ordinary people get the chance to change the course of
history. You may think that is the responsibility of activists, politicians, celebrities or
philanthropists. That something seismic, life-altering, world-changing is beyond
everyday human grasp. But on 19th October next year, we, the people of Scotland,
may have the chance to do just that.

Independence will be hot on the lips of every Scot in the coming year, but in other
senses it has become a normal conversational topic in our society, especially in the
last decade. However, I feel the weight of responsibility has come to bear on us as
young people particularly, making the opportunity to choose our future path even
more critical. Personally, I think voting yes will be the best decision for the country for
reasons both within and beyond our political spectrum.

Critics will say that Scotland made its mind up in 2014; the ensuing political disasters
of the UK Government in the following years prove otherwise in my view. The
glaringly obvious point in all of this is Brexit – a decision Scotland didn’t vote for but
has been dragged into the cesspit of all the same. 62% of Scots voted remain, but
where is the recognition of that in Westminster? At what point will Scotland be valued
as anything more than England’s backyard? The all too depressing answer is never
– and therefore the exact reason that the independence movement is gaining further
momentum. For me, the light at the end of the tunnel of the shambolic Truss
government does not so much lie in resignations or a general election, but the
persistent hope that Scotland will one day thrive in its own entity. Being able to re-
join the EU would not only improve our international relations tenfold but establish
Scotland as a friendly, strong and stable stakeholder on the world stage. And with
the ’Leave a Light on for Scotland’ campaign, it seems that the EU agrees…

“Ok, yeah, we obviously don’t like the Tories but Scotland’s too small to survive on its
own. We need Westminster’s money
“- a quote probably heard many times by
independence supporters up and down the country. Unionists tend to act as though
England boasts those magical money growing trees that Scotland couldn’t possibly
function without, but I think even a small child could look at the current cost of living
crisis and tell you the UK Government’s actions aren’t even coming close to papering
cracks. That’s perhaps the most frustrating thing in our present situation – in my
experience, Scotland uses its devolved powers to benefit the largest proportion of
citizens possible, but when reserved issues such as those critical to the cost of living
crisis come into play, Tory elitism rules and our government are stuck in a position of
only being able to offer limited assistance through no fault of its own.

Yes, Scotland may be a small country, but there are many others of a similar or
lesser size that function extremely effectively to give their citizens the best
opportunities possible, and I truly believe we could follow the same suit. Look at
Norway, for example – with a population of roughly 5.3 million (just below Scotland’s
5.4 million), its governance is classed as one of the strongest in the world, with pioneering prison and education systems, to name a few. Being able to spend its
money in the most purposeful ways within such a concentrated population results in
a general principle of nurture, restoration, and equal opportunity, some policies of
which we also adopt. Norway has no school or higher education tuition fees (sound
familiar?) as well as a strong preventative and rehabilitative focus to its prison
system, aspects of which are being reviewed and gradually implemented in
Scotland. So, despite its small size, Scotland would absolutely be able to cope – in
our case as young people, we already have free bus travel, free dental care and the
most equal access to education compared to anywhere else in the UK – just imagine
what could come next!

Ultimately, and perhaps my most important point here, is that I think independence is
more of a general societal issue than a political one. Love the SNP or loathe them,
it’s clear to see that elitest Tory cronyism doesn’t care about Scotland’s needs, not
least its value as a current part of the UK. Like many places, there’s no denying that
Scottish politics is complex; it would probably do us all a favour to actually open up
about the deep-rooted reasons that underpin this rather than trying to skirt around
them all the time. But I do honestly believe that people’s stances on independence
need to go beyond whichever party they support – this is about allowing ourselves to
exercise control over our own lives, to create a fairer and more equal society than
the one we are bound in just now. With a recent poll finding that almost half of all
Scottish Labour voters now support independence, this proves exactly my point. The
tides are beginning to turn as people are waking up to the reality that Scotland is
being denied a life it deserves. Now the day of reckoning will soon come. It’s time for

Being stuck in the past never does anyone any good. If you’ve ever heard or given
any relationship advice in your time, I’m sure the words ‘break up and move on’ will
have come into it at some point. In my opinion, Scotland is long overdue its glow up
once it’s become the UK’s ex – and it’s up to us. So, yes, changing the course of
history is unusual, but maybe, just maybe, we’ll make a difference.