Well, I never thought I’d be posting a James Blunt choon on this here blog.
And certainly not on this day, of all days.
So I’d better explain myself.
For the whole of the summer, this has been the Boy Wonder’s bedtime track. Take Now…86, discard the 2nd CD and fast forward 20 tracks and we’re ready to snuggle and sing along.
And the more we sang it, the more it resonated. “And I’ve been looking at the stars for a long, long time… Everybody wants a flame… And today is our turn.”
Scotland’s long referendum campaign is nearly over. Except for the all important part, of course.
At the turn of the year, there was barely a whiff of smoke. A smouldering perhaps in the Spring, followed by a few feeble flames early in the summer. But that slow burn was worth the wait, when it all burst into flame in August.
“Days like these lead to… Nights like this lead to Love like ours. You light the spark in my bonfire heart. People like us—we don’t Need that much, just someone that starts, Starts the spark in our bonfire hearts.“
It’s time Scotland. Time to start the spark in our bonfire hearts.
Dear undecided voter
As a liberal, I have always believed in the sovereignty of the people – and that power should be kept as close to the individual as possible. That’s why I spent thirty years campaigning for a Scottish Parliament. It wasn’t nationalism that motivated me. It was the desire to bring the power of decision making closer to home.
I think the Scottish Parliament we established has been a great success and a huge improvement on a democracy that was becoming far too centralised at Westminster and Whitehall. I hoped that it would provoke many more reforms of the United Kingdom’s constitution. I hoped that it might lead to a fair voting system, an elected House of Lords and – above all – that we might move towards federalism, with equal powers for each part of the “family of nations” that we have in these islands. I wanted to see what David Cameron has called “a partnership of equals”.
I have concluded, with sadness, that I was hoping for too much. There is no sign of further significant reform coming from the South. The “more powers for Scotland” promises are, quite simply, not the answer. They will leave the UK even more unbalanced – and will leave the people across these islands with even more cause for frustration and discontent.
I have, accordingly, thought deeply about how best to pursue decentralisation and federalism in this situation. I have concluded that the best way forward is to vote Yes on September 18th in the referendum.
This will mean that we become “independent” – although we are already autonomous and the border already has a meaning. It is just that that meaning will alter marginally. But it will mean, also, that we can play a part as an equal partner in the emerging federation that is the European Union. It will also mean that we can build new, fairer and more stable relationships with the other nations in our immediate British family.
As a liberal, I am suspicious and wary whenever I see concentrations of power growing. It means that power is being drawn away from ordinary people, and the further away it gets, the less open to control and scrutiny it becomes. This is the foundation of my political views, but it needs to be constantly adapted to the circumstances we find ourselves in. We need to ensure that the EU is kept firmly under control and democratised. We need a wholesale reform of our local government here in Scotland too. In particular, in my opinion, we desperately need to curtail the overwhelming power being accumulated by global businesses.
I didn’t ask for a referendum, but now we have it, this vote presents us all with the opportunity to apply our ideas and principles.
I shall be doing so by voting Yes. I hope you will too.
Andy is a former Chief Executive of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and now works for a network of environmental charities.
Dear undecided voter
I’ve a long history of being engaged in politics and was a candidate for Labour in the Scottish Parliament elections of 1999, 2003 and 2007. But last year, I resigned my membership from the party after 30 years. Let me explain why.
I have spent my entire adult life fighting against Tory policies as a social worker, trade union official and an equality lawyer. I was uncomfortable, therefore, to see Scottish Labour working alongside the Tories in Better Together in such a negative campaign.
For me, one of the most important things in a free society is equal pay for men and women. Sadly, Westminster currently controls this crucial area of policy and has failed to deliver even after 40 years of the Equal Pay Act. It became impossible for me to ignore the role of elected Labour politicians, locally and nationally, who failed to speak out or stand up for the interests of ordinary working women. I could not in good conscience remain in a political party which demonstrated such disrespect to many thousands of low paid women.
I want to see some real imagination for the future of Scotland. I believe that imagination can only be found in the positive, exciting vision being offered by the Yes campaign.
With a Yes vote, we will have the power to change things and to make life better for hundreds of thousands of people.
I want to vote Yes to build a better Scotland. A country where equality can become a reality – not only for the women I represent as a lawyer, but for my family and my daughter. My parents are now in their late 70s and they too will be voting Yes. After a lifetime of hard work they want to provide a better future for their children and grandchildren.
I truly believe that we can build a more progressive, democratic and fairer Scotland with greater opportunities for future generations – a country where equality is a founding principle.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We all need to take our courage in our hands to help to build a country where women do not die waiting for equal pay to become a reality. I’m voting Yes on 18 September to achieve this and I hope you will too.
Carol is a former Labour party member, parliamentary candidate and is an equality lawyer.