Audrey Birt: A letter to undecided voters

Dear undecided voter

I began this referendum campaign as a natural no voter. But in the last few months I’ve decided to vote Yes to independence.  Let me explain why.

We have done a great job in Scotland on health and education, making the choices that are right for us in our own country, in our own communities.. But think how much more we could do with those choices in all aspects of our life. I’m ashamed to live in what could be a wealthy country and see our most vulnerable pay for the mistakes of the most powerful. To see food banks be an absolute necessity for far too many. To see ill health result in poverty for those who have run out of options. I want to live in a country that reaches out to others, not in one that turns its back.Those aren’t the values I grew up with and they won’t be yours either, I’m sure.

We have had our spirit damaged as a nation by the loss of our industrial base and our subsequent slide into being a country of poor health and self confidence. All my working life as a nurse, then in charities I have supported people to believe in themselves, to find their own strength to make the changes they need to for their health and wellbeing. To recognise too that they have choices, that they are able to take them and that decisions will be life changing at any stage in life.

Like many of you, I have much of my family in England. This decision is not about leaving them behind, it’s about being on an equal footing as confident friends and partners. I have a daughter in Ireland, a step daughter and granddaughters in England and a son in Scotland and I’m proud of that interconnection. Independence will not harm that in any way.

Someone asked me the other week, what the game changer will be in this last few weeks to make this crucial decision. It’s about the confidence to know we can do it in my opinion. I know we can. We can build a better, more confident country where we all can thrive, not just the lucky few. Where we can be proud of our achievements, our nation’s health, our creative talents, our entrepreneurial spirit all of which we have excelled in, in the past. I know we can do it, I feel we will and it starts with that tick in the YES box. I will be proud to vote yes, I hope you will too.

Yours faithfully

Audrey Birt

 

Audrey is a former nurse and was until last year, Director of Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity in Scotland

 

5 thoughts on “Audrey Birt: A letter to undecided voters

  1. Dear Audrey
    Your concern for the poorer in our society does you credit. As someone who has been genuinely poor in my lifetime (from family of ten, father a labourer) I entirely understand and endorse your concern for our fellow citizens. I agree with you that Devolution has done a great job in Scotland on the NHS and education, making the choices that are right for us in our own country, in our own communities. As you say, Scotland within the UK is a wealthy country and it is depressing to see the most vulnerable pay for the mistakes of the most powerful. If independence would change that, believe me, I would vote for it. But the delivery of the services necessary to address these ills needs more than care, concern or good will, it takes money, taxes and resources to be delivered from and by central and local government. The sad fact for the Yes campaign is that independence would create a less wealthy country in the short-medium term (and maybe longer term). Services to the people you care about would be worse, not better.
    The reality, confirmed by the Scottish Government’s own figures, is that an independent Scotland would have an average £6bn (£12bn this year!) deficit in its current account compared to the present spend. To be honest, I find even the concept of £bns difficult to grasp. It’s just too enormous to encompass. To be £6bn down immediately is totally unthinkable if you are concerned about the delivery of public services by central and local government. It would decimate them. I too would like to abolish food banks be and see resultant ill health defeated. But losing billions of pounds in revenue is not the way to achieve that. I too want to live in a country that reaches out to others, not in one that turns its back on the poor, which is why I don’t see the point in turning our backs on the poor in Newcastle and Leeds and London. My concern for the poor doesn’t begin and end Gretna or Berwick, those aren’t the values I grew up with and they won’t be yours either, I’m sure.
    I note your use of “confidence” in your arguments. Many parts of the UK have had to suffer the loss of their industrial base but, TBH, they do not let that affect their self confidence. I appreciate that you I have supported people to believe in themselves, to find their own strength to make the changes they need to for their health and wellbeing and to recognise that they too have choices. But to believe that people suffer from these problems because of the constitutional set up is not a clear connection that can logically be made.
    I too have family in England and Ireland and this decision IS about leaving them behind. Last month I attended my niece’s wedding in Cumbria. My (Scottish) brother, his (Scottish) wife and my (Scottish) nieces are gutted that we might be living in foreign countries and gutted that they have no say in the decision. To say blithely that independence will not harm that in any way may be your opinion, it is not theirs.
    I’m not sure why you think it’s so much about confidence. I lack no confidence in myself, my family, Scotland or the Scottish people. Of course we can build a better, more confident country where we all can thrive. That’s always the aim. But voting Yes to have less money (and incidentally no currency in which to express that currency) and fewer resources with which to do it is precisely the wrong strategy to achieve that aim. It is wrong headed and likely to be massively unsuccessful and to cause more harm to the poor and under privileged in Scotland and the rest of the UK. I know that these matters are the centre of your concerns.
    If you really want to improve, and not to damage, the cause of the under privileged in Scotland and the rest of our country, then No is the logical vote.

    Yours faithfully

    • ———————————- Largslab – if your decision is seriously, simply based on the fact that you believe Scotland will be the poorer for Independence then I would have to say your assessment of Scotland’s future economy is sadly lacking. Surely you have been on websites such as Business for Scotland, Newsnetsscotland etc on which numerous business leaders (without a vested interested) have clearly stated their assessments that Scotland will thrive. Even the FT states that Scotland’s economy is in better health than the rest of the UK. To miss this opportunity to build a more just society in Scotland based on a misreading of the economics is quite tragic….unless of course you have other reasons.

  2. Audrey, in a previous post you asked for help. Well, I do not wish to be disrespectful but I would like to donate to possibly hire a van or car to assist people getting to/from the polling booths. I live in Liverpool, (spent a bit of my youth in Leith/Granton) and cannot physically be in Edinburgh. But I can see from the ‘witterings’ on here that you are doing a great job for YES. You can hire 6, 7 and 9 seater vans from Arnold Clark Seafield by the day – just let me know.

    • Hi Stevie – Audrey is a guest blogger today, it was me who posted the call for help. Your offer is really kind. I have asked fellow Yessers if anyone could use a car or bus hire on polling day. I will email you and put you in touch with any who reply.

  3. Pingback: Audrey Birt: A letter to undecided voters | Re...

Comments are closed.