Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Don't leave us Scotland: The Scottish Referendum

I find it incredible to think that by the end of this week, the country that I've lived in for my entire life. A country that's existed for just over 300 years will no longer exist! How did it come to this?

For the past 2 years we've known that Scotland would have a referendum vote but I think like a lot of people in the UK I never seriously thought the yes campaign could actually win.

That all changed last week when the Sunday Times published a poll showing the yes campaign had taken a lead in the polls. I published the tweet below which summed up my feelings:

This country is on the verge of breaking up forever and yet it feels as if our political leaders and the public have been sleep walking towards the breakup of the Union.

It's only now in the last week that we've woken up to the magnitude of what tomorrow's vote will mean for Scotland and the rest of the UK.

I've never had to consider this before but in the last week I've discovered I'm actually a unionist. I don't want Scotland to the leave the UK. I genuinely believe England and Scotland are and will be better together.

Being a history graduate I realise the the union between England and Scotland has proved incredibly successful. Since the union was formed in 1707, Great Britain has become one of the most successful countries in the world, both politically, economically and culturally.

I still believe England and Scotland can continue to form a successful political union in the future.

What I've found really interesting is how the the referendum campaign has engaged and energised people's interest in politics. The number of people eligible to vote in Scotland are at records numbers.

It's because people have something genuine to vote for - their vote really matters. Scottish voters have real political power. They know that whatever they decide, it will make a difference to the future of Scotland and the rest of the UK. I envy them.

Even if Scotland votes no to independence they're still going to get more devolved powers (devo-max) which means they'll have greater autonomy.

I'm one of those people that thinks if Scotland can have greater powers to raise and spend its own taxes, why can't parts of England have the same.

The UK is far too centralised with London dominating the agenda. I want to see devolution in the rest of England. I want to see my home town of Birmingham with greater powers along with our other major cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds.

I think one of the reasons the yes campaign has proved so popular is because people in Scotland want something different from the Westminster political establishment. Their views and concerns aren't being heard or recognised.

For the last few decades support for the Conservative Party has collapsed in Scotland. Labour the dominant political force in the country have somehow managed to lose their influence and support to the Scottish Nationalists.

Clearly many Scottish voters now want something different - they're not alone. Many people in England and Wales feel the same.

If Scotland votes for independence on Thursday it will represent a complete and utter failure by this country's political class. A failure to understand the hopes and aspirations of a significant percentage of the UK's population.

I still think the no vote will win but it will be close. I hope they win, I don't want the UK to break up, we're not perfect but we're better together.