Let’s ask ourselves what kind of nation we are.
The United Kingdom is a failed state. It does not represent the majority of its people’s interests in the slightest and therefore loses its right to represent those people; we need change, and radical change at that. Considering the measures of imposed austerity, class division, decreasing social mobility and rampant euroscepticism, there is not much to hold the fractured semblance of union together apart from sentiment and vague abstractions of a people bound together by shared love. This notion is a lie. The United Kingdom has always existed on on harsh pragmatic cynicism for mutual imperialistic and economic benefit since its inception in 1707 and it is clear the constituent nations are now on very different paths. Whenever the benefits of what it means to be British are examined, that is, sound bites featuring key words such as “democracy” and “tolerance” we see that these very foundations of a sense of “Britishness” are deteriorating ever more rapidly and are, indeed, why Scotland should be independent.
If we want to enshrine these values we must become independent so we have the sovereignty to choose the nation we wish to become. Leaving aside the economic arguments for which there is sound evidence that Scotland would be in a healthier fiscal position immediately after independence excluding oil revenues, independence is a decision based on how you envision your nation going forward. I see the independence campaigns as illustrating competing versions of nationalism rather than Scottish nationalism versus cold, secular logic; for the No voter it is not enough to demonise yes voters as “nationalists” then wrap yourself in the Union flag to win the argument. Furthermore, there has been no “positive” argument for the Union as to do so would be to expose the true machinations of a state that is an economic and social disaster. In what other situation would clinging on to a national debt of £1.422 trillion while the rich get richer and the poor bear the brunt of cuts be seen as more rational than taking charge of your own affairs? Moreover, what I see in Scottish nationalism is a vibrant civic movement, one that is driven by a fierce egalitarian spirit that sees independence as a step on the path to success, not the end goal in itself. On the other hand, you have the moribund, doom-laden prophesizing of the Nay-sayers who have nothing to offer except scathing indictments on the talent of the people of Scotland and insisting that this is as good as it gets.
Only one vision is rational and optimistic. What the question boils down to is a choice between two opposite futures and, furthermore, it is foolish to believe a No vote is a vote for the status quo. The contrast is as such: Hope vs Fear. I whole-heartedly throw in my lot with the optimistic, creative and genuinely talented people that make up the Yes campaign. We can do better than the status quo and should not be ashamed to strive for our own goals while ignoring the divisions of identity. Anyone who wants something better for Scotland is on the same side and the best way to do this is to take control of our future. A No vote is a vote to endorse the Westminster establishment. A vote to endorse a hereditary and class driven hegemony and society in lieu of a healthy democracy. A vote to endorse a terrorist state whose focus is primarily and functionally to transfer wealth from the poor to rich, to divide people and to punish them. If we vote Yes we shatter this, destroying a state to create a new one while giving the citizens of the rest of the UK a gift. We give them hope for change.
Iain Macdonald is studying English literature in his second year at St Andrews.