I grew up in a house where hanging proudly in the hall was a framed tapestry of the Declaration of Arbroath, but I was not raised to be a Yes voter. My mother (a St Andrews graduate) protested against the introduction of the poll tax and marched for the cause of free higher education in the late 1980s, but my upbringing did not condition me into the role of a radical campaigner. My engagement with politics was almost non-existent until the referendum campaign came to my attention in early 2013.
The Scottish history and politics lessons to which I was subjected at school inspired boredom and ennui rather than patriotism. Being a rather reclusive child, I spent many hours at the local library after school, where I read any reference book that happened to catch my eye. It was from this independent (no pun intended) reading that I gleaned knowledge of my country’s past and present. I developed a distinct impression of Scotland being the underdog in the context of British history, but I did not yet associate this with any concept of nationalism. Writer Alan Bissett spoke of the way in which, for many people, their ‘Scottishness’ comes from this sense of being the underdog; although I don’t personally identify with this aspect of national identity, I understand that it does not stem from paranoia or false notions of persecution but from the effects of centuries of stifled self-determination.
For me, as for many Scots, independence is not primarily about policies or parties. I have spent countless hours poring over economic data and complex constitutional arguments, yet it is the simplicity of the proposal that decisions about Scotland’s future should be made in Scotland, by Scottish people, that has drawn me towards a Yes vote. This does not mean that I am voting with my heart over my head. The desire to live in a country based on the most vital principle of democracy is not an emotional response to watching Braveheart. It is natural for a country to yearn deeply for independent statehood, but the facts and figures support the assertion that we will be able to build a better country, and that independence shall not remain a pipe dream. An independent Scotland will not be a socialist paradise.
We will be a nation starting afresh, looking to the future rather than clinging to the dwindling glories of our dubious imperial past, making our own decisions, and our own mistakes.
Molly-Rose Smith is a fourth year studying English.