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Thursday, 18 September 2014

The day is finally here...

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for.

Well, those of us in Scotland at least (and I know a few highly interested English-based observers, too).

It’s referendum day.

Or, as I prefer to call it, democracy day.

It’s a day to decide Scotland’s future.

Of course it won’t all be decided by how we vote. But in voting Yes or No, Scotland will give its politicians a mandate to shape a new future.

Personally, I’m taking a long-term view, and voting in the way I think is in the best interests of Scotland’s future. I want my daughter, in 20 years time, be living in the kind of Scotland I wished I’d been able to live in when I was 22.

That does not mean that the choice is easy - far from it.

Yes, in some respects the only certainty is more uncertainty. We don’t know all the detail of what a Yes vote will mean. We don’t even know what a No vote will deliver.

But the respective campaigns have had two and a half years to get their messages across. Now it’s our turn to make our voices count.

There has been a lot about the independence debate that has been regrettable. It has not always been the dignified and constructive dialogue it could have been. It has sometimes been characterised by negativity, fear, diminishing our opponents, petty tribalism, intolerance of others and disrespectful sniping. It hasn’t always showcased what is good about Scottish politics.

But......why focus on the negative?

Thousands of people have become politically active for the first time.

Scotland has a buzz of expectation about it. 

People are excited, if also apprehensive.

The vast majority of activists on both sides, in spite of what some would like to suggest, have been decent, tolerant, respectful and thoughtful. They have shown they care passionately about our country. Scotland should take great pride in them.

But, most significantly, this is an opportunity.

An enormous opportunity.

An opportunity that I’ve always felt we should have had several years ago.

An opportunity to be part of the most significant date in Scottish history in 307 years.

An opportunity to make our vote count.And, believe me, it will count. This is not a General Election in which the majority of seats are pre-determined by accident of demographics. This is a referendum -and one the polls are telling us is too close to call.

I have never in the last two and a half years ever attempted to persuade anyone to vote one way or another. But I have encouraged people to vote. And I continue to do so.Whatever your views, please vote today. And when we vote, I hope that we all take pride in that vote, knowing that we’re making history. That
we’ve made an important decision for ourselves, for our families, for our communities...for Scotland. Maybe even for the UK, or for Europe (depending on your philosophy!)

We’ve all heard a lot of nonsense in the last couple of years – and not all of it from politicians and campaigners. But we need to focus on the important issue. It’s vital to ensure that the main thing is the main thing. It’s a question not of whether Scotland can be an independent country, but whether it should.

It’s a question of determining the political, social and economic nature of the country we live in.

How should you vote? I'm not going to tell you – I don’t flatter myself that anyone would listen anyway! And, of course, while the question is a simple one, there is no easy answer.

But do something great today.

Cast your ballot. Make a difference. Shape history.

And then, whatever the result, let’s work together to make the best Scotland possible.

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