By Eilidh Macfarlane
Today marks one year until the Scottish independence referendum. Michael Moore and Nick Clegg have made speeches in Glasgow where they have set out their arguments for why Scotland should remain part of the UK. Better Together and Yes Scotland will also be campaigning across the country today and this weekend, drawing attention to the important decision us Scots are going to have to make in 12 months’ time.
The referendum is a political issue that engages people who aren’t normally interested in politics. Even those who are normally apathetic realise the importance next year’s vote will have for all our futures, not just in Scotland but across the whole UK. Many of my friends are signed up members of the Better Together campaign, despite not being active, or even particularly interested, in party politics. The myth that young people are more pro-independence is being proved to be just that – a myth.
When I asked Michael Moore at his webinar about how we can convince young people their future will be better as part of the UK, he spoke about how young Scots today are comfortable with having a mixed identity – they can be proud to be Scottish, proud to be British and even proud to be European! In my experience most young people are passionate unionists as well as proud Scots, although many people from my area would also add Highlander to their cultural identity. Independence simply isn’t necessary for young people to feel Scottish.
Some already hold strong opinions – however others, of all ages, feel there is a lack of information and have still to make up their minds. It is crucial that Better Together convinces these people that a United Kingdom means a stronger Scotland in the next year. We’re currently part of the sixth largest economy in the world and one in five workers in Scotland are employed by an English, Welsh or Northern Irish firm. When we work together we are stronger than any of our individual parts, and this strength and security would be put at risk by independence.
The UK is about more than jobs though – it’s a family, and so many people living in Scotland have connections that reach across the border. 800,000 Scots live and work in England and Wales without needing papers or passports and I’m about to join their number. I start university in England next month, so for the next three years I’m going to be spending almost exactly half my time in England and half in Scotland. I don’t feel like I’m about to move abroad – I have family and friends down South. It’s this personal connection that makes the difference for so many people. In an increasingly globalised world, building barriers and separating families just doesn’t make sense. Liberalism should be about tearing down the barriers the nationalists are trying to build up, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do as we play an active part in the Better Together campaign.
As a Better Together activist I’ve been giving people in my local area more information about why Scotland is stronger as part of the UK. I’ve delivered only a few hundred of the four million leaflets which have been distributed by Better Together supporters, but we need more help to spread the message – it’s so easy to sign up online and get involved.