I am Rachael Robertson, I am nineteen years old and last week I voted for the first time.
My background is quite unconventional, living between the very affluent rural Aberdeenshire and the rather more diverse Dunfermline, and I believe I’m all the better for it. I am currently studying at Gray’s School of Art for a BA(Hons) degree in Contemporary Art Practice with Fine Art Photography as my specialism, and with a little film-making on the side.
As an artist, my work comes naturally from what I feel passionately about. My work is, generally speaking, about people or often the absence of people and social documentary photography was what attracted me to the medium. It really started when I was about seventeen with a fascination with Peter Marlow’s images of Glasgow in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. It was the stark nothingness in such a heavily urban environment that was something so alien and captivating compared to my own experiences. Marlow lead to Oscar Marzaroli and Don McCullin, and a real love for photography and the drive to make it my life.
My adoration of these photographers and the enlightening nature of this type of photography, the exposure of inequality and discussion of social injustice, is definitely interwoven into my political beliefs. Although my life with politics is very much in its infancy, I feel that it only makes sense for the people of a country, that know best its strengths and its problems, are given the power to make the necessary changes towards a brighter future. These influences have helped shape my decision to vote Yes in September.
My journey has not been so much one from ‘No’ or ‘Undecided’ to ‘Yes’, but rather a gradual strengthening of an initial gut feeling to a point of certainty through researching the facts.
For me, Scottish independence is an opportunity to break away from the idea of politics being a privately-educated man’s game. We have the chance to start afresh. With the full powers of an independent Parliament, we would need more MSPs, and this is an excellent opportunity for more women to become involved in politics, not to mention the opportunity of implementing reform in a new, written constitution. More women in parliament is essential, not only for a fair and balanced ruling on how the country is run, but also to give young women the opportunity to aspire towards positions of power as it becomes normalised.
Holyrood is already ahead of Westminster on this, with 34.88% of MSPs being female compared to only 23% of MPs, but there is still significant room for improvement.
I also see Yes as an opportunity to foster a more embracing attitude towards immigration; to remove weapons of mass destruction from our waters; and to help individuals break the cycle of poverty and inequality, by protecting things like free tuition and the introduction of more affordable child care.
Yes gives Scotland the opportunity to have a better quality of life, not dissimilar to that enjoyed by the people of Scandinavia.
I often hear people compare an independent Scotland to Norway and most, like myself, believe that if Scotland were to become more like our Nordic neighbours, this would be a good thing. Occasionally, however, you hear people complaining that taxes and prices would be higher, but I cannot help thinking they are missing the bigger picture. I am in no position to comment on what will or will not happen to taxes post-independence (that will be the choice of the Government that we elect in 2016), but I do know that looking at the quality of education and healthcare services that the higher level of taxation brings to countries like Norway, even helping to create a happier and more socially equal society, I would say it was worth it.
I am voting Yes because Scotland has a wealth of talented, intelligent people, vast resources (including, but crucially not only, oil), and unique opportunities for growth (our renewable energy sector offering one example), which could all be used more efficiently, and be made to work for the people, in an independent Scotland.
Photograph by Wallace Mitchell.
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