It is when sitting with friends from al-Azza refugee camp in the occupied West Bank that the gravity of our decision sometimes hits me. Here I am, talking Scottish politics, with individuals who would do anything to have the same opportunity we have on September 18th. A chance for self-determination, and a chance to choose the path we want our country to go down. But I have never felt any Palestinian begrudging me having this chance. Rather the only emotion is often one of bemusement when I explain that there are still many people who wish to vote No, and who want to choose being ruled over by a government hundreds of miles away and whose blinkers limit looking north.
I echo that bemusement now, but I didn’t always.
A Yes vote did not come easy to me. Although when it became clear that the choice was between the civic nationalism of Scotland, and the ever increasing ethnic nationalism of the UK, it was a choice that was made a lot easier. While dangerous words spout from mouths at an ever increasing pace down south with talk of going back to a ‘traditional Britain with traditional British values’ (read: a whiter Britain), and support for UKIP rising ensuring that both the Tories and Labour are scrambling over each other to appease the right wing anti-immigration and frankly racist vote, Scotland has become a haven from this hugathon of xenophobic rhetoric. While parts of England welcome UKIP leader Nigel Farage to town halls; he is chased out of Scotland. We cannot pretend that the same ideologies are flourishing both sides of the border.
I often tell people who are undecided to look at who supports the Yes and No campaigns. Not just the big political parties like the SNP, Labour, and the Tories, but rather to look at some of the smaller parties and civic organisations. It often becomes an eye opener. On the Yes side we have the Green Party, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Scottish Socialist Party. On the No side, the likes of the Orange Order, Scottish Defence League, British National Party.
Of course, the vote should not come down to whether you like a political party or not, although the affiliations of certain parties and organisations to each side does show a clear pattern of left-wing and socialism versus right-wing and racism. It is up to every individual whether they chose to acknowledge this or ignore it.
So what is the better reality? Waking up on the 19th September knowing things will carry on as usual. Policies not supported by the Scottish people still being implemented on the Scottish people. Theresa May unveiling a new ‘go back home’ campaign, in a mission to appease the racist vote and roll the UK back 100 years. More cuts being unveiled as MP’s take wage rises. Trident nuclear missiles bobbing up and down on the Clyde being readied to be renewed, while people live in poverty only miles away in Glasgow.
Or waking up on the 19th September knowing that you have helped to start the beginning of a new reality. You have voted for change because you see the damage the status quo has done. You have voted for left-wing politics to triumph over right-wing fear mongering. You have voted for a nuclear weapon free Scotland. You have voted for the chance to make something better, not just for yourself, but for the poorest and most vulnerable in society. You have voted with your head, knowing the easiest decision is always to stick with the status quo.
Westminster does not care for Scotland. Too many in government see us as a toy country, a stereotype of battered mars bar eating, Buckfast drinking, silly accent sounding Scots. The reality however is of a politically passionate collective which has a social and moral conscience at its core, and an open mind to anyone who wishes to call Scotland their home. We already have the foundations of an internationalist country and outward looking global state in place. These foundations have been built by these very values. All that is required is a tick of a box on September 18th. We are lucky that we have a chance to build the country we want and one we can be truly proud of in such a manner. Let’s not let that privilege pass us by.
I was born in Inverness but my parents are English, as are the majority of my family. Going further back my roots can be traced mainly to Ireland and Cornwall. The Scottish connection begun when my parents moved north three decades ago. I do not have Scottish blood, but I have a socialist heart. This is why I support independence.
Photography by Rachael Robertson