The #indyref and Further Devolution for Scotland

by Kathryn Maclean

A week before Scotland decided NO, I went to the Big Debate at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. There were 8000 first time voters, who were school pupils, with free Wi-Fi for us to tweet and share what we were debating at the event. I was shocked at how many people in my generation were taking an interest in the referendum. I came out more confused about what I wanted to vote than I did going in. I read up on the subject but many things were bias. There was so much about the future of Scotland and what you thought that meant to you.

My idea of a future Scotland is not one in which you have to repress your own opinion in fear of being attacked in the street or being shouted down at by people that do not even know who you are. Even worse if its people you do know.

My idea of a future Scotland is one which has better job opportunities for young people, a free education and a safe place to stay.  I felt that the referendum gave people the hope that someday it might get better even if it was a yes or a no vote.

As it was a No vote, I witnessed fights and arguments on Facebook between the voters. There was a riot in my area at the result. I am honestly glad that it is all over and done with as it was pulling communities apart. When I entered that polling station on September 18th, yes I might not have known what I wanted to vote but I knew I wanted one which would benefit the people of Scotland. People united for one cause, no matter if they voted yes or no, to make Scotland a fairer and more equal place.

 

Why are we Better Together?

Carys Hughes, Activist from Women Together

Next year people in Scotland will make the biggest political decision of our lives; whether to remain a part of the UK or go it alone. The referendum gives us the opportunity to look at our priorities and decide how we can best address the things that matter to us.

As a young woman, I want to use this opportunity to bring a whole range of issues to the forefront of current political debate, from tackling the gender pay gap to rooting out the scourge of domestic violence, as well as looking at how we can take action to ensure young girls around the world can access the education they are entitled to.

Concern about the impact that separation from the rest of the UK would have on our daily lives is truly universal, but it is vital that women’s voices are heard when it comes to the economic debate. The economy is fundamental to women’s lives; tough economic times hit us the hardest, and negatively impacts on the fight for gender equality. Reading the leaked Government Cabinet paper raised concerns about what it would mean for me to be a young woman in an independent Scotland. The paper outlined plans for cuts to public sector jobs, pensions and welfare spending, yet it is women that are more likely to work in the public sector and in part-time jobs – often the first to be cut. Women pensioners are more likely to be in poverty and as parents and carers, women are more likely to be in receipt of welfare support.

On a more personal level, I’m in my final year of University and I don’t want there to be any barriers to finding a good job when I graduate. I know I’m not alone when I say that I don’t want to jeopardise the opportunities we have as part of a bigger UK.  The size, strength and stability of the UK economy meant the UK Government was able to intervene during the global financial crisis and save banks from collapsing. This protected the savings and mortgages of thousands of Scots, saved thousands of Scottish jobs and averted economic meltdown. The advantages of that bigger UK economy are clear – we have the ability to pool and share risk and reward in order to avoid and weather the worst of economic storms.

I firmly believe that right now Scotland has the best of both worlds; we have our strong Scottish Parliament, with a strong track record of female representation and focussing on the issues affecting women.  But we also have the strength and security that comes from being part of the wider UK.

That is why this year I helped to launch Women Together.  Our grassroots network of women will hold events in towns and cities across the country, to listen to women’s views, creating a space to look at how we can achieve our priorities as well as get involved in our campaign for Scotland in the UK.

*The SWC are holding a conference on The Referendum on the 25th January 2014. We will have speakers from the Yes and Better Together campaigns. If you would like come along please email info@scottishwomensconvention.org*