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.

 

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Why vote Yes?

Gail Lythgoe, Executive Assistant at Yes Scotland

A Yes vote is a vote for taking control of our own future. That’s what we want for our own lives – to stand on our own two feet, to make our own decisions and to achieve our full potential.  Why should it be any different for Scotland?  Another 200 countries are independent, so why aren’t we?

There is no doubt that Scotland is a wealthy country.  Even the Prime Minister has agreed that Scotland could be another successful independent country.

Yet one in four of our children are growing up in poverty, too many young people are finding it hard to find jobs, and too many jobs are low paid.  It’s so hard to make ends meet that people are now reduced to looking to foodbanks for help.  The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, and the gap between the richest and poorest just gets bigger.  As part of the UK, this generation of young people will be the first for decades to be less well off than our parents.

Given how wealthy Scotland is, this is not acceptable. None of this needs to happen.

I’ve grown up with the Scottish Parliament making decisions on issues like health and education. The value of taking our own decisions has been plain to see. In Scotland, we have chosen to make free higher education a right for all, basing access to our world-class universities and colleges on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. We’ve increased childcare provision and established a principle of early intervention to help guide and nurture the lives of children.

With the powers Scotland already has, remarkable things have been achieved.

There is so much more we could do if we had the full powers of independence.

We could take steps to increase good job opportunities, increase the minimum wage, reverse unfair cuts to benefits and improve rights to childcare and parental rights.

Instead, we are stuck with unfair and unwelcome policies from the UK Government, which are particularly harmful for young people and for women.  For example, welfare cuts are hitting women hardest in the pocket. The Westminster government is making life harder for women through cuts to important public services, and by weakening employment rights, such as the right to claim for unfair dismissal.  With prices and bills rocketing and wages declining, we are all being hit hard financially.  Studies show that this is especially true for young people.

A Yes vote means that we will be the first generation in Scotland to truly determine our own futures. It’s a hugely exciting opportunity – I’m voting Yes to live in a Scotland of progress and possibility.

For young people in Scotland, that has to be the right choice for our future – that’s got to be an opportunity worth saying Yes to.

To find out more about what we could achieve with a Yes vote, please visit www.yesscotland.net or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

*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*

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*