When ALISON FORSYTH was first asked to write a few words on why she will be voting ‘yes’ she was a bit reluctant

I have never been that  interested in politics, partly because there never seems to be much of a  difference between the offerings and I find the political sniping and one-upmanship petty, childish and tedious.
But  the Referendum is different. It  is not the usual run of the mill politics. It is not about voting for one political party  or one man. It is infinitely bigger than any of those usual sideshows. It is a vote which will determine the future of Scotland.  
Alison Forsyth YesAprilpicWebCrucially, both sides of the referendum debate agree on the  key point that Scotland has all the economic and intellectual resources  it needs to be a successful independent country. David Cameron has stated that ‘it would be wrong to suggest Scotland could not be a ..successful independent country’. In 2011/2012 Scotland generated more tax per person than anywhere else in the UK. There is no factual basis in the myth that Scotland sponges from the UK by taking out more than it pays in.
We already know that managing  our own affairs is beneficial.  Whilst the NHS system in England appears to be crumbling,  NHS Scotland is standing strong. Our national accounts are in great shape. There is plenty of proof that decisions are best made and implemented at “shop floor” level. Just think what we could  achieve if we were able to  control our purse strings too!
Within the UK, Scotland is a minority voice. In the 2010 general election  Scotland returned 1 conservative seat! Scotland did not want  a Tory Prime Minister yet we have one because that was the political mandate of South of the Border. 91% of Scottish MP’s voted against the bedroom tax yet we have had it imposed against our democratic will. As part of the UK, Scotland’s voice will remain unheard and its democratic wish will be  unrepresented.
After reading about the Tory’s shameless plans to secretly hive off millions from  the Scottish budget in the 1980’s my trust in the UK government is at an all time low.
Scotland is a great country to live in.  We can reflect our strong  values of fairness and equality in an independent Scotland. 
We need to do more to encourage tourism. That has to be set against the backdrop of Scotland not of the UK.. For example, the current holiday let tax rules are drafted to reflect the longer holiday let season of the South of England. Whilst the scheme suits the warmer southern climate  it  does nothing to encourage holiday let businesses in the colder realms of Scotland where the tourist season is brief but valuable to the local economies.
The UK is a rich and varied union of countries but the  current policies are drafted to suit the majority voice. Scotland can never be that majority voice in the UK...it is a simple question of arithmetic.
But crucially it comes down to this. Would you let your neighbour decide your weekly shopping budget? Would you let them choose what you put in your trolley? How would they know what you wanted? How could you trust them to respect where your priorities lie? Would they buy you quorn instead of chicken? Would they serve you horse instead of beef?  Would they give you the right change?  We  are all different. Countries are no exception. Scotland has always had its own identity. Scotland has its own specific needs and wants. Independence gives Scotland the opportunity to be the maker of its own fortune.
I am voting yes for  a prosperous, fair and culturally rich independent Scotland. I owe my children  the opportunity to benefit from  that wonderful future. So I am choosing to walk down that passage, towards that door and into the rose garden....do you fancy coming along?

For over 40 years JIM RUSSELL worked for a Scottish engineering company employing over 2000 people, many south of the border, and with much of its trade furth of Scotland. He is convinced by the ‘Better Together’ position

I retired as chairman in 2002 and came to live near Aberfeldy in 2004 after enjoying many years holidaying in the area. My home town was Airdrie but in reality, I am a Glaswegian – born there, school, university, apprenticeship, career and family home all within 7 miles of George Square.
Jim RussellWebNothing in my life or business experience makes me believe that separation from the United Kingdom would be anything other than bad for Scotland and I will be making a considered and positive vote in September to remain in the United Kingdom. I shall be voting NO!
 I find it hard to understand what motivates Mr Salmond and those who advocate separation from the United Kingdom. Most Scots feel immensely proud of being Scottish and would probably say they are Scottish first and British second but few Scots would claim to be European. Our relationship with Europe is “business” with no emotional ties but it is a link that the separatists wish to preserve, even advocating, until recently, adopting Europe’s currency.
So here is the puzzle - the separatists want to break away from the UK, our most important trading partner setting up barriers where none exist yet  will seek membership of the European Union to preserve the advantage of trade with Europe. Is that consistent? Countries develop closer ties because it is in their interests to remove barriers to trade so, yes, stay in the European Union but don’t create new barriers  with the rest of the UK. Don’t create new separate costly bureaucracies, a burden on citizens and business alike.
And then there is the spectacular Salmond bet on the currency, a bet he is asking Scotland to face without giving any indication of the consequences if he might be wrong. If he is wrong, would he accept the euro as the price of entry to the European Union? However inept Mr Osborne’s handling of the issue, he was acting on the clear technical advice of civil servants that a currency union was not in the interests of the rest of the UK. 
The separatist’s approach reminds me of a general election campaign that a vote for them cures all. What guarantee is there that separatist promises are more likely to be fulfilled than those of any other politicians? What can be guaranteed is that separation will bring disruption, cost and uncertainty. For what? Mr Salmond tells us that Scotland is the 14th richest country in the world. Will he guarantee that with the disruption, cost and uncertainty of separation we will remain 14th?
Today’s world is a world of closer ties for political security and economic benefit. Scotland would be the poorer for separation from the rest of the UK with all the attendant costs and uncertainties. Even if separation tugs at the heart, the head tells me otherwise.

LAVINIA GORDON is a retired piano teacher, amateur and enthusiastic organist, married to Andrew, a Scot who was born and bred in Blair Atholl. Two of their three children plan to live in Scotland with their families within the next four years

I was brought up in London, spent holidays in North Wales, walking up hills with my family and my grandmother (a Scot)  and said to my mother when I was about 12 – ‘When I grow up I am going to live in the country in an untidy house with dogs and children’, and this is exactly what I do.
LaviniaWebI have lived in Blair Atholl for nearly 36 years and am not planning to move. I love the village, the community, the church and the countryside –  and I think that the majority of my friends here are Scots, but it is only recently that I have started to even question this.
My first wake-up call to the strength of feeling about nationality occurred very early on when a good, local and highly respected friend – now dead – said to Andrew about someone whom they both knew – “Of course he’s English and he thinks he knows everything.” I heard myself retort sharply “You don’t say that when you are eating my fish fingers; how can you say that?”
 A silence descended on the table, broken mercifully by one of our children who probably wanted pudding. However I have thought about that remark ever since and now even more so. 
Is this really one of the reasons why some Scots are looking for Independence?
If this is so, I feel deeply sad and particularly when I consider the way in which the Scots, English, Welsh and Irish are intermingled within the United Kingdom, and it seems to me that the system works.
I am neither  an economist nor historian, but I am fascinated by people – young people, old people, in-between people – and how they behave.
George Osborne, whatever people may think of him, is a realist and has spoken the truth about our economy since he took office four years ago. It appears that the recession is on the wane but he is still telling us that there is so much more to be done and he is telling us that an Independent Scotland will not be able to have sterling as its currency.  I believe him.
Alec Salmond – whatever people may think of him - is an idealist and optimist and he loves a  gamble. We know how many questions there are still to be answered and they cannot be answered until the majority have voted for independence. Dare we risk this?
This is not an election and there will be absolutely no going back.
Can we face our children and grandchildren in years to come and say that I think we might have got that wrong and there is nothing we can do about it now?
For me, the secure option is to remain as we are and put our minds to the subject of greater devolution.  If there is dissatisfaction then let us try to deal with it within the framework of what we have, rather than jumping into the ice cold uncharted water of independence and all that that might imply.
However, partly English as I am, the one thing that I do know is that I do not know everything.
Maybe it is because I am also British and European, which is how I would like to remain.

IAIN STEVENSON sees only negativity in the ‘Better Together’ campaign born of a ‘first-past-the-post Westminster system’ which,
in his eyes, spells its inevitable failure

The momentum is now building in favour of ‘Yes,’ as people start to take on-board the ideas and details of Independence, as they come to the conclusion that Scotland does have what it takes to become a successful independent country. The increasing interest in our constitutional arrangements, has opened the eyes of many who hadn’t taken any interest in politics before and who never questioned the way things are. 
IainStevensonWebIt’s empowering when they realise that Scotland can have a future that is better than the one they have learned to accept unquestioned; a status quo where a distant Westminster is in control, where people in Scotland are only fit to run local services and it’s much better to leave the big complicated decisions to Westminster.
People are turning away from the increasingly desperate and ridiculous threats and predictions of the ‘No’ campaign. To these people, the scares have no impact; they are already in the position where they feel life cannot get any worse, a new Scotland, a new way, is the only hope they have, after decades of believing that Westminster will make their lives better, and suffering decades of disappointment when it doesn’t.
These ordinary citizens are becoming involved in the campaign in their thousands, alongside the established, and newly emerging, political parties, a whole host of other groupings spanning the whole social and political spectrum, it has grown far beyond the SNP.
This is in contrast with the ‘No’ campaign, which seems primarily to consist of politicians of the old parties, who still cling on to the thought that Westminster knows what’s best for Scotland; there is no life within it, it relies on the old ways and the old media to get its message across, a negative message born of a first-past-the-post Westminster system.
Its main tactic is to attack Alex Salmond and the SNP.  This is what will lose them the referendum; the people are now awakening with a new optimism, an optimism powered by the negativity of ‘No’. There is nothing they can do to counter it, the more negative they get, the stronger the desire for a new way, a new way that can only be gained through Independence.
They will try to offer Scotland more powers, but no matter what they give, Westminster will still be in control, Westminster politics will still dominate, the unionist parties in Scotland all take their orders from the Westminster. How can we have devolution if the unionist parties won’t even devolve power to their own parties in Scotland?
Scotland is different, and it wants the freedom to be different, to make choices in Scotland for the people living in Scotland, whether that is to do things by ourselves, or choose to do them in partnership with others. It may not go smoothly, we may get things wrong, but ultimately we have the people, skills and recourses to make Scotland a successful country. 
I may become worse off in the short term, but I’m still voting ‘Yes’ - ‘Yes’ for my children, ‘Yes’ for those worse off than me and ‘Yes’ for Scotland.

See also: The BIG VOTE in Highland Perthshire



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