Making a constitutional judgement

Judy Steel
Judy Steel

I write this two weeks before the referendum, and in France, where my access to the news is a day-old copy of The Times. And while a week used to be “a long time in politics”, now 24 hours is regarded the same way.

So I am going back to basics in giving my reasons for voting Yes on September 18.

Firstly, let’s be quite clear about what the referendum is not about.

It is not an endorsement of any political party or politician. It is not about the behaviour of supporters of either side. It is not about whether Scottish citizens will have more or less money in their pockets. There are no reliable figures on either side on the last question– all is conjecture.

We are not being asked to make an economic judgement, but a constitutional one.

How this island is best governed? The status quo? The cancer-like spreading of money, power and influence in one corner of it, dictating overall political decision-making? The prospect of real reform from within Westminster has a bad record.

Or do we vote for a new settlement, on an agenda driven through by popular choice against the power of the establishment and the press?

The decision to regain Scottish statehood will set in train new – and hopefully creative – thinking about governance south of the border as well.

It is only by voting Yes that we know what change will be achieved – an independent Scotland. One where we raise the money we spend on our services, and where we have a separate voice in international affairs.

It is only by voting Yes that we can be certain of any change. No other option appears on the ballot paper, nor has any been agreed by all three “unionist” parties – above all, by the bulk of the Tory and Labour parties south of the border.

Where else do you find a part of a larger geographical whole that has not just centuries of a separate history, but different systems of law, education and church, with very different roots and philosophies? Is our geography, culture and demography sufficiently coherent and individual to claim nationhood? I believe that Scotland, despite the last 300 years, has managed to retain nationhood, even if it has ceased to be a nation state.

Now it is time to reclaim that nationhood fully – by voting Yes on September 18.