If there is one thing that we in the Borders are not short of, it is pride and passion. It flows through our veins as naturally as blood.
We breathe it as easily as we breathe the air around us.
We may not always realise it is there, but it is. And not just at common ridings, gatherings and festivals. Not just on the various fields of sport.
It is born in us and is with us until the day we die. It is in our very heart.
And that is a no bad thing. Robert Burns had it spot-on when he wrote: “The heart aye’s the part aye
“That mak’s us right or wrang”.
And today you can use that heart to put right a wrong that was inflicted on Scotland and its people away back in 1707 by what our national bard rightly described as a parcel o’ rogues in a nation.
The people of Scotland – and I mean the real people – didn’t have a say on whether our ancient Parliament should be united in a sham wedding with London. That decision was taken by the handful of lords and lairds and clergy that lined their pockets with gold from down south.
We – the true people of Scotland that had spilled blood with Wallace and Bruce in the name and hope and determination of independence and freedom – couldn’t go to the ballot box and vote Yes or No to a union with England.
But when news that that decision was being framed, not in Parliament but in the back rooms of Edinburgh’s taverns and in the lodging houses on the Royal Mile, the people of that great city did make their feelings known.
There were street protests, rioting and the stoning of carriages – but nobody listened.
Now, 307 years later, the people of Scotland can truly make themselves heard. Not by rioting, but by the democracy that is the ballot box.
The Scottish Parliament that was so shamefully and disgracefully dissolved three centuries ago was far from perfect. It wasn’t truly representative of the people, the real people. But it was ours.
And now we’ve got it back – in a limited form.
Holyrood, like its ancient predecessor, isn’t perfect. It can’t be, because it’s only a halfway house. It is only devolved from Westminister – it needs to be dissolved from Westminster.
Today is decision day. Today is a day of destiny. The campaign trail has been a long, arduous and confusing one. It is said to have lasted two years – but it has lasted far longer.
Today it comes to an end. It is almost certain that Scotland will never again be given this golden opportunity to take our destiny into our – our – hands.
I have already openly and clearly pinned my colours to the mast of independence. I believe we can self-govern. I believe it and I know it in my heart. We have been urged by the No camp to make up our minds using our heads and not our hearts. Rubbish!
Walter Scott, a Tory, wrote: “Breathes there the man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my native land.”
Today, we can right the wrongs of 1707.
Just use your heart. And make it happen.