Parties draw lines, but public will decide independance vote
Oct 31 2012
by Douglas Dickie, Rutherglen Reformer
The battle lines have been draw. Alex Salmond, the SNP and the Yes Campaign on one side. The Unionist Parties and Better Together on the other.
For the next two years, no subject will dominate the Scottish political landscape like the referendum and the question of whether we should become independent from the rest of the UK.
The politicians will all have their say, but ultimately it will be the people of Scotland who will decide, including the people of Rutherglen and Cambuslang.
And like no other issue over the past two decades, it will encourage voters to do more than just put a cross on a ballet paper.
“I suppose what makes me want to get involved is the fact so many of my friends have mixed feelings about it,” says 69-year-old Alan Knox from Rutherglen. “I had to make up my own mind and I just think there are so many unanswered questions.”
Alan will be voting to keep Scotland in the UK come 2014. His desire to see the Union maintained even led him to write a song which he submitted to the Better Together campaign. The song, Wee Eck’s Referendum, sets out his own questions and fears that an independent Scotland may face.
Having never been political before, Alan felt this issue was too important to spend his time on the sidelines: “I feel it would be terrible to tear apart the UK, I think we’re quite strong as a nation and history shows that breaking up nations is a way towards conflict. I feel the same about Europe. Things might not always be great, and we might not have Government in London we like much, but it is up to us to change that.
“I’m not adverse to more power for Scotland. There are big social differences here, but to break-up the Union would mean a huge duplication of resources. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Margaret Ferrier (52) from Cambuslang feels differently. Although she is a member of a political party, this is the first time she has campaigned so actively on one issue. While Alan has put his thoughts in to song, Margaret has organised a Yes event in Cambuslang this Friday.
She says: “When people ask me why I want to be independent I have a quote for them - because it is the only way people will be secure in the knowledge that vital public services will be secure.
“Scotland is more than capable of running its own affairs. It’s already been proven that we generate more taxes and get less back, so we can run our own fiscal affairs.”
Both Margaret and Alan have made their own minds up, but many haven’t. Soundbites from politicians can often put people off and voter apathy remains high, so the task may fall to the general public to help sway those who haven’t made their mind up.
Some people have already made their mind up, and many of them will not deviate from it. But the polls indicate there are still many who fall under the undecided camp, and it is them who will ultimately decide.
Margaret says: “We’ve been getting a positive response in the Rutherglen area, and Cambuslang has been similar, it just depends where you go.
“You have people who have definitely made up their minds, they are voting yes or voting no. It’s the people in between we have to try and get onside by showing them how independence would be good.
“We have two years to do that and I’m confident . I think we have a good team and we will use that time to put in writing how independence could benefit Scotland.”
Alan has found most of his friends have already made up their minds, and he estimates a 50-50 split between the two camps.
“That’s just my small circle of friends and we’ve had some heated debates and I would hope that’s the same up and down the country. Hopefully the 16 and 17-year-olds are doing the same.”
He also feels that many of the questions about a post-independence Scotland remain unanswered: “The Union is going through a difficult time just now so it’s understandable that people might think Scotland has been neglected, but I don’t have faith in the alternative. No-one has shown me figures or proven that we will be better off. Having the devolved Government has made a difference, I just feel separation is a step too far.”
Many feel the onus is on the Yes campaign to provide answers to the questions, but Margaret says: “We’ve been asked a variety of questions but the bottom line is nothing has been decided. There will be a White Paper going through Parliament and until that is through a lot of policies and issues will change.”