Monday, 22 September 2014

Scotland, continue the fight for a better society

Many people woke up last friday to the news the No side had won and felt all their efforts were in vain. Here i try to explain we must not let peoples hopes which have been dashed turn in on themselves and to keep up the fight for a fairer society. "71% of 16 and 17-year olds voted for an independent Scotland, which means that almost three-quarters of the 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland have just witnessed their dreams of a better future snatched away from them predominantly by the voting habits of older generations. This referendum was the first opportunity the UK has ever given people aged 16 to have a democratic say over their own future, and they have proved that they should not be patronised by ‘adults’ who believe that young people cannot be trusted to handle politics. The defeat felt by many teenagers in Scotland right now is crushing: keeping young people engaged, treating them with respect and allowing them to keep having a say in their own future is the only way we can ensure we don’t end up with a generation lost to a pessimistic apathy. I was absolutely fascinated and taken in by the debate and discussions going on up in Scotland in the last few months. The way people talked about politics in ways we thought were long forgotten talkign in pubs in taxi's and in the workplace the idea of what future Scotland do you want to live in inspired many to come out and vote. But crucially it engaged people and shows people will flock to a campaign if they feel it matters to them and they do have a voice this time the Yes to independence campaign lost but for all those who have been through this experience young and old will have learnt a valuable lesson. Yes, there are a lot of angry and upset yes voters in Scotland right now. But there are also a lot of no voters who are already watching in horror as Westminster reneges on its last-minute devolution promises. No longer having to split people into two camps is not a bad thing, and I would personally be wary of any movement that tries to maintain a division between groups of the population depending on how they voted on 18 September. Since the referendum, there has been no shortage of writing from throughout the UK on the broken state of the Union and Westminster-based politics. People across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are calling for more control over their lives and their futures. New alliances can be formed between grassroots activists challenging the status quo, and in a post-referendum society this is only going to be easier. Leave behind the grudges – show people that the fight can continue, and it can benefit everybody. With the official turnout in the independence referendum at 85% this is above the normal turnout for elections and quite possibly was the biggest turnout for any election in post war Britain in Scotland. When was the last time you can remember that an entire nation was engaged with political debate, and people felt like they had the right to comment on issues and envisage a better society no matter what their background was? When was the last time that the Westminster establishment ran so scared that Gordon Brown was forced to help out a struggling David Cameron? When was the last time that people really felt like they might be able to stick it to the power? We can still do this – we can still make them run – and the yes campaign has shown that the way to achieve this is through grassroots engagement, collaboration across campaign groups, linking up the issues and refusing to give in to lies and scaremongering. We’ve spent the last two years imagining a better Scotland – and we don’t need to live in an independent state to start making it happen." with quotes and extracts from this brilliant novara media article by Miriam Dobson

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