With the voting age lowered to 16 for the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, local Better Together campaigner Geordie Jacobson argues that young people have a lot to lose should Scotland become independent and urges them to vote No in September.
Young folk are probably all well aware of the barrage of debate and argument on the TV, in the papers, on social media and all the rest, but probably think most of it isn’t particularly directed at them.
All the same, you form an important part of the electorate – perhaps the most important part as you are just starting out on your adult lives and will all hopefully go on to enjoy many decades of working life with good health and enjoyable retirement to follow.
So it’s very, very important to realise that the decisions you make now will have implications for the rest of your lives. You have got to be sure that they are the right choice to protect the wellbeing of yourselves, your families and the communities in which you live.
And so it is with the referendum: the way young people vote on 18 September will affect your lives for as long as you live in the British Isles.
Make no mistake; this decision isn’t something you can revisit after a four or five-year term, as is the case with most of the elections that take place.
If you didn’t like the people or party you voted for in the European or any other election, you can give them two fingers next time round. Not so with the referendum!
There’s no turning back, the decision we take on 18 September will change the direction of our lives and those of family and friends both in Scotland and throughout the other parts of our country for generations to come, not to mention having an impact on our commercial, cultural and working lives.
No doubt you’ll have been bored absolutely rigid with all the arguing and wrangling over levels of corporation tax, quality of health care, pension provision, costs associated with setting up the machinery of government in an independent Scotland and all the rest that has blethered out of the wireless and the TV over past months – so there’s no need to add to your boredom by going over it all again here.
It’s all on the internet, websites, online newspapers, plus all the pamphlets etc. that will no doubt clutter up letter boxes, in-trays and probably dustbins too.
Taxation, welfare, social care, employment, and commerce – of course these things are all important – but to concentrate all our thoughts on the nuts and bolts of their provision is to totally miss the point.
The point of the referendum is to decide whether or not Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom or becomes an independent foreign country – end of story.
In an independent Scotland what tax we pay, what services we enjoy, what laws we’ll be obliged to obey would be decided by the government administration in place at the time, all in the tender care of another crop of politicians elected by you and me.
Many of you might recognise familiar faces from a former life at Westminster who would have their seats extinguished if Scotland became independent.
They would face all the same challenges – provision of services and reconciliation of budgets, maintenance of law and order and systems of local administration – as well as many, many more required for the establishment of all the functions of government and service provision which would no longer be available.
So we can forget any ideas about creating a new nirvana from the smoldering embers of an oppressed nation.
And initially we would have even less say in our own government. At the moment there are elections for the Scottish, UK and European parliaments plus those for local authority and community council.
After independence we’re left with the Scottish and possibly, at some time in the distant future, European representation. Doesn’t look like an improved situation, does it?
Where does this lead us?
The status quo is sometimes not easy to defend, but in the case of independence, Yes or No, there’s not the slightest hesitation in recommending that we stick with what we have – the good far outweighs the bad.
• We already have our own Scottish parliament and have a share in a strong and influential UK one;
• we receive £1,200 more public money per head than the average across the rest of the UK;
• we access a huge home market to over 60 million people;
• we share in UK influence abroad – and the embassies, customs and border controls;
• we share comprehensive defence resources;
• we share and influence broadcasting and programme making;
• we receive inward investment to Scottish universities from the whole UK;
• we receive vast UK taxpayer subsidies to Scottish green energy provision;
• we can access specialist medical treatment UK wide;
• we benefit from a stable currency and low interest rates, and a currency backed by the Bank of England – and how we have needed that.
For those reasons and more, vote NO on 18 September – you really should.