I'm declaring how I've voted and explaining why. Because I'm moving home this week, I'll not be able to join any ensuing debate, but if you comment, please be generous and kind to one another. Please don't be like the ignorant folk in both camps who seem intent on being cruel and destructive and who seem to be completely incapable of listening to one another.
I voted YES. My reasons are as follows:
Historically, boundaries change. This need not be an acrimonious divorce. Rather, I'm trying to see it as a new birth. Nation states are born or reborn regularly. Look at the Baltic states who gained independence after the fall of the Soviet Union or the former Yugoslavian states. In 1921 Ireland became independent after a much longer period than Scotland has had of being joined with England. Our parliaments have been joined for just over three hundred years. The crowns were joined one hundred years before that. The white paper suggest that (for now), the crowns will remain joined. In that sense, there will still be a United KINGDOM.
We are talking about the Scottish Parliament having full control of every aspect of our life. At the moment, the government in Westminster is not one that most people in Scotland wants. As a former Labour Party member, I'm not sure that many people in Scotland would want to be ruled by them now, given their decision to move further and further to the right. At times, I find it hard to distinguish between the three big UK parties and the rise of UKIP only makes me think that England will drift that way even more.
I believe this change might allow the Scottish people to lose the chip(s) on our shoulders, allowing people to fly and grow in confidence. We'll have to take responsibility and make wise decisions.
Will it be hard? Of course it will. We might well have to sacrifice much in order to be a new nation. Will there be things that concern me in this future? The economics are unclear and the politics of EU and NATO membership uncertain. I don't see how we can ditch Trident but still accept the possible use of nuclear weapons by NATO. There are many questions about the currency and debt that will have to be answered.
However, with imagination, hard work, democratic engagement and hope, we can build a better nation, where the least, the last and the lost are cared for and where we can work together with our neighbouring nations to ensure peace for everyone. I don't fear the future. It seems to me to offer great opportunities for transformation. I hope we get the chance to at least try.