This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 15/04/2019 [Online], Available: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/ewan-gurr-why-i-voted-yes-in-the-scottish-independence-referendum/ [Accessed: 2019, Apr 16]
I voted Yes in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. This is something I have never shared publicly due to my affiliation with an apolitical organisation at the time. Of course, friends and family, colleagues at work, anyone who asked and those walking past the Yes poster in my window in Stobswell knew. As the campaign played out, I was regularly asked my opinion on live television, in radio interviews and by newspapers but I kept a lid on my views. The recent three-part series looking back on the referendum on BBC Scotland brought back many memories. And reminiscing almost five years on, I am not much of a columnist if I cannot be honest with you.
Firstly, it was a slow burn and, like many, I started out thinking: “Whit’s aw this indy caper?” I planned to vote No, went to hear former MP, George Galloway, and former PM, Gordon Brown, make their case for the union at local events. But, as time wore on, I thought about our oversight of education, healthcare and transport. These areas were far from perfect but I would rather we make a hash of it than anyone else. Last week, a former minister in Thatcher’s government said to me: “Scotland has become a mature democracy since devolution” and the first thing that won me was the idea of taking responsibility for the whole package. Then we’d only have ourselves to blame.
Secondly, poverty is poverty and I genuinely feared the thought of leaving my fellow British kinsfolk behind. However, Guardian columnist George Monbiot insightfully observed that becoming an independent nation was less about cutting off the rest of Britain and more about insulating Scotland from the ongoing unravelling of policies that were detrimental. I saw the first-hand effects of the Welfare Reform Act which, in the year following its implementation in April 2013, drove the use of foodbanks in Scotland up from 14,318 to 71,428 – a 400% increase. The second incentive for Yes was the potential to shape policy that would prioritise people experiencing poverty.
Thirdly, there was the economy. While there were, and are, questions about currency and I would anticipate turbulence from hitting the refresh button, governance of the economy by both Westminster parties has been questionable. The national debt stands at £1.84 trillion and rising, the budget deficit is £-20.4 billion and with spending priorities which include the renewal of Trident at a colossal cost of over £200 billion, I believed it was time to take hold of the fiscal levers. Unlike some, I respect the outcome and am not an ultra-nat. I just saw more reasons than No to vote Yes, probably about 55 to 45 to be fair. Next week, I will tell you how I voted in 2016.