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The nation of Scotland could see dramatic adaptions this year, with the referendum  on Scottish independence taking place in the month of September, shortly after the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

For years now, Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party have campaigned for the right to know the country’s viewpoints on the matter – and in the next eight months, the outcome will become a huge lot clearer.

There have been countless debates as to how low the minimum voting age should be, with the majority of people suggesting that it should be the same as current Holyrood and Westminster elections. However, on Thursday the 18th, Scottish residents as young as 16 will go to the poles to vote on whether our country should remain part of the United Kingdom or become independent.

Many advocates of the ‘yes’ campaign are quick to argue that currently, many of the powers to make decisions in Scotland are controlled at Westminster. By selecting independence, as a nation we would be able to make all decisions at Holyrood. It could therefore be argued that Scotland would become154151341-598x400 a more stable and secure nation and even a force to be reckoned with.

On the other hand, numerous people are of the opinion that by becoming independent, Scotland could lose global presence and influence it presently obtains as a United Kingdom. Furthermore, Scotland does not have military strength – so the decision to depart with the rest of Britain could lead to many attacks which the country would not be prepared to deal with.

With all the facts and statistics I have been embedded with, I find myself asking the question that a high number of people share – “Why fix something which is not broken?”.

Napier

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All of us first

Asked to write a blog piece on Independence leaves me with the same feeling of erroneous responsibility that fills you up as you take the driver seat for the very first time after the L plates come off, tentatively turning the key and glancing for your absent co-driver. I have formed my own hazy opinions based primarily, I completely put my hands up and say, on my parents vibrant discussions on the debate. Despite having come to an almost definite conclusion regarding what i’ll vote, yes by the way, I definitely don’t feel armed or able to create solid arguments to involve myself in the discussions which are going on around me. And it seems that, yet again, for women across the country this is widely the case.

The current yes polls stand at around 30% of men and an estimated 22% of women. While of course polls aren’t the be all and end all, from my experience social media debates – and those had around a few pints at the pub – are too, male dominated. To me this demonstrates an issue almost as important as the very question of independence itself. Why are women not immersing themselves in the world we all share in the way that men are? For lack of a better word i’d describe myself as a feminist (although i’d prefer just a people-ist), but I definitely feel that if women are shying away and not getting involved in the current affairs which are going on around them how can we ever establish a world where gender equality isn’t a fight, but a given? Discussions with various female friends and relatives have lead me to a couple of conclusions, is it the adversarial set up of the debate (and debates in general) that puts women off? Or perhaps that we are relatively new to the whole voting system in the first place? Or, on a more intrinsic level, it could be that in general women fear contentious situations more than men, with anxieties surrounding separation – a yearning for togetherness.

For me, some of the most important issues rooted in the entire debate are in how the results will leave different groups within society feeling placed, for example English people residing in Scotland and how we guarantee they are as welcome as those born and bred in Auld Reekie.

So, while I feel completely unequipped to write a coherent and balanced piece on why my gut, heart and head are all telling me yes, I would happily get stuck into some of the remarkably pertinent issues being starkly highlighted by the Independence debate.

Scottish Independence

There are many valid questions surrounding the Scottish Independence Referendum. Will independence weaken university research in Scotland? What would independence mean for education? Would we have our own currency? What would happen to the NHS? How will Scotland become an independent member of the European Union?

I am in no way politically informed and part of me doesn’t really care for politics in general. For this reason I would just like a solid answer as to why Scotland should choose independence? What will we actually gain as a country and as a community? Why do we need to be independent? There is a lot of heavy political jargon surrounding many independence debates which is far too much for my brain to handle. So, for me, a simple answer would suffice.

A lot of Scots bring out the patriotic aspect to validate their reason for voting Yes. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy being Scottish, I do. I feel very privileged to have been born in this country. However I just don’t hate England. I don’t see why anyone would and I don’t think that patriotism is a good enough reason for agreeing to break up the Union.

In saying that, for some odd reason this particular discussion managed to bring about a small amount of Scottish rage within me. Maybe that’s just the effect Katie Hopkins has on us.

Pro- Union or Pro- Independence?

With what can only be described as one of the most historical propositions in Scottish politics to be presented to Scots in over three- hundred years, Scottish Independence is a topic on everyone’s lips. Having been part of the United Kindgom for over three hundred years, the outcome of this event is likely to alter the country, over the coming years, forever.

It is apparent that the majority of Scots remain undecided as to whether they are pro- independence or pro union. Many are still not convinced by the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) proposals. One Twitter user tweeted “I hear a lot of SNP buzzwords, exaggeration and speculation, but no answers to attract economic questions to do with #scottishindependence”. It is clear that the SNP must be most specific in what they hope to achieve if they wish to convince the Scottish public that independence is the way forward. Continue reading

Votes at 16 would be ‘seminal moment’ says Youth Parliament chair

Youth Parliament chair Grant CostelloScottish Youth Parliament Chair Grant Costello has said that a long awaited decision to  extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds would be a “seminal moment for Scottish democracy”  The statement comes following an announcement last night that a deal has been reached on conditions for the independence referendum – the main point of which is expected to be a single yes/no question. However, it has emerged that giving young people the vote is also expected following the meeting between Westminster and Holyrood on Monday.

Mr Costello also said that “the detail of the announcement will be very important.

“There needs to be a clear commitment to ensure the process is in place for all 16-year-olds to vote”

If 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to vote, it will be the second time that young people in Scotland have been able to vote in elections. In 2010, young voters were allowed to take part in local health board elections in Fife and Dumfries and Galloway, as part of a trial by the then Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon. However, many 16 year olds were unable to vote due to them not being on the version of  the electoral roll used for the election.

But, as it stands, 16 year olds able to vote in the 2014 referendum will not be able to vote in the general election the following year. Costello addresses this, saying “If we trust young people to vote on Scotland’s constitutional future, then we must surely see the case for allowing them to vote in all elections.”