DECIDED or leaning, if No is in your mind as you ponder your vote this week, I urge you to do me the privilege of reflecting on the next few hundred words. I will respect your final judgment, of course I shall.
If you must vote No please, I urge you, do so for the best of reasons or you could regret your choice, very quickly and possibly forever.
Some of my best friends will vote No with a cast-iron, near-religious certainty. But many more of my friends tell me they lean towards No but with a heavy, heavy heart.
They feel the positive case for voting that way has just not been made. They would be right. They are as disappointed as I am at the insulting level of disrespect for this small country’s collective intelligence displayed over the course of the campaign. It got worse last week with some especially risible interventions of the Downing Street establishment.
The cocktail the Tory led government and campaign want us to drink is one part love-bomb to 99 parts fear, smear and contempt. Don’t drink it, the sour aftertaste will stay with you for life.
The scare stories of this week are too numerous to rebut one by one, but know this: they were part of an ongoing, concerted campaign to throw fear, uncertainty and doubt into the hearts of the voters in Scotland. They range from the invented to the exaggerated to the simple lie.
They are founded on the idea that the world community will reject Scotland despite welcoming 142 countries before us since 1945. They rest on the belief that the government that tells us it loves us today will set out to destroy our interests from Friday even, and here’s the key point, if it destroys its own at the same time. And trade isn’t possible between states it seems. They are founded on the view that, unique in the world, Scotland is just not up to self-government and independence. Even our assets are our millstones, we are asked to believe.
The glee with which they stoke uncertainty should cause the more substantial and serious among them to pause. As it should you.
Glee is the word for the faces of Westminster ministers as they told Scotland our banks would “leave”. One Treasury Minister, David Gauke, even said with a chuckle “there will be more pandas than banks and insurance companies in an independent Scotland”. Re-read that phrase and picture the smirk. For me that quote provided the trough in the atrocious Project Fear and demonstrates a sneering disdain for those they seek to persuade. Don’t let them.
The truth of the banking story demonstrates much. Because Downing Street (currently) refuses to even consider sharing the pound, contingency plans are needed to ensure bank regulation remains clear. To remain backed by the Bank of England, the banks would need to move registration to London. So while politicians skipped from studio to studio trying to make people worry for their jobs and the rest of us believe all branches and offices would close, the CEO of RBS was drafting a letter to staff calming them and pointing out that no jobs or operations would be affected by a technical legal move.
But, unbowed, on the Downing Street tank rolled, cajoling supermarkets and even telecoms companies to join in the fun. No depth is too low for them now. Win at all costs, however ugly is their intent.
If you let this wall of noise cow you then you will regret it. Because not only is it not true it would be the worst possible reason for you to decide.
If we vote No for these reasons, Scotland will feel like the 2 January day in day out for a very long time. Vote Yes and we will unleash an energy and creative pulse that will resonate for years.
Of course, we will face tough times and difficult choices. Every country does. But compared with the realities of the crises we have been through since 2008, the risks of this choice are but a whisper in the wind.
Choose No and we await an election next May to decide who will govern us for another five years. The latest ICM poll has the Conservatives in the lead and 49% backing the Tories or Ukip. Think about it. Even if Ed Miliband sneaks a win, would you trust him to govern us better than our own government here? Really? That truth has been our reality for decades. It is time for us to grow.
We have what it takes, my friend, in bucketloads. Our economic, environmental and political starting points are better than any new country enjoyed before us. We have more resource, information and experience than any of those 142 countries that made this choice positively since the war.
We also have much of the machinery of government already in place. We have what it takes if we will only choose to. This is our moment.
Join with me in rejecting fear, embracing hope and putting our shoulders to the wheel to make ourselves and our country all it can be.
We can do this. For the sake of ourselves and the generations to follow, we must. «