100 Weeks of Scotland: Referendum Day

Lady Alba pictured on the day of the referendum. Picture: Alan McCredie
Lady Alba pictured on the day of the referendum. Picture: Alan McCredie
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It took a second. One second to put a cross in a box.

Week 99

Across the country millions of other seconds have been used to mark a cross in a small box, on a piece of paper, in a wooden booth.

Those millions of seconds, together, add up to the will of a nation. The course of a country will change in the space of a second.

I walked to the polling station with my girlfriend, stepdaughter, and 4-year-old son in the full knowledge that I was voting for me, for them, for their children, and for unknown and innumerable generations to come.

My vote will have repercussions down the centuries and that is a terrifying, yet absolutely exhilarating prospect.

Ninety-nine weeks ago it all began. David Cameron and Alex Salmond also leant over a piece of paper and made their mark.

What followed has been the most uplifting and invigorating two years in the history of Scotland. The debate has reached every corner of the nation. Wherever I have been in the last few weeks it is the referendum that has been the topic of conversation.

Do not be believe those who say this has been a bitter time in Scotland’s history – it has not.

Scotland has woken from the political torpor that has overcome so many western democracies, and is alive and buzzing with ideas and discussion.

This is an historic day. This day will be written about, spoken about, argued about, sung about for years to come.

To be here today is to be part of history, not as a bystander, but as an integral part of the process. With a turnout that may be as high as 90 per cent in places it can be truly said that with the eyes of the world firmly on Scotland, it is without question at this moment the most politically informed nation on Earth. Every last one of us should be proud of that.

Nobody is going into this with his or her eyes closed. This is, in no uncertain terms, a huge victory for the democratic process.

The polls are closed and the counting is beginning. Two ghost roads have opened up and lie ahead, neither solid yet, but both real. One will resolve itself as the night progresses and the other will fade.

At this moment nobody knows the way ahead, and that to me is an absolutely exhilarating prospect.

Those who bemoan that this ever happened, who complain of a divided nation, need to remember one thing – this is democracy, this is what democracy does and long may it remain so.

Scotland, it has been a privilege, a pleasure and an honour.

• Alan McCredie began the ‘100 weeks of Scotland’ website in October 2012, and it will conclude in Autumn 2014. McCredie’s goal is to chronicle two years of Scottish life in the run-up to the independence referendum.

Alan says ‘one hundred weeks...’ is intended to show all sides of the country over the next two years. On the site, he says: “Whatever the result of the vote Scotland will be a different country afterward. These images will show a snapshot of the country in the run up to the referendum.

“The photos will be of all aspects of Scottish culture - politics, art, social issues, sport and anything else that catches the eye.”

Follow the project at 100weeksofscotland.com. You can also follow Alan on Twitter @alanmccredie.