Comment: Vote with the next 25 years in mind

FEVER. You have it when your temperature rises above its normal range. Symptoms include sweating, shivering, headache, muscle aches (heart included), loss of appetite, dehydration, general weakness. Noticed that in anyone “off the telly” this week?

Vote with the next 25 years and more in mind, not the last 25 days. Picture: Jane Barlow
Vote with the next 25 years and more in mind, not the last 25 days. Picture: Jane Barlow

High fevers may cause: hallucinations, confusion, irritability, convulsions, dehydration. Hmm.

Fever is indeed abroad the land. It is a curious strain that leaves the general populace untouched but targets the “political classes”. If you are a politician and think you may have it please stop talking immediately – you may say something really silly.

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We know that whatever we vote, life the day after will go on much as the day before. In such a turbulent world the only certainty of tomorrow is that we must all work hard to make our own place in the world safer, fairer and more successful. But what tools will we give ourselves to build with?

This is not about parties. Politicians show up trying to tell us it’s all about next year’s general election. Really? Only those wanting power for themselves would believe that. Put all of your hopes on Ed Miliband winning in May 2015. Really? In the 43 years of my life, Labour have been in power for roughly 18, about 42 per cent of the time.

Looking ahead, that means we are likely to get the government we vote for, as a country, less than half the time. In Westminster, Scotland’s collective voice is one in every 11 MPs. And that is before we even think of the 774 Lords we don’t get the chance to elect.

So trust in that? Or get a government we vote for every time, with every MP focused on Scotland’s wellbeing every day?

It is this core democratic truth that is driving the tangible swing to Yes, with Labour voters leading the charge. Will it be enough? Who knows?

The emerging truth in the last week or so is that it appears no longer to be about the Don’t Knows, although they matter. It is increasingly all about the Nos. More and more of them are changing their minds.

Whether it is enough to win a positive result remains to be seen. Yes remains the underdog whatever the noise of the polls tell us today and in the days to come.

I can’t really tell why. There has been no game-changing moment. But the game has certainly changed. Hope is conquering fear. If we step back from the party fray, we know a deep reality that deserves a more regular airing. There is far, far more that unites this country than divides us.

The hunger to create a sustainably stronger economy with more of our number with a stake in it is the common cause of all the parties. The desire for a fairer society is too, especially in the instincts of Labour, Liberal and SNP. Whisper it, even among Scottish Tories. Of course, preferred routes differ, but that is for future elections.

The career invested Labour politicians all say an emphatic Yes in their soul to free education, a properly secure NHS, fair welfare, fair taxation and sensible choices on defence rooted in a real sense of our role in the world.

Where Labour politicians and their voters are parting company is in the suggestion that we should say No to giving ourselves the powers to deliver all of the things we agree on. Instead we are urged to invest our hopes in the chance of Ed Miliband being elected prime minister despite the rest of Britain’s obsession with Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and David Cameron.

We have listened to that cry for too long. Most people now realise the party divide is irrelevant. This is about the choices we all make for ourselves and we will decide later which party we choose to lead us. For now this is about the people. And the making of us all lies in the hands of those previously leaning to No.

Last spring the world lost the wonder that was Nobel prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Márquez. His greatest work, Love in the Time of Cholera, was all about fever: “All that was needed was shrewd questioning… to conclude once again that the symptoms of love were the same as those of cholera.”

The fever is because of love, I know that. We all love our country. All of us. Because that country is just the collective combination of all of our family and friends and the future we face together.

The question for us all now is how to channel that love?

This is our one big chance and we may not see its like again. Vote with the next 25 years and more in mind, not the last 25 days. Vote with a glad and hopeful heart and be prepared to embrace one another whatever the outcome. Think about how you will feel for many, many years to come.

When you hold that ballot paper, picture a baby’s hand, because the generations to come are the souls we are really voting for. Put power into the hands that you see. That is what this is about. We are ready now. «

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