Monday, 15 September 2014

The road to somewhere

Politics is a funny old game.  Parties trade on promises in order to get elected - manifestoes they call them.  Those of us who vote usually decide where to put our cross based on who we believe the most.  Or, importantly, who we want to believe.  For me, that's how politics works.  There are no guarantees.  Only promises which turn in to negotiations and compromises.
Our relationship to the outcome of the election and our hopes for the future are tied up in that cross. Many think it's one of the most important functions we perform as adults.  Our mandate for influencing the very society in which we live.
Scotland's electorate is poised to exert perhaps the biggest political influence ever seen in our country in some 300 years.  There's a lot at stake.  Much more than a term in government, with the option to change in 4 or 5 years. 
It certainly feels like the biggest political decision I will ever make.  And it seems many of my fellow voters feel the same.  It's almost palpable.  My head is spinning with all I'm expected to believe, consider and understand before I decide which type of country I want to live in.  Of course, there is no political universal truth.   Although I've heard compelling and passionate arguments on both sides, in the end, my decision is borne of the fact I want to remain in the United Kingdom.  I believe we can be better together.  Different better but still together better.
Over the last few weeks, debate has been at fever pitch.  I stopped listening to the politicians weeks ago and have thoroughly enjoyed reading blogs and articles from ordinary people, some of whom write for a living and have a grounding in politics or economics, but some of whom are not that different from me.   However,  some of what I have read and seen has disheartened me.  I've been indirectly called stupid and selfish for not supporting a particular view.  Many campaigners seem to believe they have cornered the market in their wish for an improved society and that their vote is a 'no brainer'.  How can this be true?  That's the thing.  I believe that many of us who sit on opposite sides of the fence want pretty much the same things.  We just have different ideas about how some of it can best be achieved.  Wasn't it ever thus in the business of shaping society?
One thing that has really lifted my spirits has been the level of engagement of the Scottish people.  With over 90% of eligible voters registered to take part, the turnout looks to be unprecedented.  The country is awash with people who are all at once interested in how the country is run.   It is wonderful and exciting.  Referendum decision aside, if this marks a new, dynamic engagement in the political process, it's a win for all of Scotland.
So, let the people decide.  If Scotland wants independence, I'll be disappointed and nervous, but   I believe in democracy.  I believe in the voice and the will of the people.  All people - even if their voice is different from mine.
We don't know where we're going, but, when the dust settles, I'll take my place on the road with my fellow travellers.  The road to somewhere.