Why I’m voting YES

SOMEONE said to me recently that Alex Salmond has “divided a nation” with the independence referendum, but if division is about discussion, about debate, even friendly argument, with so many people engaged in something as important as the future direction of my country, then I’m absolutely all for it.

I heard someone discuss this on the radio the other morning and he said his family were Italian – and they often have loud, vociferous family arguments about kinds of things – but they still loved each other… 

I think it’s wonderful that a small nation like Scotland can reach this point in considering its future direction with what has been a campaign of hope, optimism and positivity.

But before I set out my reasons for voting Yes I should remind folk that I’m not a politician – mind you, that’s not stopped Danny Alexander from becoming First Secretary to the Treasury!

I don’t think anyone who has watched any of my television programmes could be in any doubt as to my love of Scotland, my passion for the hills and mountains and wild places, its history and legends, but of course independence is much more than that.

I’m at an age where the result next month won’t actually make all that much difference to my career, or my finances, or how I feel about Scotland, but I actually have two very important reasons for voting YES – and they are aged seven and five!

I really don’t want my granddaughters to grow up in a Scotland that is governed by a Westminster elite that has no concern or vision for a more equal society.

I don’t want them governed by a privileged few that have absolutely no commitment to the protection of the most vulnerable in society.

I don’t want them to grow up in a country that harbours weapons of mass destruction.

I don’t want them governed by people who, when they talk about “times of economic uncertainty”, actually mean fluctuating oil revenues or increased borrowing costs, rather than the economic uncertainty of insecure or poorly paid work, and food banks, and pay-day loans and the kind of deprivation that sees one in four men in Glasgow die before the age of 65!

I don’t want them to grow up in a Scotland where one in five children are in poverty.

In my lifetime the UK has had five Tory governments, and the people of Scotland didn’t vote for any of them.

I want my granddaughters to grow up in a Scotland where, if our government is cheating on us, or telling us lies, or producing legislation that puts the most vulnerable at risk, we can simply sack them, by not voting them into power again.

With a Westminster government the like of which we have at the moment, we can’t do that, or we can, but only with the unlikely help of Middle England. And it’s become increasingly clear over the years that the political aims and ambitions of Scotland and Middle England are poles apart. 

I believe, like many others, that Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands, so that we can together build that better, fairer, greener, more prosperous country that we all know is possible – a fairer and more equal society, a nuclear-free society, an environmentally sensitive society with a burgeoning renewable energy industry, and one in which we can bring to an end the grotesque situation where 7% of people own 84% of the land.

We talk endlessly about the importance of democracy but how democratic is the current UK set-up?

Let’s not forget that as a nation state the United Kingdom was an imperialist construct. To this very day it retains the undemocratic trappings of such a concept:

A hereditary head of state,

An unelected second chamber,

No written constitution and

A ruling elite drawn from a narrow, privately educated strata of society.

It’s time for fundamental change.

Let me ask you a question. How do you see Scotland? Do you see it as a poor, wee, grey northern country with its hand out for more and more subsidies?

If you do perhaps you need a paradigm shift. You know these drawings you see of an ugly old person, but the harder you look the vision changes to that of a handsome young person?

An optical illusion that demonstrates the way in which a paradigm shift could cause you to see the same information in an entirely different way. Maybe some of us need to start looking at Scotland through different eyes.

A Scotland with the potential to be amongst the five wealthiest nations in the world.

A Scotland with enough natural resources to create a huge renewables energy industry that could be the envy of the world.

A Scotland with massive oil reserves,

A Scotland with a hugely successful whisky industry,

A Scotland with enormous agricultural and fishery resources,

A Scotland that has the best educated society in the world,

A Scotland with a diverse and hugely talented workforce,

A Scotland that has a well loved song that is sung around the world every New Year,

A Scotland whose people are welcomed wherever they go, from Tibet to Timbuctoo…

Think of these things, then look at that grey old picture of poor wee Scotland once again.

Two years ago I walked through Scotland from end to end, 470 miles from Kirk Yetholm in the Borders to Cape Wrath.

I walked through the country because it’s only by walking that you can actually hear the heartbeat of the land; it’s only by walking that you can read the small print of a nation.

In the course of that long walk I saw a land that was rich in potential, from the fertile argricultural lands of the Borders to the world-leading engineering example of the brilliant Falkirk Wheel, to the natural resource potential of renewable energy – wind, wave, tidal and of course, the world famous landscapes of Scotland that attracts visitors from all over the world.

Earlier this summer I cycled the length of Ireland, from Mizen Head in the south to Malin Head in north Donegal.

In the course of that my mate Hamish and I were astounded by the apparent affluence of the place. We cycled on roads that were well cared for and smooth.

We never had less than four bars on our mobiles and even in remote places like the Aran Islands or the west coast of Clare we had Wi-Fi in every bed and breakfast and hostel we stayed in.

And in the course of dozens of conversations no-one at all, absolutely no-one, thought it would be good if Ireland once again became part of the UK.

And do you know this – recently Ireland was voted as the best place to live, in the world. A small, independent nation, just like Scotland could be.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Scotland is too wee, or too poor, or too dim, to go it alone.

Let me finish by sharing the advice of the arch-capitalist himself, the former pin up boy of Margaret Thatcher – Richard Branson.

This is what he said; “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not too sure you can do it, say yes anyway – then learn how to do it later.”

I think that’s fine advice. On September 18th let’s say YES, and set out on that adventure together, overcome the difficulties and strive for the summit.

I’ll be voting Yes so that Scotland and England can enjoy the relationship of equals that the Union, in over 300 years, has never actually delivered.

Thank you. Saor Alba gu Brath!












27 thoughts on “Why I’m voting YES

  1. Cameron this is a wonderful piece and my sentiments entirely,Your love of this great country comes shining through, thank you articles like this make a huge difference.

    Many thanks!

  2. Bins the technicalities and goes straight to the heart of the issue – Scotland’s future. Agree with your comments on Ireland – in my experience prosperous place, confident people and not a drop of oil in sight. We so need to do this and watch our people and country grow.
    Thanks for this piece Cameron.

  3. Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    I must admit to having a wee bias towards Cameron McNeish. I have long enjoyed his outdoor programmes and books but it is my childhood memories of him and his family long before he became a TV star that mean most to me.

    But that doesn’t mean he is worth listening to or reading simply because I like him. His words are worth something because they are heartfelt, honest and compassionate towards all those living in Scotland. This is the Scotland that I, too, want to live in (failing that I am already planning on heeding his advice and moving to Ireland!). Please read on…

  4. “astounded by the apparent affluence of the place. We cycled on roads that were well cared for and smooth.”

    Just came back from Hochsauerlandkreis, Germany. About 2 1/2 hrs from Frankfurt or Hanover & 1 1/2 hours from Dortmund, the nearest big cities. So not exactly in the main drag.
    Even wee roads virtually unmarked on the map are better than many of our A roads.
    Small villages look well cared for, & prosperous, & you struggle to see any houses that you’d say were in need of a lick of paint.
    A real eye opener.

    • and that is scotland as part of the UNITED kingdom….don’t need to take a ‘chance’ and vote yes to be part of a country of wealth, people dont seem to recognise the fact that scotland do very nicely as we are.

      • Sharon, I’m not sure where you’re from but not everyone would agree that Scotland is doing very nicely. As a country with greater oil reserves than Abhu Dhabi and Quatar does it not seem curious that we have hundreds of food banks in Scotland, one in four children are born in poverty, one in four men in Glasgow dies before the age of 65 and more and more people are officially suffering in-work poverty? And in terms of future politics many people in Scotland don’t want a future where our decisions are made by the likes of Boris or Farage, or even Cameron and Osbourne. Scotland is and never has been a Tory voting nation – yet that is what is thrust upon us time and time again. It’s time for Scotland’s future to be in Scotland’s hands.

  5. This is a great post just the true facts, stuff we all know but are being blinded to by the No campaign, lets all Step up to the challenge, how exciting and stimulating. Change for the future for all the right reasons. YES YES YES We are all in it together

  6. Reblogged onto my blog. What a wonderfully clear essay. I am an Aussie who cannot understand why any decent human being would not vote Yes but vote No to remaining wage slaves to an already crumbled imperial power hitching its skirts up to stop them exposing its nakedness.

    It may be Better Together for Westminster but not for Scotland. And a Yes vote will never be followed at any time with a request to return to Westminster’s apron strings.

  7. If it transpires Scotland does indeed become independent and becomes the land of milk and honey presented in Cameron’s excellent case study, and also gains membership of the EU. How will it cope with a potential mass English migration from the south, a couple of million English votes could see the Scottish conservatives back in power, just a thought.

  8. As a keen hillwalker and lover of Scotland’s wild landscapes, something that’s kept me in the ‘No’ camp for a long time is, as you said:

    “A Scotland with enough natural resources to create a huge renewables energy industry that could be the envy of the world.”

    I see turbines being erected at a fast rate around where I live (in Ross-Shire), and the thought of the economy coming to rely ever more on renewables (on-shore wind in particular) really concerns me. I worry that, as we see already, local planning decisions will be over-ruled by Scottish government reporters, allowing our precious landscape to become more and more industrialised. I worry that the economy will come to take precedence over all else.

    Having said that, I have slowly gone from a firm No, to being on the fence, and I think I’m beginning to come round to Yes. There are still things I want to read up on and consider, but I’m feeling more positive about it. I still have my reservations though, and the degree to which natural ‘resources’ will be exploited is one of them.

    • Carrie,
      I fully appreciate where you are coming from and I share many of your concerns. However, it is very difficult to consider the question of windfarms in the context of the referendum debate. In essence not much will change, however we vote. The SNP, Labour and Lib Dems will continue to build wind farms, and probably the Tories too. The Environment, and Tourism, are both devolved issues so a NO is very unlikely to change anything. However, the Scottish Government has recently, in their new planning guidelines,recognised the value of wild land and have given full protection from turbines in National Parks and National Scenic Areas, which accounts for our finest landscapes. They have also brought the SNH wild land map into the planning process and have recently turned down an application in Glenmorie because it was contained within that map area. The up and coming Allt Duine decision will give a good idea which way the land lies and of course how the Rannoch application is treated. Having said all that, and I say this as someone who has virtually dedicated my life to climbing Scotland’s hills, there are other very important issues at stake, issues that for most people will be more important than wild land being spoiled. Democracy, poverty, welfare, Trident, the UK Governments elitism etc etc are all very important issues. I’m convinced of the value of independence for a fairer and more equable society and I’m equally convinced that we will see renewable energy become more and more offshore in years to come. Hence Alex Salmond’s quote (often misquoted)- “Scotland could become the Saudi Arabia of marine renewable energy.” Finally, once we vote YES we will have a Government which will listen to the voices of the Scottish people, because if we don’t like them we can vote them out, unlike the present situation where Scotland has been stuck with Tory Governments the people of Scotland never voted for. You’ll note I haven’t mentioned the fight against climate change. I won’t go into that here but that’s a real issue in itself, and one that could devastate our wild lands in many, many ways. We really do have to tackle it.

      • And then of course there’s the UK Government having just sold licences to frack in one of our national parks.
        Now it’s true that the licences only allow for exploratory drilling, and for any development to go ahead thereafter, planning permission would be needed involving SEPA, local authorities, the National Park itself, & ScotGov.
        However, that’s at the moment. How much do you trust Westminster to leave all those controls in the hands of Scotland if we vote No?
        The unelected Lords did, after all, remove Holyrood’s authority over renewables obligation just last year. http://www.scottishenergynews.com/lords-axe-holyroods-power-over-scottish-renewables/
        They can do the same with any devolved powers.
        Is that a risk worth taking?

  9. Thanks for taking the time to reply Cameron, I really appreciate it. I am trying to gather all the facts so I can make as informed a decision as possible.

  10. A heart-warming and affirming piece for all the peoples of Scotland. Thanks, Cameron.

    Your opening statement stopped me in my tracks as it was David Cameron, not Alex Salmond, who divided the country, insisting on only one question on the ballot paper, thus causing both lively and confrontational divisions.

    Having experienced apartheid in my early years, and the attempts at separation in Quebec, I thought I settled 45 years ago in a peaceful land free of conflict. How wrong – for all the reasons of social injustice you outline, except that on the surface everything looks so respectable. It is a disgrace that we have such an unequal society; it is a disgrace that so many appear not to care, and it is amazing now that we are not all infected by the courageous, lively, imaginative people of all ages who are willing to vote Yes and put energy into making an independent Scotland a thriving place for all – the Common Weal.

    If there is still a question of heart or brain, I believe there is an answer that is both, and George Monbiot is worth reading on the subject:

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