I’ve thought long and hard about whether I’d write anything about this week’s referendum vote but decided, as much to clarify my own thoughts as anything else, that I would. We’ve been asked – correctly I think – not to voice our opinions in class and I stick to that; however, that should not lead to a blanket ban on discussing the matter. Senior pupils have a vote this week and many are genuinely seeking guidance. It is our duty as adults and educators to help them work it out for themselves.
I’ve been challenging any student who is wearing a badge this week, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. I’ve never stated my voting intention in school. Many of the students might guess but that’s their perogative. If we’re to truly teach them about Citizenship then they will have to justify their choices and this is the best opportunity they will ever have. I want them to understand that having a vote is a privilege and not something to be squandered for trivial reasons. For the most part, they are reasoned and intelligent in their defence of their voting intentions. I’m rather proud of that.
But in class I gave a final speech about the Referendum and promised not to raise it again this week. It went something like this:
I love my job, absolutely love it. There is never a day that I get up and don’t bounce into work, raring for what is ahead. I’m well paid – not rich by any manner of means – but comfortably well off to enjoy my life and never really worry about money. I have a great house, an amazing garden and travel a lot. Because I can. The reason I’m voting the way I’m voting is because I want that for every one of you too. Everyone I teaches deserves what I’ve got and I believe that my vote will help develop and sustain the conditions for that to happen.
I’ve read and read and read in preparation for the Referendum. For every argument the ‘Yes’ camp put forward I’ve found an opposing one from ‘No’. For every argument the ‘No’ camp put forwards I’ve found an opposing one from ‘Yes’. So how did I decide? Well it all came down to which side I would trust. And that should go for each and everyone of you too. If you read the literature there will be no answers. How can there be? But an intelligent, informed electorate reads and listens and debates and then comes to an informed decision. If that oppose mine then that’s fine.
What’s not fine is to see this as a competition to be won. It’s not. There should be no losers. Half the nation will be disappointed on Friday morning, desperately so, perhaps. But when the dust settles we all want a better Scotland. If ‘Yes’ wins then we have to stand taller and work our arses off to make sure it is the best Scotland possible. If ‘No’ wins then we get up, demand what we’ve been promised and make sure Scotland is the best Scotland possible. This is not a football match. We can debate and discuss but we must never disrespect the views of others. This is about Scotland and one way or another we will all be living here, making it work. It’s not ‘them and us’, just ‘us’. So work hard and be nice.