A letter to my grandparents

Dear grandparents,

Thank you for the love and care you have shown me throughout my life. I’m a much better person for it.

As you all know – from family dinners to reunions – I’ve been campaigning for an independent Scotland over the past 18 months.

For all of you that is perhaps a comparatively short time. For me it has been a substantial part of my life.

In the last 60 years you have seen this country transformed several times over. You witnessed the rubble, the shortages and the rejoicing of the end of war. You lived through the birth of the great British welfare state institutions that followed. You heard the building and then dismantling of Scotland’s old industries. You, like your children’s generation, were then powerless as politicians of all Westminster parties left the people behind.

Within that long memory the next week will be a small yet significant blip on Scotland’s story. It wasn’t the constitution that mattered when bombs forced you out of Clydebank, or when late nights created your business, or when you brought my Mother and Father to life.

The constitution has always been in the background of these Scottish stories. If I’d been born in an early time this wouldn’t matter to me in quite the same way. But just as we are gifted our families, we are also gifted our time in history. For young people in Scotland is it this decision that will shape our lives.

Despite some cynicism, Scotland today is a remarkable, beautiful, prosperous country. It has so much in its resources, its talents, its people – even though these are imperfectly shared. It has such a great share of so many precious assets – from oil to fishing to research to renewables to culture – that it seems ridiculous to ask whether we can make a success of independence. Of course we could.

But the question for generations that follow us will be whether it was right, whether we should become independent.

Opinions are always shaped by families. Our family has never based its happiness on wealth. I grew up learning from you and my parents that common humanity matters more than profit, power or privilege. And so I want a Scotland whose society at home and international influence is based on similar values – a desire to do good and provide opportunity to all.

I don’t see that at the moment.

In such a wealthy country is it right that so many families have been forced to foodbanks? Is it right that benefits sanctions mean the ill and disabled feel threatened? Should children and pensioners be hurt by fuel poverty in a country overflowing with energy wealth?

For me such deep inequality cannot be moral. The shame of this inequality is evidence that the society that your generation and your parents generation fought for has been abandoned by the political class. The parties of government that control our tax and social security system no longer look out for the majority of people.

Scotland can do better. Other European countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Germany all prove that we can reduce poverty and inequality, while maintaining a strong, diverse economy. For that reason voting Yes is a moral decision.

Internationally, does the UK treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves?

In your life time you will have witnessed many British wars. From the end of war in Europe, to the descent of the British Empire, to prolonged occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

While the world is still dangerous and unstable, I cannot accept that selling weapons to dictatorships who torture their people is moral. I cannot accept that bombing and occupations – which result in vast civilian casualties – make us safer. They don’t.

An independent Scotland will play a humane role in the world based less on war and empire and more on peace and diplomacy. For that reason voting Yes is a moral decision.

It will be these decisions that determine my generation’s place in history. For Scotland this is a crossroads.

George Osborne has already promised £25 billion in further cuts to public services. All major parties in London are dedicated to spending £100 billion on more nuclear missiles. The difference is clear.

Due to the Westminster voting system, however Scotland votes we will be stuck with a political culture of elitism and corruption. It’s for these reasons – a lack of trust – that for most of my life the common response to politics has been apathy. People are frustrated and feel like there is nothing they can do. This Thursday there is.

This referendum is that opportunity for my generation. Thousands of people across Scotland have joined the campaign to create a democracy that puts people first. Just as your parents generation moved from a broken world in 1945 to a better society, today Scotland can move from a broken politics to a better society.

A public opinion poll released this week found that a majority of people who are 18-25, 26-35 and 36-55 support a Yes vote for independence. Those over 55 are more likely to be against.

The vote on Thursday will determine Scotland’s future.

Ultimately the future of our generation is in your hands.

Love your grandson,

Michael

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