• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Whatever you say don't say 'whatever': young people fired up about referendum

YOUNG people got their chance to discuss the big questions surrounding Scottish independence at the Sunday Herald Young Scotland debate yesterday.

A panel representing both Yes and No camps assembled at The Arches in Glasgow to thrash out views on the hot topics behind the big question to be put to Scots on Thursday, September 18.

Compered by BBC broadcaster Vic Galloway, both sides laid out their arguments and the referendum issues facing young people before an audience of 100 people.

On the Yes side, the charge was led by Michael Gray, communications director for the grass-roots National Collective movement,

Backing him were Saffron Dickson, a school student and member of the same group, and Soma Records boss Dave Clarke

The No camp was marshalled by James Reekie, vice-chair of the Conservative Party in Scotland backed by teenagers Tessie Hartmann and Emma Hendrie.

Rapper Dave Hook, who performs with the band Stanley Odd, represented those who remain undecided.

With people aged 16 and 17 getting the vote for the first time, the referendum will represent many young people's first experience of the world of politics, and many on the panel said their views have been pushed to the background while politicians, business leaders and statesmen occupy the stage.

With just seven months to go, the panel said they were grateful for the chance to register their views, and set them out with poise, some good-natured banter and, occasionally, a few sparks.

The debate centred around Scottish identity; culture; jobs and the economy; social justice; foreign policy; and defence. There was broad agreement that Scottish ­identity would not be the deciding factor.

Reekie said: "People's identity is important. But is it going to be the most important factor when deciding how people vote in September? I don't think so."

Gray said he was more interested in Scottish political identity, saying: "It's more important to look at what politicians are doing. At the moment we're represented by Westminster, but I'd rather be represented by those with a Scottish political identity."

The financial implications of breaking away from the UK were discussed, with both sides making their cases for future prosperity should the vote fall in their favour.

Hartmann, who has a background in fashion, said that some Scottish designers and artists would find themselves isolated should Scotland not be part of the UK.

She added: "The rest of Britain is our biggest and best customer and we're basically being asked to divorce them with no terms of a contract when the divorce goes through.

"Why would we want to do that? We have an amazing country that has a 300-year union with the rest of the UK, so why would we want to give that away?"

However, Dickson was quick to argue a Scotland in control of its own finances would be better placed to offer a fairer deal to its poorer citizens and raise levels of attainment among the lowest-income groups which statistically perform worse at school.

She said: "At the moment we have classrooms where there are four children sharing a calculator. We can end that."

Hendrie admitted that Scotland could become a more socially just country after independence. But she tempered that by saying: "It seems like this is all based on promises from an SNP manifesto.

"We need more clarity than that."

Despite the differing viewpoints, consensus was reached on one point - the importance of taking part in the referendum.

It was left to Dave Clarke to sum up the views of all on the panel.

He said: "The most important thing is that people use their vote.

"To be apathetic about this is the worst thing that you can do at the moment, especially for 16 to 17-year-olds.

"Everybody should engage with the debate and be part of this momentous occasion."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

211495