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Why you should vote: Sunday Herald youth debate

Hip-hop collective Stanley Odd are renowned for the incisive wit and sharp social commentary of their songs.

Sunday Herald arts editor Alan Morrison described the Edinburgh-based band as the voicie of a generation. Their song, Antiheroics, tackles voter apathy, berating politicians but observing: "Putting an X in the box means you're watching back".

That song's author, rapper Dave Hook, sees why many people feel disillusioned by politics, but believes those feeling disenfranchised have the most to lose if they disengage from political debate.

He says: "A lot of people don't vote because they don't think their voices will be heard or that they matter. But in fact political decisions really affect their lives, and it's important that we engage with those sections of the community who feel they don't have a voice."

Young people, he adds, are far from apathetic over politics, particularly where independence is concerned. "I've seen some debates involving young people and been blown away by the insight shown by many of them."

Hook will be a panelist on the forthcoming Young Scotland Debate, presented by the Sunday Herald and The Arches venue in Glasgow next month. Asked if he has a stance on the issue, he replied: "I would describe myself as leaning towards a Yes vote but maintaining an open mind."

Open-mindedness is, he feels, crucial, given the magnitude of the decision for young people, many of whom will be voting for the first time in a referendum whose consequences will affect their generation more than any other.

As Hook points out, many people still feel unclear about the practicalities of how Scotland might change after a Yes vote. "With the independence referendum, we're talking about replacing the system entirely. Both sides of the argument will tell you something is a fact in order to make their point. Stanley Odd is in no way affiliated with any political entity and that gives us an advantage that politicians don't have: we're allowed to see both sides of the story."

He hopes the Young Scotland debate will differ from the "point-scoring, conflict-ridden" nature of mainstream politics, and that's the intention. His fellow panel member, Slam promoter Dave Clarke, is equally disenamoured with what he describes as "London-centric politics", but he is optimistic that "youth can make a difference and it's their future that today's political elite can either fix or mess up".

The panel will be completed by four young Scots from both sides of the Yes/No divide, but whose views won't necessarily be fixed. One 16-year-old panel member describes herself as "against independence but not closed-minded about the argument."

Around 100 more young Scots will take part in the debate. The event's chair, author, musician, and Radio Scotland broadcaster Vic Galloway, hopes it will be an "involved and inclusive audience".

Galloway said: "I hope we can cover the issues of identity, culture, jobs, the economy, social justice, foreign policy and more."

Tickets for the event are free and available from the box office of the Arches. The venue's creative learning programmer, Jodie Wilkinson, said: "I want to empower myself and others in making choices which affect our present and futures. We dearly hope you will join us."

The Young Scotland Debate is at 2pm on Saturday, February 8 at the Arches, 253 Argyle Street, Glasgow. For free tickets, visit the box office or phone 0141 565 1000.

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