We're driving down to Durham where my parents live and I'm trying to explain to my two sons, five and seven, why I'm voting Yes.

It's not an easy sell. My sons like England. They particularly like the football teams and have pockets full of English Premiership trading cards. They love their grandparents who live there. They also know that I am English and don't talk like they do. Their dad is too. There is some disputing who is the more Scottish in our marriage since he's called Mackenzie and moved to Scotland when he was a child. I, however, though I grew up in England, spent a lot of time in the northeast, not far from Berwick-upon-Tweed. My dad is a Scot and there are plenty of Borders people in my mother's line. Nevertheless, there's enough Englishness to make our house a statistical No. In poll terms we would both be filed under the demographic "English-born".

My arguments don't wash with the kids. Togetherness moves them more. It's as if, to them, Scotland being independent from the United Kingdom is some kind of violent surgery involving lopping one's relatives off. The explanations I proffer about "people in a place called Westminster, a long, long way from us", being in charge and making different decisions from the ones we would make, flop.

Loading article content

They do like the idea of fairness, though. It's me that gets a bit wobbly on this one, as I feel the inevitable question looming of whether the English are less fair. Being English, I don't believe that. I've seen as much class division and income inequality in Edinburgh as any place I've lived in England. Holyrood may not be dominated by a public school elite, but there are plenty of them here in other positions of power.

Four years ago, I remember talking to a nationalist friend who was wearing a "Not British" T-shirt. I told him I could never wear that T-shirt as "British" was the only label I had. To say that I was Scottish seemed a lie. But to claim to be English seemed dishonest also: I feel I lost much of my Englishness long ago.

Perhaps it was finally shrugged off the moment that I became the mother of "Scottish-born" children. Like many of the English people who have moved here and stayed - and increasingly in recent decades there has been a migration of the English to what are sometimes called the Celtic fringes - I did so because I loved the place and people.

Still, for a while, I felt like the referendum was none of my business and that it was up to the people of Scotland to decide - as if I was not one of them. But it became apparent quite early on that Yes wasn't in fact holding a party to which I, on account of my English accent, would not be invited. And that has been one of the profound shifts. No longer does it seem appropriate to talk of independence in terms of nationalism. That's not to say there is no longer any anti-English sentiment - I've heard a fair few tales - but it's mostly not nationality, but two small words that are dividing us.

My Yes is still a wobbly one. Not long ago I told a No voter that I felt I was a Yes person, but one with doubts. "You'll probably vote No," she said. But Yes is what I keep returning to. Though I frequently argue myself away from Yes, terrified by the prospect of a broken economy, I never reach No.

When I wobble, though, it's not because of what Britain means to me. The proportion of Scots saying they are British has risen by 50% since 2011. Poll analysis tells us that people who feel a sense of British identity are less likely to vote Yes than people who don't. Yet the Yes campaign thrives. Many of those people who call themselves British are Yes people.

An English friend recently said she was voting Yes because she was attracted to a more participatory form of democracy. "The only problem is," she worried, "then I would have to participate." I echo that.

One of the biggest attractions of the Yes campaign, along with getting rid of Trident, is that it is a grass-roots movement of people, one that has energised us and made us feel democracy could work.

You don't have to be a Scot to relate to that; just as you don't have to be a Scot to believe in a more equal Scotland. You only have to believe that small democracies work (and some do) partly because they are more tailored and more responsive.

So it is this that inspires my Yes more than anything. The only problem is that we've heard some of this hope and enthusiasm before. When Barack Obama ran for US president, we heard a lot about hope and change in America.

But, as Harry Boyte, director of the Centre for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College, wrote last week: "Past experience shows the limits of electoral politics in generating lasting movements for empowering civic change and participatory democracy."

Boyte had watched a Scottish debate and noted that the most important question asked was "how the political involvement seen in the campaign could continue". The answer, of course, is it will be up to us to make sure it does, whatever way the vote goes - not just here, but in other parts of Britain too.

There will always be a bit of me that points south, to Durham, and beyond to friends in London. The A1 and M1 will still be there, connecting us. I will probably always feel British, rather than English-Scots. One of the reasons, however, I find it possible to say Yes, but not feel it is a denial of my personal identity, is that I believe the idea of Britain would survive independence. I even think that, as Professor James Mitchell of Edinburgh University has suggested, Britishness might be strengthened by it. Such a break might even be what it needs to revive, for the connections to be treasured. I am not saying No to Britain, just Yes to a different version.