I voted No in 2014 but now I’ve changed my mind

When I voted No in 2014 it wasn’t a difficult decision. I didn’t spend any sleepless nights tossing and turning over the pros and cons of what an independent Scotland would look like, nor did I dither in the voting booth when it came to marking my X in the box.

I was 19 years’ old and, at the time, felt confident that staying in the union was the surest way to safeguard the interests of Scotland’s most vulnerable. Afterall, I felt no different from any teenager living in Manchester, Belfast, or Cardiff. The notion that we would somehow be better off without each other seemed, to me, illogical. The risk, I believed, was too high and the potential collateral damage too great.

Less than two years later I sat up watching the results of the Brexit referendum come in, each new declaration sitting heavy in my chest.

I felt upset; I felt betrayed; but most of all I felt angry. Angry that we had been so misled by politicians who would never need to shoulder the consequences of austerity; angry that we were to be pulled out of Europe against our will; angry that, as it so often is, our most vulnerable in society would be the ones impacted the most.

Just as my initial No vote was an easy choice, so was my switch to Yes. The great thing about democracy- and something we sometimes forget- is that we’re allowed to chop and change our minds as new circumstances arise.

If the Yes movement is to succeed, they will need a mass conversion of has-been No Voters, like myself, to truly believe in independence and to feel accepted in the movement. This is only achievable if we allow people the freedom to reevaluate their position without fear of backlash and with the compassion and tolerance an independent Scotland should want to uphold.

When I backed Better Together I did so out of a passionate love for Scotland; our people, our culture, our heritage; and it’s with that same passion that I’ve now wholeheartedly come to support Yes.

I’ve learned that a Union is only viable if each of its partners are being given an equal say. Since 2014 it’s become painfully apparent that Scotland’s voice is not only being ignored, but entirely dismissed.

As shown in the results of the General Election last December, our path is no longer aligned with that of Westminster. We are separate nations with differing wants and priorities, to keep us locked in what has become the toxic marriage of the Union is nothing short of ruinous, and will have a devastating impact on communities across the country.

Momentum for independence is building, opinions are shifting and, perhaps most importantly, a hope is growing that we, Scotland, can raise ourselves to something better than this.

Change is coming, and this time, I’m glad to be on its side.