Why I changed from campaigning for Better Together to backing Yes

On the night of 18th September 2014, I was literally jumping for joy seeing the results come in. For months I, along with everyone else in the room, had campaigned passionately for Scotland to stay part of the UK. I felt that Scotland had collectively made the right decision. Since then, I have changed my mind.

Far from it taking months to begin, the doubts first appeared at about 7am the following morning when Mr Cameron went straight for the jugular by announcing his plans for “English votes for English laws”. This didn’t feel like the partnership of equals we had just been celebrating, surely it wasn’t a sign of things to come?

Of course, it was. We were all told (some of you were told by well-meaning people like myself) that our only way to guarantee EU membership was to vote No. It took less than two years for that promise to be broken. Far from a partnership of equals, we were now facing the very real prospect of being dragged, kicking and screaming, from the EU against our will. That prospect has recently become a reality.

I voted to remain but I understand why a lot of people didn’t. People voted to leave the EU for many different reasons and it’s not my place to tell someone in Hampshire that they should agree with me. It’s clear that the majority of English voters wanted to leave the EU and, as sad as I find that, their wishes must be respected. However, every single constituency in Scotland voted to remain, 62% of the eligible population. Yet, because we’re in this “partnership of equals” our voices are effectively lost. That doesn’t sit right with me.

I’m using Brexit as a vehicle to express my point here, it’s not the only reason I’ve changed my mind from No to Yes but it perhaps best highlights the enormous gulf between the two countries’ needs and wishes. Another thing we were told during the 2014 campaign was that Boris Johnson would not become prime minister, that it was a scare tactic being employed by the Yes campaign. Yet here we are. Scotland hasn’t voted Tory for 60 odd years but we now face the daunting thought of seemingly endless Tory rule from south of the border. I think Scotland deserves better.

Power is wielded most effectively when it’s placed in the hands of those that will be affected (positively or negatively) by the decisions being made. The last 5 years has shown me the apathy that the majority of Westminster has for Scotland. It’s shown me that the needs of Scotland are different from that of the rest of the UK, a point that can no longer be reasonably argued against. It’s shown me, through the polls, that the tide is turning and people like myself have changed their mind.

My plea to people who were Yes in 2014 is to reach out to those people like me. People who are reasonably minded and open to looking at the facts with a fresh pair of eyes. Without us, you cannot win – the numbers don’t add up. We need to come together, through conversation, and find common ground. It can be done, but you need to extend a welcoming hand first.