Comment: ‘Don’t moan if you don’t actually vote’

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Whatever else happens tomorrow, one thing appears certain – it will be a resounding triumph for democracy.

There has been a lot of criticism of the way the independence debate has been played out. It has been decried as divisive, aggressive, disrespectful, scaremongering, and much more. And most of the criticism has been richly 
deserved.

But there has been something wonderful about the process, too. Something truly inspirational.

People have become engaged in politics in a way that few in this country have experienced before.

Hundreds of thousands of people who had forgotten what the inside of a polling booth looked like, or had never seen one before, are preparing to have their say.

A remarkable 97 per cent of the electorate – 4.29 million people – have registered to vote, including more than 100,000 16 and 17-year-olds.

Such has been the enthusiasm the authorities have had to adapt their usual election plans, opening more polling stations to ensure that everyone is able to exercise their democratic right.

Some are even planning to march to the polling booth together with a bagpiper leading them.

Of course, polling stations must not become the focus of political rallies which might deter others from voting in any way. But this kind of passion has to be 
embraced.

One of the big challenges for all of us afterwards, as Sally Foster-Fulton argues elsewhere on this page, will be to ensure that interest and excitement doesn’t just dissipate the moment the referendum is over.

Can we find ways of reinventing our politics to keep more people engaged and feeling that their voice can make a difference? We must hope so.

But for now that question can wait – there is a bigger one before us to settle.

It is no exaggeration to say that it is the biggest political decision that any of us have ever had to make. It is one that will affect not just the rest of our lives and those of our children, but generations of Scots to come.

Many of us have cast our votes already by post and many more would not dream of missing the chance to have our say.

To the others, who are not yet committed to taking part in one of the biggest days in our modern history, a word of warning – don’t grumble about anything 
afterwards.

If you don’t vote, you give up your right to moan.