Perhaps it was because Ne’erday was my father’s birthday that, as a youngster, I always preferred Hogmanay to Christmas.
Sure, I loved opening my presents as much as the next kid – still do – but Hogmanay and the legendary parties at our home always remain more vivid in my memory.
Since my dad’s death 12 years ago, Hogmanay has lost a lot of its lustre for me, but this Hogmanay is very, very special.
You would expect me as an SNP member and Yes voter to say that 2014 is a huge year for all of us in Scotland, and it most certainly is. When the fireworks go off across Edinburgh tonight they will mean much more than the signalling of a New Year – they will be lighting the torch for a year that none of us have ever experienced. A year to talk about what we want as a nation, a year to say Yes to a brighter future, a year to make history.
Above all it is a year to determine Scotland’s future in a calm and rational way. If we are to achieve independence, or settle for the status quo, it must be done without rancour, without violence, without fear and without hate. I call on all Scots to pledge themselves to that aspiration.
I want independence with a passion that I have never felt for any cause in my life. I’m aware that sometimes I have let that passion spill over and that I have offended people, but it has never been intentional.
That’s why I hope that Project Fear – don’t forget, that was their own name for themselves – can turn away from scare stories and start to provide some serious answers. At the weekend even Michael Forsyth, arch-unionist and Thatcherite, questioned the direction of the Better Together campaign.
He also called the Scottish Government’s White Paper ‘ridiculous.’ I have read it from cover to cover, and the only ridiculous things I could find in it were the questions that could not be answered because the Coalition government refuses to discuss any situation after a Yes vote.
What I find ‘ridiculous’ is the lack of any serious statement from Forsyth and any member of the Coalition government and the Better Together campaign about how they will seriously improve the lot of the Scottish people after a No vote.
Unlike some idiots on the internet, I do not question the patriotism of those who are committed to voting No. They see themselves as Britons and Scots, and are content with the Union, and that is their perfect right.We will all still be Britons and Scots after the referendum, because we will still be living on this island of Great Britain. But if we collectively vote Yes, we Scots can make things very different for ourselves.
We can tackle child poverty, divert resources from weapons of mass destruction to health and education, take control of our resources and use them to make Scotland a better nation.
For the independence referendum is not the end of a process but the beginning of one. There’s no point in voting Yes if we do not progress as a nation and make Scotland a fairer, healthier, richer and more just country. So welcome 2014 – the year of Yes, the year of destiny.