Soon the votes will be counted, the decision made and we will be forging our future. So much intense debate and discussion, soul-searching even, have led Scotland to this point and now – here we are. Whatever the outcome, we are standing at the door to a new day.
It was a pivotal decision and one which quite rightly rested with the people of Scotland. As the 1989 Claim of Right stated, the decision is “the sovereign right of the Scottish people”. So, the power was not in the hands of politicians, it wasn’t invested in investment groups or the ones with the most market shares, we each had an equal share and say. The future, whatever the outcome is, will be forged by us.
Whatever the outcome, we have a lot of work ahead and so many opportunities await us. Yes or No, this time of discernment has planted seeds that need to take root and be nurtured. We have a re-engaged, revitalised electorate, (people are excited by politics – go figure.) Harnessing the commitment and passion engendered by this referendum, not letting the momentum die now that the votes have been cast – remembering the kind of Scotland we want to be and carrying it forward into whatever future we have chosen, I think, is one of our biggest challenges.
We have to respect the result and stand together. We cannot afford to feud or fracture. There is too much work to do.
We live in a rich and richly diverse nation – a country with a deep commitment to the common weal. I hope that whatever the outcome, we will pledge anew that in all our actions and deliberations those who are the most vulnerable, fragile, marginalised, the ones who struggle to have their voices heard come first in the queue.
One in five children in Scotland live in poverty, a vastly unequal society where far too many still go with far too little, a richly gifted country where food banks are on the increase – how do we make sure those most in need come first? We have to find a way to close the fiscal gaps between us.
I’ve also heard a lot over the last while about expecting more from our politicians – more transparency, more honesty, energy, less politicking and arguing and more grappling together with the needs of the people they represent – and I agree that there is a lot to be done. But I think we need to challenge ourselves as well. If we want more from our leaders, then we should also step up and be more active citizens. And that’s not just about voting, but about being part of the change you want to see happening. If, for example, the appalling increase in food banks makes you hungry for a more equal society, say so. Donate your tins, then pick up a pen, write to your MSP or MP and ask why in 21st-century Scotland, people are forced to use food banks. Don’t just vent your frustrations to the telly, tell them.
“The sovereign right of the Scottish people”. And with sovereignty comes responsibility. So, what’s our role in contemporary Scotland? Yours and mine, if it isn’t to take seriously the sovereignty placed quite rightly in our hands, if it isn’t to take, quite rightly, the responsibility that that places on our shoulders?
Soon the votes will be counted, the decision made and we will be forging our future. We walk together into a new day.
Sally Foster-Fulton is convener of the Church and Society Council