As voters head to the polls, we talk to Scottish filmmakers, musicians, artists and writers about their referendum hopes (and fears)
Whatever happens in today's independence referendum in Scotland, one thing's for sure – for many Scots, their country will never be the same again. Lowering the voting age to 16 has opened up the fight to a whole new youth demographic, and the resulting battle lines have been drawn along everything from class, gender, age, political persuasion and which bit of Scotland you grew up in. The Yes campaign are bullies, according to the No lot. The No campaign are propped up by right-wing media bias, say the Yes voters. Meanwhile, David Cameron furiously backpedals on every patronising thing he's ever said about Scotland in a desperate attempt to keep the union together.
As Scotland heads to the polls today, Dazed decided to canvass young Scottish creatives (minus Richard Chater, who calls himself the "old man of Numbers") of all stripes and colours to ask how they're voting, why and what they're hoping to get out of the vote today.
ECLAIR FIFI (@eclairfifi)
LuckyMe DJ and illustrator
I grew up in Edinburgh and still live here. I come from a predominantly working class background with a huge family. It was drilled into me from a young age that Scotland deserves to be free from Westminster and that we were either “guinea pigs” for new policies or being lied to or "getting it tight” when schools, factories and community centres were getting closed down after the Thatcher era and the whole poll tax ordeal. A few years ago I did decide to go do my own research because I thought to myself “maybe I’m brainwashed by my socialist parents” but I did my research and the answer was still a bit fat yes.
I barely know a single no voter to be honest, regardless of age group! But there does seem to be a huge surge in young people becoming more politically aware and feeling like they can have a say for once, it’s awakened something. Whether it’s a no vote or a yes vote, Scotland has changed for good. I’ve seen some amazing bright sparks from the younger generation involved in the referendum, we’re in good hands.
I want to see fully independently run media outlets for Scotland without being run by papers like the Telegraph for example, which is fully Tory funded like many others. There is only ONE newspaper out of 37 in Scotland that supports independence. Hopefully groups like the Common Weal can abolish this kind of imbalance. When we get independence, we will have set an example to the rest of the world that you can beat such a strong media bias, beating half truths and lies. We won’t have utopia, we’ll still have imperfections but it will be our imperfections to make, learn from and change... That’s basically what most nations want no?
RACHEL MACLEAN (@Maclean_Rachel)
I think it could swing either way at the moment, which is exciting and a bit nerve-racking. It was the SNP landslide in 2011 that first made me aware that Scottish independence was a possibly. At the time I was concerned about the rise of nationalist politics in Scotland and distinctly suspicious of Alex Salmond. What I didn’t anticipate was the extent to which the independence campaign would reinvigorate Scottish (and with any luck, British) politics.
It is the first time in my life that I have been conscious of the sense of disillusionment and helplessness lifting from people's approach to politics. It's rekindled a belief that people have agency, power and right to implement social change, which is essential to an effective democracy. I think that irrespective of the result on Thursday, there has already been an important change in the collective political engagement of the Scottish people and that is a hugely powerful shift that cannot easily be reversed.
Watch Rachel Maclean's referendum-inspired film The Lion and The Unicorn on YouTube. rachelmaclean.com
RICHARD CHATER (@richard_nmbrs)
I was originally a no voter but then changed to yes a year or so ago. I'm voting yes for many reasons. First of all I'm a believer in the welfare state, free further education, the NHS, a fairer immigration policy. These are all things we should be proud and supportive of but under current and recent Parliaments (Labour and Tory) these great institutions have been chipped away at to the point of no return. As a smaller nation we can exert more influence over the government to ensure these services can thrive once again.
If it means paying more tax, then let's do it. This is a vote about what sort of society we want to live in. It's voting for an ideal, a fair and just society that's not beholden to the demands of the banks and multinationals. For all we know the SNP might try and cosy up to said groups but as a smaller independent nation, we will be in a stronger position to change these things...
This could all go tits up and it's going to be painful but fuck it, it's about time we voted with our hearts rather than our wallets. I'll never see the full benefit of this in my lifetime but my dream is that my daughter will.
Voting is the easy part. The hard work begins tomorrow.— Richard Nmbrs (@richard_nmbrs) September 18, 2014
OMAR ZINGARO BHATIA (@zingaromar)
Though I was born in Scotland, my parents are Indian/Tanzanian and Canadian. I suppose as the immigrant son of two people from nations who have fought against British colonisation, it is only natural that I should support Scottish independence, even if only at a subconscious level.
Whether we are writers, artists, musicians or designers, we are about creating, not maintaining and not trusting in antiquated formulaic approaches. This goes for our politics too. The Scottish creative community is overwhelmingly in support of Independence, to the point where its really hard to find a no-voter to represent the other side.
(There've been plenty of fights with family and friends over the referendum), but it's fantastic. This is perhaps the first time in our history that the Scots are actually discussing what kind of country they would want to live in. No blood has been spilled though, the worst that has happened is a few people have been unfriended on Facebook.
If we lose the referendum, there is still something for us to work towards together as a nation. The Union has no contingency plans if we win. Scotland will be an independent country, it's just a case of when. I have two bottles of champagne ready for a victory but I'm sure they can be re-appropriated for commiseration should the vote go that way.
I was born in Glasgow, but I live in Edinburgh now. I’m voting no, something that I’ve kept to myself really – people in my age group are really passionate to the point of anger.
I’m really nervous; I’ve read so much on it and both sides of the campaign are massively flawed, but the economic implications for me are huge. As an architect, so many of my professional and creative relationships are formed and maintained in London. We’ll lose out on business if we have a different currency, people are already reluctant to work with us because of the economic instability in the country.
I think a lot of people will leave Scotland after the referendum whatever the result. There will be people who will be too disappointed to stay if we remain part of the UK and if we gain independence, people will be forced to leave for jobs. Sadly, I think I would be forced to move to London if we vote Yes. I wouldn’t want to, but I think it would prove to be necessary.
People who don't work in construction don't understand the commercial aspect. International investors aren't keen to invest in new projects because they're so unsure about the economy right now. Even the UK government fund loads of international projects like airports for example. As a result of that funding, UK architects and designers get appointed on projects. If we break away from that, that's another step away from those projects.
I just don’t think it's really healthy for Scottish creatives to distance themselves further from the design capital of Europe.
ALAN BISSETT (@alanbissett)
Playwright, writer and Yes campaigner
I'm pretty heavily involved (with the Yes campaign). I've tackled the referendum in various ways through my plays and poems. I've spoken at pro-Yes rallies all over the country. I've written essays and appeared on television debates. My life and work for the last three years have been pretty much defined by the referendum. In fact, I am writing this wearing Referendum slippers and pyjamas, while puffing from a pipe out of which drifts Yes smoke.
The No campaign and the mainstream media – who are all owned by rich vested interests, benefiting from the current system – have incentive to portray the Yes campaign as thuggish, when in reality it's supported by a broad coalition of greens, feminists, artists and and progressives. Of course some Yes supporters can cross the line – and that's to be condemned – but I can personally testify to abuse and hateful language from No supporters as well. Only one of these sides is reported, however. In truth, it's how power always deals with a challenge: caricature it as hysterical or aggressive. Feminists anywhere can testify to that.
Part of the issue so far is that both Yes and No campaigns have been claiming to speak for the Scottish people, and we'll finally find out exactly what the Scottish people think. What has been wonderful is the political awakening in the whole country. Everyone – from young children to pensioners – is becoming informed, and discussing political ideas in a way that Scotland has never seen before. There's been a great blossoming of the intellect. That, ultimately, is a very a good thing.
History will judge the Yes campaign not on the result of the referendum, but on how we conducted ourselves afterwards.— Alan Bissett (@alanbissett) September 17, 2014