Editorial: Yes or No, we will go down in history

12th September 2014 at 01:00

Modern studies teachers must be rubbing their hands at the wealth of material that has been stacking up over the past two years. Next Friday, we'll finally know what their future students will be dealing with.

The referendum result will determine whether the relentlessly negative Better Together campaign can be viewed as an astute piece of realpolitik or one of the biggest tactical blunders in the history of political campaigning.

By definition, the No camp had to negate a proposal so it was always going to be less upbeat. Its sole strategy, however, has been to make independence seem as terrifying as possible, with nadirs including the much-ridiculed "patronising BT lady" advert and Lord George Robertson's apocalyptic claim that "the forces of darkness" would "simply love" a Yes vote. Experts in classroom behaviour could have told the politicos that such negative approaches rarely succeed.

If the No campaign has been lurid, the official Yes campaign has at times seemed blandly aspirational, with slogans such as "an opportunity for all of us to work together for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland".

But the pro-independence camp has drawn strength from a vibrant and diverse grass-roots movement. Teachers for Yes emerged to join the likes of Cabbies for Yes, Crofters for Yes and Scots Asians for Yes, among many others.

Future psychology students will have plenty to mull over, too, as the referendum poses a fundamental question about who we all are.

Thursday marks the first time in our country's history when its people - including many school students - will vote on whether political decisions should be made in Scotland alone. But they will also be stating decisively whether Scotland is a country or a UK region. By blocking the "devo-max" option from ballot papers, David Cameron has forced voters to make a definitive statement about their identity.

Amid the politicking, it has been easy to lose sight of just how remarkable the build-up to the vote has been: a peaceful, democratic independence campaign like this has few precedents. And Scotland's teachers have played a large part, as you'd expect from a profession with such a proud progressive heritage.

Sporadic tales of assaults on activists and online vitriol will not form the narrative in future history classrooms. The real story will be of thousands of people reconnecting with politics. They have flocked to campaign events at town halls, community centres and pubs all over Scotland. For political anoraks like me, it is profoundly uplifting to watch a 16-year-old pupil - part of a supposedly apathetic generation - talk eloquently about macroeconomic policy.

Be informed when you vote on Thursday. Be as sure as you can that you won't regret your decision come Friday. And be proud of the process that got us here - your students not yet born will have plenty to admire.



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