By Anne-Marie O’Donnell
A new youth movement in Scotland is launching this month ahead of the independence referendum which claims it will be the country’s younger generation of voters that deliver a Yes vote.
The Youth & Students For Independence group, also known as MyYesScotland on Twitter, officially launches on 29 March but has already racked up more than 2,000 followers on Twitter. The youth vote will be key in the independence referendum after the decision was made in 2012 to allow 16 and 17 year olds a say in the future of the country.
Writing in Bella Caledonia, 16-year-old Saffron Dickson said that rather than fitting the “ASBO holding hooligans” stereotype, the youth in Scotland are a “new force” in the referendum campaign.
“The very idea that young people are now being engaged with as a legitimate part of the electorate makes a wonderful change from the usual way some of our senior politicians tend to view youth,” Ms Dickson wrote. “‘Youth’- a word often used in conjunction with anti-social behaviour, disorder, problematic etc. But now a new force in the campaign for Scottish Independence.
“The youth of today are not all ASBO holding hooligans but rather dedicated and passionate people who want to see Scotland in the hands of the Scottish people. The mass under-representation and lack of expectations for us younger people is something that needs to be challenged- and it will be. The grass-root nature of this campaign is what makes it so different, so appealing to the youth- and trust me, we want in on it!”
The movement comes on the back of poll results in January that showed a dramatic change in the youth vote direction. The poll, commissioned by Scotland on Sunday newspaper, showed a 26 per cent swing towards a Yes vote for independence, bringing the figures up to 44 per cent in favour of an independent Scotland and 33 per cent against.
The figures represented a sharp turn from a study released a year ago which suggested that 60 per cent of 14-17 year olds wanted to stay within the union. Overall, the January poll showed a significant increase in the numbers planning to vote in favour of independence as the referendum approaches, now sitting at 37 per cent, closing in on the No votes at 44 per cent.
According to Ms Dickson, youth voters have not been influenced by the “scaremongering of Better Together” and claimed younger people focus on “real issues”, not party politics.
“We have something unique that the No camp don’t have; we have personality,” she continued. “Young vibrant people absolutely bursting at the seams to tell you why we must become a better, fairer, independent Scotland- so let us tell you! We have fire in our bellies, one that’s burning brighter than even and cannot be dampened by the scaremongering of Better Together.
“We are the generation that are asking for help to save our future, we are the generation that is strong enough to stand up to the corrupt systems in Westminster, we’re the generation who will not take no for an answer.”
You can keep up with the latest from the group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MyYesScotland) or on Twitter at @myYesScotland.