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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

​Jane Bruce: Why I am sitting fidgeting on the fence over the referendum

This opinion piece is about 8 years old
 

​Clore fellow Jane Bruce is from the north of England but is settled for good in Scotland - she is yet to make her mind up on how she will vote

So being on the Clore Social Leadership Programme has given me an interesting position from which to consider the current independence debate. I’ve been spending time thinking about how society works anyway so add the referendum into the mix and my mind has been buzzing away considering the potential ramifications of a yes or no vote. And yes, I am one of those annoying undecided voters still sitting on the fence with a mere handful of days left in the campaign.

There is head and heart at play in this decision for every voter and I’m no different. I’ve always ticked that box marked ‘British’ when asked (definitely not ‘English’) and my roots in the north east of England plead with me not to abandon the region to the same Westminster policies and London-centric climate that many Scots would like to opt out of.

Clore Social itself is a UK-wide programme and I’ve loved criss-crossing the British isles learning from a massively diverse and talented group of individual leaders. Of course there is huge ability within the sector in Scotland itself but the diversity and innovation I’ve discovered through Clore Social has undoubtedly been enhanced by it being a UK programme.

Jane Bruce
Jane Bruce

If this is true of our sector and one such programme, how might independence hinder all forms of cross-border innovation and collaboration?

And yet…independence offers a watershed moment for Scotland to choose to further the cause of social justice and implement progressive policies that could influence the rest of the UK and beyond. The potential for the people of Scotland to be the masters of their own destiny and to work towards creating a more just and equal society is definitely an aspiration I could sign up to. In particular, the ability to re-shape the benefits system and employment services so that they empower rather than demonise marginalised and vulnerable people is a tantalising prospect.

The Clore Social Fellows based in other parts of the UK haven’t exactly helped my decision-making with opinions ranging from “Don’t leave the north of England stranded!” to “Scotland should totally go for it!”. Whatever their opinions, there is definitely a recognition within the group and a hope even that whichever way the vote goes, there will be huge repercussions for the rest of the UK in terms of the way our democracy and society works.

So here I am still fidgeting on the fence, teetering from side to side, considering the arguments but not quite tipping over the edge. I look at my children and wonder how they would want me to have voted by the time they are voters too. I think about my community, what it needs, what vote it wants. I think about Scotland, a country I love and have settled in for good, I worry about the rest of the wider UK and the precarious state of the world as a whole and then I fidget a bit more.

 

Comments

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Kathleen Cumming
about 8 years ago
Hello Jane, as someone who always called herself Scottish, not British, you might think we don't have a lot in common. Maybe we don't. But you obviously have a strong moral code, a compassionate heart, and a desire to help whoever you can, wherever you are, regardless of the possible outcome to yourself. I won't tell you what to do. Regardless of what I believe to be right, my first desire is in the freedom of democracy. Always , it is our choice. We think with our brains, our head, our intelligence. We are not insects, or animals who react by instinct, or a hive type mentality. When we marry up the desires of our heart, with our intelligence, we know the answer. Our conflict is because we can't please everyone, and certainly not all of the time. We are not perfect. However, whatever our choice, we should have peace in our hearts to keep us steadfast in our decisions. You are not alone. Whatever the path Scotland chooses, we will always need people of courage, people of integrity, and people of compassion. I can see that you fulfil these requisites.