So often when we discuss independence we talk about all of the things that would change or improve with the full powers of a normal, independent country. Not least, this includes being governed by the people and party that we have democratically elected (as opposed to being ruled by the Tory government who we haven’t elected in Scotland since 1959). And this is how it should be.
The people of Scotland deserve to be informed on all possible options, so that they can fairly and confidently decide how they want their future to look.
However, something that must also be given due focus and attention is how we want the road to independence to look.
We must encourage all voices to speak out because this is something that will impact all of us. But in encouraging people to use their voice, we must make it safe to do so.
Politics can be a deeply challenging and divisive sector to be involved in. Naturally, we all have different opinions and different goals for the Scotland we are and the Scotland we hope to be. However, what we so often see is a step away from the arguments for and against independence and a move towards vilifying individuals who dare to use their voice, or their platform, to champion a cause they feel passionate about.
In this modern world, so much of our political discourse takes place online. Whilst this brings huge advantages in that we are able to share information at a far quicker pace than is possible in person, the pitfalls are dangerous and we must begin to tackle these, lest we lose the voices from the communities who make our country the diverse and vibrant place it is.
When an argument about something as hugely important and life-changing as independence gets reduced to personal attacks, we truly lose sight of the gravity of what we are discussing.
And, let’s face it, it is marginalised groups such as women, people of colour and the LGBT+ community who are most at risk of these online attacks. The undertones, and sometimes glaringly obvious, racism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny used online are enough to put even the bravest and most confident individuals off from speaking out or becoming involved in political activism.
This online behaviour is not reflective of the Scotland I know and love.
It is somewhere I am proud to live. Somewhere I know will thrive as an independent country if only we are bold and brave enough to make that decision.
So we must continue to share the positive case for independence, that goes without saying. But more than that, we must make sure that those who do so are supported and protected so that they feel able to continue their voice up until we achieve independence and beyond.
Follow Sally on Twitter: @SallyMDonald
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