Specifically those 16 and 17 year old new voters.
I watched Newsnight Scotland last night, they were having one of their invited-audience, I hesitate to call them debates because they're not really, more like set pieces carefully orchestrated by programmers to deliver a predetermined conclusion, it is after all the BBC.
That to one side however, I've watched a number of programs where young folk have been asked their opinions on the independence debate, I also spend some time with that particular age group and it seems to me, the default position is a 'no' to independence. Not because they disagree with the idea per se but because they've not really thought about it, I think it might be that young people are used (mostly anyway) to following others, be it their peer group, parents or prevailing trends, no one can deny, if your only input is the press, the BBC and other TV stations, the prevailing trend is; independence is bad.
You would think young people, being fresh and unhindered by years of adulthood and the disappointment it brings, wouldn't be affected by the crushing sense of betrayal and the resultant over-powering cynicism which dictates our beliefs in adulthood, speaking personally for a moment, after 13 years of New Labour; the inventors of spin, as an adult (although sometimes its hard to tell,) I find it hard to believe anything politicians say these days.
Young people should be filled with hope shouldn't they? At the age of 16 or 17 are they not desperate for more independence? Do they not want more autonomy, control of their own lives and to be allowed out late at night? I'm not even going to draw a parallel between that and Scotland going independent because its not even close to being a true comparison, but still...
Ignoring that BBC audience of young people because I don't believe for a minute it was a true cross section of the youth of today, the young folk I talk to, and I'll be honest, think I'm a boring old bastard when I start droning on about Scottish self determination, I can actually see their eyes glaze over, in one respect, if I want them to piss off; its handy. But in others, (those that matter) I want them to listen because its really important stuff.
More oddly, the kind of issue that really applies to them, namely tuition fees for university, (the young folk I know are all terribly middle class) doesn't seem to sway them, the notion of having tens of thousands of pounds of debt before even entering the job market doesn't seem to bother them, and why should it, they're only 16 or 17 so have no concept of what it means to have the millstone of debt following you around for decades. I hear some say, 'well, its only a few quid a month isn't it?' Well yes, it is, but tote it up and you'll soon realise its actually a trap.
Where do young people take their lead? Well, let me say, I'm no longer young, in fact; I'm so old I didn't get a National Insurance Card, I got a slate with the number 1 scratched on to it. I imagine the youth of today take their lead from their peer group first, at least in terms of things like the fucking awful towie and Geordie Shore or what clothes are de rigueur. after that, for things that matter, I think they're either not interested or are informed by newspaper headlines, I don't think young people buy newspapers, but I know they'll read the headlines while they wait in the queue or as they pass the paper their parents left lying on the couch.
I think this is where the problem exists, particularly with regards to those 16 & 17 year old voters; the press. As we know, headlines tend not to reflect the facts or in many cases the story which its supposed to describe, as things are just now, in Scotland's main stream printed press, truthful reporting of news in terms of the independence debate is the exception, not the rule. Perhaps we should do to news papers what cigarette manufacturers may have to do with their product, remove all marketing from the outside packaging, having a newspaper on the shelf with only its name visible would work for me, the Daily Express could just print 'Diana' in big letters on its cover while the Mirror could just print 'Rag'. (If we allow them to have pictures, the Scotsman could have a picture of a black pudding supper because as we know, its all that paper is good for.)
What sensible 16 or 17 year old would vote for thousands of pounds of debt before beginning a career, a career which may not even start in the first place. Who among them would vote for paying for the care their parents need when they're elderly so they don't have to go through the ordeal of putting them out of their homes so it can be sold to pay for substandard care in an OAP internment centre you didn't choose far less like? Who among them wouldn't mind their country having the ability to destroy cities at the push of a button (with permission of course from the American government) yet allowed children not much younger than themselves to live in abject poverty?
And finally, nicking something from here. The Scottish government are saying things like this:
“…a constitutional convention should consider how to further embed equality and human rights within the constitution and the extent to which the people of Scotland should have constitutional rights in relation to issues such as welfare, pensions, health care and education.”
While Westminster in the form of Theresa May (Home Secretary) is saying things like:
“…and we need to stop human rights legislation interfering with our ability to fight crime and control immigration. That’s why, as our last manifesto promised, the next Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and it’s why we should also consider very carefully our relationship with the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention it enforces.”
I suppose its about trust, but in my experience, you don't learn the true meaning of trust until you've experienced the opposite, I don't believe the majority of young people have experienced true betrayal before and I wonder; if the Union prevails after 2014, will the no vote they gave be their lesson?