I VOTED No in 2014. Not because I was scared, not because I didn’t love Scotland and not because I believed everything Better Together said, especially not the vow everyone kept banging on about. No, the reason I voted No was because while I liked a lot of the vision the Yes campaign put forward I just didn’t trust the plan they had come up with to get there – rather I think looking back I didn’t believe them any more than I believed Better Together to actually do what they said they would do.

Also I, along with many others at the time, figured the bottom was going to drop out of the oil and gas sector sooner rather than later. So, in the referendum campaign I was a quite vocal “No Thanks” campaigner (with a small “c”).

The week after the referendum however I joined the SNP at my local branch in Stornoway. The reason I joined is that it had become clear throughout the campaign that while I didn’t agree with the SNP/Yes plan I did favour their vision and it had become very clear that they were the party with the greatest focus on Scotland. So I figured rather than stand outside throwing stones and criticising I should put my money where my mouth was and muck in and help them come up with a better plan.

I was made very welcome at the branch – even after standing up in that first meeting after the referendum and explaining why I and many others had voted No.

Since then I’ve been sort of keeping up with things although, due to studying, I haven’t really been able to give politics much time, although I did keep up to date with things. I’m currently sitting on a train going up to Inverness after attending the SNP conference as a delegate for my branch. It has been an interesting conference and has really made me think about things. Over the last three years I have seen consistent competency and leadership coming from the SNP’s elected representatives at every level – from the councillors in the Comhairle, my MSP Alasdair Allan, to my MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil, along with both their sets of colleagues in their respective parliaments. And, indeed, let’s not forget our valiant MEPs either, as they are providing a constant voice of reason and rationality in a bit of a void.

I’ve especially seen an SNP government that has kept its manifesto promises, has fulfilled commitments and, most importantly, has shown vision, leadership and hope at a time when they have been sadly lacking elsewhere.

Do I think the SNP is perfect? No, they have issues as do all parties and governments. What I do think about the SNP, however, is that they do listen and they do, on occasion, change direction after listening. What I like most about the SNP, however, is that they dare to dream, they dare to imagine, and they dare to hope – and then they act.

As I sat through Nicola Sturgeon’s speech this afternoon I could not help but contrast the hope and the optimism, but above all, the real, tangible, practical steps being announced.

This is the Scotland I want to see and the Scotland I want to be a part of.

This is one No voter who has become convinced that independence is the way forward.
Eddie Hallahan
Via email