The National:

RECENT polling has consistently shown that young people are hugely in favour of Scottish independence, at a rate as high as 70%. This clearly demonstrates that young people are ambitious for change and that Westminster doesn’t represent us or our views. Alongside independence, young people have highlighted their priorities of the environment, the economy and protecting democracy. Soaring support for independence is paired with polls which show that young people are the highest supporting demographic of the SNP. With the SNP predicted to win around 50% of the vote in constituency seats and an overall majority in parliament, getting out the youth vote is crucial.

At the election in May, young Scots have the opportunity to choose our own future, as well as shape the future of Scotland. As a generation, young people are change-makers. Brexit and a decade under the Tories has shown that an independent Scotland is our only option. The socially justice, climate-conscious Scotland that young people seek to shape cannot be achieved under Westminster rule. With the threat of power grabs, the only way to ensure that we can build that Scotland is with all our powers within our control.

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Recently announced manifesto commitments from the SNP have clearly been designed with young people at their heart. As a 19-year-old young woman who benefits from free university tuition, I am already grateful for the opportunities afforded to me thanks to the SNP Scottish Government. Looking towards May, I am excited about policies such as the expansion of free bus travel for under 22s, the pledge to scrap council tax for under 22s, and the youth guarantee. I often see the blatantly ill-informed argument online, that these policies will not benefit young people. This view fails to recognise the young people who spend as much as they earn, travelling to their part time job, or the young people who currently have to pay council tax. Announcements like the provision of free laptops and tablets to all school aged pupils will have an incredible impact on fighting digital exclusion, providing exactly what young people need to succeed. The SNP clearly understand the challenges and barriers facing young people in Scotland and are working hard to address them.

Young people want to live in an outward looking, self-determining, European Scotland. Brexit has taken from young people opportunities which we will never get back. The scrapping of the Erasmus scheme has come as a bitter disappointment to many students like me. The Turing scheme, an attempt at a replacement for Erasmus+, falls short on so many levels. There is no reciprocity for incoming students, which will no doubt cause many partnerships to cease and a decrease in future mobility. I hope that come January, I will be able to experience life studying in Copenhagen, the capital city of a small, wealthy European country, with a similar population to Scotland. But I am currently facing a complex, expensive, highly administrative process, which will no doubt be a barrier to many. The combination of Brexit and the pandemic has wide reaching consequences, not least for students.

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The hypocrisy of the Scottish Tories is self-evident. At the recent leaders’ debate Douglas Ross called for unity and in the next breath stated a refusal to work with pro-independence parties, even on climate change. This is the biggest issue facing our generation and it is too important for Tories to play divisive party politics with. Young people recognise who is trying to safeguard our future, and the future of our planet.

It is ambition and positivity that I see from the SNP in the media. Whether unveiling more manifesto commitments or championing the idea of a fairer, progressive independent country. This echoes the values of me, my friends, and other young Scots who are committed to championing climate justice and building a fairer society. Nicola Sturgeon has led a government with a vision that intends to shape a Scotland that is determined by its citizens. I trust Nicola. She is the most competent leader we have ever had in Scotland, leading our country throughout the pandemic and at every step recognising the voices of young people. This is in stark contrast with Boris Johnson, a secretive UK government and the scandals leaked out of Westminster.

Young people in Scotland are incredibly politically engaged. We recognise the tangible stake we have in our own future and the future of our country. For us, independence is the vehicle to a fairer, more equal country, where decisions about us are taken by us. The SNP is the means to achieve that. This is why, come the 6th of May, thousands of young people will join me, entrusting both of our votes with the SNP.