Debbie Mallet, PCS Young Members Network Vice Chair and pro-independence activist explains the PCS position on the Scottish Referendum and how young people can get involved in the debate.
At its annual conference in 2013, PCS delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of motion A519. This motion set out a detailed timetable for our strategy of engagement in the lead up to the referendum. This strategy included a period of consultation with Scottish branches and full participation with the STUC seminars on the implications of independence. Detailed correspondence was also sent to every PCS member in Scotland giving information on both sides of the debate.
As part of motion A519, delegates also voted in favour of holding a special conference for Scottish branches so members in Scotland could determine if PCS should take a stance on independence or if we should remain neutral. Ahead of this conference, Scottish branches used their AGM’s as an opportunity to fully consult with their members and take a vote on the branches position.
On Saturday 22 February, one delegate from each branch was invited to attend this conference in Glasgow and following on from the discussions held at AGM’s, delegates voted against promoting either a “yes” or a “no” vote and instead opted for neutrality.
18,025 votes were counted in favour of taking no stance. 5,225 voted in favour of supporting the Yes campaign, and interestingly, there were no votes for the Better Together campaign.
As a result, we will be contacting both sides and collating information no how they intend to help our members so that we can provide as much information as possible to allow voters to make an informed decision.
For many young people, this will be the first major political event they will have been involved in, particular following the Scottish Government’s decision to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds – something that has never happened before. Whatever decision is made on 18 September, it will shape the future for our young people and it is absolutely vital that they embrace their democratic right to vote and become part of something historical.
Events are being held all over the country which will help people form their opinions and assist them with their decision on how to cast their vote. Some of these events will be held specifically for young people, perhaps in schools, universities and by student unions, and the trade unions should play a key role in delivering this.
Yet again, PCS has led in the way for democracy and we now have the opportunity to challenge both sides of the campaign to ensure the best result for our members.