On young people, voting and the EU - Liam Beattie blogs

The early hours of Friday 24th June 2016 will be an historic moment for Scotland, as well as our neighbours in the rest of the UK. Within these few hours, our future will be decided as the final results come in for the EU referendum; whether we choose to be an outward looking nation full of optimism, or be dragged down a road of populism and fear. Today is your last day to make sure your voice is heard by registering to vote. 

In Scotland we are well versed in making big constitutional decisions and recent history shows we are never ones to shy away from stating our opinions loudly and clearly. The turnout on the 18th September 2014 may not have delivered a result that I or other Scottish Greens worked so hard to achieve, but revealed that we Scots are rather fond of democracy and civic engagement. Whilst this month’s referendum is being fought amidst the backdrop of a Conservative party tearing itself apart and a race to the bottom in scaremongering over immigration, the question is no less important than the one asked of us nearly two years ago.

I and other young Scots have formed the very first Generation European Union, born into a Scotland with strong ties to our neighbours across the sea and one where we can exchange ideas, knowledge and opportunity through peaceful cooperation and freedom of movement. In stark contrast our parents and grandparents lived in a Europe polarized by its historical and political divides. A continent where 28 nations used to solve their problems by guns and bombs, now solve them through debate and diplomacy. 

It’s often said that you do not know what you have until it’s taken away from you and I firmly believe this couldn’t be truer for our generation. We think nothing of seamlessly travelling from Paris to Prague or Stockholm to Sofia, free from the constraints of visas. Nor would we ever accept an alternative to having guaranteed paid holidays and rights when we enter our first jobs. Or would we want to see our clean beaches and rivers ruined by harmful pollutants.

This vote is about whether we want the UK to opt for splendid isolation, or become a team player in an ever-closer world. The common bonds we have with our Facebook friends in Portugal or Instagram followers in Poland see us stand in solidarity in demanding a fairer, more democratic and environmentally secure Europe. Our ambitions do not start and end at Dover, for our aspirations and ambitions transcend national borders. 

The European Union is far from perfect, but to walk away now would be to hamper our freedoms, protections but most crucially, our opportunities. It is for these reasons that making sure you are registered to vote is so important, and you have until midnight tonight (Tuesday 7th June) to do so. 

So, in less time that it takes to make a cup of tea, you can get registered and then join us in securing a greener, more prosperous Europe for all of us.

- Liam Beattie, youth activist & blogger.

Register to vote by clicking here.