On September 18th 2014, the people of Scotland will decide whether they want to break away from the UK and become an independent nation. The Union of England and Scotland has been in effect since 1707 when the two separate countries joined together to form Great Britain. This will be the first time the people of Scotland will vote on full independence from the UK. It is also the first time that 16 and 17 year olds will be given a right to vote in a UK election.
Being Scottish, but living in England I don’t get to vote on what is potentially the break up of the UK. Of course, I can see both sides of the argument and so in an effort to understand more, I’ve been spending some time in Scotland shooting a series of large format photographs of young people born on 18th September 1998. They will celebrate their 16th birthday on the day of the referendum and so will be the youngest people to cast their ballot. It could be argued that being the youngest they also have the most at stake in the future of their country. They are old enough to vote on the breakup of the UK, but too young to consent to having their photograph taken, to young to drive a car, to drink alcohol or to get married. My aim is to give each of these young people a direct voice in the debate without the barrier of a journalists questions or interpretation. Each portrait is accompanied by a hand written text explaining whether the person is voting ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ and their reasons why. I was deeply impressed with all of the young people I spoke to and found them well informed and engaged in the debate, although more than one said to me that they felt it was too much of a responsibility for them to take on when they didn’t have, and felt they couldn’t know, all the facts and implications of full independence for Scotland. Thanks to all for taking part – democracy and political debate is alive and well in the next generation.
Here’s the first few….