Scotland politics

Scottish independence: What's making young voters change their minds?

Scotland's young people are wrestling with a big decision. On 18 September, everyone over the age of 16 who lives in Scotland will get their say on whether Scotland should be independent.

BBC Scotland has been following the referendum journey of 50 young voters collectively known as Generation 2014.

While many of them have now made up their minds, others have switched their voting intentions along the way, and some are reconsidering their stance with just a few weeks to go until the vote.

I caught up with a group of them to see what's behind their change of heart.


Sean Thomson, 16 from Perthshire was an ardent Yes supporter. He now says he'll be voting No.

Why did you change your mind? Up until I read the Scottish government's White Paper I was a very strong Yes supporter. Any chance I got I argued in favour of independence, but I was disappointed with the lack of fact in the White Paper.

It's 670 pages long but didn't really answer any questions and all the information was very vague. It's too big a leap of faith for me.

What would change your mind again? I'll be voting No on 18 September. There is nothing the Yes campaign could say to convince me, it's too late for that.

Over the last few months Better Together have been a lot more driven and they actually use facts to back up their arguments, rather than just asking you to trust them. There are no tricks that the Yes campaign could pull out of their sleeve now that would change my mind.

What would you still like to know? I would like the know the true position on the currency - that's still the 'elephant in the room'.


Image copyright BBC Sport

Raabiah Siddique, 16 from Glasgow was going to vote No but now favours a Yes vote.

What changed your mind? Until the White Paper was released I was a definite No but then I started doubting my decision and became undecided.

A friend who is a Yes supporter was telling me the pros and cons of both campaigns and I began to question my research.

What would change your mind again? I haven't definitely made up my mind but I'm about 80% sure that I'm a Yes. I think an independent Scotland could prosper and that some of the decisions made now in parliament are not always best for us.

But there's obviously the question of whether an independent Scotland would be able to pay for things like the NHS.

What would you still like to know? The White Paper says one thing and David Cameron says something else that completely contradicts it. I think there are lots of people, not just teenagers, who find it difficult to understand.

I would like to know whether we can be 100% assured that the NHS and higher education would still be free in an independent Scotland. A lot of people rely on the NHS so that would heavily influence my decision.


Edan Hansen 15, from Aberdeenshire couldn't make up his mind but now thinks he'll vote Yes.

What made up your mind? In February I had a big rethink and decided that independence was worth taking the risk for.

Until then I hadn't been convinced, but now I think it could work. I don't trust the politicians and find a lot of what the campaigns say quite confusing.

What would change your mind again? At the minute I'm about 60% decided, but I could still change my mind again.

If the UK changed from having a right-wing government I would probably decide to vote No but I can't see that happening.

What would you still like to know? A lot of people online were talking about the decrease in child poverty if Scotland became independent and that was what convinced me, so I want to know if the Scottish government can keep their promise on that.

I'd also like to know what else Scotland could gain from independence.


Lewis Munro, 16 from Motherwell was open to persuasion, but having been put off by the White Paper now backs a No vote.

What made up your mind? Until the White Paper I was waiting for more facts, but when I read the White Paper it pushed me away from voting Yes.

I saw what the plan for independence was, but there were so many questions it didn't answer and that still to this day haven't been answered.

What would change your mind again? I'm definitely a No, nothing at all could change my mind.

I've been paying a lot of attention to the campaigns. Better Together have to carry what looks like a negative message, but they have been very honest and open.

They seem to be basing things on the head rather than the heart.

What would you still like to know? I think too much emphasis is being placed on the enormous questions. The biggest question that isn't being answered is what the basic changes affecting people day to day might be.


Halima Kolo, 16 from Dundee was planning to vote Yes but is now feeling unsure about her vote.

What changed your mind? I was speaking to my friends about the referendum, and they said they didn't really know enough about the debate to make a definite decision. I started to think of the things I was unsure about, the lack of facts.

My dad is good at explaining things to me, so that's where I get most of my information from. My family are split 50/50 between Yes and No, and it's only me that's in the middle.

What would change your mind again? I'm still leaning towards a Yes as I'm an optimist and I think if people genuinely want independence why stop them.

I'm not convinced by Better Together at the minute but that could change. I'm still not sure enough to say I will definitely vote Yes.

I find what my family say quite persuasive, and that makes me more engaged in politics than listening to the politicians. They're good at speaking to adult voters but the words are sometimes too big or complicated for younger voters.

What would you still like to know? I'm concerned that long-term Scotland might not be able to continue with free education.


Gregor Larmour, 16 from Ayrshire was planning to vote No but since December has been wavering.

What changed your mind? I felt that maybe I was being a bit close-minded by being such an outright No.

I've been trying to listen more to the other side of the debate as well and every time I watch a video or read something from the No side I try to also watch something from the Yes side straight afterwards.

What would help you make up your mind? A lot of what the campaigns say is just political jargon. If they were trying to target teenagers more it would be easier for us to understand.

I'm getting closer to making a decision but it's hard to believe one side over the other. I don't think I'll have made up my mind for definite until a few days before the vote.

What would you still like to know? I would want to know whether an independent Scotland could still subsidise tuition fees as I want to go to university in the future.

I like the idea that Scotland could support its population on its own, but I could still see myself coming round to a No point of view.