It might at times seem a daunting prospect but we shouldn’t shy away from engaging with the debate around independence, says List editor Gail Tolley Illustrations: Emma Ahlqvist

I t boils down to a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but behind the ‘thumbs up, thumbs down’ vote this September is a large, complex and shifting debate that has repercussions for every aspect of our lives. Some people are complaining of ‘referendum fatigue’ (that’s still with eight months to go) and with passionate (sometimes rather heated) discussions playing out in the media and online, the whole affair can seem like a bit of a quagmire.

Here at The List we wanted to look at the discussion from a cultural angle. We wanted to open out the debate, rather than close it down. We wanted some alternative perspectives on the topic. And we wanted to ask questions (a lot of questions) because the deeper you delve into the ideas around independence, the more questions that arise. We also wanted to have some fun, because at the moment we don’t think there’s enough humour in the mix. We knew before we started planning the feature that there were strong voices from the Yes side within the cultural sphere. What came as more of a surprise was how few i gures in the arts are taking a stand to make arguments for staying in the union. This side of the debate is mainly

being fought in the economic and political arenas. And there are many more individuals who’ve chosen not to share their views in public. Both of these factors inl uence and shape the debate as it stands. Is the discussion currently as broad-ranging and in-depth as it should be? In some ways the debate is the most important part and we should be paying due attention to how it evolves. At a time when there are complaints of political apathy and low election turnouts across the UK, in Scotland there’s an increasing level of engagement with ideas of how our society is run. Undeniably the debate itself, as it changes over the next eight months, will have a lasting impact regardless of how the i nal vote goes. The process of thinking and rethinking how we want our country to be in the future isn’t just a means to an end: it’s an important act in itself and it’s why engaging in the debate is so important.

A variety of voices follow: some real, some i ctional, some well- known, others not so and some completely irreverent. We hope they contribute to making the referendum debate a rich, enlightening and far-reaching experience.

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