I’m sure that blogs on the Scottish vote are many, some erudite, others emotional. These are my few observations after spending the day in Edinburgh.
We had been in Glasgow for a couple of days, and had observed that the yes voters were far more visible, with stickers in windows, flags on cars, and rallies in the square. The polite “no thanks” contingent appeared to be few and far between. We even saw a band promoting yes, but intermingled with Jesus songs, with an old style fire and brimstone street preacher who may or may not have been part of their act.
Our straw poll – taxi drivers, bar and restaurant staff, came up with replies like “the yes vote is only for those with money, I’m not sure what it will do to help me,” “we’re sick of talking about it but I’ll be voting yes,” “if we vote no Britain will clobber us” and the inevitable “I’m not sure how I’ll vote.” And with voting optional, the age lowered to sixteen, rules on current residence irrespective of the past, and only needing a 50.1% majority! the voting rules seemed to favour the ayes.
There were a few people in kilts, and as we struggled with the Glaswegian accent, one waiter told us that everyone was broadening their accent as a way of emphasising their Scottishness.
In Edinburgh, the city remained clouded in mist, with the castle invisible at times, giving the day a surreal feel. At both the polling booth and the parliament building there were crowds of people with flags, and an attendant media contingent. A guide at the Castle suggests that the weather effected the mood of the ordinary people – depressed by all the talk.
Catalans declared “we want to vote too but Spain won’t let us”, some of the yes stickers had a green centre, presumably from Northern Ireland, and I saw one Welsh flag. Signs proclaimed “end Tory rule forever” although the Prime Minister had argued that Tory rule will not last, as Parliaments continue to swing from right to left. Young people declared themselves as generation yes. Metro, the free newspaper, retained its apolitical stance, but urged people to vote. Other headlines referred to day of reckoning.
By late afternoon pubs were beginning to fill with noisy supporters, and as work finished for the day, cars were tooting their horns, sometimes at the sight of a blue and white flag, others seemingly at random. The no thanks reminded discretely out of sight.
When we got off the train at Glasgow, people were still bearing flags as they came into or left the city. There was still an hour of polling left. I thought I had found a queue of people waiting for the result, but David pointed out that they were waiting for the Apple store to open so they could buy their new iPhone at midnight (why?). For many, the world goes on, regardless.
We ate in a trendy bar, filled with young professionals, who were noisy and convivial. They too seemed untouched by the polling hype, though they had probably voted.
As I write this, the result should be known; I have heard more street noise this morning than other mornings, so suspect that there are groups still wandering around. Whatever the outcome, and without any deliberate intent, our adventure has included a window into Scottish history.