The wee blue #YesPleaseVan has returned home to Aberdeen after its hols (yes, I know, bad timing to be away on holiday right now…) and I thought I would provide a bit of an update on what I saw. I’ve previously written about my 1100 mile journey through Scotland in early August and at that time I was pleased to report that the only place that where No signs were present in any number were in Aberdeenshire along Deeside and Donside whereas Yes signs were (sparsely) present pretty much everywhere I went. Things have stepped up a gear on both sides of the campaign and there are plenty of signs from both campaigns on view pretty much wherever you go.
This trip took us from Aberdeen to Inverness and separate trips to Golspie and Ullapool followed by a trip down the A9 through Aviemore to Perth and then to Glasgow and onto Ardrossan. The return leg took in the Ayrshire coast via Greenock and Port Glasgow, through Glasgow to Perth and back to Aberdeen via Blairgowrie and Kirriemuir to Aberdeen. 750 miles or so in total and only a brief snapshot of signage, so take from this what you will.
I missed Craig Murray when he gave a talk in Insch a couple of weeks ago but I believe he observed that “the fields are voting No but all the houses are voting Yes” and this sums up perfectly what I saw over the past week. Between Aberdeen and Inverness there were plenty of large No Thanks signs stuck in the middle of fields but house after house had Yes posters in their windows. The highlight of the trip north was seeing the HUGE day-glo orange ‘Yes’ sign in the front garden overlooking the Kessock Bridge and unmissable for those driving north.
North of Inverness (both to Ullapool and Golspie) Yes signage is far more prevalent than No with some Yes campaigners being particularly prolific in their posting of signs (those responsible for the mile between Dingwall and Maryburgh deserve special commendation!). Ullapool was awash with Yes signs and saltires and the most excellent Ceilidh Place even had the waiting staff wearing Yes badges. (I cannot recommend the Ceilidh Place too much. Any trip to visit my mum involves going there for lunch and it even tempts me to move to Ullapool!) Yes stickers on cars were common while No were rare indeed. In fact, the place I saw the most No stuff was attached to the cars belonging to our friends who live just outside of Golspie (an immediate truce was called on arrival!)
The van didn’t make it to Ullapool but earned its keep sitting, flag waving in the breeze, at the junction of the A832 and A835 where all the traffic going north and west from Inverness passes by. I am not sure if it was the van or the large Yes sign in front of the house there but, either way, many horns were blasted by passing cars and trucks!
Driving through Muir of Ord, Beauly and Inverness, Yes signs were everywhere while No not so prevalent. Prize of the day was awarded to this fence in Inverness.
From Inverness to Aviemore it was more of the same and it wasn’t really until well south of Drumochter that No signs started to equal Yes ones. It wasn’t really a surprise to see the affluent areas around Blair Atholl, Pitlochry, Dunblane and Stirling with plenty of No voting fields but, again, the houses and the cars appear to be more inclined towards Yes. There wasn’t much to see going through Glasgow on the M8 and M77 and this continued into Ayrshire. In fact, of all the areas I have been to in Scotland in recent months, Ayrshire had the least amount of referendum signage of anywhere. Here I would say that No possibly outnumbered Yes, especially in the fields, but there was a curious lack of any signs at all. Except, that I saw my first and only (to date) poster on a lamppost advertising Wings Over Scotland so clearly someone has been busy! It was good to see people with Yes badges on in Largs and the Yes North Ayrshire shop doing roaring trade.
I spent Saturday afternoon in Govan assisting the Yes Govan team. I was visiting my aunt (who is a classic case of how the UK has failed its older generation – severely invalided and would have been a regular at a food bank when she retired if we had not been able to help her out more-than-a-little-bit every month) and couldn’t help myself so while she went off for a coffee with her chum I stood around outside the shopping centre at Govan Cross and spoke to people about politics. Let’s just say, Govan appears to be very much for Yes.
The volunteers were upbeat and plenty of people were interested in receiving information. Quite a number of the older folk said they had already voted Yes by postal vote but I didn’t hear a single person say the same about voting No. We had Mr Angry Labour man who insisted we admit the Labour for Indy poster was a lie (I didn’t spend much time speaking to him but he was there shouting for a good 20 minutes or so) and a younger No Thankser who I managed to entice away from the table for a quiet discussion.
Ye Gods, the lies people believe. Poor, poor people. It is no wonder people are scared of independence if they believe all the stuff this lad was spouting about the NHS, NATO, the EU and threats from the likes of Islamic State. Remember that when speaking to people who say they are voting No. Treat them with kindness because a lot of them are not selfish ‘I’m all right Jacks’ but people who may be in a pretty deprived state of existence who are being asked to risk it all (as they see it) for something worse. I wasn’t so impressed by some of the Yes team who descended on this poor lad (after he was already in conversation with me) and berated him for his beliefs. There is nothing quite like being belligerent and dogmatic (and pointing fingers) to encourage people to get set in their beliefs. Challenge the views; don’t attack the person (unless they are a professional politician who knows damn well they are spouting lies, in which case, give them both barrels).
Coming back through Perth there were few signs of any sort on display but Yes outnumber No. I was quite surprised how Yes Blairgowrie was, though here there were houses as well as fields voting No. It was quite amusing to see next-door neighbours with Yes and No signs and wonder how relations over the garden fence were panning out. The Angus fields were solidly No but the thing to bear in mind is that one farmer with one vote could own several fields and put up many posters over a stretch of a few miles. However, every single farm cottage, flat or car with a Yes badge on it is one more Yes vote at the very least, and I saw a good number of those in between the No fields.
And back to Aberdeen where I have to say the prevalence of Yes signage is greater than anywhere I’ve been other than Ullapool. This surprises me somewhat as I don’t view Aberdeen as the pro-indy campaign’s main stamping ground. Perhaps it is down to the shear energy of the Yes campaigners in Aberdeen or perhaps Aberdeen is more Yes than we realise… I certainly feel confident that No is not going to get a landslide here in Aberdeen and was able to tell the Govan campaigners and give them reason to hope (they were afraid we were very No up here).
So, an opinion poll this was not but if the sings people are willing to display are anything to go by, then Yes is ahead pretty much everywhere. Good oh.