herald

Monday 20 August 2018

Forget what the polls say, on the streets they all shout Yes

Campaigners wave Scottish Saltires at a 'Yes' campaign rally in Glasgow,
Campaigners wave Scottish Saltires at a 'Yes' campaign rally in Glasgow,

In the span of a lifetime there aren't many occasions where you can say to yourself "I am watching history in the making".

In an overcast Scotland there are no bombs dropping or armies charging, but I'm pretty sure I am watching monumental change.

After today, the United Kingdom, once one of the world's most powerful empires, could be over as we know it.

It's D-Day as 4.29 million Scots cast their vote as to whether they will strike out as an independent country.

And with all their oil and whisky, tourists and students, the winds of change are howling north of Hadrian's Wall.

Polls have said it's neck and neck between camp Yes and camp No for the last fortnight, but walk the streets of Glasgow or Edinburgh and you'll find a very different picture.

"Those polls are done to landlines and hundreds of thousands of Scots only have mobiles nowadays," explains Yes voter John McKay (55), from Glasgow.

The Irish presence is audible in Glasgow and among them it's a resounding Yes.

In Edinburgh, things are more reserved, but there, too, the swing is in favour of a Yes. One is at pains to bump into a 'No' voter. Chalk has been used across Edinburgh where graffiti reads: 'Be brave, vote yes'.

"People had been apathetic about politics here up until now," says Pauline Clark (46), from Breich, in Scotland.

Atmosphere

She's down at the Scottish parliament soaking up the atmosphere after months of campaigning for a Yes in the highlands.

"There is definitely a silent majority out there, but from the doors I knocked on it was around two or three to one in favour of independence, and that has been consistent," she adds.

Bill Maher (53), from Edinburgh, is also voting Yes, and while he never campaigned he has "struggled to come across No voters".

But while you would have expected marching bands and screaming crowds as a country stands on the precipice of change, things were eerily quiet in Edinburgh yesterday.

In reality, the real noise will be generated from the polling booths today.

After two years, the minds of millions have been made up and today they are committing their decision to ballot papers.

But while votes won't start being counted until late tonight if you're to go by the word on the street, the Scots will wake up as masters of their own destiny tomorrow morning.

hnews@herald.ie

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