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It's not Yes versus No, it's hope against fear - and hope is winning out


A young girl holds a flag at a 'Yes' campaign rally in Glasgow, Scotland

A young girl holds a flag at a 'Yes' campaign rally in Glasgow, Scotland


A young girl holds a flag at a 'Yes' campaign rally in Glasgow, Scotland

On April 29, 2011, hundreds of thousands of Britons gathered outside Westminster Abbey to witness the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

And today, more than three years later, the country where the royal couple met and fell in love is thinking about a divorce.

Crowds gathered outside the Scottish parliament from early yesterday morning to witness history in the making.

And while the polls vacillated in percentages of one and two, both in favour of and against a Yes and No vote, the people on the street were all voting 'Yes'.

Two years of canvassing and campaigning ground to a halt as camera crews from all over the world climbed the media scaffolding opposite government buildings.

It was like a scene at the forum in ancient Rome with strangers striking up conversations on street corners and benches, but try as I might to find them, no one was voting No.

"I used to be a massive No voter but now I'm a massive Yes voter," said a member of staff from the Scottish parliament.

As this 40-something male sits outside his workplace soaking up the historic atmosphere, he confesses to me that "contingency plans" have been made in his office. "We're not allowed to talk about it. You've got to be very careful talking about the planning but we will need to react very quickly when independence is announced," he states.

When asked what plans had been made, he takes his ham and cheese sandwich and goes to leave, saying: "I just can't talk about it."

David Foggo (57) works at Edinburgh University and says 90pc of the people he has spoken to are voting Yes.

"I know a lot of people voting No but on balance, a lot more people are voting Yes."

Buskers on the Royal Mile have departed from their usual repertoire and sing songs to jubilant crowds about "democracy and voting Yes".

After a three-hour walk around the Scottish capital, attempting to carry out a poll of my own, from New Town to Princes Street and from the Royal Mile to parliament buildings, not a single No, was to be found. "The Yes side has used hope and the No side has used fear, so now what you're seeing is hope winning out," says Stewart Brown (48), from Bathgate.

"I'm voting Yes because it's right to me. Scotland has been a teenager long enough - it's time to cut the purse strings," he adds.

As I speak to Stewart, another woman joins the fray to say why she, too, is voting Yes. "We've very different politics to Westminster. When David Cameron speaks out and tells a country that they have the full backing of Britain, that's not in my name," explains Lorna Craig (37), from Breich.

Another Yes voter is Tom Bairner (71), from Lanarkshire. The reason he's voting for independence is simple. "My number one reason for voting Yes is for the youth of this country. There are going to be a lot of hurdles but let's give it a try," he says.

For others, their reasoning goes back decades. "Thatcher took my milk away," explains Lee (40), from Edinburgh, about how he lost his quarter pint of milk in primary school when Margaret Thatcher was in power.

"I see this as a massive chance for change. I've never voted in a general election in my life but that wasn't because of apathy, it was because of absence of hope," he adds.

If casual street polls are to be believed today will mark not a renewal of vows of a union, but, in the words of Cameron, a divorce.

Irish Independent