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Musing on which road to take, on banks of Loch Lomond


Kim Bielenberg meets a local on the Scottish referendum campaign trail

Kim Bielenberg meets a local on the Scottish referendum campaign trail

Kim Bielenberg meets a local on the Scottish referendum campaign trail

On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond the news that UK may soon stand for Untied Kingdom was beginning to sink in yesterday

By the shores of the glistening Loch, with Ben Lomond towering in the background, It was hard to believe that in eight days' time Scotland may tell Westminster to take the high road, with a salutary two fingers.

If Scotland votes yes to independence then Little Britain's nuclear fleet, just a few miles down the road in Faslane, will leave in a few months along with the rest of the armed forces.

The past week has been as bracing in Scotland as a dive in the loch, followed by five ice bucket challenges.

One should not be fooled by reports that the yes side has this one in the bag, however.

This is a country that is divided right down the middle, and the divisions are often between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and commonly fathers and sons.

In Glasgow, the naysayers may not be shouting their no allegiance from the council block rooftops. But some told me in hushed tones, pursing their lips, that they were voting no. They didn't want their neighbours to know.

It was all very different in the village of Luss, on the shores of Loch Lomond in Argyll and Bute: the residents and daytrippers were much more forthright about an independent Scotland and the feelings were overwhelmingly negative.

Some went along with the view of the Scottish historian Niall Ferguson that this new country would be an "impoverished backwater", rather than a fancy Scandinavian superstate.

According to this almost apocalyptic forecast, independent Scotland will be little more than Belarus in kilts.

Proudly showing off his Dandy Dinmont terrier near the pier in Luss, shopkeeper Duncan Taylor said: "Scotland is much too small a country to be out on its own and separated from the United Kingdom.

"You had your own financial problems over in Ireland, and we saw what happened," he said.

The issue of Ireland - its pluses and minuses - is used as cannon fodder by both sides in referendum campaign.

In an attempt to stoke fears, the No campaign claimed that a typical grocery shop in Ireland was now 30pc dearer than in Scotland.

The published Irish shopping list was not particularly flattering to the Irish dietary regimen.

It had us scoffing Chicken Dippers, oven chips and baked beans - the cheek of them.

The No side have warned that TV viewers might lose access to the treasured BBC in an independent Scotland , apparently oblivious to the fact that thousands of Irish viewers have been glued to Match of the Day on the Beeb for half a century.

The woman working in the cafe on the pier at Loch Lomond said she was voting no because she adored the queen.

"I love the royals and they love Scotland."

It is rare that one encounters members of the public who are so willing to talk about a topic. But everyone has an opinion - aye or nay.

But still one comes across the same healthy scepticism about politicians - common from Land's End to John O'Groats, Mizen to Malin.

Duncan Taylor tells me: "How do you tell a politician is lying? His lips are moving."

You can't beat the old ones.

Irish Independent