Socialist Worker

Voices from the Yes campaign - how independence vote is stirring up debate

by Raymie Kiernan in Glasgow
Issue No. 2420

The referendum campaign has unleashed an unprecedented level of debate in Scotland.

It has re-engaged many working class people in official politics.

But this has little to do with politicians. It is the grassroots campaigners arguing that independence could benefit the working class.

This has inspired people to register to vote for the first time in their lives.

The deadline for registrations was Tuesday of last week.

People queued out of the doors of voter registration offices to sign up.

Up to 180,000 extra voters are said to have now registered.

‘The talk is about how to run society’

Barry Renwick from Alloa

Barry Renwick from Alloa (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Barry Renuick is a nurse from Alloa in central Scotland.

He told Socialist Worker he probably hasn’t voted for about eight years. 

“The referendum is brought up in conversation everywhere,” he said.

“And it’s really coming out how people want to see society being run.

“It’s stirred up all this stuff that people didn’t even realise they cared about and there’s nothing that can change that now. That’s important.”

He wants to see “new political organisation that can shape society to be in our interests,” adding, “I’ve been crying out for this, every vote counts.”

‘I’ve never smiled so much’

Christine Black from Gorbals

Christine Black from Gorbals (Pic: Socialist Worker)

For Christine Black the campaign for a Yes vote has been a revelation. 

She’s in her thirties and lives in Glasgow’s Gorbals area.

“Six months ago I was a different person,” she told Socialist Worker. 

“I was suffering depression but I’ve never smiled so much since I got involved.

“I’m speaking at meetings for the first time in my life.”

Christine has never voted before. She said, “I’ve never seen any point, nobody represents me. “But I believe a Yes vote will make a difference.

“We’re not going back to sleep after the vote,” she says. 

“It’s like the feeling we got in my community when we fought the poll tax—the underdog can win.”

'I don't want Tories or Ukip and I'm fed up with Labour'

Frances McGhee from Anderston

Frances McGhee from Anderston (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Frances McGhee is from Anderston, an area of Glasgow where life expectancy is lower than the city average.

She told Socialist Worker, “I’m voting Yes because I don’t want the Tories or Ukip, and I’m fed up with Labour.

“Labour doesn’t represent the working class anymore.” 

Frances works as a psychiatric nurse.

She is angry at her local MP, deputy Labour leader in Scotland Anas Sarwar.

Frances said Sarwar  “sends his child to get privately educated while his constituents can’t afford to eat”. 

For her it seems to sum up the problem.

She is attracted to independence because it may be an opportunity to address inequality.

“We don’t need nuclear weapons,” she said. “Let’s look after children properly instead or get pensioners out of poverty.”

The vote won’t be the end

Lots of Yes voters know they will have to fight for left wing policies in an independent Scotland.

Public sector worker Nathan Herbertson said he doesn’t expect things to change overnight if Scotland votes to become independent.

But he said that independence would have benefits.

Nathan always votes. He usually voted for Labour but “the Iraq war and them becoming as pro-business as the Tories changed that”.

Since then Nathan has floated between different parties. 

But he thinks in an independent Scotland, “Our voices will be heard and the issues will be closer to home.”

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