Referendum debate heats up

Saltires and Union Jacks sold outside a Deeside shop
Saltires and Union Jacks sold outside a Deeside shop

Battle lines have been drawn by Unionist and Nationalist campaigners in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum.

Local ‘Yes’ and ‘Better Together’ supporters have been launching their campaigns recently, both keen to capture the vote in Aberdeenshire, which is seen as a key battleground.

And it is all still to play for as a recent Ipsos Mori poll of more than 1,000 Scots shows around 10% have yet to make up their minds.

Other findings in the poll will make for sad reading for the ‘Yes’ campaign however as it shows support for independence has fallen to just 31%.

Those who say they wish Scotland to remain in the UK polled at 59%.

Banchory and Mid-Deeside SNP Councillor Linda Clark, and activist in local ‘Yes’ campaigns, remained hopeful and stressed that the referendum was a once in a lifetime opportunity for an independent Scotland: “I would say to people to put their fears aside and just go for it! The chance for this change is now, another one might not come for hundreds of years and it certainly won’t be in our lifetimes.

“At this moment Aberdeenshire is in a bit of a bubble compared with the rest of Scotland but that could easily change. We just have to look at Aberdeen, which is not just the UK’s but Europe’s oil capital, and look at the state of Union Street which is an absolute disgrace for such a wealthy city. Imagine what Scotland and the North- east could do if it had control of it’s own money, there shouldn’t be poverty and empty shops in this part of the country with all the money flowing in.”

Cllr Clark slammed what she called the “pocket money politics” of Westminster: “It’s disgraceful that Scotland should have to go cap-in-hand to Westminster for the right to spend our own money. It’s like a child asking for their pocket money.”

She also raised the issue of nuclear weapons kept on the Clyde which she called a “scourge”.

Labour MSP for North- east Scotland and Aberdeenshire ‘Better Together’ co-ordinator Richard Baker told The Piper there was “huge support” locally for staying in the Union: “The fact of the matter is Aberdeenshire is very well served by remaining part of the UK. There is a huge success story here, Aberdeenshire continues to thrive while other parts of Scotland have not been so lucky, that’s why I think there is such huge support for staying in the Union locally.

“The SNP try to use the oil as a sort of cash cow that will solve all of Scotland’s problems. We’re not sure this is accurate, there are so many questions that (the SNP) can’t answer and that would cause massive instability in the markets should Scotland leave the UK.”

Mr Baker also added that cultural elements of the Union were “important”: “There are thousands of Scots in England and thousands of English in Scotland. I wouldn’t want to bring my daughter up in what would essentially be a different country from where I grew up.”

The date of the referendum has been set for September 18, 2014.