Anyone with only the slightest interest in Scotland can not have missed the fact that the 18th of September this year can become a decisive moment in Scottish History. It is then that millions of Scots and others, mostly people from England who live in Scotland, can take part in the Independence Referendum and simply choose No Thanks, to let Scotland stay in the Union, or Yes Please to vote for an independent Scotland. How appealing the latter may seem, there are quite some uncertainties and questions to be answered. What currency will a future independent Scotland use? Will and can they join the EU? Will the UK leave the EU? Will independency disturb current trade between Scotland and England? And what about the oil reserves? Are they as big as some like to believe? Will independence bring more prosperity to Scotland? More jobs as well? Will the NHS be privatised or not? Many questions remain unanswered and will be subject of negotiations between Scotland and the UK when the majority chooses Yes on the 18th. I personally believe that an independent Scotland, as future member of the EU, is the only good way forward but I must admit that it is mostly based on emotion and sympathy rather than on facts.
In the meanwhile both the "Yes" and "Better Together" groups are trying to get their views across to the public in the final weeks before the 18th. On Islay both groups are actively promoting their points of views too. The Ileach visited them during the Islay Show and collected some opinions from representatives of each group. Continue reading....
No thanks (Better Together)
Alastair Redman Conservative candidate, Argyll & Bute "I had a great time at the Islay show with my family and other ‘No’ campaigners from Islay and the mainland. We managed to sign up new members and distributed hundreds of leaflets, badges, posters and stickers. Many thanks to everyone involved."
Jim Murphy, Labour MP for East Renfrewshire on his visit; "I really enjoyed my trip to Islay. It was a fantastic Show and I learned a lot from talking to many people who were there. It’s clear how important the whisky and tourism industries are to the island. Both of these sectors gain huge benefits from Scotland being part of the United Kingdom, and that was the message I was putting across."
Mary Galbraith, Argyll & Bute Labour candidate said "It was a pleasure for me to be able to take Jim Murphy around the Show. I’ve been coming to Islay Show since I was a child, and like most people enjoy both the social and competitive sides of the day.
Better Together had a strong presence at the Islay show. Jim Murphy MP, Shadow International Development Secretary and former Secretary of State for Scotland did his 45th of 100 meetings in 100 days at the Show. Standing on his iconic Irn Bru crates he did a barnstorming speech to a large assembly of listeners. He was supported on the crates by Alan Reid MP for Argyll and Bute and Alastair Redmond the Tory prospective candidate and Mary Galbraith, Labour’s prospective candidate.
Jim forcibly said this was the most important issue for Scottish people in three centuries and irreversible. Preventing he break-up of Britain was for this referendum and nobody should underestimate the patriotism and the commitment to Scotland of the NO campaigners.
Among the supportive crowd was Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Labour MP Fiona McTaggart and a variety of Westminster MPs and Peers. The Better Together tent had a constant procession of supportive visitors (and a few opponents keen to see the arguments for keeping the UK together.
Yes Please (Yes Islay)
Catherine Gilchrist, Bowmore "We in the YES marquee, were overwhelmed by the support from visitors from all over the world. Some visitors from other parts of the UK asked how welcome they would be as workers in an independent Scotland and were assured them that Scotland needed people to come here to live and work and contribute to the new state.
The camaraderie of Yes supporters from many parts of Scotland was inspirational. Councillor Anne Horne spent much of the day answering questions and serving refreshments. We in Scotland seem to have awakened the wider world, now let’s fully join it."
Pat Farrington; "YES campaigners at Islay Show asked me, as a Labour-supporting Englishwoman who has lived on Islay for more than 40 years, to give my reasons for changing my Independence vote from NO to YES in an interview with Alan Little for BBC Scotland. I reiterated my concerns about effects of privatisation of England’s NHS and how it could affect the Health Service in Scotland. We discussed Education, and how much better off our young people are without tuition fees for university education.
"Removal of Trident is another of my reasons, but mainly this referendum will be a great opportunity for Scotland to make a new start and truly govern itself. The programme on BBC Scotland will be aired on 28 August. I’m delighted that politics has been taken to the top of the agenda on Islay, and especially that young people are engaged."
Anne Horn, SNP Argyll & Bute Councillor Kintyre and the Islands; "I was delighted to spend time in the YES tent at Islay Show last week. This was a busy and positive day with supporters from Islay, all parts of Scotland and from many other countries sharing their experience and hopes for an independent Scotland.
Overwhelmingly, people shared their vision that a YES vote is not for flag or patriotism but to make Scotland’s wealth work better to enrich the lives of people living in Scotland.