Get Grandma on board: young Scots push independence

13th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

The campaign for Scottish independence took to the family dinner table this weekend as young nationalist voters were urged to use Sunday lunch to persuade their grandparents to vote "Yes" in next week's referendum.

People over the age of 65 are the group most resistant to the overtures of Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond and his team, opinion polls suggest.

But many young people, often 16 and 17-year-olds who will vote for the first time on Thursday, are expected to back change -- and are being urged to use all their charms with elderly relatives as the campaign goes down to the wire.

"This is an inspired campaign and a great excuse to pop round for Sunday lunch at your gran's," said Salmond, Scotland's first minister.

Those who cannot make it in person are being asked by the "Yes" campaign to write or phone their grandparents to explain why they should vote for Scotland to leave the 300-year-old United Kingdom.

"We do not expect a massive impact, but a few might be enough to change the whole game," an SNP official said.

- 'Stalinist methods' -

Opinion polls suggest the referendum is too close to call, although they all concur that the silver-haired generation is by far the most reluctant to vote "Yes".

The most recent ICM poll in the Guardian newspaper on Friday found that 61 percent of people aged over 65 want to remain part of the UK, excluding undecideds, against 51 percent across all age groups.

Analysts say that the elderly are more fearful about the uncertainties of independence, and fret particularly about the implications for pensions and the state-funded National Health Service (NHS).

A central plank of the pro-union "Better Together" camp's approach has been to warn voters of the risks posed by going it alone, including that Scotland would struggle to balance its books.

"Some of the scare stories that have been coming out from the Better Together campaign, things like pensions, is obviously stuff that affects them badly," said Zeyn Mohammed, 22, an unemployed graduate and "Yes" activist.

"What we are saying to the grandparents is: look at how passionate we are, we have never been involved in politics before, we can work to build a better future for Scotland for everyone, including them.

"They looked after us up until now, now we want our chance to look after them."

Josephine, a woman in her sixties who declined to give her last name, applauded the enthusiasm of the younger generations but said she was capable of making up her own mind.

"It's a tough decision that really matters, especially for future generations, not for us, we're older now," she said.

"But I'm wise enough to decide by myself, I don't need my grandchildren to make my choice."

The "No" camp is more strident in its criticism of the strategy. "Is this the USSR? Sending children canvassing the elders, that's Stalinist methods!" remarked one campaigner.


© 2014 AFP

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