'Yes' and 'No' go head to head in Scotland's oil capital

17th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Scottish independence referendum activists hit the misty streets of Aberdeen on Wednesday on the final day of campaigning, setting up rival tents and stalls on the corner of Union Street and trying to engage with passing shoppers.

One "Yes" campaigner was in a kilt, while another had brought along her black Scottish Terrier dogs in a show of patriotism.

Passing Aberdonian "Yes" voter Dave, 58, who did not want to give his surname, found himself dragged into a passionate discussion with a placard-wielding "No" campaigner.

"I got no answers from the guy. Rhetorical questions, one after the other. The same old hatred and bile," Dave told AFP.

"I have already voted 'Yes' (by post). I want to be a peaceful, independent country like Norway or Sweden.

"Independence has been my dream since I was a schoolboy.

"The status quo is crumbling, end of the British empire, and yet there's still this will to dominate and be part of the heavy mob. The other side is compassion, citizenship and responsibility at a personal and community level."

- 'Treated as slaves' -

Close by, Andy Harrold, an Aberdonian "born and bred", was handing out "No" stickers.

"I'm here to save my country," he said, his Great Britain 2012 Olympics top showing underneath his "No Thanks" rainproof jacket keeping out the drizzle.

"The 'No' campaign was slow to get off the ground. We haven't spent all the money on the razzmatazz as the 'Yes' campaign have."

He said he objected to the "Yes" campaigners a few metres away "defacing" the Scottish flag with slogans, saying it was in bad taste.

"And they call themselves patriotic," he said.

"We're not an oppressed nation being treated as slaves," he added, before an elderly woman with a walking stick interrupted him.

"We are being treated as slaves -- by England," she said.

Harrold laughed and said: "Where are your shackles? What are you doing out in the street shopping?"

"England rules Scotland," she replied, before shuffling off.

- 'Braveheart guff' -

Next to weigh in was passer-by Nancy Duncan, from the fishing port of Peterhead to the north.

She blasted Scotland's pro-independence First Minister Alex Salmond, who lives in the Aberdeenshire village of Strichen.

"He's like a used car salesman trying to sell us a dodgy car. I don't want to be conned by someone who's basically an autocrat and now the way he's bullying people is bordering on being a dictator," she said.

"They don't balance the books on anything. Does he have a money tree growing in his garden in Strichen?

"They're relying on the Mel Gibson 'Braveheart' guff to con. It is a con! 'The land of milk and honey' -- and it just isn't there."

Like Dave, she cast her mind across the North Sea to Scandinavia.

"Salmond compares it to Norway; people come from Norway to buy their clothes here because they cannot afford to there," the 56-year-old said.

"We're going to be Greece at best, Spain at worst.

"Why is he asking us to risk everything to be worse off?

Contemplating a move south, she said of the 307-year-old union of Scotland and England: "Together we have been a mighty nation. I wouldn't stay if Scotland votes independent."

Molly Davidson, a politics and international relations student at Aberdeen University, is generally a Labour supporter.

The main opposition party is against independence but the 19-year-old was out manning the "Yes" stand.

It had badges, a donations bucket, stickers, campaign leaflets -- some even in Polish -- and the Scottish government's independence prospectus.

"Aberdeen is the oil capital of Europe but it doesn't feel like it," she said, referring to the city's status as a major hub for the North Sea offshore oil and gas industry.

"I don't think Westminster is in touch with people here."

© 2014 AFP

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