UK & World News

  • 9 June 2014, 4:52

Glasgow 'Full Of Surprises' As Vote Draws Near

Sunny Govan. Really? My experience of Glasgow having been limited mainly to a slate-grey and sodden Liberal Democrat conference, I was not expecting to be greeted by blue skies and sweltering temperatures on arrival in Clydeside.

My welcome from the team at Sunny Govan Community Radio was equally unexpected: a chance greeting on the street as I walked around talking to people about their expectations for the referendum, now just 100 days away.

I had come to Glasgow to look into how voters' choice might be decided not just by the virtues (or otherwise) of independence but by age-old political loyalties - the classic affiliation with Labour and a particular dislike of the Conservatives.

Having spoke to politicians on both campaigns, I had assumed that one might readily encounter that undecided (historically Labour-voting) individual that was for now on the fence as far as independence was concerned.

These are the people both the "yes" and "no" campaigns expect to focus on above all others over the next 100 days.

The argument that is shared on both sides is that fear of a Tory government in Westminster will drive Labour supporters into the independence camp. The "yes" team hope to exploit this dynamic, while "no" need to combat it.

The surprise when I spoke to the radio volunteers along with their friends at the neighbouring hairdressers and the pub a couple of doors down was that while people were reasonably, though not venomously, hostile to the Conservatives, they were not much more enamoured of other front rank politicians, from Ed Miliband to Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond.

The disaffection with the political class, and the willingness to speak highly of Ukip and Nigel Farage, was much of a piece with all I have recently encountered in constituencies that tend to be viewed as far less "tribal" hundreds of miles away in England.

And if that was unexpected, even more so was the fact that people told me they had not had any contact with either referendum campaign on the doorstep.

Many of the people I spoke to were crying out for information. The admirable Sunny Govan Radio is the sort of platform I would have imagined politicians would be eager to exploit, and yet apart from one or two posters here and there, I could see no sign that people were being engaged.

Sunny Govan? It was a surprise, for sure. But far more so was the fact that as far as local people are concerned, both referendum campaigns have an awful lot of work to do.

:: With 100 days to go until the Scottish referendum, Sky News has a day of special coverage on TV, online and mobile, including interviews with leading figures from both sides of the debate.