UK & World News

  • 21 August 2014, 21:09

Women Voters Key To Scotland Campaign Success

With the Better Together campaign still enjoying a lead in the Scottish referendum campaign, renewed attention is being paid by their Yes opponents to women voters.

But recent research shows they are less likely than men to vote for independence.

And, at the grassroots level, many complain that their questions go unanswered.

So in Glasgow's Maryhill a group of politically interested yet politically dissatisfied women decided to hold their own event, an attempt to actively increase engagement.

Organiser Lyn Robertson, from the Glasgow Women's Centre, stressed the importance of September's vote.

"It's important that we do get women engaged with this agenda because it's happening and you might as well be part of that," she told Sky News.

"It's a democratic thing and women need to become a bit more political in their lives because a lot of things are slipping.

"Women fought hard to get the vote and if we don't use it... Well, I think that's a really sad thing."

Time and again, those attending the impromptu hustings told us that it was "the men in suits", the politicians at the top of both campaigns, that had failed to give them the information they needed to decide.

First Minister Alex Salmond, so long independence's key cheerleader, came in for particular criticism.

"He's not giving anyone any answers," said Sandra Blair.

"And when he does get interviewed or he does the debates, he's kerfuffled most of the time."

Part of the problem appears to be the idea of a "female vote", that women are a homogenous group likelier to be swayed by welfare or healthcare provision or other social policy.

One recent poll suggested the NHS would be the defining issue. Yet others suggested North Sea oil, or the prospect of a currency union, as equally if not more important.

Indeed there were many for whom poverty was key.

Anne O'Donnell told me: "If there's one big issue I have it's the food banks.

"They are just everywhere the now, everywhere, every corner you go to.

"I mean, that's quite sad."

Similarly, Jacqueline Thompson was frightened by potential cuts to public services after a 'yes' vote.

"You can't just cut taxes because the taxes have to keep the country running.

"I might be a wee daft lassie, but I know that you cannae cut too many taxes the way he [Alex Salmond] says he's going to cut everything.

"So where's the money coming from?"

And yet others talked about Scotland's standing on the international stage; the prospect of withdrawing from the EU; whether Scotland's armed forces would pass muster.

One said she would be voting 'no' because she wanted to see Trident remain in Faslane.

"A lot of the economy is actually pulled in by the navy, and their families," said Eileen Horsham.

"And if it [Trident] was lost it would be reminiscent of the Holy Loch in 1992, when the US navy base left Dunoon, and their economy crashed."

These votes could potentially swing the result in September.

So perhaps it will be of some small consolation to Mr Salmond that, despite the polls telling a different story, the vote here in Maryhill, in an entirely unscientific ballot, was a resounding 'Yes'.

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