Politics ought to be more glamorous than this.
Or perhaps that’s the point: politics really shouldn’t be more glamorous than this?
While politicians and other notable figures in the Scottish independence debate are cosseted and ushered into cosy press conferences and other publicity opportunities, up and down the country campaigners on both sides are braving abysmal conditions(1) to bring their message directly home to undecided voters.
Such was the case when I visited Aberdeen, both the Yes and No camps setting out their stalls in the middle of the city centre. Leaflets were secured for the gusts of wind that threatened to whisk them off to the seaside, and when I arrived in the afternoon the Better Together camp had been there for several hours, though still seeming almost alarmingly perky and motivated.
I had a non-political interest in this particular aspect of the referendum campaigning, as for a number of years I was a busker, helping to fund my way through university by playing bagpipes in almost the same exact spot that these Better Together representatives were now stationed.
For several hours each weekend I also had to contend with the delights of the general public, and battle the rabid outpourings of nearby preachers. In fact, I’m pretty sure the one there on this particular Saturday was also around over a decade ago when I was last plying my trade in town.
It wasn’t the best day to be out, but both sides were still there, doing what they could to persuade undecided voters, and perhaps even convert those on the other side of the fence.
Long hours, no pay, sometimes negative reactions, but these people up and down the country are there every weekend, doing what they can to make a difference. At least the referendum was well timed for campaigning; it’s tough enough in a variable Scottish summer without having to endure any of the other harsher seasons.
It seems to be much the same wherever I go, in that campaigners on either side feel that there is no time to waste, that any spare moment must be spent trying to secure a Yes or No vote. If not, then what if that extra amount they could have done might have made the difference? So they get more invested, and so they have more to lose if the vote doesn’t go their way. Whatever the result, a large body of people is going to be tremendously disappointed on September 19th 2014, and wonder why so much time was spent in vain. But it seems better that than to wonder what might have been if they had made more of an effort.
What keeps me going is getting that vote out. That is absolutely crucial. Between now and September that’s it, getting that vote out. It’s just important for people: we’ve got that right, we can vote, for them to get out to those polls and vote. And for me, hopefully vote no.
Ona Ramsay, Better Together Aberdeen
Coming out here, and having to put up with the wind, it’s worth it because this is a big decision. People need to make a decision that’s the right decision, and we need to make sure they actually vote as well.
Sophie Macdonald, Better Together Aberdeen
I plan to be out whenever I can to campaign against independence. If I’ve got free time, I want to be out on the streets burning the shoe leather, getting our case forward to the people.
Frank Webster, Better Together Aberdeen