Referendum Day: Debate engages Falkirk voters

Voters have been giving their views at Falkirk's polling stations. Picture: Michael Gillen (141849A)
Voters have been giving their views at Falkirk's polling stations. Picture: Michael Gillen (141849A)

Voters young and old have been making their choices count at busy Falkirk polling stations as they put their crosses in the Yes and No boxes.

Campaigners outside the stations on both sides of the debate have been embarking in some light-hearted banter with each other as they welcome voters in, while the electorate themselves have been quite happy to join in too.

Pic Greg Macvean - 29/08/2014 - Staff who are working in polling stations during the referendum receive their training at City Chambers - polling clerks Amy Whatley and Gavin McMillan get used to sitting behind their desk with ballot papers and ballot box

Pic Greg Macvean - 29/08/2014 - Staff who are working in polling stations during the referendum receive their training at City Chambers - polling clerks Amy Whatley and Gavin McMillan get used to sitting behind their desk with ballot papers and ballot box

Grangemouth 17-year-old James Bundy is voting for the first time ever today, but has to wait until the rest of his family finish work later this evening to actually do the deed.

The St Mungo’s High School pupil was up at 6.30 a.m. to go along to the Town Hall to stand outside in his Saltire kilt and Commonwealth Games top with a No sign on the back.

He said: “It is quite exciting to be voting on such an important issue. Our family said we would all vote together so I promised them I would wait until they came along later. It is quite tempting to rush in and vote though.”

On the other side of the step at the Town Hall was 25-year-old Yes campaigner Thomas Lamont. He said: “The referendum stimulated me and opened my eyes to the political spectrum in Scotland.

“There’s been a good spirit here today with no animosity. We all agree that we all have to work together now, whichever way the vote goes, to make Scotland better.”

Voter Arthur Miller, 43, said: “Currency was the main issue for me. I agree with both sides on a lot of things but the Yes campaign just didn’t do enough to convince me. I think that it’s good we are doing this democratically though.”

Another young voter making her mark for the first time is Jessica Mullen, also 17, from Larbert who voted at the Dobbie Hall polling station.

The Larbert High School pupil didn’t want to say how she voted but did give a slight hint. She said: “The main issue for me was free university tuition fees.

“I want to go to university when I leave school to study law and maybe French so that’s quite important for me.

“Being a first time voter was quite scary. It’s a step into the unknown. It was quite nerve-wracking.”

While both sides have been friendly towards each other at the polls so far today, the intimidation fears which have been an unwelcome part of the campaign trail are still evident.

The public perception in Denny is that the Yes vote “have got it all sewn up here”, one voter told us, but not everyone in the town crossed that box.

One voter said they voted No but didn’t want to give us their name as they feared a backlash for their choice from local residents.

Joyce Brown, 63, from Denny, was happy to say she voted No. She said: “I don’t think we are big enough to come away from Britain. Just look at what happened in Ireland.

“I don’ think it will benefit us. We are much stronger together, but I think it will be a really close vote. Neck and neck.”

Lesley Middlesmass (32) and bubbly professional fairy Heather Sharma form Larbert were part of the Yes camp outside the Dobbie Hall.

Heather said the opportunity to become an independent country motivated her to get involved.

“There comes a point in your life when you have to stop moaning about things and take responsibility, wise up and do something about it.

“We will be changed as a people after this whichever way the vote goes. It has changed the landscape and has involved people in politics for the first time. I never got involved in politics before.

“That kind of thing can only be good for a nation.”

Financial adviser Maurice Robinson, 46, from Larbert, voted No and was part of the Better Together contingent outside the Larbert venue along with Susan Cooper.

He said: “There were too many unanswered questions from the Yes camp on currency for me. Being out of the UK currency is just crazy for me. Around 50-60 per cent of my work is outside Scotland so it would affect me and a lot of others personally as well.”