Referendum countdown: Yes and No side by side on Bute in campaign’s final hours

Yes Bute campaign chair John Duncan and local Better Together organiser Peter Wallace exchange a goodwill handshake in Rothesay's Montague Street as the referendum campaign enters its final hours.
Yes Bute campaign chair John Duncan and local Better Together organiser Peter Wallace exchange a goodwill handshake in Rothesay's Montague Street as the referendum campaign enters its final hours.

The Bute campaigns for a Yes and No vote rubbed shoulders in Rothesay on Wednesday in the last few hours before Scotland’s independence referendum.

The two sides’ stalls were separated by only a few yards in Montague Street as they distributed campaign materials, handed out posters and flags and attempted to persuade the few remaining undecided voters.

We were even able to persuade one representative from each side - Yes Bute campaign chair John Duncan and local Better Together organiser Peter Wallace - to agree to a goodwill handshake ahead of the poll.

“It’s exciting times,” Mr Duncan said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the vote out and, hopefully, getting the right result.

“I suspect everyone’s getting a bit fatigued, and that people now want to vote, get the result and move on.”

Asked for a sense of how the campaign for a Yes vote was going, particularly in the light of opinion polls which give the No side a small but consistent advantage, Mr Duncan said: “Without wanting to resort to too many cliches, the only poll that matters is the one on Thursday - I’m not convinced that the methodology of the polls reflects what’s actually happening throughout Scotland.

“The sense we get is that voters who have registered for the first time are overwhelmingly going to vote Yes, and there are question marks over the accuracy of the polls, which have been wrong in predicting elections in the past.”

Looking ahead to what happens after the votes are counted and the result is declared, Mr Duncan continued: “There has to be reconciliation. We talk to Peter Wallace on a regular basis and that’s the sort of dialogue that needs to happen across the country.

“It will be hard to work together afterwards, whatever happens, but that needs to be what happens - we need to get back on track and do what’s best for the people of Scotland.”

Among those on the Better Together campaign stall was island resident George Lyon, who was Scotland’s sole Liberal Democrat MEP between 2009 and 2014 and previously served for eight years as MSP for Argyll and Bute.

“We’re getting lots of people saying they want to help because they’re scared rigid of the consequences of a Yes vote,” Mr Lyon said.

“I think too many No supporters were a bit complacent - until the poll last weekend giving the Yes campaign a narrow lead they maybe thought they wouldn’t have to work too hard to secure a No vote.

“But there was always going to be a crossover at some stage in the campaign - I think that poll did motivate people at a grassroots level. I’ve certainly never seen a campaign featuring so many individual conversations with people with strong views on both sides.

“There aren’t many undecided voters left now, I think. The message we’re selling hard is that if you want change without the huge uncertainty of separatism, vote No.”

Polling stations on Bute will be located at the Kingarth Hotel, Port Bannatyne village hall, Rothesay Pavilion and the Moat community centre - check your polling card if you’re planning to vote in person and are unsure which polling station you should attend. Polls are open from 7am until 10pm on Thursday, and the Argyll and Bute result should be declared some time between 3am and 6am on Friday, with the national result expected by breakfast time.