indyref2: Does the hunger for independence remain in Scotland’s ‘Yes’ towns and cities? | UK News

The campaign for Scottish independence did not stop following the results of the 2014 referendum.

Since the historic event almost a decade ago, marches have been held up and down the country in support of Scotland breaking free from the rest of the UK.

Although indyref was touted as a “once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path”, dissatisfaction with the result has led to campaigners calling for a second vote.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon launching the White Paper in 2013

Following the result, which saw more than two million people (55.3%) vote No and 1.6 million (44.7%) vote Yes, first minister Alex Salmond stepped down.

Nicola Sturgeon took the reins and has remained in charge of the country and SNP until her shock resignation last month. In the running to replace her are finance secretary Kate Forbes, health secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan.

The trio each believe they can lead Scotland to independence despite the UK government refusing to consent to a second referendum, and the UK Supreme Court ruling that the Scottish Parliament cannot legislate for indyref2 without Westminster approval.

A dejected 'Yes' supporter in Edinburgh makes his way home in the early hours after Scotland voted decisively to reject independence and remain part of the Union.
A dejected Yes supporter in Edinburgh following the results of the referendum

Out of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas, just four returned a majority Yes vote in 2014: Dundee, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire.

In light of the fight for first minister, and calls to once again bring separate pro-independence groups together under one movement, we hit the streets of the ‘Yes’ regions to ask if the hunger for indyref2 remains.

Recent polling

Recent polling suggests an increase in support for No since December, with a small majority – excluding Don’t Knows – saying they would vote against independence if a referendum was held today.

In an exclusive YouGov poll for Sky News on Monday, 46% back an exit from the UK compared to 54% who want to remain part of the union.

Support for the SNP has also fallen in recent Holyrood constituency polling. It has shrunk from around 50% in December to around 40% in March.

While the party remains ahead, its lead over Scottish Labour is now around 10 points, down from around 20 points in early December.

‘Focus on drug deaths first’

In Dundee we spoke to two people who voted No and two who voted Yes in 2014.

Wendy Duncan spoke to Sky News about her views on Scottish independence
Wendy Duncan said the Scottish government should be tackling the country’s drug-related deaths

Wendy Duncan, 80, said she would vote No again.

She explained: “We’re stronger in the UK. I don’t think it’s right to split the country up.”

“The Scottish government should be focusing on other things, like the cost of living crisis and drug deaths.”

Scotland currently has the highest rate of drugs deaths in Europe. In 2021 there were 1,330 deaths due to drug misuse – this followed 2020’s record high of 1,339. Dundee city has the highest death rate of all local authority areas.

Yes voter Craig Dunbar, 60, still supports independence but thinks the SNP aren’t “doing enough” and are “all talk and no action”.

Eddie Gardner, 66, voted No in 2014 but would now switch to Yes.

He stated: “I don’t know who’s the best to take over from Nicola Sturgeon but I know independence would be better for our country.”

Jean Whyte spoke to Sky News about her views on Scottish independence
Jean Whyte doesn’t believe she will see independence in her lifetime

Jean Whyte, 66, voted Yes in 2014 but is unsure whether she would again.

She said with Ms Sturgeon stepping down, she doesn’t have confidence in those vying to take over.

Ms Whyte said: “I don’t know enough about Ash Regan and I don’t agree with Kate Forbes’ views.

“I don’t think I will see independence in my lifetime and that is such a pity.”

‘I voted no for my children and grandchildren’

Isabel Plant speaks to Sky News about her views on Scottish independence
Isabel Plant voted No while her husband voted Yes

In Glasgow, we spoke to one person who voted No, one who voted Yes and one who didn’t vote at all.

Isabel Plant, 80, said she would vote No again.

She explained that while her husband was in support of independence, the rest of her family were not.

She said: “The way I looked at it, I was voting for my children and grandchildren.”

Ms Plant said her husband was “SNP to the soles on his boots” which made for lively family dinners during the run-up to the referendum.

David Callaghan speaks to Sky News about his views on Scottish independence
David Callaghan said independence would mean ‘more freedom’

David Callaghan, 42, voted Yes in 2014 and would do so again.

He said: “The government down south isn’t the best. In Scotland we’ve got things like free prescriptions for all.

“It would be tough at the beginning if we got independence but it would work out. I do worry that Scotland would get hate though.”

Speaking about the Yes movement, he said: “It has died down. There are marches but it doesn’t feel the same.”

Gillian speaks to Sky News about her views on Scottish independence
Gillian, right, said she didn’t vote in the 2014 referendum

Gillian, 33, who did not wish to give her last name, didn’t cast a vote in 2014 and wouldn’t vote in a new referendum either.

“I don’t have any idea about politics. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t even watch the news.

“I wouldn’t want to vote on something I know nothing about.”

She added: “Everything is going up in price, except wages. The new first minister should make sure the minimum wage goes up.

“More money is needed for more workers across Scotland.”

‘Under the right leadership the country would flourish’

James Aitken spoke to Sky News about his views on Scottish independence
James Aitken said he would feel ‘pure elation’ if Scotland got independence

In North Lanarkshire we spoke to two people who voted No and two people who voted Yes.

James Aitken, 71, says he would feel “pure elation if we got independence”.

“I voted Yes so we can make our own decisions and not have the UK government treat us like lepers.”

Mr Aitken said that although he would still vote Yes, his allegiance to the SNP has faltered.

“There’s been a few decisions the SNP have made that I don’t agree with.”

He thinks independence would help the Scottish government tackle the cost of living crisis.

“Under the right leadership the country would flourish,” he said.

Katriona Thomson, 50, also voted Yes in 2014 and would do so again. She would like to see independence and the economy tackled simultaneously.

“For me, the cost of living crisis is the big thing to sort and then independence. But if they could do it at the same time, then that would also be great.”

Fiona Melvin spoke to Sky News about her views on Scottish independence
Fiona Melvin, right, said the Scottish government should be ‘concentrating on the day job’

No voter, Fiona Melvin, 59, hasn’t changed her view. She thinks the results of the referendum are not being respected, noting: “It was supposed to be a once in a generation vote.”

“It’s never been what’s best for Scotland, for some it’s hatred of the British and the UK.”

Out of the SNP leadership hopefuls, Ms Melvin would like to see Kate Forbes as first minister. “She’s got principles. Religion isn’t a bad thing as long as she respects [all the different views and lifestyles] in Scotland.”

Craig Watson, 51, also voted No in 2014 and would do so again, and stated: “I’m Scottish but I’m also British. I don’t want this country broken apart. No more referendums, it’s over.”

‘The spark is still there’

Gavin Thomson speaks to Sky News about his views on Scottish independence
Gavin Thomson’s family were on different sides in the 2014 referendum

In West Dunbartonshire, we spoke to six people – five who said they voted No, and one who voted Yes.

“Divided we fall, united we stand,” said committed No voter Gavin Thomson, 46.

However, he claims the referendum caused a family split, with his mum and aunt on different sides of the debate.

Joe Clarkin speaks to Sky News about his views on Scottish independence
Joe Clarkin said the spark for Yes ‘will never go away’

Despite suffering a few friendship fallouts during the referendum, Joe Clarkin, 52, would repeat his vote for independence.

Speaking about the Yes movement, Mr Clarkin said “the spark is still there”.

‘I don’t want my views to put customers off’

Many of the business owners we spoke to in each Yes region did not wish to comment on independence.

As one North Lanarkshire sandwich shop boss said: “It’s been rough these last few years. I wouldn’t want to say something that would put a customer off from coming back if they didn’t agree with my views.”

The cost of living crisis was a common complaint shared by all those we visited.

Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and actor Alan Cumming outside the Yes Kelvin campaign hub in Glasgow ahead of the Scottish independence referendum vote on September 18.
Nicola Sturgeon, then deputy first minister, and actor Alan Cumming outside the Yes Kelvin campaign hub in 2014

‘More focus on business is needed’

The chip shop industry has been battered recently with the price of fish, cooking oil and energy skyrocketing.

The boss of successful chain Blue Lagoon – which has branches across Scotland including in Glasgow, Perth and Stirling – said the new first minister should be “more focused on business”.

Alessandro Varese, the company director, said: “Business has been tough coming out of the pandemic and facing the biggest price increases we have ever seen in our 40-plus year history.

“However, thankfully prices are starting to stabilise along with energy costs which was our biggest concern.

“We hope they will collaborate with business leaders before putting policies in place.”

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‘A more sustainable future’

Glasgow-based Dear Green, a coffee roaster and speciality coffee beans supplier, lost around 95% of its business overnight when the pandemic hit.

The firm’s founder, Lisa Lawson, said : “The cost of living crisis could also be referred to as the cost-of-staying-in-business-crisis. We witness well established businesses all around us closing every week.”

Scottish independence supporters march through Glasgow during the All Under One Banner march.
Scottish independence supporters during an All Under One Banner march in Glasgow in 2019

Ms Lawson cited staff recruitment and training costs, inflation and exchange rates, and the effects of climate change on the coffee industry as reasons behind “substantial price hikes”.

She said without support “many businesses are all treading water whilst waiting on the next hurdle”.

Ms Lawson stated that she’d love to see the Scottish government adopt “a framework supporting social and environmental performance”, adding: “The new first minister has an incredible opportunity to make lasting change for a sustainable future.”

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Sturgeon announced her resignation last month

Read more:
‘Conflict of interest’ over Sturgeon’s husband in SNP leadership contest

Sturgeon was the SNP’s Alex Ferguson – so will her successor be their David Moyes?
Sturgeon, SNP’s ‘cesspit of vipers’ and a failed dream
Scottish independence support at 46%, poll says

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks at a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh to launch a second independence paper. Picture date: Thursday July 14, 2022. The paper is titled Renewing Democracy Through Independence and will set out the Scottish Government's view that people living in Scotland have the right to choose how they will be governed.
Nicola Sturgeon speaking during the launch of the second independence paper last summer

Voting for the new SNP leader is now under way. The ballot of SNP members closes on 27 March with the new first minister announced thereafter.

During Ms Sturgeon’s resignation speech, the outgoing first minister said: “Giving absolutely everything of yourself to this job is the only way to do it. The country deserves nothing less.”


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