Surrounded by a sea of flag-carrying, “Yes” badge-wearing teenagers outside the Scottish Parliament today this one “No” voter appeared to set about the task of turning the pro-independence youth tide. Teenagers as young as 16 are allowed to vote in this referendum.
Not only was he one of only a handful of No supporters at the gathering but he is also one of the few I’d seen all day away from polling stations. As much as the Yes camp have made their presence felt throughout the campaign, the No vote in Edinburgh appeared almost invisible today. If the city returns a No on Friday it will come from a very silent majority indeed.
So it was something of a surprise when, on close inspection of a gathering of what looked like young, first-time voters, I spotted a “No Thanks” T-shirt at its centre.
He is Edinburgh’s loneliest No campaigner.
The gentleman in question was earnestly engaging with a group of at least 30 people around him taking them on point by point on the prospects for an independent Scotland.
Though the vote has often been painted as fractious, particularly on the pro-independence side, little of that was on display as the two sides batted questions and playful jibes back and forth. With just a few hours to go until polls close our mystery Socrates may not really hold out much hope of swaying the votes of his audience but in holding court outside the Scottish Parliament he was demonstrating that civil discourse between the two sides is more than possible.
No matter what result Scotland wakes up to tomorrow that, at least, is a message of hope that a divided nation can quickly heal those rifts.
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