Scottish Independence: Road to the polls

Piper Ryan Randal leads the march in Craigmillar. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Piper Ryan Randal leads the march in Craigmillar. Picture: Gordon Fraser

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THROUGH lingering mist, they emerged. Draped in flags, faces painted, marching to the polls. This was the day Edinburgh helped make history.

From first light, you could not escape the referendum day excitement, particularly outside the Scottish Parliament, where the international community had gathered with fervent interest.

Groups from Catalonia and Sardinia were among the Yes supporters, having travelled to Scotland for the referendum.

Passing motorists made their stances known, flying flags out the windows and blaring everything from God Save the Queen to I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers.

Campaigner Hannah Bradley said she was “euphoric” when she marked the cross in the Yes space.

The 25-year-old, who was handing out balloons and stickers outside St Mary’s Cathedral, said: “It’s amazing. I woke up this morning with the biggest grin on my face. I am so nervous and I’m so hopeful. As long as everyone keeps that level of interest and sees politics as interesting and worth getting involved in, whatever happens, there will be a change.”

Xavier Suarez, visiting the Capital from Ibiza, said the referendum was a “historic day” for the whole of Europe.

“Today is extraordinary,” he said. “It is important for the future of Europe. Everyone is looking at Scotland as they can make a new start. Why is it possible that Scotland can vote but Catalans can’t?”

Edinburgh College of Art student James McLeod parked his blue Fiat Punto outside the parliament before painting “Yes” on it in white paint.

But the Better Together supporters were equally enthusiastic about their opinions.

John Loughrey dressed from head to toe in the Union flag, having travelled from London in a bid to convince people to vote No.

Standing outside Lothian Chambers polling station on George IV Bridge – with many tourists stopping to take photos – he said he felt compelled to campaign on referendum day because of his Scottish and Irish ancestry.

“We have been together since 1707, and it has worked,” he said.

Better Together supporter Ed Barker said he “felt sad” when he voted, claiming “things should never have gone this far”.

“I can’t believe we are at this point now, we should never have had a referendum in the first place,” he said. “They don’t have the economic arguments, but even if they did, I would still vote No. It’s a hugely emotional issue for me.”

Fettes College pupils Abigail Peters, 16, and Loren Eadie, 17, were among the young first-time voters at Stockbridge Parish Church.

Both teenagers voted No, saying that uncertainty about Scotland’s future currency was among their reasons for supporting the Union.

Abigail said: “I have done a lot of research into the economics of it and the currency options. It was really exciting, I’m glad they reduced the voting age.”

Loren added: “Staying in the UK is going to help keep the economy strong.”

The students were planning a referendum breakfast party at the school this morning.

Better Together canvassers outside the church on Saxe Coburg Street said they felt the atmosphere was “contentious” in comparison with a “more amicable” response at the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Association Club polling station in Canonmills.