BY the time you read this, I’ll probably be in the car and half way up Loch Lomondside, heading for the West Highland capital of Oban. Number ten on my ‘100 Towns in 100 Days’ tour of Scotland. A mere 90 to go...
My tour kicked off in Barra two weeks ago. And while Calmac sails direct from Oban to Barra, I’ve come a longer route via Falkirk, Cumbernauld, Stirling and Eriskay.
Oban is, of course, the hub for islands like Mull, Tiree and Lismore as well as nearby communities like Appin, Benderloch and others.
Most folk living around those fertile lands and magnificent seas already know how the best of both world works.
Scotland exports more than three times the amount of farming, forestry and fishing to the rest of the UK as we do to the rest of the world. I double-checked that fact when I read it the first time as well - it is more than three times.
The Scottish Government’s own annual Global Connections Survey shows the strength of our economic links. The most recent figures show we sold £250 million worth of agriculture, forestry and fishing products to the international market. In that same year, though, we sold £785 million worth of those same products to the rest of the UK.
The aim of my tour is to talk to as many ‘yet to make my mind up’ voters as possible. And while I will no doubt tweet a link to this blog I know that the campaign will be won in face to face conversations in communities across our country. Some of the people I’ve already met say that they are turning the television off when the news comes on as they are ‘referendumed out’. My tour is just me, my Irn-Bru crate, a small microphone and whoever turns up.
I came off the sleeper train from London and after a visit to Giffnock synagogue, I’ll be heading north. Despite just a few hours sleep on the train I’ll liven up when I get to Oban. The street corner debates I’m having with ‘undecided Scots’ are often pretty lively. It’s a more direct style of debating than the House of Commons. But I’m enjoying it.
My next stops are Leith on Saturday and then on to Glasgow’s famous Barras market on Sunday. I think I might need a bigger microphone for that one.