THE scale of the challenge facing Alex Salmond in trying to win over voters was illustrated by the mixed reaction to the publication of the white paper on the streets of Scotland.
Mark Fleming, 49, a chartered surveyor from Fife, summed up the thoughts of many voters when he said: “We’re finally getting to the nitty gritty and it’s very important the real issues are finally out in the open.
“Until now, all we’ve had has been a smokescreen from each side of the debate. Now people can finally give an opinion not just based on emotions.”
Cameron King, 17, from South Queensferry, said: “I’m still undecided about how I’ll vote at the moment, but I have a lot of unanswered questions. They are mainly about the economy of an independent Scotland, but also about what the country might look like in five or ten years’ time. My main concern is whether Scotland can stand on its own two feet or not.”
The economy seems to be one of the biggest issues voters are thinking about. David Chalmers, 67, director of an insurance company, said: “I’m very interested to read the economic sections as I want to look at all the financial arguments, the currency question and what the split of liabilities is likely to be between Scotland and England.”
Leah Clark, 18, a market researcher, from Gairloch, in the Highlands, said: “I’d definitely like to be properly informed before the vote next year. I’d say I was in favour of independence at the moment, but I think it’s important to be informed rather than just voting one way or the other for patriotic reasons.”
Edinburgh Napier University law student James Enright, 21, originally from Newcastle, said: “Some of my flatmates are Scottish nationalists, but I don’t know enough about the issue at the moment, so I’ll definitely be reading up on it. At the moment I’d be inclined to vote in favour of Scotland remaining part of the UK.”
In Glasgow, Kathleen O’Brien, 41, said: “Nothing will influence me because I don’t agree with independence, no matter how many pages they print. Scotland can still have its own identity as part of the UK and I don’t see what difference devolution has made.”
In Aberdeen, some people were worried taxes would rise, while others were huge supporters of an independent Scotland.
Lorna Horne, 50, a support worker from Inverurie, said: “I’m not interested in reading the white paper. I just don’t think independence will work. We are skint as it is. I saw that we are all going to be more than £600 better off but where is that money going to come from? I am worried the taxes are going to go up, even though the SNP are saying independence won’t make any difference. I think we are better off in the Union. It’s better the devil you know.”
Stephanie Bruce, 23, a tour rep from Aberdeen, said: “I am totally for it. Scotland could quite happily be an independent country. But I think we need a change of leadership, put it that way.”
And the last person The Scotsman asked, Philippa Brooks-Donaldson, 49, an interior designer from Edinburgh’s New Town, said the only reason she would read the white paper would be “for a good laugh” – before using it to plaster her bathroom.
“This whole business is about one man, Alex Salmond, and his mission to break Scotland away from England,” she said.
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