Jim Murphy: Marathon referendum campaign continues

IN the past week of my 100 Towns in 100 Days tour of Scotland, I’ve had my microphone out in Oban, Leith, Portobello, Hamilton, Rutherglen and the legendary Glasgow Barras (and yes, before you ask, I’ve been in my own constituency and in Parliament).

Jim Murphy is touring the country ahead of the vote. Picture: Johnston Press
Jim Murphy is touring the country ahead of the vote. Picture: Johnston Press

There’s a lot of good-natured debate with the street audiences. A few times I’ve had to stop speaking to persuade people in the crowd to stop shouting at each other, and shout at me instead.

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The spontaneous audiences also produce some characters. My favourite so far was a man claiming to be ‘the Oban Seagull Whisperer”. He turned up in the West Highland capital with the sole aim of persuading the call of nature of said seagulls to disrupt our session. I think the bag of chips in his hand were a bigger calling signal than any of his silent sounds.

Then there was the Yes supporter outside the bookies in Hamilton who shouted “I’d rather spend Scottish acorns than English pounds!” Who said money won’t grow on trees in an independent Scotland?

Travelling across Scotland I get the feeling that momentum is now with our No Thanks campaign. As I told the audience at the Barras, fewer people are buying the SNP’s argument and if the Yes campaign was a Barras stall, it would be going out of business.

We have had two years of frenetic campaigning, but in the polls we remain solidly ahead, the nationalists remain in our rear view mirror.

The other sign that the momentum is with us comes from donations, from people supporting the campaign with their cash.

We have raised £1.6 million from small donations, from thousands of committed people – generous people - sending in just a fiver or a tenner. This is a tremendous broad support base, one which the Nationalists are not matching.

I still remember the day we launched Better Together around two years ago now. It was big media event, with dozens of press and broadcasting journalists there. The sense was that we would be outmuscled by a noisy nationalism - thanks to the quiet but patriotic majority the opposite is happening.

We still need Scotland’s support. But at the moment the SNP are all mouth and we are all momentum.

There are many more stops to go on this tour. I’m used to running marathons. This is much longer. But it’s already a lot more fun.

• Jim Murphy is the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire, and the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.