Comment: Is it that easy to spot a Yes/No voter?

Anecdotal evidence suggests Yes voters are more expressive about their political leanings. Picture: Neil Hanna
Anecdotal evidence suggests Yes voters are more expressive about their political leanings. Picture: Neil Hanna
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MY FRIEND, let’s call her Shona, recently took her first dip into the turbulent waters of internet dating.

One date she found perfectly pleasant, but lacking in any kind of spark.

She finished her drink, thanked him for the evening, and left. The next day, the gentleman in question sent her a text message, telling her how much he had enjoyed meeting her and asking her for a second date. Her heart sank. How was she going to let him down gently?

She started to formulate a reply – tentatively explaining that she had enjoyed his company too, but felt it wasn’t the right time for her to begin a relationship. But before she could press send, her phone beeped again.

“I only have one reservation,” the man continued. “I got the feeling that you might be a No voter. Am I right?” Shona, never one to hide her political opinions, agreed lightheartedly that yes, she was indeed a No voter.

“I take it you’re a Yes voter, then?” she wrote. She never heard from the man again.

Is this seriously the kind of issue which is going to divide Scots for eternity? Is “which way did you vote?” going to be an integral question on any online dating registration form north of the Border?

Is it right that what could have been (apart from the sorry lack of spark), a wonderful, lifelong friendship was doomed to failure from the beginning because of where my friend – and her would-be beau – planned to put a cross in a box?

I wondered what it was about Shona, or what she said on that brief date – she insists the referendum had not been discussed – that gave her suitor his (albeit correct) impression of her. Do we all walk around with Yes or No in neon lights above our heads? And how? Is it what we wear; our accents; a certain expression on our faces?

There are undoubtedly certain giveaway traits which characterise the two sides of the debate. A couple of weeks ago, I bumped into my (English-born) neighbour on the street. She told me she’d nailed her colours to the mast and had pasted campaign posters in her front window.

“Aha, you’re voting Yes then, are you?” I asked her. I was unable to see her window from where we were standing.

“How do you know that?” she asked. The answer was simple. I have rarely seen a No poster in anyone’s front window. Yes posters are ubiquitous, despite the polls suggesting that there are currently marginally more No voters than Yes in the general Scottish population.

But even without that, I would have guessed that my neighbour was a Yes.

Yes voters, as is perhaps natural, considering that to vote Yes is to change the status quo, often appear to be more passionate, tending towards the extrovert – the posters in the window types. No’s, on the other hand, are generally slightly passive and more conservative (with a small and sometimes, a large, c), and more likely, generally (with some notable exceptions) to voice their opinions more privately, except perhaps through organised channels.

No voters, as is perhaps inevitable, are establishment: the professionals; the old school. Yes voters the mavericks: the Bohemians; the artists. No voters are more likely to go to work in a smart suit and ironed striped shirt; the Yeses in trendy trainers and jeans.

Of course, this is a generalisation, but one which many people have told me rings true with them. It definitely merits a proper psychological study. Obviously as we well know, there are plenty of suit wearers – former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman George Mathewson, for example – who are in favour of a Yes vote. And there are many non stuffed shirt types – such as David Bowie – who have come out as supporters of the No campaign.

But perhaps it was something about Shona’s clothes – always stylish, but classic and perfectly pressed – or her choice of drink (a gin and tonic) which gave the game away to her date.

She admits that she probably would have guessed herself – had it occurred to her to think about it – that Mr “I-Only-Have-One-Reservation” was a Yes man.

She now has a new beau – a man who is aware of her political allegiances, but either agrees, or doesn’t care. Hopefully this relationship will last long beyond the referendum, whatever the vote.