‘More than 40 per cent of Labour voters back Yes’

MORE than 40 per cent of Labour voters are backing Scottish independence, Yes Scotland’s chairman Dennis Canavan told a rally in Glasgow today as the two campaigns prepare for the final push in the referendum campaign.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Dennis Canavan on the campaign trail in Stirling.  Picture: Robert Perry
First Minister Alex Salmond and Dennis Canavan on the campaign trail in Stirling. Picture: Robert Perry

Mr Canavan told a cheering crowd shouting “yes we can” that if the campaign can get 50 per cent of Labour voters then Scotland “will vote for independence”.

He also said that ahigh turnout of voters of more than 80 per cent will ensure victory for independence.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

The 200 independence supporters gathered in Buchanan Street also heard from actress Elaine C. Smith that the campaign will focus on “the forgotten communities” of deprived estates Craigmiller and West Pilton in Edinburgh, Easterhouse in Glasgow and Torry in Aberdeen to win the referendum.

Ms Smith said: “It [a Yes victory] will make Scotland a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.

“It will show that money is not the only thing that matters.”

With the crowd chaning “hope not fear”, she added: “I don’t want to live in a world where Utopia is not on the map. Even if we don’t reach it let’s lift anchor and set sail.”

Other celebrety backers at the event were Emma Pollock, Martin Compston, Sam Heughan and Ricky Ross.

Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins praised “the biggest grassroots movement in Scottish history” but appeared to concede that Yes might lose the campaign.

He said: “Even if we lose we will have changed Scotland.”

Speaking to journalists after the event Mr Canavan said that “private polling” for the Yes campaign showed that they had got 42 per cent of the Labour vote.

He went on: “If we get at least 50 per cent of Labour voters on our side then we will win and we are approaching that figure now.”

He said that “traditional Labour voters, women voters and people of my age, senior citizens” hold the key for victory.

He also claimed that “seven out of ten previously undecided voters have decided to vote Yes”.Suggesting that a Yes vote could be built in the West of Scotland, he went on: “We are getting a very good response in Glasgow. I have heard that Edinburgh is slightly more problematic.”

But he said that thee key to the campaign was “the abandoned communities”.

He pointed out that when he was first elected as an MP in 1970s turnouts were often more than 80 per cent but now in many constituencies have dropped to less than 50 per cent.

He blamed the poll tax for leading many people to deregister and Labour under Tony Blair for “abandoning traditional Labour values”.

He went on: “There are many people in deprived areas of Scotland who feel let down especially since the advent of Tony Blair.

“We are finding now that many of the people in the housing schemes in Scotland are more and more coming on board with the Yes campaign.”

He said he expects a “massive” turnout of “well over 80 per cent” across Scotland “with people who have never voted before”.

He added: “If we get a turnout over well over 80 per cent we will win.”

Mr Jenkins was also confident that the campaign to target traditional Labour votes with a message of social justice and fears over the future of the NHS had succeeded.

He said: “I am hopeful tomorrow that 50 per cent or more of people who normally vote Labour in Scotland will vote Yes.”