Hanif Leylabi gives his impressions of #indyref day
The energy and debate generated by the referendum was clear from the moment my train pulled up at its first Scottish stop. The sheer volume of campaign stickers tells you that this referendum has engaged and involved huge swathes people, including those who have never voted before.
What was also immediately clear was the class divide around the campaign. The vast majority of people wearing No stickers in Edinburgh city centre were wearing business suits. The Yes stickers in contrast were worn by a far broader cross-section of the population, including manual workers in their work gear.
Albert Drive polling station in Pollockshields, Glasgow, saw a constant stream of voters. It is located in an area with large Pakistani and Kashmiri communities. Labour councillors and businessmen made a huge effort to win the votes of local Muslim people for the No campaign – but the area was awash with Yes material, and Yes stickers were gratefully grabbed from my hands.
The recent mobilisations around Gaza helped bring together Palestinian solidarity protesters with campaigners for Scottish independence. This process of working side by side forged relationships that were able to attract many Labour voters to the Yes cause.
Humma Majid, 23, is studying education and social services at the University of Strathclyde. She campaigned late into the night for a Yes vote. “I was born and bred in Glasgow,” she said. “I’m here because Scotland’s people should make their own decisions rather than having a Westminster government who we didn’t vote for making decisions for us.”
In George Square hundreds of Yes supporters sang songs, played music and waved flags. One man’s placard read: “The only banks we will lose are food banks.” This typified the motivations of many of those casting their vote for independence.
Tensions flared at one point as No voters held up British flags and shouted abuse at a man wearing a Celtic football top and carrying a Scottish saltire. “That flag is part of the Union Jack and we’re British!” said one No voter. “Only till tomorrow!” came the reply.
In a few hours we will know if this will be the case. But we can be sure that austerity, nuclear weapons, privatisation and social justice have been thrust into the political centre stage by the Yes campaign. It has reached an army of people disenfranchised, disenchanted and poorly served by the neoliberal politics of successive Westminster governments. Many have for the first time felt they could mount a challenge the establishment.
The left has to lay down roots in these newly confident working class communities across Scotland. The mobilisation unleashed by this referendum has the potential to change Scotland on a deeper level than the mere fact of independence. The Yes campaign has allowed working class communities to feel strong – and whatever the referendum result that is a power that can and must be built on.