9 Sep 2014

Indyref countdown: ‘It’s a battle between my head and my heart’

Freshers week at Edinburgh University, and as well as the usual talk of bar crawls and club nights, there’s a surprising amount of discussion about politics.

Next week’s vote on independence for Scotland has electrified this city and others, engaging people who’ve never voted before, and overturning long held political beliefs.

Young voters are switching to the Yes campaign, with 60 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds now backing a breakaway. So the unionists are facing an uphill battle on university campuses between now and polling day.

Second year students Coran Darling and Andrew Smith are united in their love of hill climbing, but as I followed their guided walk up the local landmark Arthur’s Seat it became clear that they, like the country at large, are split on Scotland’s destiny.

Andrew has already voted by post. “I’ve voted yes, I sent it off a few weeks ago. It’s slightly scary first time voting but I felt it was the right choice,” he told me.

Coran was a staunch supporter of sticking with England, but is now wavering.

“It’s something of a battle between my head and my heart. My head wants to vote no but there’s various amounts of uncertainty going on there. My heart wants to vote yes, much like every other campaign voter who does want to see an independent country,” he said.

So what kind of welcome will the three party leaders be given tomorrow? According to Coran: “It won’t so much be with open arms but it won’t necessarily be a stoning. Most people would like to hear what they have to say.”

Coran and Andrew’s walking tour is only on offer to freshers. But if the thee visiting leaders wanted an insight into the struggle the no campaign faces attracting young voters, they could do worse than tag along.

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