Scottish separation from UK 'too close to call' - Vancouverite reports from front lines
"Democracy Tourist" Jackie DeRoo of Vancouver says she's witnessing the "biggest commonwealth event in 100 years"
An ecstatic nation of flag-waving and blue-face-painted Scots is on the brink of potentially ripping up its 307-year partnership with the United Kingdom in an historic separation vote.
With polls showing it's going to be a nail biter -- Vancouver traveler Jackie DeRoo is in the middle of it all, doing what she calls “democracy tourism.”
And she’s not even Scottish.
“I know! You don’t have to be Scottish – to be interested in the biggest commonwealth event in 100 years,” laughed the retiree.
“I am a democracy nut,” she said from Edinburgh, Scotland Wednesday evening, in an interview with the Vancouver Observer.
Jackie Deroo at Victoria, B.C. protest in 2012 - photo by Zack Embree
The 65-year-old accidental “radical” – as she describes herself now -- only attended her first protest in Victoria, B.C. just two years ago – at the time, to oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Energized, she took more political actions – getting herself arrested outside Conservative James Moore’s office in June, following the federal decision to approve the controversial Enbridge project.
Big political decisions fascinate DeRoo – and in Scotland, it could not be bigger, said the LeadNow activist.
“Whatever happens [with the vote], this country will never be the same,” she said from Scotland’s capital.
She arrived Tuesday, asking ordinary Scots – in cabs, on buses, and on the streets – how they will vote Thursday and why. She’s discovered a nation divided between hope and fear.
The no side tells voters, Scotland is a "a have not" region - taking in more tax dollars than it sends to London.
“The yes side is much more of an emotional vote… we’re going to manage our own affairs, and just take the risk,” said DeRoo.
Spontaneous march to Scottish parliament Wednesday evening - Jackie DeRoo photo
By Wednesday evening - the eve of the vote -- she found herself overtaken by a “spontaneous” march to Scotland’s parliament, where the feeling is “overwhelming” – and bag pipes, huge crowds, and wide smiles are everywhere.
She soon sent the Vancouver Observer selfies showing her next to joyful teens at a "yes" gathering.
Many yes voters hope for what’s shown in this video -- a future, free of interference by Tory politicians in London, she said.
Scotland is traditionally a progressive lot in UK’s political make-up, while the south is more conservative, said DeRoo.
“Hi – my name is Kristi,” says the Youtube video’s thickly accented young person over top a baby’s image.
“I am going to be born on the very same day as the referendum on independence for Scotland – the question is: what kind of country will I grow up in?”
Other yes voters, like a 20-year-old university student who DeRoo eavesdropped on in downtown Edinburgh, want a more progressive Scotland.
“We have one million people who use food banks, and I think it’s unacceptable in a country as rich as Britain,” said the young woman, while being TV interviewed.
Yes supporter - University of Edinburgh student Amie Robertson -- speaking to TV crews Tuesday -- photo by Jackie DeRoo
World media are crawling everywhere here and with good reason. A rich G8 country could face its disintegration into smaller pieces. UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s head would surely roll, expect columnists like Gwynne Dyer.
Wales could separate next, many fear. And other separatist causes – like Texas in the U.S., and Catalonians in Spain – are sending delegations, seeking inspiration – hoping a yes vote will triumph. And if it does: