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He's A 'Yes,' She's A 'No' -- Couple On Opposite Sides Of Scotland's Referendum

  • Kathleen Moore

Verna Wilson (left) is still speaking to her husband Ronnie even though they have completely different views on Scottish independence.

Verna Wilson (left) is still speaking to her husband Ronnie even though they have completely different views on Scottish independence.

ABERDEEN, Scotland – She calls him "dogmatic." He jokes that she doesn't listen.

Verna and Ronnie Wilson are on opposite sides when it comes to Scottish independence. The married couple has already cast ballots by mail in the September 18 referendum that will decide whether Scotland ends its 307-year-old union with the rest of Britain and strikes out on its own.

The Wilsons, both retired social workers living in this oil city on Scotland's east coast, say they made their minds up a long time ago. Nothing that Ronnie, 71, has said has swayed Verna, 69, and vice versa. Still, he says, "we can live together with different views of the world." "We're still speaking to each other," Verna says.

Verna Wilson: I'm a definite "no." I've always been a definite "no" and haven't been persuaded [any other way].

Ronnie cannot give me any answers that would make me change my mind. [I'm] Scottish through and through and very proud to be Scottish.

We travel a lot and I always say I'm Scottish, but I still think we should be united. One [reason I'm voting "no"] is to bug my husband [laughs].

The main reason I say "no" is it's too risky: If "yes" wins, that's it forever. If it's "no," then we get a chance another time. That's the basic thing. I'm not a high risk taker; my husband is; he's admitted that.

We've done a lot of research; we went to a political festival and sat in on three different panels, one on black gold. They couldn't give definite answers because they truly don't know how much oil is in the ground and how much it would cost to take it out.

After that both of us came out and said to one another, "Right, have you changed your mind?" And I was surprised to see he hadn't wavered.

I think the queen has done a fantastic job. I think she's does a tremendous amount for the whole of the country. We have the history, and the royalty is part of that history and I wouldn't want that to be jeopardized.

In the [walking club] I was in a car and the two of them were obviously "no's." And somebody said, "I wouldn't give a lift to somebody who was a 'yes.'" That was said in jest but there's a wee bit of sincerity there.

I would have a hard time accepting it [a "yes" result]. Because that's it forever. I don't want a new passport, I don't want to change the money, go to euros. I would hate to be such a separate country on this same mass of land. I want to hang on up that. I don't want change.

From a personal point of view I'm proud to be Scottish. The Scottish education system is really good, our way of life is very good, our pension is very good, we have a good standard of living; we have nothing to complain about.

Because of this referendum, Scotland will benefit anyway, because England is looking at Scotland in a different light.

Ronnie Wilson: I don't think so; if we vote "no," they'll say "get back in your cage."

I voted "yes." I'm a high risk taker. Part of it is I'm voting with my heart as well as my head.

I'm voting against the English establishment, against the Westminster bubble that took fright last week when they thought they might lose. They're digging a hole for themselves as far as I'm concerned because they're bringing in all the big guns of the banks and supermarkets and big businesses to say it'll be gloom and doom.

It's all been orchestrated by the Tory party bringing in their pals to say we can't manage by ourselves. I've no doubt we could manage.

Even if there isn't the oil as one party would say there are all sorts of other things. We are a resourceful people, and I'd rather have the mistakes made by us and not imposed on us by other people.

I would vote for a republic. I want to be a citizen not a subject. But that's a lot further down the line.

At least we're having a referendum. Czechoslovakia didn't; they decided, the powers that be, and two countries were established. [This referendum is] very democratic.

Some of the stuff... if she wants to believe it, she's welcome. We're being fed by the establishment, I think. They [the parties in the "no" camp] will close ranks again as they always have done.

Scotland has been the heartland of [the] Labor [Party]. When Labor was in power, what did they do? They cozied up to big business and made a mess of it. The welfare state has been undermined much more with the Tories, but Labor didn't make a good job of it.

It's almost a vote against the whole political establishment. I think that's been a mistake on the part of the SNP [Scottish National Party] to insist that currency union was Plan A, and when people asked "what's the Plan B?" there never was one.

I think they should be saying we want to be an independent country and we should have an independent currency.

I think they're scared because of [reactions like] Verna's. It's high risk, there's no doubt about that, but it would make sense if we were an independent republic. I'm way out!

We can live together with different views of the world. At the end of the day life will go on, whatever happens. It might be different. Hopefully it will be different. But within the family we'll survive.

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