Alistair Darling’s plea to Scots to vote No has been given a giant thumbs down – by his own namesakes. Another family of no less than four Darlings are all rejecting his advice and turning out for Yes on Thursday.
Ken Darling, his wife Heather and their two sons, Fraser and Stuart, all live in Hamilton and have even christened themselves Darlings for Yes.
They don’t have any direct family connection with the No leader apart from the surname – but that alone adds spice to the idea of seeing No defeated at the polls.
Ken, who originally comes from Caithness but has lived in Hamilton since 1973 says: “This campaign is very much about Yes Scotland, rather than the ambitions of any specific political party.
“What independence will bring is not only the opportunity to make decisions here in Scotland for ourselves; it’s also about recognising the cross-party – and no party – emphasis of it all. I believe that many of those traditional political barriers have been broken down now.
“Instead, we will all have the opportunity to vote in our own chosen candidates and they will be accountable to all of us. That will motivate us to think more carefully and be more diligent about just who we pick to represent us. There’s a responsibility for us to do that in an independent country,”
Brought up in a family where politics was of interest to both his parents – especially his father – Ken’s own curiosity was stirred. Like his Dad, he looked carefully at the arguments of different political parties and it was the independence movement that won his support.
Ken is a retired engineer in the power sector and both his sons have followed in their father’s footsteps. Fraser (37) works in the burgeoning Scottish renewables sector and Stuart (33) in the oil and gas industry.
Heather is an artist tutor in the community, and of course a mother. She says: “I’ve followed the discussions on both sides. I am voting Yes for the people of Scotland, for my children and grandchildren, to be able to use our natural resources, talents and inventiveness for the good of society and to be free of nuclear weapons.
“I want a government of the people of Scotland’s own choosing with full fiscal powers to do away with the imbalance of wealth and poverty we have at present. This is an amazing opportunity to give Scotland back its independence whilst maintaining friendship and business links with our neighbours and those further afield.
“I believe all sections of society and nationalities living in Scotland and using their vote have in their hearts and their heads plans to prosper, not to harm, plans for a hope and a future for the people of Scotland.”
Stuart believes that with independence comes real internationalism: “I’ve travelled a lot and seen clearly how nations pursue wealth. We need independence to improve infrastructure like road and rail, creating jobs in the process. With that, you have a modern day network focussed on Scotland rather than London and the south-east.
“Oil and gas has been used by Westminster to de-industrialise this country. Rather than funding Westminster’s unemployment and destruction, we now have the chance to turn that around. “
For Fraser, the keystone in this debate is democracy: “We have one Tory MP in Scotland yet we have a Tory-Lib Dem coalition governing us. This is our chance to choose the governments we want and make them directly accountable to us.
“We are disenfranchised here and it’s been fantastic to see people getting so engaged and invigorated by the debate. People who have never voted in their lives have registered, are talking, are seeing and sharing the Yes message. This isn’t nationalism. This is internationalism and in the renewables sector, that’s especially significant. “
Constituency MSP, Christina McKelvie, busy canvassing with her team on double shifts, says: “There is at once a wonderful irony about our different Darlings and at the same time this fluke emphasises how much we have in common.
“This isn’t about Braveheart or divisions in the clans; it’s very simply about Scotland as a sovereign nation being best placed to make decisions about our own future.
“That is true democracy. That is an accountable Scottish Parliament. That is the voice of the Scottish people.”