Monday, 15 September 2014

Historic week for Scotland and the UK

As I am sure that you are undoubtedly aware, the Scottish independence referendum is happening this Thursday. Because of this I have not been posting much genealogy news on this blog over the last few days, as I have been out campaigning, and will continue to do so until the day itself. On Thursday I will then be volunteering as a polling agent at three poll stations in my local area, and after 10pm, when the ballot has closed, I will be at the main North Ayrshire count throughout the early hours of the morning, keeping an eye on proceedings as one of many agents registered for the Yes side (for independence). On Friday, whatever the result, I will then be sleeping! This means that whilst I will try to post when I can, this week may be a bit thin for news from me, but I'll try to put anything up if I get it.

For those interested in the campaign currently going on here, one of the huge joys about it has been how peaceful and civil it has been, and yet at the same time fiercely passionate. Some 97% of the adult Scottish population has been formally registered on the electoral roll, which is just astonishing, and the issue is all that is being talked about on the streets and in the pubs - this country has never been so democratically engaged in any discussion, certainly not in my lifetime. The polls are veering wildy from Yes at 54% to No at 53% - in truth, it really is on a knife edge somewhere in the middle with so many factors not taken into account when compared to normal elections (for example, thousands have registered to vote for the first time since the Poll Tax of the 1980s, whilst 16 and 17 years olds are set to vote for the first time in any British election). There has been a lot of fun - on Saturday, for example, there was a good friendly rivalry between our Yes stand and the Better Together stand (the No campaign to independence), both of us located side by side on the Main Street of Largs, as we tried to make our case and even convert each other's supporters with our arguments - occasionally returning badges to the other team if we succeeded! On Saturday there I even met Peter Mullan, an actor from one of my favourite films of recent years, Sunshine on Leith, who popped by our stall (see below), whilst a couple of weeks ago I was out canvassing the Main Street here in Largs with the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. These are not normal times!

Whatever the result at the end of this whole process, whether an independent Scotland or a continued United Kingdom, this blog will continue to provide genealogy news from across the British Isles, and occasionally beyond our shores, as has been the case for the last few years - so hopefully, as of next week, it will be back to business as usual. If I'm still standing, of course...! :)

Finally, no comments please on the merits for or against the issue on this blog - I'm just explaining my temporary absence!


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks


  1. What is the best hashtag to follow on Twitter, please? This is just like Canada in 1995. The difference in our referendum was less than 1%.

  2. It's #indyref for the campaign, #voteyes for the Yes side and #nothanks for the No campaign! :)