South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse is “disappointed” that the Borders and Scotland rejected independence. But he is “proud” of the Yes campaign and voters on both sides.
Speaking in Kelso immediately after the Borders result was declared, the Scottish government environment minister from Ayton said he would continue to campaign for independence.
“I’m disappointed with the result, but I’m extremely proud of those who campaigned for Yes,” he said. “I’m proud of those who voted for the first time who believed in a vision for what Scotland could be. That vision has not gone away. I will be campaigning for that.”
He added: “I will not give up on my dream for independence because I believe it is the best thing for our country.”
Mr Wheelhouse acknowledged that persuading voters to back independence in the Borders was more difficult than in other parts of the country.
He added: “We know we did very well in places like Hawick and Selkirk. Eyemouth was very good for us. We didn’t do so well in Coldstream and Kelso, but we expected that because the demographics are different and it is more challenging for us.
“We clearly didn’t get across the message about pensions. We thought we had a very good story to tell in terms of generous pensions, and pensions being protected.
“The No campaign were able to convince people there was a risk to their pension. We believe that is false, but we have to work harder to persuade people.”
Mr Wheelhouse believes the campaign overall, and the big turnout in the Borders and elsewhere, has been engaging and encouraging for politics.
“I’m proud of the Borders public,” he added. “A huge number have voted, many of whom have never voted before. Young people voted. They may not have voted for us this time, but they were not apathetic. They asked questions. They engaged in school hustings, they came to public meetings and asked questions of politicians. That is hugely heartening for the future.”