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Kelso On A High

Jeff Zycinski | 23:23 UK time, Thursday, 15 March 2007

The declaration

From Glasgow to Kelso by way of a motel at Dreghorn junction where I spent the night. All so I could get to Kelso High School bright and early in time to act as an international observer of the big referendum on independence.

You may recall that the school broke free of the United Kingdom three weeks ago, as part of a project linked to the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union. They've since launched their own currency, have their own national anthem and the free flag of Kelso High has been flying proudly in front of the main entrance. The small nation may also get its own listing in the Lonely Planet guide.

Today the pupils and staff got the chance to decide their own destiny. Polling booths were set up in the school hall and a special hustings meeting allowed
everyone to hear the arguments for or against further independence. The school, it turned out, had discovered a gas pipeline during recent building works and this was hailed as a potential revenue stream for the free nation. Unless, that is, someone turns off the supply.

The results programme

The Rector, Charlie Robertson, oversaw the whole day with the kind of calm authority that makes him a fitting candidate for future Presidency. Producer David Stenhouse had arranged an special "results" programme to be piped into the playground. It was chaired by political broadcaster Ian Macwhirter.... and Professor John Curtice arrived from Strathclyde University to analyse the trends of recent opinion polls.

Then came the count, the result and the dramatic declaration. By this time a television crew had arrived to capture the moment of history. The school had voted overwhelmingly to retain their independence.

"The flag of Free Kelsie continues to fly, " proclaimed the Rector and Father of the Nation.

All very well...but just fifteen minutes later we heard reports that some fifth year pupils were planning to overthrow their leader in a coup.

Fragile thing, democracy.

ballot papers

You can hear more about the schools experiment with politics in the programme Passport To Kelso on Sunday 25th March at 11.05 am.

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