Scottish expats - a view from Wales

You get an interesting perspective from Scottish expats living in Wales because they are watching the referendum debate from a place where there are people with similar ambitions for independence.

Most of the Scots I've been speaking to don't expect it to happen here, but in the same breath many will say they never expected the Scottish independence campaign to happen in their lifetime either.

There are more than 20,000 Scots living in Wales without the vote, which is usually a sensitive subject with them.

I've been catching up with some of them with less than a month to go.

One of them is Kenneth Hamilton, a leading concert pianist who has been head of the School of Music at Cardiff University for the past two years.

He began on the no side but has been edging to the yes camp during the course of the campaign.


After giving me a sentimental rendition of the Scottish folk song Annie Laurie, he opened up: "The many interventions of Westminster I think have done nothing except to harden the yes vote, effectively producing the opposite of what was intended.

"Largely because of these predictions by all three parties, strangely unified for the first time that I can remember, predicting that earthquakes will ravage the land, that the skies will rain with blood and the price of bread will increase by 20 fold if Scotland becomes independent.

"All based on speculation and all designed to frighten the Scots to vote no.

"Of course it has the opposite effect because the Scots are a difficult cussed people, as I am myself, and they react against that.

"It seems to me that the arguments have been carried out on a counter productively-emotional level."

I got a contrasting view from Calum Milne, the managing director of Llangoed Hall in the Wye Valley, the manor house which was turned into a hotel by the late husband of Laura Ashley, Sir Bernard.


Calum Milne is not from Powys, instead he's a proud son of Perthshire and a strong believer in the union.

This is what he had to say about Alex Salmond as we sat in one of the grand rooms of the hall with the log fire roaring on a chilly August day in mid-Wales.

He said: "He is tapping in to the passion. He is tapping into Braveheart.

"He is a very good orator and and he is always media savvy.

"What we can say however is that Scots have been influential throughout the world regardless.

"Here in Wales the Marquis of Bute set up Cardiff as one of the richest cities in the world at the time.

"We have had influence in London, we have had influence in China. That did not matter that we were not independent then.

"We were proud Scots and we went and sorted things out, that is what we Scots do. We will sort this out like any other squabble."

The independence debate has been aired publicly but it's also raging behind closed doors among families and couples.

One of those couples is Robert and Marie Mason who have been living in Bridgend ever since Robert got a job at the Sony factory in the town more than 30 years ago.

He supports the no side while she would vote yes if she still lived in Scotland.

Drifting apart

I was filming with them at Ogmore Castle which looked more like a scene from Braveheart than Bridgend for an item for Wales Today.

When the camera started rolling they were standing next to each other but it was noticeable how they drifted apart when the subject was brought up.

She said: "I would like to see them do it because I would like to see Scotland standing on its own."

While Robert said: "She has not given me an argument for going independent.

"If you do not know what is going to be in your pocket next week, be it a pound, a deutschmark or a euro or what, that is bound to make people think."

The Scots in Wales may have different views but many have this in common: they're closely watching the campaign and they wish they had a vote.