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I Went To See 77 People Get "Yes Scotland" Tattoos In The Name Of Independence

The queue was around the block for Yes tattoos in Kirkcaldy. Let's just hope they don't change their minds.

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Last night Yes voters gathered outside Spaghetti Tattoos in the coastal town of Kirkcaldy. They were there to get Yes Scotland tattoos at two quid a pop.

The idea came about when Aphra Wilson, a tattoo artist, inked a couple of people with Yes tattoos. Then she got dozens of Facebook messages, and eventually decided to invite anyone who wanted a pro-independence tattoo to come along and get one for a donation of £2, with the money going towards opening a nearby HQ for Yes Scotland. This time, the money's going to a foodbank.


I nearly wasn't allowed in because a few people thought I was from the BBC when I started to take pictures while wearing a suit. They don't like the BBC round here.

Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

When people from Radio 5 Live asked if they could turn up to speak to the voters, they were told "to just fuck off. They're not welcome here."

And so it began. At 5pm, the 48 people who had already signed up tried to find space in the tattoo parlour while waiting for their chance.

Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

As the night continued, more people trickled into the office requesting tattoos. The volunteers helping out for the evening had to stop after 77 turned up, just so those doing the tattooing could have a bit of a break.


Right off the bat was 19-year-old Camilla Wilkinson. There's a bit of friction between her and her family since they're voting No, so she got a tattoo of a saltire butterfly that she can hide behind her hair.

Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

Her dad's from Belfast and thinks Scotland should be part of the UK. "He would probably disown me," she giggled to a chap who accompanied her. She had zero plans to tell her family about the tattoo. "We just don't talk about the referendum," she said.

Then there was Alastair MacNab, a 57-year-old getting his first tattoo for his birthday. He said his stepdaughter suggested he get the tattoo to publicly show his support. "I thought, why not?"

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In fact, his entire family came in to get tattoos. Only his stepdaughter didn't get one. "I don't like the idea of getting the same tattoo as everyone else," she said. She initially lied to Alasdair and told him he was getting a birthday meal at McDonald's.


At one point things started to get really weird after a SECOND German news agency with a crew of basically a billion people* turned up to record the event. If you watched German TV last night you probably just saw Yes Scotland tattoos.

*The crew was actually five people but felt like a billion in the small room.

And a guy with this tattoo started hovering around the tattooing room too. Since he already had a very prominent tattoo showing his allegiance, he was just there to support the campaign.

Ann Gillon, 23, is voting Yes because she's upset that Britain's Trident nuclear programme is based in Scotland and thinks the Scottish people should have a choice in the matter. She got the saltire butterfly tattoo.


Even Murray Cavenagh, a 39-year-old with bulging biceps, opted for the butterfly.

Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

Rhiannon Kennedy, 24, who was helping out on the night, got her third pro-independence tattoo. She's had one tattoo each time the store held a similar event. She was nervous about Friday but pretty confident Yes would come out on top.

This was Julie's first ever tattoo: a plain and simple "Yes" to show support for the campaign.

Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

The tattoo artists limited what parts of the body they tattooed because there were so many people walking around. At one point Julie turned around to her friend, who was lying down behind her getting her third tattoo, and said, mockingly: "I could put up with this all day."

But while women were advised against tattoos that would have required them to remove their trousers or tops, men were more nonchalant about it all.

One guy, who didn't want his photo taken, got an "Aye or Die" tattoo on his chest, which is certain never to cause a problem.

Kenny Karr, 42, reckoned the media is lying to the public and that polls he'd conducted in Dunfermline show the Yes campaign well ahead at 75%.

Three hours later, this is what a tattoo parlour where the staff have just inked Yes Scotland tattoos on to 77 different people looks like.


For these people it's a case of once an independence voter, always an independence voter.

Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at

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