MIKE Strachan jokes that he has been living off chocolate biscuits and coffee for the last six months.

He quit his job providing merchant services to Lloyds Bank and volunteered to run the Yes campaign hub in his home city of Dundee instead.

He has never been a member of a political party, like many of his fellow campaigners. His life savings are dwindling by the day, yet he has no regrets. "I just love it when we get an undecided voter in here," he says. "I even love to hear why people are voting No, I find all of the arguments fascinating.

"I keep thinking 'we're going to do this' and I get goosebumps. But I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground."

He has been energised by this campaign, like thousands of others in this city. Make no mistake, Dundee is in the grip of referendum fever, perhaps more so than any other part of the country. Figures released this week showed the city has seen the largest surge in registered voters in Scotland, up 7.7 per cent, compared to a national average of four per cent.

While in other towns and cities in Scotland the campaign "shops" have served largely as co-ordination centres for local activists, there is a constant stream of members of the public coming into the Yes hub in St Andrews Street, asking for T-shirts, pens and the flags and posters which, it seems, are proudly displayed in every street.

Meanwhile, at the nearby Better Together HQ, the doors are locked. Labour MSP Jenny Marra emerges, having led a meeting of fellow activists, and soon a stream of half-a-dozen fresh-faced volunteers return to base, having been handing out leaflets on the city's streets.

The Yes campaign is undoubtedly more visible here - a pro-independence former fire engine even makes an appearance. But according to Ms Marra, who baulks at the mention of the "Yes City" tag that has been attached to her birthplace, it is far from certain Dundee will back independence.

"There is a quiet, passionate majority for No, and I think that's true throughout the country," she says. "The Yes campaign here is very vocal, very visual. The SNP have worked very hard here. But I don't think that translates into a majority for what they are proposing now, for separation. People in Dundee are quite canny, and they will look at the proposals in detail and in a sceptical way."

Once seen as a place in terminal decline, Dundee in recent years is a city transformed. Rockstar, makers of the worldwide smash hit Grand Theft Auto, began life here and the area is now seen as an international centre for computer games development. Equally, the college of life sciences at the University of Dundee is at the cutting edge of worldwide research. A £1 billion redevelopment of its waterfront is under way.

Ms Marra says that a Yes vote could threaten the life sciences industry, a position endorsed by Professor Sir Philip Cohen. The internationally respected academic, who is based at the university, has warned the institution could face a "brain drain" as a result of uncertainty over funding.

But despite Ms Marra's insistence that there is all to play for here, the prospect of an overall No vote in Dundee appears remote. The city is odds-on with the bookies to return the highest proportion of Yes votes of any area in Scotland, with canvassing for the Yes campaign predicting a result in its favour that could hit 65 per cent.

Following a historic SNP breakthrough in Dundee East in the 1974 General Election, the city became a battlefield between the nationalists and Labour, yet has shifted decisively to the nationalist camp in recent years. One of only six SNP MPs serves Dundee, while the two constituency MSPs are both SNP and the party also holds a majority on the city council.

The city still harbours some of the most deprived areas in Scotland, which Yes campaigners insist have proved fertile territory. A recent canvass in the Douglas area to the east of the city by pro-independence activists showed 82 per cent were planning to vote Yes.

Former Labour voters who have moved to the SNP are not difficult to find here. John Higgins, a staff nurse at the city's Ninewells Hospital, is shopping in the city centre. He says he is a former Labour voter but is now firmly in the Yes camp. "They let people down here badly," he says, citing the Iraq War as a particular cause of disillusionment with Labour. "I have a problem with the British Government, but this isn't a protest vote. I think we'll be better off independent." His mother, Margaret, chips in. "I have the same views," she says. "We are all Yes here."

While the Higgins family approve of the multiple Yes street stalls at points throughout the city, they are not universally popular. At the most prominent, next to the Desperate Dan statue that commemorates Dundee's links with Dandy and Beano publisher DC Thomson, one pensioner looks on disapprovingly. "I'd go before the firing squad before I'd vote Yes," she says. "I'm proud to be Scottish and British - I think that's marvellous."

Another No voter, George Seaton, says he believes there is a sinister undercurrent to the local Yes campaign. "I haven't seen much of the No campaign here," he says. "The Yes people have been more pro-active. I think there is an element of intimidation."

It is a description disputed by the Yes campaigners, who insist the debate here has been overwhelmingly positive, other than an incident in which a speech by Labour MP Jim Murphy provoked angry scenes. It proved a precursor to the now infamous incident in which he was egged in Kirkcaldy.

But if that occurrence, which local SNP councillor Jimmy Black described as "unfortunate", represented the worst of the campaign here, the actions of a local taxi firm surely represents the best. Wayne O'Hare and George Scullion, owners of Dundee Taxis, are committed Yes voters, yet are offering free rides to the polls on Thursday to all.

Mr O'Hare, who set up the business a year ago, said: "The referendum is what everyone here is talking about. If someone has mobility problems, and that's what's stopping them voting, then we can help. But we won't be asking for reasons or excuses, we'll do our level best to help everyone. We want to be able to look back and say we did everything we could on that day."