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Scotland prepares for historic independence vote

September 18, 2014 | By

Glasgow: The campaign for Scotland’s independence referendum went down yesterday as the historic voting for independence is set to be held today. “Yes” or “No” of the Scots would decide the future of the Scotland – either it would emerge as an independent country or remain as a part of the United Kingdom.

Pro-independence leader Alex Salmond in probably most important speech of his career so far, urged Scots to seize the opportunity as polls showed the vote could go either way.

“This is our opportunity of a lifetime and we must seize it with both hands,” the Scottish first minister told a crowd that waved blue and white Saltire flags and occasionally broke into chants of “Yes we can”.

Scotland and UK Flags [File Photo]

Scotland and UK Flags [File Photo]

“Tomorrow for a few precious hours during polling day, the people of Scotland will hold in our hands the exclusive solemn power to define our nation for the future,” Salmond said.

“It’s the greatest, most empowering moment that any of us will ever have.”

Salmond said the pro-independence side was still an underdog and promised to accept the result with dignity if the vote went against him.

Three opinion polls on the eve of the referendum showed a very narrow majority against independence but showed that the undecideds could swing it either way with just hours to go before polls open on Thursday at 0600 GMT.

Record numbers have registered for the referendum — 97 percent of eligible voters — and turnout is expected to be very high with officials saying it could be around 80 percent.

“It’s an event that has energised the interest in Scotland like nothing else in politics. This is something absolutely unprecedented,” said Magnus Gardham, political editor of Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald.

On the final day of campaigning both “Yes” and “No” camps mobilised thousands of volunteers on streets across Scotland in a final push to win over undecided voters in a heated debate that has fired up Scots on both sides.

“I’m really optimistic that if we do have independence, we can start building a society that works for all of us,” said 24-year-old Sam Hollick, a “Yes” activist from the Green Party who was campaigning at a stand in Edinburgh blaring a song by Scottish band The Proclaimers.

But at a “No” rally in Glasgow, former British prime minister Gordon Brown appealed to Scots’ wartime patriotism and said voting against separation would still mean Scotland gaining much greater local power.

“We fought two world wars together,” he told hundreds of supporters.

“There’s not a cemetery in Europe that doesn’t have a Scot, a Welshman, an Irish and an Englishman side by side.”

A late surge in support for the “Yes” campaign has also sent jitters through the financial markets, helping to bring down the value of the pound and dragging down the stocks of Scotland-based companies.

Salmond has dismissed the economic arguments — including what currency an independent Scotland would use as the Bank of England has ruled out a currency union — as “scaremongering” by the “No” campaign.

A “Yes” victory would not mean independence overnight but would sound the starting gun on months and possibly years of complex negotiations on separating two deeply linked economic systems.

It is expected to give encouragement to other freedom movements around the world.

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