Scottish independence: Final day of campaigning ahead of vote

Robert Pigott reports on the last hours of the campaigns
17 September 2014

Both sides in the Scottish referendum debate are making their final pitch to voters on the last day of campaigning.

It comes as the latest polls suggested the result remained too close to call, with a slender lead for a “No” vote.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has written to voters appealing to them to vote “Yes”, saying “let’s do this”.

Key figures from the pro-Union Better Together campaign were out meeting nightworkers into Wednesday, ahead of a Love Scotland, Vote No rally.

Three new polls, one by Opinium for the Daily Telegraph, another by ICM for the Scotsman and a third by Survation for the Daily Mail, were published on Tuesday evening.

With undecided voters excluded, they all suggested a lead for “No” of 52% to 48%.

In other developments:

*Former US President Bill Clinton stepped into the debate urging Scots to vote No. He said: “Unity with maximum self-determination sends a powerful message to a world torn by identity conflicts that it is possible to respect our differences while living and working together.”

*About 1,500 Yes supporters bearing Saltire flags, badges and blue campaign T-shirts gathered for a rally in Glasgow’s George Square on Tuesday evening.

*The Scottish Sun’s front page on Wednesday morning features a picture of Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond and the headline is “Britain’s Got Talent V The Eks Factor” The paper says: “Your voice, your choice, your vote.”

*Fourteen former British armed forces chiefs warned in an open letter that a “Yes” vote would make the whole of Britain more vulnerable to attack.

On the final day of campaigning, in a letter to the people of Scotland, Mr Salmond told them they will hold power in their hands as they vote to determine their country’s future on Thursday.

He asked voters to step back from the political arguments and statistics that have defined the two-year campaign and trust in themselves as they go into the polling booth.

Mr Salmond said: “The talking is nearly done. The campaigns will have had their say. What’s left is just us – the people who live and work here. The only people with a vote. The people who matter.

“The people who for a few precious hours during polling day hold sovereignty, power, authority in their hands. It’s the greatest most empowering moment any of us will ever have. Scotland’s future – our country in our hands.

“What to do? Only each of us knows that. For my part, I ask only this. Make this decision with a clear head and a clear conscience.”

The first minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the referendum campaign had been one of the most exhilarating in Western Europe, and said he was “assuming absolutely nothing” about the result.

Watching people queuing to register to vote had been a “humbling” sight, he added, and pledged to honour Clause 30 of the Edinburgh agreement by which both sides agreed to honour the result and work in the best interests of Scotland and the UK regardless of the result.

On Spain’s potential opposition to Scotland’s membership of the EU, the first minister said Scotland had 1% of the EU’s population, but 20% of its fish stocks, 25% of its renewable energy and 60% of its oil resources.

He argued that anybody who believed the country would not be welcome in the EU did not understand that Europe “accepts democratic results” and that Scotland “has a huge amount to contribute”.

Better Together leader Alistair Darling and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown will front a Love Scotland, Vote No rally in Glasgow later.

Mr Darling told the Today programme that he thought there would be a “No” vote but even if there were not he would play his part in doing “the best I possibly can” for Scotland.

“I’m not going. This is my country. I’m staying,” said Mr Darling. But he said that did not mean he would sign up to the “nonsense” in the Scottish government’s White Paper and insisted that “Alex Salmond is not Team Scotland”.

Mr Darling also warned that, whichever way the vote went, there would be hard work healing divisions in Scottish society which had emerged during the campaign.

He cited some internet comments and Sunday’s demonstration at the BBC in Glasgow, which he said some people found “frightening”.

“We all have to say we live in a democratic country; there are some people who have stepped over the line… but we’ve got to calm things down because we’ve got to live together.”

‘Working tirelessly’

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson have been out campaigning overnight.

Ms Lamont, along with her deputy Anas Sarwar, met print workers on the night-shift at Trinity Mirror Print Works. The politicians promised “better, faster, safer change” with a “No” vote.

Ms Davidson and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander met warehouse workers at Malcolm Distribution in Linwood.

Blair McDougall, campaign director of Better Together, said: “Unlike Alex Salmond who is on a helicopter victory tour, Better Together is campaigning through the night for a No vote.

“Better Together campaigners are working tirelessly to spread the message that there will be better, faster, safer change with a No vote for a stronger Scotland, while Alex Salmond’s political project for separation risks jobs, pensions and the NHS.”

Responding to the latest polls, Mr McDougall, from Better Together, added: “This vote will go right down to the wire. There is no room for a protest vote. If we vote to leave the UK there would be no going back, no matter what it costs us in terms of bigger cuts, higher prices and fewer jobs.”

  1. #1 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 18 September 2014 - 7:38 am

    With most of the North Sea Oil and gas leaving the UK, how would UK survive, let alone maintaining its posture as a maimed super-power? Even with the resources from the North Sea, things are going bad for this Kingdom. Maybe it can propose to unite with Saudi Arabia and become part of the Arab league!!!!

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Friday, 19 September 2014 - 11:56 am

    Rakyat in Sabah and Sarawak hoping 4 a similar referendum
    Y not?
    Should b interesting

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