Scotland Independence Vote Neck and Neck on Eve of Historic Ballot


The dramatic contest to determine whether Scotland will reverse the trajectory it set for itself 300 years ago and pull out of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) to once again be an independent country is neck-and-neck. With tomorrow’s historic vote looming, 51 percent of the electorate are polling”no,” 49 percent “yes” and a full eight percent remain undecided.

The latest polling data, which was released by ScotCen on Wednesday, indicates the same too-close-to-call preferences as have been seen over the past week. How the undecided eight percent votes tomorrow will be critical to Scotland’s future.

Should the results be positive for secession, David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said “We’d be utterly heartbroken.” The Queen of England is also reportedly surprised by the strength of Scotland’s “yes” faction.

An advance copy of the speech the leader of the “yes” movement will present Wednesday in Perth has Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond  telling supporters that – win or lose – this will have been the “greatest campaign in Scottish history.” He will also say that Thursday will be a day “Scotland will never forget.”

Scotland unified with England in 1707. In its current form, the UK is a conglomeration of four countries:  England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Gordon Brown, a Scot and former British prime minister is against independence. He cites achievements in the past and present which “happen not in spite of the union but because of the union.” American historian Arthur Herman, in his book, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, noted how minuscule Scotland – with its 5 million person population – has played a disproportionately large role in the formation of the modern era, citing examples in science, politics and economics.

Some who are against Scottish independence are troubled by the likelihood that the country’s currency would no longer be the globally-respected British pound but instead, something yet-to-be identified. In addition, open questions remain about who and how the national debt will be paid off as well as what will happen to Trident missile-carrying nuclear submarines stationed out of Her Majesty’s naval base, Clyde. Other hotly contested issues have been health care, social welfare spending, oil reserves in the North Sea and taxation.

In an unexpected final pleading, the Scottish Daily Record published a pledge on Tuesday from the leaders of UK’s three leading political parties to – should the vote reject independence – essentially hand over more independence to the country. Critics have questioned such promises which, if enacted, could leave England and Wales to suffer in compensation.

Some global financiers are also anxious about secession. The chief economist with Deutsche Bank, David Folkerts-Landau, has asserted that independence would trigger an economic meltdown so severe that he compares the result to the United States’ Great Depression of the 1930s. Others say that such doomsday scenarios are “disingenuous” and “preposterous.”

John Major, another former UK Prime Minister, says that the people of Scotland have been fleeced, and that they “have been fed a load of pap” by those providing assurances that all will be okay after an affirmative plebiscite. He has said that “yes” will create “very serious problems.”

A number of British celebrities have spoken out. J.K. Rowling said that, after serious consideration, she believes independence “carries serious risks.” Mick Jagger joined 200 British stars urging Scotland to remain in the UK while Paul McCartney and David Bowie have also come out against independence.  In favor, however, is perhaps the best known Scottish actor, Sean Connery, who is a long-time Scottish nationalist. He says the vote is “an opportunity too good to miss.”

By Gregory Baskin

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