Three hundred years after signing up to a political and economic union with the United Kingdom Scots have the chance to vote to leave, but will they?
The desire for self-determination amongst a nation\’s population has long been a motivating factor in various country\’s struggle for independence. The colonial powers of the 19th century found in the 20th that many of their overseas possession had a preference for standing on their own two feet without the “assistance” of their European invaders. Independence is an aspirational desire that has created and build great nations around the world, and now Scotland wishes to be one of them.
On Thursday the 18th of September the Scots go to the polls after a lengthy campaign, led by Alex Salmond, First minister of Scotland, that has seen the support for independence steadily grow as time has gone on. But with the entire tentacle like power structures of the UK establishment ranged against the “Yes” campaign, will there be a new independent country on Friday morning or just another near miss for nationalists?
Scotland Holds Independence Referendum
• Thursday the 18th of September
• 300 years of political and economic union in the balance
• Internet betting in the UK favors “No” vote
Certainly nationalists have a lot to play with when it comes to appeals to the heart of the Scottish electorate. With Freedom and Democracy so often touted around the world it hasn\’t been difficult for them to find support for moving away from a 300 year union that was created by bribery, threats and economic circumstance. The Scots have a fiercely independent nature and for them to have been hamstrung by the UK for so long is starting to wear thin.
However the “No” campaign, who call themselves “Better Together” have stressed that the Scots would be gambling news after a “Yes” vote would be positive and that no one can be certain it would be. After 300 years of shared history and achievement it may well be that the Scots will stick with the devil they know, perhaps unwilling to take the risk of going it alone and all the challenges that entails, but with the polls still too close to call, it all remains up in the air.
The “Yes” campaign began as a rather idealistic nationalist core of people who felt hard done by at the hands of the British government in the same way someone in an online casino in the UK would feel hard done by if the odds on winning were different for them than everyone else. However the grassroots nature of this support has meant that at a local level there has been a massive effort to get voters to understand why voting “Yes” is a good idea.
Financed in the main by a pair of lottery winners (who won 101 million GBP) the “Yes” campaign has gone from this very focused nationalist ideal to an umbrella organization for all sorts of interest groups and campaigns that only have a desire to be free of the rest of the UK, and England in particular, in common. This is as close as an independent Scotland has been for 300 years and in the final hours of campaigning don\’t expect them to give quarter or give up.
The “No” campaign began slowly with just a token force of politicians campaigning against independence led by the eyebrows with a man attached, Alistair Darling. His slow methodical economic focus, pointing out an independent Scotland would have massive fiscal challenges, not stopping the rise in the “Yes” vote polling numbers. This led to a closing up in the polls that alarmed the UK establishment into a kind of desperate panic.
Gordon Brown stepped up to help put a Scots accent on the debate but with the three main Westminster party leaders having failed to make any effort in the first two years in the last two weeks they have made foolishly unseemly attempts to first brow-beat the Scots into voting “No” and then to bribe them into it. Promises made by what is seen as an English parliament tend not to carry much weight in Scotland and indeed may well have made more enemies than friends.
As the first poll showed the “Yes” campaign fractionally ahead the ripples of panic that ran through Westminster were palpable, the complacent lack of interest suddenly replaced with a furious energy to be all about Scotland and the preservation of the union. Was it too little too late? Only Thursday will tell us but online gambling sites in the UK are offering good odds that it wasn\’t. The divide between Scotland and England was never more evident than when the party leaders came to visit.
David Cameron and Ed Milliband were heckled and jostled on the streets, neither one very popular in Scotland at present. The former is responsible for austerity and the latter unable to stop him. Scots conservatives are rarer than hen\’s teeth but the reaction to the Labour leader has surprised some pollsters who expected him to have more chance swaying hearts and indeed minds. That doesn\’t seem to have happened to any noticeable degree, but then, the polls might not notice at all.
As the polling data got closer and closer between the two sides the pollsters themselves became more and more suspicious of their data. They\’ve been stunningly wrong before and after the disastrously bad 1992 election predictions they can\’t afford to be too far off the mark now lest all polls are damned forever as simply being lies, damned lies and statistics. The head of ICM expressed his caution and the politicians themselves know better than to take polling numbers with anything but a pinch of salt.
The problem is the pollsters have no previous data to anchor new data to, no comparisons to make, and worry that in Scotland many people might well be saying one thing in public and another in private with a concern that at the last moment many supposed “Yes” voters will weaken and go for the safer option of remaining within the union by voting “No” in the polling booths on Thursday. This means that even the pollsters now consider the polls to be as reliable as the dealer in a mafia run Russian poker room.
Scotland goes to the polls with the world watching, it will be interesting to see if the threats, fear mongering and lies of the “No” campaign can actually convince people in the region to vote against their own interests out of a mixture of fear and confusion as the UK establishment has done all it can to muddy the waters and keep people from having a clear understanding of what\’s going on. Even the media has been less than helpful in this regard, something Mr. Salmond may well remember when he\’s Prime Minister of an Independent Scotland.