Polls have opened across Scotland for a historic referendum that will decide whether the country leaves Britain and becomes an independent nation.
Voters will cast ballots for either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ at some of the 2,600 polling places Thursday.
Ahead of the vote, the mood was tense on the streets of Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow.
At a packed pub in Glasgow’s West End, the punters are discussing an unusual topic for a Tuesday night – politics. There’s just one day to go before Scotland heads to the polls to vote on independence and emotions are running high.
So far the opinion polls are neck-and-neck, although some have questioned whether the results are being skewed by No voters unwilling to reveal their decision publically, and “Yes” supporters who don’t normally vote.
Arlene Moffat is having a quiet drink with a friend. She says she’s voting “a definite No”.
“Stronger together, historically. Financially, the military, business-wise, pensions. We want to keep the pound, we don’t want the euro. We like the national anthem, everything,” Moffat said, adding that she hopes the yes votes “will see sense” and change their minds at the last minute. Moffat believes it will be a very close majority in favor of “No”.
Across the room sits musician Neil IV, who is originally from Newcastle, but now lives in Glasgow. It’s clear from the array of “Yes” badges he’s wearing, which side he will be voting for on Thursday.
He says he is concerned by the coverage of the referendum in the mainstream media, which he believes has been biased against independence.
Every time they have a “No” campaign there’s about 10 people, every time
we have a yes campaign there’s about 10 people. But when you see the
pictures on Facebook you don’t see any massive no campaigners, you
don’t see a mass gathering like you do with the Yes campaigners. It’s
obvious, there will be a landslide.
Social media has been a major driver of the pro-independence campaign,
which some say favors younger voters, while supporters of the union
tend to be older and wealthier.
Outside the pub in Glasgow, taxi driver Brian, who didn’t want to give
his family name, said eight out of ten people in his cab said they are
But the same eight people think that it’s going to be a “no”. They are
thinking every other person is voting no.
“My wife’s a ‘No’, I’m a ‘Yes’. It’s like that. My neighbor’s a ‘No’, he’s a
no, ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’. It goes right down the middle and everyone has
their own reasons,” Brian said.
Alistair Darling, a former British finance minister and leader of the
“Better Together” campaign said independence would be an irreversible
decision that would bring economic doom and gloom.
Pro-union political leaders signed a joint pledge promising greater powers for Scotland in the event of a “No” vote, but many are skeptical these would actually be delivered.
It’s midnight in Glasgow and father-of-three Than, who works for a pizza delivery company, is on his way home. He says he’s been thinking
about which side to vote for but hasn’t decided yet.
“Personally I would say it’s more so for my children, what one would
provide a better future,” he said. “At the end of the day if it’s a Yes these
effects will happen over a good bit of time so we’re probably not going to see the greater benefit, maybe our children will.
On social media many No voters say they believe life in Scotland will
slowly improve anyway and do not want to take a risk by endorsing
However, “Yes” supporters say they believe a No vote would lead to fewer
powers for Scotland and the eventual privatization of the National
Health Service and other public services.
The race to persuade undecided voters will continue until the polls close Thursday night.
The latest surveys indicate 48 percent of Scots are likely to vote “Yes” for independence, compared to a 52-percent majority rejecting the bid to break away from London’s rule.
The polls have also found eight to 14 percent of Scotland’s 4.3 million voters are still undecided.
Speaking to Sky News, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he is “nervous, but confident” that Scots will say “No.”
“…Everyone who cares about our United Kingdom, and I care passionately about our United Kingdom, is nervous, but I am confident that we have set out how Scotland can have the best of both worlds – a successful economy with a growing number of jobs that we have seen today, the Scottish unemployment rate at six percent is actually lower than the unemployment rate in London, and shows what a success the Scottish economy is,” he said. “So, the success of that, but combined with the ability of Scots if they vote “No” to have even more powers and even more say over how to run their own affairs in Scotland.”