The 100-day countdown towards the Scottish independence referendum has begun. Four million Scottish nationals from age 16 upwards are being called to take part in the historic consultation on the future of the country — whether it is to continue to be a part of the entity that has been known as the United Kingdom since 1707.
The poll is scheduled for 18 September. British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond signed an agreement in October 2012 authorising the organisation of the independence referendum.
According to British newspaper the Financial Times, 48 percent of the electorate have said they will vote for unity, and 35 percent to go independent.
One typical Edinburgh resident said: “I’m a bit split, 50-50. My heart says Scotland, but my head says we should stick together in the UK. So I have not made up my mind.”
The undecideds are up for electoral grabs, so to speak, with both sides in the debate determined to convince them to their point of view. Wealth and poverty are central; Scotland’s prosperity is in play, they say.
Salmond says a victory for the ‘Yes’ camp would ensure everyone in Scotland just over 1,200 euros more income per year. That’s the euro equivalent of the pound Scotland uses.
Salmond said: “Over a period of 15 years, we can make Scotland a more prosperous society. That’s an infinitely more credible argument than the figures assembled by the Treasury, which have then been dismantled.’‘
Much of the gleam of independence is based on North Sea oil and natural gas receipts. Billions in taxes are generated. London has always handled redistributing that wealth. Independence would mean restructuring the arrangement, as well as promises to develop green alternatives.
Cameron’s conservatives and the Labour opposition agree with each other that Scotland will stay richer and stronger by staying part of the United Kingdom.
British Deputy Finance Minister Danny Alexander made a case for unity: ‘‘By staying together, Scotland’s future will be safer, with stronger finances and a more progressive society. Because as a United Kingdom we can pool resources and share risks.’‘
Devolution in 1997 handed some powers to the Scottish Parliament. Independence would, naturally, mean handling everything, notably fiscal, and huge uncertainty centres on what would be done about the pound sterling.