The Scottish Independence Referendum is taking place today. The voter registration is at a record high. Of all eligible voters 97 percent have signed up for the referendum, an increase of over 300 000 voters since the past UK Parliament elections in 2012. Last week’s newspapers were headlining the “neck and neck vote” after new polls showed extremely close results for the two campaigns. That was a wakeup call for people in Scotland, where now more than ever everyone has an opinion. Campaigners are taking to the streets, flags and posters illustrate the campaign’s battle, while Yes and No posts are flooding Facebook.
The Better Together Campaign and the Yes Campaign are now more present than ever. After months of work this week clearly shows the grand finale of the battle against and for Scottish independence. Yes please or No thank you? Here are some comments and headlines from both sides.
The Better Together Campaign presents their headlines with “No Thanks”, animating people not to take the risk of leaving the union. It is mainly the National Health Service (NHS), the pound, pensions, security and the future economy that No campaigners are worried about. The Better Together campaigner in Glasgow stated that “people are stronger if they work together; nations are stronger if they stay together”. Leaflets claim that creating new borders in the 21st century doesn't seem right and that as part of the UK there are much more job opportunities then there would be in an independent Scotland.
With their flags, leaflets, stickers and much more the Yes campaign calls for “a richer and fairer Scotland”, and to “end Tory rule forever” or for an “independent nuclear-free Scotland”. The point all Yes campaigners who are in the streets today have in common is that they want their vote to count more. A Yes campaigner in Glasgow stated that independence “doesn’t have to be easy, but it is important that in an independent Scotland we can make decisions ourselves”. Where the Better Together campaign warns of risks, the Yes campaign believes that economically and politically Scotland is going to be better off leaving the union.
Facebook has published a report stating that only in the past 5 weeks there have been over 10 million “interactions” concerning the Scottish Independence Referendum, of which 85 percent came from Scotland. In the past days the discussions on the Independence Referendum have exploded and many Facebook users used the opportunity to show their stand with a Yes or No logo on their profile pictures. Reaching many users by posting and explaining their stand the discussion expanded all over Scotland, as well as internationally.
On Facebook the Yes Campaign seems to dominate, having more “Likes” for its official Facebook group and a lead in discussions. Hotly debated is also the media coverage in the UK and in Scotland. According to Rev. Stuart Campbell, Editor of the website Wings Over Scotland, out of all Scottish newspapers only the Sunday Herald supports independence. The BBC has been highly criticised for its “institutionally biased” coverage of the Scottish Independence Referendum. A BBC video that was released last week reporting from Glasgow heated this discussion even more. The news report was filmed in front of a group of No campaigners and the only Yes campaigner disappeared from picture after a sudden break. On the same day The Herald published an article about the focus of the Yes campaign in Glasgow. The media institutions in the UK will all be affected by the results of the upcoming referendum, thus it is not surprising that it has become an issue to cover Scotland’s Independence from a neutral point of view.
The Big Questions
Though media and campaigners cover a heated debate, the discussions often end with the big questions in this referendum. What exactly will happen to the economy, politics and principles of Scotland and the UK? Will an independent Scotland keep the pound and become a member of the EU and the NATO without problems? Will there be a raise in Scottish nationalism? In case of a Yes vote, how long will negotiations take until a new independent state truly exists? In case of a No vote, will Scotland get some rights to devolution? Many Scottish citizens would still prefer to vote for Devolution Max. But it has come down to a “Yes or No” for Scottish Independence, but what happened to the option of a compromise?
Devolution Max would have allowed a vote for full fiscal autonomy for Scotland, as part of the UK. It was the hot topic when the Scottish Independence Referendum first came up in political discussions. But it has been decided that it is not an option on the ballots this Thursday, even though polls had indicated that Devolution Max would have had the greatest support.
There are many crucial questions with no certain answer concerning Scotland’s and the UK’s future. Only after the result of Scotland’s Independence Referendum is published on Friday will these questions be answered with certainty for the case of the winning side.