Labour, Conservative and Liberal leaders promise ‘extensive new powers’ to Scottish parliament if countrymen vote ‘No’.
With just two days left until Scotland goes to the polls in a highly anticipated independence vote, political leaders scrambling to keep the country in the U.K. have pledged to devolve new powers to the Scottish government if its people vote “No.”
On the front page of the Daily Record newspaper, Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour Leader Ed Miliband, and Liberal Leader Nick Clegg are pictured under the headline “The Vow” on Tuesday.
In the event of the country voting “No” Thursday, the three men promised “extensive new powers” to the Scottish parliament “delivered by the process and to the timetable agreed” by the three main parties.
With “No” leaders highlighting a lack of public spending on education and health as a main factor in the territory wishing to break away, the trio promised that “the UK exists to ensure opportunity and security for all by sharing our resources equitably.” They pledged “categorically” that the “final say on how much is spent on the NHS [Britain’s diminishing public-funded national health service] will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.”
Outsides of the front pages on the damp streets of the Scottish capital, the “Yes” campaign is taking a more prominent role. Pro-independence banners can be seen hanging from Edinburgh windows, locals wear “Yes” badges and it’s the “Yes” campaign’s blue and white literature and followers that deluge the city.
University student Gavin Christy, 19, told the Anadolu Agency that even though he didn’t want to force his opinion on anyone else he’d be voting “Yes” – “mainly because of if we vote no it will stay the same.”
Charity worker Bob Randall told AA that he thought Scotland would be a “freer and more equal society” if people voted “Yes.”
“The referendum is a big opportunity for Scots. I have been a ‘Yes’ voter since I was young. I could never vote ‘No’,” he said.
There was, however, a scattering of “No” campaigners and supporters around, the occasional dash of red among the blues in the early morning gloom.
“I strongly believe we should be in UK,” said a Mrs. Brown. “We are happy and fine as things are.”
With around 500,000 of Scotland’s 4.2 million registered votes still undecided, supporters from both sides were scurrying backwards and forwards in the rain, seeking the unsure out and trying to convince them which way to vote.
Musician Claire Campbell is yet to make up her mind, but hinted that recent announcements by the International Monetary Fund, banks and retailers about the financial implications of independence – some of which have threatened to move South of the border if Scotland goes it alone – may have swayed her opinion.
“I think all the economy stuff is scaremongering,” she told AA, adding that she was leaning towards voting “Yes”.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has called for an inquiry into the warnings, accusing the British treasury of leaking market sensitive material to media.
On Monday, Cameron gave an impassioned speech to the union, outlining what he called “the likely consequences of a ‘Yes’ vote.”
“Independence would not be a trial separation. It would be a painful divorce,” he said. “Head and heart and soul, we want you to stay. Please don’t mix up the temporary and the permanent. Please don’t think: ‘I’m frustrated with politics right now, so I’ll walk out the door and never come back.”
Elsewhere in the Daily Record, Kenyon Wright – one of the architects of Scottish devolution – appealed to voters to say “Yes,” laying out an argument that addresses the economy and the power to make decisions.
“If we vote ‘Yes’ the generations to come will thank us for a proud and caring Scotland in which they live,” wrote Wright.
The referendum threatens a union that has lasted for 307 years.
If the “yes” vote is successful, Scotland is not expected to entirely leave the UK until 2016, the Scottish National Party proposing March 26, 2016 as its Independence Day.