10 facts about the fight for Scotland

2014-09-08 16:19
British MP and former finance minister Alistair Darling campaigns for the pro-union 'Better Together' campaign in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Andy Buchanan, AFP)

British MP and former finance minister Alistair Darling campaigns for the pro-union 'Better Together' campaign in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Andy Buchanan, AFP)

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With just 10 days to go until the vote over Scottish independence, the gloves have come off. Celebrities, locals - even the Germans - want to have their say.

A shock poll on Sunday revealed that support for independence has surged ahead in the last month, with the ‘Yes’ camp now leading at 51% and the 'No' camp on 49%.

The No camp now has less than a fortnight to save the 300-year-old union.

Here’s who has entered the fray so far:

1) The Queen

Buckingham Palace will always insist that the Queen is politically neutral, but she is thought to strongly favour the Union, and plans to be in Scotland on the day of the vote.

On Sunday she held talks with Prime Minister David Cameron amid reports of “great concern” at Buckingham Palace.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has said he plans to keep the Queen as head of state, but one Scottish MP, John Mason, is calling for a referendum to replace the monarch after the Queen steps down or dies.

2) James Bond

Legendary James Bond star Sean Connery, a former Edinburgh milkman and lifetime supporter of Scottish nationalism, left Scotland decades ago.

Now living in the Bahamas, the 83-year-old will not be allowed to vote in the referendum because it is only open to Scottish residents.

Connery wrote in the New Statesman magazine in March that independence was an opportunity “too good to miss”.

But he said he respected the choice was “a matter for the people who choose to work and live there.”

3) 500 000 foreigners

Of Scotland’s 5.2 million population, there are 500 000 foreigners eligible to vote, as residents of Scotland.

These include an estimated 370 000 English-born people, as well as 120 800 EU citizens including 33 000 Polish people and 13 400 Germans.

There are also approximately 4 300 French, 3 600 Italians, 3 000 Spaniards, 2 700 Latvians and 2 600 Lithuanians.

A Panelbase poll in May found that 66% of the English born population planned to vote no to Scottish independence.

4) JK Rowling

Harry Potter author JK Rowling donated £1m to the No campaign in June, explaining why she would be voting against Scottish independence on her website.

Rowling, who lives in Edinburgh, backed the ‘Better Together’ campaign on Twitter - immediately drawing fire from the Edinburgh-based charity, Dignity Project, which tweeted: "What a #bitch after we gave her shelter in our city when she was a single mum."

The comment was condemned by both camps and the charity later claimed its account had been hacked.

Undeterred, Rowling engaged in a lively debate with other critics on Twitter before joking: "If you're waiting for universal popularity, you'll be on Twitter a VERY long time."

5) Kate Moss (for David Bowie)

Singer David Bowie used supermodel Kate Moss to deliver a surprise statement on Scottish independence in February.

Dressed in one of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust outfits to collect a prize on the singer’s behalf at the Brit Awards, Moss delivered a statement from Bowie which said: “Scotland, stay with us”.

6) UK for old rockers

A string of celebrities have come out in favour of keeping Scotland in the union, including former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, singer Rod Stewart and Rolling Stones’ frontman Sir Mick Jagger.

The old rockers are joined in their support for the No campaign by actresses Emma Thompson and Dame Judi Dench, Professor Stephen Hawking, England World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton and former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson among others.

7) ‘United King-dumb’ for others

Controversial comedian Russell Brand posted a video on his YouTube channel supporting Scottish independence. He said in the video, "Independence for Scotland. I like things getting smaller and more evolved. More power for the people. The (politicians)... don't trust them. They'll be no good. They'll be useless.”

Though celebrity support for the Yes campaign is somewhat thin on the ground, Brand is joined by The Smiths singer Morrissey - who told Ireland's Hot Press, "They (Scots) must cut ties with the United King-dumb. I love Scotland, and I love the Scottish spirit and they do not need Westminster in the least."

8) Andy Murray

Meanwhile, Scottish tennis champ Andy Murray is keeping quiet after a misinterpreted joke about England’s 2006 World Cup campaign.

He told the BBC: "I don't know a whole lot about politics, and I have made that mistake in the past and it's caused me a headache for seven or eight years of my life and a lot of abuse."

9) The Pope

Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic church, entered the debate in June.

Speaking about Spain's conflict with the Catalonian region - which is seeking independence from Spain, Pope Francis said: "All division worries me."

The Pope said there is “emancipation” - such as the American emancipation from Europe - and there is secession or “dismemberment”.

He said some dismemberments were “very obvious”, adding: "Let's think of the former Yugoslavia. Obviously, there are nations with cultures so different that couldn't even be stuck together with glue.

"The Yugoslavian case is very clear, but I ask myself if it is so clear in other cases - Scotland, Padania, Catalunya.

“There will be cases that are just and others that are unjust, but the secession of a nation without a history of forced unity has to be handled with tweezers and analysed case by case."

10) The Union Jack

The prospect of Scotland leaving the union has prompted the proposal of some colourful alternatives to the Union Jack flag - which was born out of the union of Scotland and England and updated when Ireland united with Great Britain in 1801.

Scotland gained independence from England in 1314, when Robert the Bruce defeated the English army at the Battle of Bannockburn. It had its own monarch until England’s Elizabeth I died in 1603 with no heirs and the crown passed to her closest living relative, James VI of Scotland - who became James I of England and ruled both countries.

Scotland remained independent until 1707, when the Acts of Union joined it with England, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Read more on:    scotland

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