Sides in Scottish referendum make final push

2014-09-16 17:30
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Edinburgh - The two sides in Scotland's independence debate scrambled on Tuesday to convert undecided voters, with just two days to go until a referendum on separation.

The pitch of the debate has grown increasingly urgent. Anti-independence campaigners argue that separation could send the economy into a tailspin, while the Yes side accuses its foes of scaremongering.

After a late poll surge for the pro-independence side, the No campaign is striving to persuade Scots that they will gain more autonomy if they do not secede.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat chief Nick Clegg all signed a pledge published Tuesday in the Daily Record newspaper promising Scots "extensive new powers" — including tax-raising authority — if they remain part of the United Kingdom.

Labour Party politician Douglas Alexander said a No vote meant "faster, safer, better change for Scotland," while independence would bring "risks, uncertainties and costs."

"With just 48 hours to go, they can't even tell us what currency we'll be using," Alexander told No supporters in Edinburgh's financial district.

The pro-independence Scottish government says Scotland will continue to use the pound sterling, but the British government insists it won't agree to a currency union.

Economic insecurity

The Yes campaign says the promises of new powers are vague and reveal the No side's desperation.

"This last-minute desperate offer of nothing is not going to dissuade people in Scotland from the huge opportunity of taking Scotland's future into Scotland's hands this coming Thursday," First Minister Alex Salmond told the BBC.

Polls suggest the outcome will be close, and several hundred thousand voters who have yet to make up their minds could determine whether Scotland leaves its 307-year-old union with England.

For some voters, concerns about economic insecurity and job losses are a powerful reason to reject independence.

Property developer Alex Watts said international investors were putting Scottish projects and purchases on hold because of the uncertainty around the vote.

"What the property industry needs in Scotland is more certainty and stability," he said. "Why should we take the risk? Scotland is not the only place to invest in."

Others, though, say the negative campaign of politicians on the No side has driven them into the Yes camp.

"Rather than putting their own case for why we should stay together they're trying to scare us into not separating," said Mike Smith, who sells leather goods from a stall along Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

"If that's what they're doing now, what are they doing the rest of the time?"

Read more on:    david cameron  |  scotland

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