Undecided voters key to outcome of Scottish referendum

Updated - November 16, 2021 09:51 pm IST

Published - September 13, 2014 07:45 pm IST - London/Edinburgh

As the referendum campaign in Scotland enters its last weekend, and a new opinion poll conducted by the Guardian /ICM narrows the gap between the yes and no vote to a thin thread of just two percentage points in favour of No, it is the undecided voter at whom the campaign is being pitched.

The ICM poll shows that 42 per cent will vote no to 40 per cent for yes, with 17 per cent still undecided.

The turnout for the election is predicted to be a historic high as 97 per cent of the 4.3 million eligible voters have registered to vote. Of these, more than 18 per cent have already voted by post.

“Anything above 70 per cent turnout is really good and if we get to the high 70s it is sensational,” Gerry Hassan, writer, commentator and author told The Hindu last week.

“There are demographic constraints on a Yes victory. Older people are more likely to vote, and [they] are the pro-Union part of the electoral. Poorer voters are likely to vote Yes. The Don’t-knows are breaking to yes, two to one at the moment.”

The ICM poll shows this – 61 per cent of the 65+ group are anti-Independence.

As campaigners from the Yes and No sides fan out across Scotland, two issues have risen to the top of the debate: the economic costs of independence and the future of the National Health Scheme.

Amidst warnings of the flight of banks and businesses from Scotland in the event of a Yes vote, the No side has seized on a statement by a former deputy leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the veteran socialist Jim Sillars of the Yes camp. Mr. Sillarts, an SNP dissident, is reported to have warned British Petroleum and the heads of banks of “a day of reckoning” if Scotland voted Yes.

“BP, in an independent Scotland, will need to learn the meaning of nationalisation in part or in whole,” he stated. “As for the bankers: your casino days, rescued by socialisation of your liabilities while you waltz off with the profits, will be over.”

The SNP distanced itself from the remarks, but in Westminster the panic button was pressed. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, cancelled plans to attend a G20 meeting in Australia to deal with the fallout, if any, of Mr. Sillar’s remarks.

The Yes campaign promises to protect the NHS from austerity cuts. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Labour party leader Ed Miliband are claiming the opposite: an independent Scottish government would have to make £1 billion in cuts annually to the NHS.

“We feel ashamed that there are people dying in the world of hunger and of poverty,” Laurie Flynn, journalist and writer told The Hindu . “We want to build and export our NHS. We believe this country is profoundly wealthy, not just in oil and money but in experience that can be exported to help poor people in other parts of the world.”

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