Scottish independence vote too close to call
Just 5 days remain before the vote on Scottish independence and the most recent polls show that the decision is too close to call.
Out of four new polls, three showed those in favor of maintaining the union with a lead of between 2 and 8 percentage points. But an ICM poll conducted over the Internet showed supporters of independence in the lead with 54 percent and unionists on 46 percent.
The final weekend of campaigning before Thursday's vote brought thousands of people on to the streets of the capital Edinburgh and of Scotland's largest city, Glasgow. Rival leaders worked across the country to convince undecided voters.
Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond, who has spearheaded the drive for independence, said he was confident the "Yes" campaign would win. The priority after the referendum would be would be to bring Scots together again to work for the country’s future good, he said on the BBC.
"We're not aiming to win by one vote. We're aiming to achieve a substantial majority if we can. And one of the great assets of the 'Yes' campaign is that we don't regard any section or sector of Scottish society or any geography of Scotland beyond our reach," said Salmond, also Scotland's First Minister.
Alistair Darling, a former British finance minister and leader of the "Better Together" campaign, warned that if Scots vote to split from the UK it would be an irreversible decision.
With promises from British political leaders of greater powers for Scotland in the event of a "No" vote, Scots could have the best of both worlds, Darling said.
Darling, a Scot, also said in an interview with The Sunday Times that the consequences of a vote for independence could match the turbulence of the 2008 financial crisis.
The Sunday Herald, which backs independence, filled its front page with a collage of photographs of "Yes" voters. "Now is the time. You are the generation," its headline said.
At stake is not just the future of Scotland, but that of the UK, forged by the union with England 307 years ago.
This is the most emotional campaign I can recall. There is genuine angst among unionists in Scotland and UK citizens over a potential break up.
The business and financial community is voting with their money. They are pulling cash out of Scottish banks and stocks at a rate not seen since the crash of 2008. Many in the financial community fear chaos if independence is achieved and are putting their holdings in safe havens.
A close vote would complicate matters enormously. Salmond can talk all he wants to about pulling the country together after the vote, but it's possible that those who voted "no" would not be reconciled to a decision for independence. In that case, the unionists in the Scottish parliament might seek to undermine the government's efforts to make independence a reality. Practically speaking, they wouldn't have much success. But cleaving the electorate would have consequences beyond the vote for independence.
At this point, most observers give independence a better than even shot. That does not bode well for David Cameron who might go down in history as the prime minister who committed the biggest political blunder in British history.