Report for RFI English broadcast on 15th September 2014. Scotland will decide in a few days’ time whether to become an independent country, or stay within Great Britain. Recent polls show the yes and no campaigns are running neck-and-neck. Campaigning has intensified as both sides try to sway undecided voters.
A busker plays the bagpipes near Edinburgh’s main train station,showcasing one of Scotland’s most iconic traditions.
But with the vote on independence just days away, the country’s future is the talk of the town.
Lisa Clark is campaigning for a Yes vote with a dozen volunteers in the city centre.
Lisa Clark, “Yes” campaigner:“I think the yes vote is a positive vote…I think it’s the vote that takes Scotland forward into the 21st century as a democratic, socially progressive country.”
The Scottish National Party, which has a majority in the Scottish Parliament, is leading the charge for independence.
Although the Scottish government has control over issues such as education and health, the British parliament in London decides on national security, and importantly, how to spend the revenue from Scotland’s vast oil and gas reserves in the North Sea.
Alyn Smith, an SNP member in the European Parliament, says Scotland’s needs are being ignored.
Alyn Smith, SNP member in the European parliament: “As a minority in Westminster we’re part of a UK that, I believe, is going in a fundamentally direction to where Scotland wants to go in terms of how the UK treats human rights, how it reacts to the rest of the world. Scotland will be an avowedly anti-nuclear state. We’re a rich country where many of our people are struggling. Look at Denmark, look at Norway, look at Sweden, comparable countries with considerably better standards of living than we have. We can do better than we’re doing now.”
And voters like Anna-Maria Poluboczko agree.
Anna-Maria Poluboczko: “I think about the future for my child and her kids as well. I know maybe it’ll be hard for the first 10, 15 years, but I’m sure when she’ll be in my age, the future will be better for an independent Scotland.”
Meanwhile, in the affluent area of Haymarket, No campaigners like Daniel Swaine say Scotland will struggle financially on its own.
Daniel Swaine, “Better Together” campaigner: “Scotland can benefit from the strength and stability of the United Kingdom. It can have the best of both worlds. Scotland has out-performed every other economy of its own size in Western Europe since the financial crisis because of the stability of the UK.”
One of the key arguments for independence is that it will protect the public National Health Service, or NHS, from increasing privatisation.
But No campaigner Pamela Mooney, who works for the NHS, says that’s nonsense.
Pamela Mooney: “We have a hugely ageing population with proportionally a smaller number of people who’re working and paying tax, and public services will be crucified, really, if people vote for yes.”
For No voters like David Finlay, going it alone is too risky.
David Finlay: “I just think all the benefits are on the Union side, and all the costs and all the risks are on the yes side.”
More than four million people – that’s nearly every adult in Scotland – have signed up to vote…and a high turnout is expected.
They will decide whether Scotland will keep the 307-year old union with England, or sing the tune of a new nation.