Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Final countdown to independence vote

With Monday 9 June marking 100 days of campaigning left until the referendum on Scottish independence, campaigners on both sides of the debate have embarked on the final push.

But how has the campaign shaped up so far and what are we likely to see in the final weeks before the 18 September vote on Scotland's future?

Here's what's likely to come up:

Positive v negative

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns are fighting for votes ahead of polling day
Image copyright Getty Images

Striking the right tone has been vital for the campaigns.

On one side, Yes Scotland says it has been making a positive case for independence through its "Yes declaration" based on Scotland's ability to unlock its full potential.

On the other, Better Together says it has taken a similar approach, with their "Best of both worlds" slogan to make the case for Scotland staying part of Britain.

But there's been another side to campaigning. Take, for example, Chancellor George Osborne's view - backed up by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, that an independent Scotland would be blocked from using the pound.

Similarly, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has partly made the case for a "Yes" vote being about ridding Scotland of Conservative government.

And his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, has accused PM David Cameron of "struggling to locate that part of his anatomy" which would see him go head-to-head with Mr Salmond in a TV debate. (Ms Sturgeon's advisers assured me at the time she was referring to the prime ministers "guts". Or lack of)

Claim and counterclaim

Image copyright PA
Image caption Scotland's economic health has been a hot topic in the campaign

How much better off will people in Scotland be? Will public services be better or worse? What does Scotland need to be an international player?

These are all questions the two sides have sought to answer with a dazzling array of figures.

The Scottish government's most recent offering was the promise that everyone living in an independent Scotland would be £1,000 better off a year.

That very same day, The Treasury, in its own piece of analysis, said people in Scotland would get a "UK dividend" - worth £1,400 per person, per year - if they voted "No".

And not content with punting their own views, the two sides resorted to attacking each other for dodgy sums.

Mr Salmond said the Treasury's calculations had been "blown to smithereens" because they'd already been caught cooking the books, while Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander accused SNP ministers of offering voters a "bogus bonus" because their version hadn't taken all the factors into account.

Expect plenty more stats chat in the weeks ahead, as the campaigns continue to seek to put forward their economic arguments.

Independence: Scottish government view

Each person in Scotland


a year better off out of UK

  • Onshore tax receipts will be up £5bn by 2030

  • 14% increase in oil and gas production between 2013-18

  • Tax receipts currently 14% higher in Scotland than UK

Getty Images

Independence: Treasury view

Each person in Scotland


a year better off in UK

  • 13% more tax needed to maintain independent Scotland public services, or...

  • 11% cut in public services needed to keep current tax levels

  • £1.5bn-£2.7bn estimated cost of restructuring Scotland's institutions

Getty Images

Battleground issues

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The future of pensions has been a recurring theme

Much of the referendum campaign has focussed in on specific issues - and there's going to be a strong emphasis on that in the days, weeks and months to come.

The future of pensions and currency have emerged as key areas, added to which has been an on-going dispute over Scotland's future status in the European Union and organisations like Nato.

And, on oil, whose estimates do you believe?

Thoughts have also now turned to what might happen on 19 September.

Scotland's other pro-Union parties have now all offered voters the prospect of more Scottish Parliament powers, in the event of a "No" vote.

The prospect of a stronger Scotland within the UK has formed a key part of their argument, but the SNP government has questioned their ability to deliver and says the nation needs real independence.

'Mibbes Aye, Mibbes Naw'

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Both sides of the campaign have been going after undecided voters

If you are an undecided voter, the campaign machines are coming your way.

Those who have yet to decide whether their "X" is going beside "Yes" or "No" are hugely influential because they're open to persuasion - and polling data for the last few months indicates "don't knows" make up anywhere between 12% and 29% of the electorate.

And then there's the battle for female voters, who, according to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, have historically been less keen on backing independence.

With women accounting for 52% of voters in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon says winning the female vote means Yes Scotland will have "cracked" the referendum - but is that achievable?

Head and heart

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Robert the Bruce won a famous victory during the wars of independence

The economy has been at the heart of the campaign for independence - but the so-called Braveheart argument still plays a role.

This year marks the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the 1314 clash which saw the English army defeated by the forces of King of Scots Robert the Bruce, during the wars of independence.

A large-scale re-enactment of the event in June may well stir a few feelings of Scottish Patriotism.

Supporters of the Union have also looked to history.

During a time which has seen big world war commemoration events, David Cameron used a conference speech to pay tribute to a Scottish ancestor, Captain John Geddes who died in battle in 1915, but showed "extraordinary heroism" in representing Britain standing together "when the chips were down".

And what might the two sides of the campaign make of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, being held this summer in Glasgow?

It is one of those international events in which Scotland competes in its own right.

Scotland's former first minister Lord McConnell called for a "referendum truce" during the event. His successor, Mr Salmond, said it was "nonsensical" to suggest politics would overshadow the event.

But if you're heading to any sporting events in Glasgow between the end of July and the start of August, expect to at least see a few Yes Scotland and Better Together flyers.

Unknown unknowns

Image copyright AP
Image caption Barack Obama made an unexpected intervention in the debate over Scotland's future

As one-time US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld once noted: "There are known knowns, there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns, that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.

"But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."

Sticking with US politics, President Barack Obama's intervention in Scotland's future definitely falls into the latter category.

And don't forget the equally unexpected declaration of the Scottish-born Labour MP for Leeds East, George Mudie, who said he would vote for Scottish independence if he was able to do so.

The referendum campaigns may well be planning every last second of their strategies, but not knowing who might be next to put their head above the parapet will keep them on their toes right up until polling day.

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