Scottish independence referendum: one month to go

Alex Salmond and David Cameron  at St Andrew's House following the signing of the St Andrews agreement. Picture: TSPL
Alex Salmond and David Cameron at St Andrew's House following the signing of the St Andrews agreement. Picture: TSPL
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ONE month today voters in Scotland will go to the polls to say yes or no to independence from the United Kingdom.

On Thursday September 18 the electorate will be asked to answer the single question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

It marks almost two years since First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron signed the Edinburgh Agreement, confirming the Scottish Parliament’s power to hold the historic vote.

Politicians and campaigners on both sides are launching their final push as the 31-day countdown begins.

The Scottish Government has chosen to hold its last Cabinet meeting before the referendum in Arbroath, the birthplace of the Declaration of Arbroath which affirmed Scottish sovereignty in 1320 following the wars of independence.

Mr Salmond is to visit Arbroath Abbey to view a copy of the document before making his own “declaration of opportunity” for Scotland, stating that a Yes vote will help build a fairer society, create more opportunities for younger people and protect the NHS.

Labour MP Douglas Alexander will, meanwhile, mark the final month of the campaign with Better Together activists in Glasgow city centre, where he will urge what he calls the “silent majority” in favour of a No vote to turn out in September.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will start the week making the case for the United Kingdom at the Glenshee Ski Centre in Aberdeenshire before embarking on a tour across Scotland, taking in Dundee, the Isle of Lewis, Caithness and Glasgow.

Mr Salmond will say: “A Yes vote on September 18 is the opportunity-of-a-lifetime to build a more prosperous and fairer Scotland.

“Those of us lucky enough to cast our votes on that day are truly a privileged generation: perhaps the most privileged in this nation’s history.

“The opportunity we have isn’t unique but it is very precious. We have the chance to take power out of the hands of the Westminster elite and into the hands of the people of Scotland.”

Get the latest referendum news, opinion and analysis from across Scotland and beyond on our new Scottish Independence website

Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander said that less than 10 days before postal votes begin to drop across Scotland the electorate has yet to receive answers on basic questions like currency.

He said: “We started the campaign speaking for the majority of Scots and now, as we enter the final month, we still speak for that majority.

“Not a single independently commissioned poll has ever shown Yes in the lead.

“The challenge for our campaign is to turn the majority of support into the majority vote on September 18.

“My message to everyone that supports our campaign is this: ‘If you want it, you have to vote for it.’

“It simply beggars belief that now, at the final stages of this campaign, Alex Salmond still doesn’t have answers to the most basic questions. What currency would we use? How will we be able to afford to pay pensions? What will happen to our public services?”

“The best future for our children, our families and our country is to say No Thanks.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said a No vote is the “aspirational and ambitious” choice for Scotland.

He said: “Our shared progress in the UK has given us great opportunities and I am confident we can make further progress in an uncertain world if we reaffirm our place in the family of nations.

“A No vote is a vote of confidence in the ability of Scots to achieve great things.”

The Scottish Conservatives used the month-to-go marker to challenge Mr Salmond to name his “currency Plan B” if an independent Scotland sharing the pound is not an option.

Chief whip John Lamont said: “The Nationalists have had eighty years to plan for independence and yet with a month to go before the referendum they can’t answer the most basic question of all - what money would we use?”