Alex Salmond has made an emotional eve-of-poll plea to Scots to seize their historic opportunity and “wake up on the first day of a better country” in an open letter to the nation.
The referendum will be the “most empowering moment” that millions of Scots will ever have, the First Minister states, when they decide whether to remain in the UK or become an independent country tomorrow.
But pro-Union campaigners insisted Scots should take “pride” in their role in shaping the UK and reject independence.
Scotland has “changed forever”, Mr Salmond states, during the three years of the referendum debate which culminates in tomorrow’s historic vote.
“It’s about taking your country’s future into your own hands,” the SNP leader adds.
“Don’t let this opportunity slip through your fingers.”
The First Minister will make a final rallying speech to followers in Perth tonight as Scots prepare to make their biggest decision as a nation in 300 years.
And his open letter states that whatever the outcome tomorrow, Scotland will never be the same again.
“What has emerged in this campaign is something very new,” Mr Salmond said.
“It has changed Scotland forever. I have met it in every community I have been in the last weeks. Confidence. Belief. Empowerment. An understanding that if we work hard, Scotland can be a global success story. A beacon of economic growth and a champion of social justice. That’s who we are as a nation.”
As both campaigns enter their last full day, Mr Salmond says that the talking is all but done.
“What’s left is just us: the people who live and work here. The only people with a vote. The people who matter. The people who for a few precious hours during polling day hold sovereignty, power, authority in their hands.
“It’s the greatest, most empowering moment any of us will ever have. Scotland’s future – our country in our hands.
“What to do? Only each of us knows that. For my part, I ask only this. Make this decision with a clear head and a clear conscience.”
A turnout of up to 80 per cent is expected in tomorrow’s poll, meaning more than 3 million voters are expected to cast their ballot. This will be about 1 million up on the turnout at the last Holyrood election in 2011.
Mr Salmond’s letter is aimed at making a final pitch at undecided voters.
“This opportunity is truly historic,” he goes on. “Women and men all over Scotland looking in the mirror and knowing the moment has come.
“Our choice, our opportunity, our time. Wake up on Friday morning to the first day of a better country.
“Wake up knowing you did this – you made it happen.” Voters would dismiss “increasingly desperate and absurd scare stories”, according to Mr Salmond, which he claimed were being generated by Downing Street.
In contrast, a Yes vote would bring “the responsibility to work together to make Scotland the nation it can be”.
The Yes campaign has also made a last-ditch appeal to women voters.
The Women for Independence group yesterday issued a call to women who are already voting Yes to speak to another woman, highlighting the “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
“Scotland’s women know they haven’t had a fair deal from Westminster,” said former MSP Carolyn Leckie, who represents Women for Independence. “There are real gains to be had for them and their families if they vote Yes on Thursday..”
But Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said that the country’s role at the heart of Britain should inspire a No vote.
“As Scots, we can be proud of the things we have helped create as part of the UK,” he said. “We can do so much more together if we stay rather than walk away.
“Things like the NHS and the BBC are shared achievements based on shared endeavour and shared values.
“I believe that the case for saying No thanks to leaving these things behind is overwhelming.”
THE FIRST MINISTER’S LETTER TO VOTERS - “LET’S DO THIS”
In these final hours of this historic campaign I want to speak directly to every person in this country who is weighing up the arguments they have heard.
I have no doubt people in Scotland will look past the increasingly desperate and absurd scare stories being generated daily from Downing Street.
Those have no place in a sensible debate.
So in these last days of the greatest campaign Scotland has ever seen, I want to ask you to take a step back from the arguments of politicians and the blizzard of statistics.
For every expert on one side, there is an expert on the other.
For every scare tactic, there is a message of hope, opportunity and possibility.
The opportunity for our Parliament to gain real job creating powers, the ability to protect our treasured National Health Service and the building of a renewed relationship of respect and equality with our friends and neighbours in the rest of these Islands.
But for all that, the talking is nearly done.
The campaigns will have had their say.
What’s left is just us - the people who live and work here.
The only people with a vote. The people who matter.
The people who for a few precious hours during polling day hold sovereignty, power, authority in their hands.
It’s the greatest most empowering moment any of us will ever have.
Scotland’s future - our country in our hands.
What to do? Only each of us knows that.
For my part, I ask only this.
Make this decision with a clear head and a clear conscience.
Know that by voting ‘Yes’, what we take into our hands is a responsibility like no other- the responsibility to work together to make Scotland the nation it can be.
That will require maturity, wisdom, engagement and energy- and it will come not from the usual sources of parties and politicians but from you -the people who have transformed this moment from another political debate into a wonderful celebration of people power.
Does every Country make mistakes? Yes.
Are there challenges for Scotland to overcome? Undoubtedly.
But my question is this - who better to meet those challenges on behalf of our nation than us?
We must trust ourselves.
Trust each other.
In Scotland we’ve always had the wealth, the resources and the talent.
We know that with independence we would immediately be in the top twenty of the richest countries in the world.
But what has emerged in this campaign is something very new.
It has changed Scotland forever. I have met it in every community I have been in the last weeks.
An understanding that if we work hard Scotland can be a global success story.
A beacon of economic growth and a champion of social justice.
That’s who we are as a nation.
We are the land of Adam Smith who said that no society can flourish and be happy if too many of its people do not benefit from its wealth.
We are the land of Robert Burns who loved Scotland dearly and also celebrated humanity the world o’er.
It’s what we can be.
Its why this opportunity is truly historic.
Women and men all over Scotland looking in the mirror and knowing the moment has come.
Our choice, our opportunity, our time.
Wake up on Friday morning to the first day of a better country.
Wake up knowing you did this - you made it happen.
This vote isn’t about me, it isn’t about the SNP, the Labour Party or the Tories.
It’s about you. Your family. Your hopes. Your ambitions.
It’s about taking your country’s future into your hands.
Don’t let this opportunity slip through our fingers.
Don’t let them tell us we can’t.
Let’s do this.”