Scotland’s future is a big question that needs a big turnout

Morning View
Morning View

Scotland’s first minister has issued a last minute plea to unregistered voters in that country to ensure that they are able to have a say in the referendum, before the deadline for joining the electoral list closes in 24 hours.

Alex Salmond wants them to take part in “Scotland’s date with destiny”, by voting Yes to independence.

While this newspaper and the overwhelming majority of unionists in Northern Ireland would hope that Scotland will vote No, Mr Salmond is plainly right to encourage as many people as possible to register so that they can get to the ballot box.

A Scot who doesn’t bother to cast a vote in this month’s referendum is opting out of having a say in the most momentous democratic decision in the history of their country.

There were of course big decisions taken over Scotland in the 1700s, when the Union was formed and when the population was divided over the Jacobite rebellion.

But there was no mass democracy back then. In this plebiscite, every Scot over the age of 16 has input if they choose to use it (the age was set that young in the hope that teens will vote Yes).

The arguments in the referendum debate this past weekend alone show how much is at stake over independence in 2014.

Splitting from the UK will cost one million jobs and leave it with a bigger deficit than the remaining UK, claimed opponents of a divorce.

Independence will set free “one of the richest nations per head on earth” insisted Mr Salmond.

Breaking away would result in Scotland being pushed out of Nato, argued the No camp.

These are massive topics.

Plenty of people in Northern Ireland or England, given the long historical ties between the home nations, would dearly love to be able to cast a ballot on September 18.

If Scotland decides by a single vote that day to split, there is no going back. The existing UK is no more.

It is a huge decision that deserves a huge turnout at the polls.