Scottish independence: A battle between hearts and minds

Millions are today casting their votes on whether Scotland should become an independent country.

A woman leaves a polling station after casting her vote in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 18 September 2014, during a referendum on Scotland's independence.Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The vote for Scottish independence, arguably the most pivotal moment in the country's history since William Wallace, has been described by business leaders, financial experts and politicians as a battle between hearts and minds.

From the remote Scottish islands of the Atlantic to the toughest city estates of Glasgow, voters are casting their ballots today to answer "Yes" or "No" to the question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

No one took the "Yes" Campaign very seriously until the opinion polls started rolling in over the last two weeks suggesting the race was neck and neck.

In an intense final day of campaigning on Wednesday, leaders of both sides beseeched Scots to seize the reins of history in a vote that has divided families, friends and lovers but also electrified the country of 5.3 million.

Eyewitness News's UK correspondent Peter Anderson told 702 Talk Radio's Bruce Whitfield on Wednesday evening that many business leaders, financial experts and politicians say Scotland should reject independence.

"The opposition, those that want to maintain the union, say while your heart may tell you to vote for independence, your head would tell you it's better to stay together."

This is the argument from Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband who leads the Labour Party, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.


"The younger more idealistic people may want a split but those older with more financial concerns are saying we should stay as one entity," Anderson continued.

Politicians in Westminster are however paying more attention to Scotland, and in recent days, increased offers and pledges.

"They took out a full page in one of Scotland's papers just a day or two ago, promising to transfer the powers across if Scotland agrees to stay in the union."

This has sparked a number of accusations of why Scotland wasn't taken more seriously.

There are also counter arguments from England, Wales and Northern Ireland saying you can't give Scotland preference and if they're getting it - why can't we?


One of the great uncertainties is that Scotland after independence wouldn't know what currency it would be entitled to use.

"If Scotland gains independence it would have 18 months to steer that transition. But Westminster is saying if you want to go alone, you don't get to use the pound," said Anderson.

This claim has been backed up by some very influential characters - Mark Carney who is the head of the Bank of England as well as Alan Greenspan, a well renowned US economist which is significant because he headed up the Federal Reserve.

Europe is also saying Scotland can't use the Euro because they're not entitled to join the EU immediately.

"The row continues over the oil reserves with accusations that the Scottish government is overstating the number of barrels of oil still in the ground. The Scots say 24 billion whereas some experts including Sir Ian Wood, who's a highly influential figure in the oil industry, says it's only 15 to 16 and a half billion barrels. Claims are also flying over how much that oil will be worth after independence."

There are also concerns that money could leave Scotland, leaving Scots responsible for its pensioners dotted all over the world if corporate insurance headquarters move out of Edinburgh.

One Scottish caller living in South Africa said there were a lot of false promises on the "Yes" side. He says he would be voting "No".

"There are too many unanswered questions, I think there are a lot of false promises and I think it's played too much on the emotional side rather than based on practicality."

ETM Analytics Director George Glynos also weighed in on the debate saying, "Economies move on, they do recover and they can work in many different guises. What is likely to happen should the 'Yes" vote succeed, is that Scotland will gain its independence, but it will also gain a huge amount of responsibility and will be required to take action that up until now, they've been able to defer to Britain."