So the people of Scotland vote on independence today. Voting ends at 10:00 pm with final results expected around 7:00 am Friday morning, but results will start trickling in at about 1:00 am, all local times. Last-minute polls predict that the ‘no’ vote against independence having a 52-48% lead, if the 8% of undecided voters are excluded.
There is expected to be an extraordinarily high level of voting, with as much as 95% of the 4.2 million of the people registered to vote turning out. It appears that passion and enthusiasm is overwhelmingly on the side of the ‘yes’ voters, while fear of the unknown is nudging some people to vote ‘no’ and maintain the status quo. Polls suggest the men slightly favor independence while women are 56-44 against. Poor people seem to favor independence while the elites favor remaining part of the UK, which seems consistent with the fact that in general Scots are more liberal and progressive than the English.
Apparently the strongest margin in favor of ‘yes’ seems to be among those 65 and older with over 65% tending to vote ‘no’, which leaves some observers to speculate that even if the referendum goes down to defeat this time, the yes votes will prevail if it comes up to a vote again in a decade or so. Of course, it may be that as people age, they favor the status quo in which case there may not be much of a change. Also, just for this election, 16 and 17 year old people were allowed to vote so they could be the wild card.
For those of us who do not live there or originate from there, the whole business of the relationships between England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Ireland is a bit confusing, not to mention the different labels like Great Britain (which consists of England, Scotland, and Wales) and the United Kingdom (where Northern Ireland is also included). While for some things they all seem to be joined together like one country, in other matters they seem to be different, especially when it comes to international sporting events when England, Scotland, and Wales often field separate teams.
The history and role Wales has not been part of this campaign but I found this article to be quite informative. The ties that bind Wales and England together seem to be stronger and older than those connecting Scotland and England, though again it seems like England muscled that country into submission so one wonders whether they too chafe under English dominance and will seek more independence some time in the future, just like Ireland successfully did in 1922 (when 5/6 of that Ireland voted to leave the union, leaving just Northern Ireland behind) and Scotland is trying to do now.
The Guardian newspaper has a short and amusing animated video of the history of the relationship between Scotland and England for non-UK people that I found quite enlightening. The same newspaper is running a live blog on today’s events. Their live blogs are usually pretty entertaining.