With only a few days to go until Scotland decides whether it will remain part of the United Kingdom, questions are being asked about why leading politicians didn’t get involved in the debate earlier.
Over the last week, there has been a sudden boost to the pro-independence side with opinion polls putting the ‘yes’ (for independence) vote on top, or neck-and-neck for the first time.
Until last Wednesday, no major political leader from Westminster had gone to the north of the border to campaign for keeping the UK united. But that changed when Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Milliand and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg agreed to pull out of the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in
Parliament and travel to Scotland to personally make the case for the union staying together.
In an emotional speech in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, Cameron said he would be ‘heartbroken’ if the Scots opted for divorce. “I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where if they choose Edinburgh University, they are going to be in a foreign country,” he said.
Meanwhile, even opponents of the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Alex Salmond, agree that he has vitality and energy that many in Westminster lack. His passion for Scottish independence has almost singlehandedly caused a genuine fear among Britain’s political elite that Scotland could vote to leave.
The leader of the ‘better together’ campaign, former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer Alasdair Darling, though perfectly competent, is hardly a headline name.
Arguably, the single most respected and potentially influential individual in the UK, the Queen, has refused to be drawn into the debate about independence. Her Majesty, royal advisers explain, is above politics and cannot be expected to publicly declare her views.
However, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, and currently one of the most popular grassroots politicians in the country, has called on the monarch to come out in favour of keeping the union intact.
“If the UK is threatened, it might be right for her (the Queen) to say something,” Farage said in a radio interview. The independence referendum will take place on Thursday.