Belfast Telegraph

Scottish independence digest: Acrimony and abuse in final days

By Staff Reporters

Here in Edinburgh we've already seen the dark undercurrent to the independence question.

An issue which has divided communities, even families, has taken an increasingly acrimonious twist in its final days.

Live Scotland results: Referendum counts from 32 councils on day of reckoning for Yes and No voters

It boiled over on Tuesday when Labour leader Ed Miliband was heckled and abused as he visited a city centre shopping complex.

Mr Miliband was branded "a f****** liar" by angry campaigners amid chaotic scenes which forced the visit to be abandoned.

"I think we have seen in parts of this campaign an ugly side to it from the Yes campaign," Mr Miliband said afterwards.

It is a hostility which has steadily brewed and has now developed into outright bitterness.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said he had been shouted down at a Glasgow rally. Pro-Union Respect MP George Galloway was allegedly threatened with a bullet at the same event.

And yesterday the Daily Mail launched a scathing attack on the SNP, branding it the Seriously Nasty Party, claiming opponents of independence have endured stone-throwing, been called traitors and faced threats that their houses will be torched.

Dram of hope for Bushmills

Bushmills distillery could be a surprise winner in an independent Scotland, an Ulster Unionist peer has suggested. Many popular whiskies in the UK are Scottish, such as Bells and Glenfiddich. But Lord Kilclooney argued that our Bushmills could leapfrog them. "If Scotland becomes a foreign country then Bushmills will continue to sell in the home market – whereas Scotch whisky will become liable to possible import taxes for foreign products. Thus, there is one way that a Yes vote could actually help Northern Ireland."

Europe exit looms, warn peers

Scotland will be forced out of the European Union if it becomes independent and any attempt to rejoin would take years, a group of Britain's former top representatives in Brussels has insisted. Labour and Tory peers, including Peter Mandelson, Leon Brittan and Neil Kinnock, said some opt-outs the UK has won from EU diktats would be "impossible" for a Scottish government to secure. Scotland could be forced to join the euro, lose out on rebates and VAT exemptions as well as control over its borders, the former European commissioners warned.

Rab C's wife rallies support

Celebrities led the final day of campaigning for the Yes camp with a rally in the centre of Glasgow. Rab C Nesbitt's on-screen wife Elaine C Smith and Line of Duty's Martin Compston joined Deacon Blue's Ricky Ross to generate support in the final hours before the vote. Smith took hold of the loudspeaker to tell the crowds on the steps of the Royal Concert Hall to "change the world", adding: "What it takes to change the world is a pencil and a piece of paper on a ballot, and putting your cross on Yes can change the world."

MP's curbed at Westminster

The way Scottish MPs vote at Westminster will have to change if new powers are handed to the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said. He said it was "not logical" that Scottish MPs should be able to carry on voting on issues which affect only England if there is a further devolution of power from Westminster to Holyrood. He said: "When you have that degree of devolution, saying that a Scottish MP has precisely the same say over matters in England as an English MP doesn't make any sense."

Shetland 'next to go it alone'

A vote for independence could lead to oil-rich Shetland seeking its own autonomy, its MP has warned. Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael – who would be out of two jobs after a Yes vote – told the Guardian that in the event of independence a "conversation about Shetland's position and the options that might be open to it" would begin. In the event of a Yes vote Mr Carmichael said the islands may even consider becoming a self-governing crown dependency that is not part of the UK, like the Isle of Man.

Bookies pays £100k on no bets

So convinced are bookmakers Betfair of a No vote, they have already started paying out more than £100,000 to anti-independence punters. Meanwhile, the last major surveys of Scots before they vote has indicated that the No campaign continues to hold the most slender of leads. A Panelbase survey found 52% of Scots are to vote for the Union, with 48% favouring independence. A YouGov survey for The Sun and The Times also found 52% of Scots are to vote for the Union, with 48% favouring independence. Both polls excluded undecided voters.

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