Too little, too late?

Were the British party leaders too late in visiting Scotland?

Since the polls put possible votes for independence at 51% just two weeks before Scotland decides its future, a wave of panic has swept across the ranks of ‘Better Together’. Last week, the three main party leaders in Westminster, the PM David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, decided to cancel Prime Ministers Question Time and come up to Scotland in a final bid to persuade the people to stay in the Union.

Many within the Yes Campaign have argued, however, that this is just ‘too little, too late’ from those in Westminster, asking why the Prime Minister did not make the effort to visit Scotland from the very beginning. Added to this is the sudden concern from other people in the rest of the UK, previously unaware and largely uncaring about the campaign, now asking why they were not allowed to vote alongside Scotland.

The three did not travel to Scotland together, not wanting to encourage the suggestion that all three parties are the same and the idea that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, but this in itself may have been a mistake for the trio, unable to show a united front on something that is, supposedly, so important to them.

Until this point the referendum debate has remained largely in Scotland, with David Cameron previously refusing to take any active involvement, bar a few choice comments, on the subject, and the BBC reporting behind the times for the majority of the campaign.

Until this point most of the UK was still living under the assumption that Scotland would never vote for independence. That they believe, as many do, the scare-stories presented by the BBC and other news corporations that Scotland would fall apart (and apparently empty of all important people) if there is a YES vote on Thursday. Previously on the news, those in the rest of the UK were filmed arguing that it was Scotland’s choice to stay in the UK or leave it, but since this poll we have been presented with a number of concerned Britons arguing that this vote affects them too and they should have a say.

Panic has clearly swept across England, Wales and Northern Ireland as they suddenly realise the importance of, and real support for, an issue that it is clear many until this point believed to be a mere nuisance in the day-to-day operation of an otherwise ‘stable’ government. But, as Alex Salmond commented on the arrival of the trio in Scotland as ‘a massive boost for the YES campaign’ as they are ‘the most distrusted Westminster politicians ever’, he highlights the real reason why Scotland may vote to become an independent country in just a couple of days time.

Faced with the constant reminder that no matter how they vote in a general election the people of Scotland will not receive a government that they vote for, and presented with the very real risk of UKIP being added into that bargain at the next election, thanks to their strong support in the South of England, is it any wonder the Prime Minister and his fellow party leaders’ sudden concern for the Scottish vote, only after it looks as though they may lose, isn’t enough for the people of Scotland?

Perhaps if the trio had visited Scotland at the beginning of the debate their sudden presence would have more credibility now. Perhaps if their campaign had been more about the positive reasons for staying in the Union rather than a constant barrage of the negative consequences of a YES vote the Scottish people would be more likely to listen to them now.

As it stands, since the MPs’ visit on Wednesday the polls had put a NO vote six points ahead, so perhaps their visit did affect the people in some way. More likely, though, is that the people of Scotland are deciding for themselves how they will vote on Thursday and taking no notice of those so detached from the real political feeling in Scotland that their final push may indeed still prove to be ‘too little, too late’.

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Katherine Halliday

I am an English and History graduate from Dundee with a passion for travel and a passion for writing.

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