Scottish referendum

Most of the papers cover Thursday’s Scottish independence referendum in one form or another, with the consensus being the result is still too close to call.

Sky News gives both sides:

A number of surveys give the ‘No’ camp the edge, but one poll shows the pro-Independence side is ahead by a large margin.

The latest opinion polls show the Scottish referendum campaign is “on a knife-edge” – with the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns ahead in different surveys.

Three polls – all of which exclude undecided voters – give the ‘No’ campaign the advantage on the final weekend of campaigning, but pro-Independence campaigners will be boosted by another which shows them ahead by a large margin.

A poll commissioned by the Better Together campaign and carried out by Survation has the ‘No’ vote on 54% and the ‘Yes’ camp on 46%.

Another, for The Observer newspaper, gives the ‘No’ campaign a six point lead – 53%-47%.

Meanwhile, a poll carried out for The Sunday Times newspaper has ‘No’ on 50.6% and ‘Yes’ on 49.4%.

The Mail claims an independent Scotland will demand a ‘tartan army’ if there is a ‘Yes’ vote.

Alex Salmond is demanding a £10 billion carve-up of Britain’s Armed Forces – including aircraft, ships and the transfer of up to 9,200 regular and Special Forces troops – if Scotland votes for independence.

The Scottish National Party leader insists his country’s share of the UK’s military assets should be handed over free of charge so his government can form its own navy, air force and army.

But last night, experts said his asset-stripping of Britain’s Armed Forces would severely damage the UK’s military capability.

And in an exclusive report, the Express claims military chief have said Scotland’s nuclear deterrent should be moved to the United States of America in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.

BRITAIN’S independent nuclear deterrent should be moved to the Unites States if Scotland gains its independence next week, senior military figures have said.

Speaking to the Sunday Express they said the plan would ensure that our four Trident missile-carrying Vanguard submarines would not remain in the hands of a Non-Nato foreign country and deprive Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond of any “leverage” in post -independence negotiations.

The call, which one senior US politician last night said would be “overwhelmingly supported” in Congress, comes only two days after Ministry of Defence chiefs finally green-lighted an impact assessment study on Britain’s defence in the event of a Yes vote on Thursday.

In a comment column, the Guardian claims that whichever way the vote goes on Thursday, Alex Salmond will be the winner.

About three years ago, when the London and Edinburgh governments were beginning their negotiations about the referendum, a senior member of the cabinet told me about a meeting between him and Alex Salmond. The minister half-laughed: “Salmond really thinks he can be the father of his nation, some kind of Ataturk of Scotland.”

This remark was delivered in a tone of bafflement mixed with condescension. It was typical of the attitude that prevailed in all the UK-wide parties. They could see that the SNP leader had skilfully presided over the transformation of Scottish nationalism from romantic protest to contenders for power, but it was still inconceivable to them that he could ever achieve his party’s ultimate goal.

Sky News’s Tom Parmenter claims that this debate has energised politics elsewhere.

 It sounds quite odd but ordinary British folk want to talk politics again.

People want their say. Of course apathy will never die but it seems to have at least drifted away for a few weeks.

At the Port Talbot outdoor market in South Wales the passionate debate in Scotland has filtered down to smallholders and customers.

Support for independence in Wales hovers comfortably below 15% – but within five minutes we found a young family with four kids – both mum and dad said they’d embrace a bold new independent Wales.

The young father who didn’t want to give his name told us: “They’ve shown you can actually go your own separate way – if Scotland can do it why can’t we?””

And the Mail asks what the English want.

There are just over 100 hours left to save the Union. The mood inside No 10, I am told by an insider, is ‘incredibly nervous’. So nervous that nobody in Government seems to have worked out what the full ramifications of a Yes vote would be. As one senior figure admits: ‘Nobody has really thought any of that through. It is simply too traumatising.’

In this desperate battle to save Britain from becoming a disunited kingdom, the bitterest political and personal rivalries have been set aside. One Tory was shocked to overhear David Cameron on the phone to Gordon Brown having a perfectly civil conversation about giving more powers to the Scottish parliament in the event of a No vote.

Jeremy Paxman comments in the Telegraph

English will discover what the Scots really think of them. Like the final row in a troubled marriage, it could be the event that serves to separate those we were once told God had joined together.

The decision is not for those of us who live south of Berwick-upon-Tweed, because the electorate has been selected in a way that could make a Chicago party boss gaze down at his toecaps with embarrassment. Let us leave aside the exclusion of a role in the fate of their country for Scots who represented it in the recent Commonwealth Games but don’t happen to be living there right now (and the granting of that right to any Kylie, Hank or Svetlana who has an address north of the border). Let us ignore, too, the extension of the franchise to 16-year-olds.

Influence your MP

In other news, the Independent claims a new website will send a breakdown of public votes by constituency.

Members of Parliament might soon be forced to do something many of them haven’t thought about for years: consider the views of their constituents.

Michael Simpson, a researcher for Conservative MP Tim Loughton, has set up Note My Vote, a website where people can vote on forthcoming legislation. Mr Simpson, 28, will send the results, broken down by constituency, to every MP a few days before they vote in the House of Commons. Mr Simpson believes it will make MPs more “accountable” to their constituents.

“Working for an MP I realised that there wasn’t a platform where people could have a direct influence in democracy. MPs will have a concise statistic on how people feel about an issue. It is also about making MPs more accountable to their constituents.

“There are some very effective MPs who do listen to their constituents, but maybe sometimes it’s difficult for them as there is no platform for them to know whether their constituents are for or against a particular issue.”

Compensation for nuclear test veterans

The Mirror reports that birth defects among British troops who witnessed nuclear tests have soared but the Prime Minister, despite a promise, has not set up a compensation fund.

Shocking research has exposed the devastating toll Britain’s nuclear tests have inflicted on unsuspecting servicemen in the danger zone.

Children born to the 22,000 British troops sent to witness blasts in the South Pacific had 16 TIMES the normal rate of birth defects and the men’s partners suffered 50 PER CENT more ­miscarriages and stillbirths, a new study reveals.

The news comes five months after Prime Minister David Cameron promised to consider setting up a £25million fund for survivors and families.

In the 158 days since he made the pledge, the PM has found time to holiday in Lanzarote, Portugal and Cornwall.

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