Experimental feature

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00
Experimental feature
or

As the knife-edge Scottish independence debate heads towards its finale this week, the focus for both sides is on the roughly half a million voters who have yet to make up their minds.

Despite being subjected to heavy media coverage of the campaigns, more than a tenth of Scotland’s 4.3m eligible voters are still undecided.

Campaigners for and against independence will now try to prise them from the fence in the last few days ahead of Thursday’s historic referendum.

The floating voters include Marty Ritchie, a 30-year-old financial services worker in Glasgow, who will definitely vote: “But my decision might come down to on-the-day”, he said. “I can’t get to the facts.”

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, sought to reassure unconvinced voters about the aftermath of a Yes vote as he predicted that a cross-party “Team Scotland” would work together on the new country’s transition.

“There would be common sense agreements for a common currency,” he insisted on Sunday, countering the No camp’s argument that the rest of the UK would not share the pound with an independent Scotland.

At the same time David Cameron, the prime minister, was set to head to Scotland to make a speech setting out the perils of a Yes vote and how it could not be reversed.

With some 97 per cent of eligible adults having registered to vote, the remaining undecideds are mainly “don’t knows” rather than “won’t votes”.

They include first-time voter Alice Restrich, who wished there was an “I don’t know” badge. “I’m leaning yes but the Yes people are really in your face – it puts me off,” she said.

One figure from the Better Together pro-union camp said there were still people agonising over how to vote in every walk of life, across Scotland, from every background. “There’s not a single cliched Mondeo Man floating voter,” he said.

Yet the polls show two groups largely made up their minds long ago: men and the over-55s. By contrast, women and the under-30s were more likely to be in the undecided camp.

According to an Opinium poll for the Observer, 9 per cent of women still do not know how they will vote compared to just 6 per cent of men.

The Better Together campaign hopes that if people have not been won over by the Yes argument by now they are more likely to stick with the status quo.

“People who are more knowledgeable about psychology than me have suggested that if you are undecided you are more likely to veer towards a No vote,” says Tom Costley, group director of pollsters TNS UK.

Ryan Gavan, a 30-year-old PR consultant for a wildlife charity, said he did not like the “it’ll be all right on the night” attitude from the Yes campaign. “It’s like a wrestle between the head and the heart,” he said. “I’d love Scotland to be an independent country but I don’t think the policies are there to back it up.”

The Yes camp believes that there are not only half a million people who are still undecided but a further half a million who could still change their minds.

Women are not only less certain but also more inclined against independence, with Opinium finding 57 per cent of women planning to vote No against 48 per cent of men.

Jane Brownlie, a 39-year-old Lanarkshire teacher, said she was “bamboozled by the whole thing”.

“In the very beginning I was a definite No but at the moment I’m swaying towards Yes purely because I’ve heard more about it from them,” she said.

But she was concerned by what she regards as unrealistic promises – “vote for us and it will all be wonderful” – from the Yes side.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
myFT

Follow the topics mentioned in this article

Follow the authors of this article