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Scotland: Yes or no?

By Reuters in Edinburgh | China Daily | Updated: 2014-09-19 07:24

Newspapers mark day of historic vote with Burns and bombast

The Scottish people began voting on Thursday in an independence referendum that will decide the fate of the United Kingdom.

Opinion polls showed that hundreds of thousands of Scots were still agonizing over whether to stay with the 307-year-old union or choose to secede.

 Scotland: Yes or no?

Front pages of the English editions of Britain's national newspapers are pictured in London on Thursday as Scotland votes in a referendum on their independence. Britain's newspapers declared Thursday a "day of destiny" in dramatic front pages streaked with blue, white and red as Scotland votes on whether to split from the United Kingdom. Adrian Dennis / Agence France-Presse

Scotland: Yes or no?

In the final hours before polling stations opened, leaders of both sides urged citizens to seize the reins of history in a vote that has divided families, friends and lovers but also electrified this country of 5.3 million.

From the remote Scottish islands of the Atlantic to the toughest city estates of Glasgow, voters are being asked to answer "Yes" or "No" to the question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

"This is a historic day for Scotland. I've waited all my life for this. It's time to break with England. 'Yes' to independence," said a businessman who gave his name as Ron and was the first person to vote at Edinburgh's Waverley Court.

As he spoke, a couple of workers hurrying by in the morning mist and drizzle shouted, "Vote No!"

Five surveys - from pollsters YouGov, Panelbase, Survation, Opinium and ICM - showed support for independence at 48 percent, compared with 52 percent for the union.

An Ipsos MORI poll showed it even closer at 49 percent to 51 percent, while a second Survation poll, conducted by phone, showed unionists at 53 percent and separatists at 47 percent.

The surveys showed that as many as 600,000 voters remained undecided, making the vote far too close to call. Polling stations close at 10 pm local time, and a result is expected early on Friday.

With special front pages featuring flags and quotes from poet Robert Burns, Scottish and English newspapers caught the drama and sense of history surrounding the independence referendum on Thursday. Most had cleared all other news from the front page.

The Daily Telegraph had a full-page photograph showing one man holding the blue and white Scottish Saltire and another with the red, white and blue Union Jack. Its only words were a quote from Burns including: "Be Britain still to Britain true, Amang ourselves united".

The Times featured a wraparound cover of the Union Jack. It said simply "D-Day for the Union" on the front, with lines from Burns' Auld Lang Syne - "should auld acquaintance be forgot?" - on the back.

The Financial Times headline read: "Beauty and terror leave Scots on the rack - and the brink of history". Its photograph showed the Scottish flag flying against a background of gray clouds.

Both The Scotsman and The Guardian chose "Day of Destiny" as their banner headline. The Guardian's front page was taken up by a satellite map of Scotland, while the Edinburgh newspaper had a photograph of the entrance of the central counting center in the Scottish capital.

The Dundee newspaper, the Courier, also featured a map of the country filled with selfie photographs. "Make your Mark," it urged Scots.

The Scottish Sun said "Yes or no - Scotland starts with blank page" and showed a montage of six hands holding pens over a white sheet of paper. The masthead had the union flag on one side and the Saltire on the other.

The Daily Record said "Choose Well Scotland" and also quoted Burns - "that man for man the world o'er shall brothers be for a' that". On one side was a photo of a boy holding a "Yes" sign, on the other a girl holding a "No" sign.

The Independent showed a photograph of a hand holding the two flags. Its headline read, "The 307-year-old itch".

(China Daily 09/19/2014 page11)

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