Scotland vote: the final push
EDINBURGH - The leaders of Britain's three main parties on Tuesday issued a joint pledge to give the Scottish parliament more powers if voters reject independence, in a final drive to stop the United Kingdom from splitting.
The promise was published on the front page of leading Scottish newspaper the Daily Record and was printed to look like a yellowed scroll with the signatures and faces of the three party leaders.
Published under the headline "The Vow", the promise by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband, and Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg re-iterates previous commitments.
"We agreed that: The Scottish Parliament is permanent and extensive new powers for the Parliament will be delivered," the text read.
"People want to see change. A 'No' vote will deliver faster, safer and better change than separation."
Pro-independence Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond immediately hit back, calling it a "last minute desperate offer of nothing".
He said on BBC Radio Scotland that it was "not going to dissuade people in Scotland from the huge opportunity of taking Scotland's future into Scotland's hands this coming Thursday".
Polls have showed a late surge in support for independence, putting the outcome on a knife edge, after the "No" led for many months.
The "No" is still marginally ahead in most of the polls, more of which were due to be published on Wednesday on the final day of campaigning.
"It's clear that project panic is willing to say anything in the last few days of the campaign to try to halt the 'Yes' momentum," a spokesman for the pro-independence campaign said.
"The reality is that the only way to guarantee Scotland gets all the powers we need... is with a 'Yes' vote on Thursday."
Opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband meanwhile condemned what he called "ugly" tactics being used by "Yes" supporters after he was heckled during a visit to an Edinburgh shopping centre.
"I think debates should be conducted in a civilised way. I think it's very, very important. But I understand that passions run high," he told reporters.
In Edinburgh, 50-year-old Heather Wright said she was confident that Scots would vote for independence -- although she acknowledged that many people were still undecided and it would be "very close".
"The future of Scotland will be hopefully in our hands. It's now or never," she said. Wright said she was supporting independence because she wanted "the voice of Scotland to be heard".
Tuesday's pledge was published after Cameron travelled to Scotland on Monday to urge Scots to vote against independence or face dire consequences, in what could be his last visit before the vote.
"Head, heart and soul, we want you to stay," Cameron said to applause from a mostly elderly audience of hundreds at the event in Aberdeen, a hub for Scotland's offshore oil and gas industry.
"Independence would not be a trial separation, it would be a painful divorce," he said, warning of a risk to pensions and the difficulties of a physical border between England and Scotland.
The speech was the most forceful yet from Cameron, who made frequent references to the United Kingdom as "our home".
Many commentators said the "No" campaign should have made the emotional argument for staying together earlier in the campaign.