EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- On the surface, the players and interests in the 2014 Scottish referendum can be boiled down to the Scottish National Party and leader Alex Salmond versus David Cameron and the supporters of a unified United Kingdom.
But beyond the two men who signed the Edinburgh Agreement, the debate over Scotland's independence has polarized Scots and the world alike, with many Scottish and English celebrities voicing varying opinions on what Salmond calls, "the most exciting day in Scottish democracy."
Electric folk-rocker Billy Bragg says a free Scotland will "create a new settlement that puts people before profit. Those in England who believe that our own society needs to be rebalanced along similar lines should wake up and join the debate."
"Scotland doesn't want to be Texas, it wants to be Norway. It wants to be a North European social democracy which puts people before profit. And the people of Scotland, that's what they think the issue is here, not Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, or the, you know, petrochemical or Rupert Murdoch. They believe that they can do things in the way that their parents did things and their grandparents did things when they founded the welfare state."
"The political systems of New Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats have atrophied in the U.K.; atrophied to such an extent that the dividing line between these ideologies have become increasingly blurred by each party's pragmatic desire for political power," actor Brian Cox wrote in an editorial for CNN.
"Sadly -- and as a member of the Labour Party it pains me greatly to write this -- over the last 15 years or so I have witnessed the Labour Party's fundamental socialist thought being consistently compromised on a needs must basis, an 'ends justifies the means' ideology; floundering in a swamp of sound bite sentiment."
"Sixteen years on, the differences between the basic tenets of Scotland and those of its southern neighbors are palpable," Broadway and Hollywood star Alan Cumming wrote in the New York Times. Cumming attempted to re-establish residency in his home country so he could vote Thursday, but was unsuccessful.
"Unlike the rest of Britain, Scots still enjoy free higher education and free medical prescriptions. Even as parts of the National Health Service south of the border have been dismantled or privatized, Scotland's is still intact and prized. There is an exceptional commitment to the arts, too -- most visibly with the formation of the National Theater of Scotland."
Those who want Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom are equally adamant in their stance.
"Why insist on building a new border between human beings in an ever-shrinking world where we are still struggling to live alongside each other?"
"This is the first time in years a developed country has talked about splitting up and it's a massive thing," James McAvoy observed.
"If you vote for a president or a prime minister based on political or economic issues and they don't deliver, that's not so bad -- you can protest four years down the line and vote them out. If you vote for continued unification or independence there is no protest vote -- that's it. And that could be it for decades, for centuries."
"The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same 21st century pressures as the rest of the world," said author J.K. Rowling. Rowling went on to compare Scottish nationalists to Death Eaters, one of the main groups of villains in Rowling's Harry Potter series.
"It must compete in the same global markets, defend itself from the same threats and navigate what still feels like a fragile economic recovery. When people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage, things start getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste"
Former Manchester United football club manager Alex Ferguson echoed Rowling's concerns about the potentially xenophobic implications of the Scottish referendum.
"Eight-hundred-thousand Scots, like me, live and work in other parts of the United Kingdom. We don't live in a foreign country; we are just in another part of the family of the U.K. ... I played for Scotland and managed the Scotland team. No-one should question my Scottishness just because I live south of the Border."