Scotland says 'No' in independence referendum

Friday, September 19, 2014

Polling day
Image: Brian McNeil.

Residents of Scotland voted against becoming an independent nation yesterday in the Scottish independence referendum. The country is to remain part of the United Kingdom. In a turnout of 84.6% of some 4.3 million eligible voters, 55% voted against and 45% voted for the proposition "Should Scotland be an independent country?".

File photo of Alistair Darling in 2006.
Image: Antonio Cruz/ABr.

Polling stations opened at 7.00 a.m on the 18th with queues outside some of the 5,579 stations, and many were busy until the polls closed at 22.00 p.m. Overnight, after the first result was announced at 1:30 a.m., the "No" vote slowly edged ahead. Just after 6:00 a.m., with the declaration of the results for Fife, the "No" campaign attained an unassailable lead. With the final declaration by the Highland Council this gave a final total of 1,617,989 "Yes" and 2,001,926 "No" votes.

When the referendum was announced in March of 2013 Australia's ABC reported that opinion polls showed only 30% of the Scottish population supported independence, with 50% favouring the preservation of the Union. On the eve of the referendum this had narrowed to "No" 45%, "Yes" 41% with 14% remaining undecided. With a greater margin than recent polls had suggested the majority of these undecided voters ultimately voted "No" to win it for the pro-union camp.

Celebrating the continuation of the Union, Alistair Darling, leader of the pro-union Better Together campaign, addressing "No" campaign workers said "You represent the majority of opinion and your voices have been heard. We have taken on the argument and we have won, the silent have spoken." concluding "Come on Scotland, let's get on with it together."

File photo of Alex Salmond in 2008.
Image: Scottish Government.

Following the defeat, a defiant Alex Salmond, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, said "Thank you to Scotland for 1.6 million votes for Scottish independence" and "Scotland by majority has decided not at this stage to become an independent country". Salmond concluded: "Let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short, but on the distance we have come."

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said "The people of Scotland have spoken and it is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together and like millions of other people I am delighted."

On the package of greater devolved powers for Scotland promised late in the day to the Scottish people, Cameron said: "We will ensure that those commitments are honoured in full." and that "We have delivered on devolution and we will do so in the next parliament." Promising that in delivering the "vow" a parallel process will address the West Lothian question and work towards greater devolution of powers to Wales, Northern Ireland, and at Westminster, English only votes on English issues.

David Cameron must now negotiate with the Westminster parties and convince them—especially some within his own party—to pass legislation through Westminster to enable this before the March 2015 date promised.