It’s all over – and Scotland has decided to remain within the UK.
After 31 of 32 local authority areas had declared their results, only 4 had voted for independence with the remainder voting against leaving the union. In percentage terms, the vote stands at 55.4% No to 44.6% Yes. The one remaining result, from the Highlands Council area, will make very little difference to the final figures.
Analysis of what this result means, why it happened and how Scotland moves forward from here will come very soon. For now, let’s recap on exactly how the result developed.
After a very long campaign it was also to be a long night for those waiting to find out the future of Scotland. The polling stations closed at 10pm but it was to be almost another four hours before the first result was declared.
So the initial period of the night was actually pretty dull. Unlike a general election where there are exit polls and key marginal to discuss, this was a new situation. There were no potential swings, no gains and losses, no changes from the last time … because there was no last time.
Politicians from both campaigns anxiously tried to sound confident, but not overconfident, while actually knowing next to nothing. An on the day poll form YouGov predicted 54% support for a No vote, but how accurate would that turn out to be?
The first real information of the referendum results night came after midnight with turnouts of 84% in Orkney and 89% in Clackmannanshire being announced. The high levels were expected of course, but who would it favour?
The race to be first of the 32 Council areas to declare a result was of interest to some. The Western Isles was hampered by fog, causing some ballot boxes to take to the seas rather than being flown to the count. And there were delays elsewhere too. Although the Highlands was always expected to be a late result, an accident on the A9 added a large delay to that count, while in Dundee two separate fire alarms caused the counting hall to be evacuated.
The first result came from Clackmannanshire at 1:27am. This was expected to be a very good area for the Yes campaign, but there was to be an early shock. The No campaign secured a majority with 53.8% of the vote. The Wee County is of course a very small area, and this result was not expected to have a massive impact on the final national vote. But it was a blow for the Yes campaign.
More turnout figures came in before any more results. 75% in Glasgow seemed low in comparison to many, although with 50% being common for the city in many recent elections it was actually pretty good. And Stirling, East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire all came in at over 90%.
Orkney was second to declare at 2:01am. The expected heavy victory for No was duly delivered with a 67.2% share. Shetland came in 40 minutes later and once more the likely No win came with 63.7%. And the Western Isles was next, announcing a narrower No win with a share of 53.4% just after 3am. This one was another blow for Yes, which had been predicted to win in Eilean Siar, as the islands are officially known.
The first West of Scotland result came from Inverclyde at 3:33am. In another area where the Yes campaign would have expected to come out ahead there was disappointment, although very narrowly with No polling 50.1%. Renfrewshire followed with a larger No majority, a share of 52.8%
Dundee provided the Yes side’s first victory of the night, and the 57.4% vote for independence was much as expected. The city was expected to give the best result for the Yes campaign and the victory brought the overall national totals close again. And another Yes win in West Dunbartonshire with 54% meant that the two sides were almost even with 8 of 32 results declared.
But three quick No victories just after 4am in Midlothian with 56.3%, East Lothian at 61.7% and Stirling at 59.8% soon moved the picture back in the No side’s favour. And another No win with 53.5% in Falkirk, an area where the Yes campaign had high hopes, reinforced the trend. Yet more No victories followed quickly in Angus (56.3%), Aberdeen City (58.6%), Dumfries & Galloway (65.7%), East Renfrewshire (63.2%) and East Dunbartonshire (61.2%).
North Lanarkshire bucked the trend with a narrow Yes win (51.1%) but its neighbour South Lanarkshire soon after declared a large No win (54.7%), as did Perth and Kinross (60.2%)
Glasgow was perhaps the most eagerly awaited result of the night, having the largest electorate, and it declared just before 5am. The Yes campaign were perhaps narrow favourites and came out ahead with 53.5% of the vote, a good majority of some 25,000 votes.
But that high point for the independence campaign was followed by a string of defeats that effectively confirmed the overall national result. Scottish Borders (66.6%), North Ayrshire (51.0%), South Ayrshire (57.9%), East Ayrshire (52.8%), Edinburgh (61.1%), Argyle & Bute (58.5%) and Aberdeenshire (60.4%), all voted No. West Dunbartonshire was the one bright spot for Yes, giving a fourth victory with a 54% Yes vote
At 6:06am the Fife declaration took the No campaign over the winning line with a 55.1% share of its vote. With two council areas still to declare, the result was official and independence had been rejected.
Moray declared slightly after this with a 57.6% No vote, leaving only the much delayed Highlands result outstanding.
So around 3.5 million people have voted, a stunning turnout of 85%. A clear No was the outcome, and that has been accepted by both sides as a legitimate expression of Scotland’s self determination.
Now we move on to obtaining more powers for our devolved parliament. This was never a result that would result in the status quo. There was always going to be change.