18th September 2014

Independence referendum delivers ‘No’ vote

“Should Scotland be an independent country?” was the question put to Scottish voters on Thursday 18 September 2014. Just shy of 85% of the electorate cast a vote, with ‘No’ coming out a head. 55.3% of ballots cast were from voters who wanted to maintain the status quo, with 44.7% voting to split from the United Kingdom.

Rules changed

Where a 1979 referendum on devolution, rather than independence, had required 40% of the total electorate vote for change, rather than merely 40% of those who cast a vote, there was no such requirement in the 2014 vote for independence. It was also the first poll in which 16- and 17-year-olds could cast a vote.

The terms under which the 2014 referendum would be held were set down in the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement signed by UK prime minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

The campaign for independence, called Yes Scotland, was fronted by Blair Jenkins, who had previously occupied managerial positions at both STV and BBC Scotland. The campaign to remain a member of the United Kingdom was Better Together, which was led by former chancellor Alistair Darling.

Border concerns

The campaigns concerned themselves with several topics that would need to be managed should Scotland declare independence. Among these was what would happen at the border with England, which Yes Scotland maintained would stay open for travel without passport controls. This was an important consideration at the time as the United Kingdom was still a member of the European Union, but not part of the Schengen Area. Should Scotland leave the UK but opt into Schengen, which allows unlimited passport-free travel between EU member states, border controls would have been necessary at all exit points to England.

Nuclear weapons in Scotland

Defence was also an issue, with many supporting the Yes Scotland campaign being keen to see nuclear weapons removed from an independent Scotland. Likewise, which currency would an independent Scotland use: Pounds Sterling, the euro, or an independent currency? Yes Scotland’s preference was a currency union with England based on the Pound.

Support for independence growing

Ultimately, these and other questions were moot, as the country didn’t vote to leave the union, although polling conducted in subsequent years suggested support for independence was increasing.

Surveys conducted within Scotland by Lord Ashcroft Polls in the immediate aftermath also revealed that over 70% of 16- to 17-year-olds, who were casting their first votes in any poll, had voted in favour of independence. Support for independence had likewise been at 59% among 25 – 34-year-olds and 53% among 34 – 44-year-olds. Among those aged 65 and over, only 27% supported independence. As the demographic make-up of the electorate changes over time, these figures could have an even more profound impact.



Other events that occured in September

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