Editor in Chief
After an intense campaign throughout Scotland, voters went to the polls on Sept 18 and rejected a referendum for independence. It was a hotly contested vote, with turnout higher than any other time in modern Scottish history. While many Scots are delighted to hear that they will stay part of the UK, there is a sizable minority who are deeply saddened at losing the chance for independence.
The historic vote, which had an 85 percent turnout, ended up being a close race. At the end of the night, 55 percent of the 3.6 million voters chose no while 45 percent voted yes. Although there were no exit polls to tell what the outcome would be, many analysts presumed that the vote would be quite close. After initial results came in however, news channels and websites quickly moved towards a no vote. Shortly after 5AM Scottish time, the BBC predicted that the no vote won the referendum.
Originally, the race was supposed to be an easy win for the no side. A few weeks before the election, polls started to indicate a shift towards the yes side, raising concern around the world what an independent Scotland would do to both the UK and the global economy. Once one poll came out actually giving the yes side a majority, Scottish leaders and volunteers started to campaign full force to get out their supporters and reach out to the very few undecided voters that were left. By the time election day came, everyone in Scotland was talking about the election and turning out to the polls to vote.
There has been discussion of moving Scotland out of the UK for decades, but the formation of the referendum vote was finally decided in 2012, when UK leaders agreed to allow a Scottish referendum on independence in 2014. Much of the support for this vote came from the Scottish National Party (SNP), a political group in Scotland that has been doing consistently well in local and national elections. Party leader and First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond helped to create the referendum and the planning for an independent Scotland if the vote was to pass. He conceded the vote the next day, saying thank you to the “1.6 million votes for Scottish independence,” and pointing out that the SNP would work further to help give Scotland more political rights in the future. Salmond also resigned from his position, taking place in November.
David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK and a strong advocate for the no side, was extremely relieved after hearing the results. During his speech to the nation after the referendum, he said he was “delighted” over the final outcome, but also knew that there were many frustrated Scots as well. “We hear you,” was Cameron’s reply to the independence supporters, who caused a major shake up in the political structure of the UK. He pointed out that there will be changes and Scotland, in due time, will receive more autonomy.
It was a race and voting night like no other, where millions of people voted and watched the result of an independence vote on live television. Social media played a vital role in the vote, with the referendum being one of the most discussed events on twitter through the hashtags #indyref and #ScotlandDecides. In addition to the pure historical nature of the referendum, 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote for the first time ever, giving the youth of Scotland a first vote like no other.Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom for now, but there is clearly a need for greater autonomy in the region. Scots are frustrated with the leadership of their current nation, and although many are relieved to see the result, leaders in London will have to find ways to appease the Scottish people. For now, though, the United Kingdom will stay together.