These modified infographics from the BBC show how deeply divided Scotland has become over independence. Rural voters are overwhelmingly against the referendum, whilst most urban areas have voted in favour of the measure.
As the first handful of results were revealed in the early hours of this morning, the stage was set. Rural areas were decidedly rejecting independence, sometimes by 60% or more. Clackmannanshire, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar. All voted No. Rural populations were not biting, and watchers began to realize that the big cities like Dundee, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow needed to overwhelmingly vote Yes to outweigh the rural No’s and sway the campaign. By 5am, the city of Aberdeen had voted no, the rural No votes continued to pile up, and the majority Yes votes in the remaining cities were simply not high enough to level the playing field.
Of all 32 council areas, 28 of them decided, overall, to vote No.
No matter what the result, what is astounding and inspiring about this vote is the enormous turnout, the passion from both sides and the relatively peaceful democratic process. Never has there been a fight for independence that has been so democratically decided without bloodshed or violent conflict. We have avoided a civil war. We have avoided civilian deaths. To give credit where credit is due, Westminster and Holyrood have shown the world that the democratic process works, and the voters have shown the world that voting matters. As I updated my Twitter followers with each individual result, my American friends remarked that it was inspiring to see so many people coming out to vote on their affairs. ‘Imagine if 84% of our voters came out to vote’.
The voting turnout is truly inspiring. In Glasgow, where the smallest percentage of people showed up to vote, turnout was 75%, higher than the turnout for the last four UK general elections. In East Dunbartonshire, where the highest percentage of people showed up to vote, turnout was 91%, higher than any recorded turnout for UK general elections. In fact, the average turnout for the whole of Scotland, 84.59%, has never been matched by a UK general election turnout since the end of WWII. (Sources: UK Political Info)
The Scottish referendum on independence has done many things. It has motivated the Scottish people to take action and get involved in the political process. It has destroyed the status quo once and for all. It has shown the world that the peaceful process works.
Alex Salmond may have failed to get Scotland to go it alone, but thanks to this referendum, things will never be the same. Westminster politicians will do well to remember that a No vote does not mean “I am happy with the way things are”. The Scottish people are fed up. Yes voters are simply more fed up than No voters. Devolution and greater autonomy was promised by Westminster in the event of a No vote, and they must deliver. The Scottish people are resilient, proud and deserve to decide their own fate. They may have rejected outright independence, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want change.
I won’t pretend I am not disappointed. Scotland was set to become the 8th country in the world with a written constitution that includes LGBT rights. That was incredibly important to me, so now the UK must honour its LGBT population and deliver to us constitutional protections.
Quotes from Alex Salmond’s concession speech.
“Our referendum was an agreed upon and consented process … I accept the verdict of the democratic verdict of the people”
“This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics”
“The initiative by which 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote proved to be a resounding success”
“We now face the consequences of the decision. Clause 30 of the Edinburgh Agreement is now in operation. I pledge to work constructively in the interests of Scotland”
“The unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland expects these to be honoured in rapid course”
“We have been promised a second reading of a Scotland bill by the 27th of March next year. Not just the 1.6 million who voted for independence will demand that that timetable is followed, all of us will”
“The empowerment of so many Scots entering the political process for the first time is something so valuable that is has to be cherished, preserved and built upon”
“The most moving thing I saw was the queues of people in Dundee patiently waiting to vote, most of them for the first time ever”
“We have touched sections of the community who’ve never before been touched by politics. They have touched us and touched the political process. I don’t think we will ever be allowed to go back to business as usual in politics again”
“Sometimes it’s best to reflect were we are in a journey. 45%, 1.6 million, have voted for independence. I don’t think any of us [years ago] would have thought such a thing either credible or possible”
“Over the last few weeks, we have seen a scare and a fear of enormous proportions at the heart of the Westminster establishment at the mass movement of people that was going forward in Scotland”
“As we bring Scotland together, let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short, let us dwell on the distance we have travelled and a confidence that the movement we endure will move Scotland forward and will move Scotland forward together”
Alex Salmond has decided to step down as First Minister.
Quotes from Alistair Darling’s victory speech.
“We have chosen unity over division and positive change over needless division”
“We have reaffirmed all that we have in common an the bonds that tie us together. Let them never be broken”
“Every political party must now listen to [the Scottish people’s] cry for change”
“To those who supported us and all that great team of volunteers, all of you – I want to say thanks from the bottom of my heart. You represent the majority of opinion and your voices have been heard. We have taken on the argument and won. The silent have spoken”
“I understand there will be disappointment and grief [on the Yes side]. Defeat is painful”
“The Yes side must continue to make their contribution to the political debate in our country. That debate must move on to the constitution and the issues that affect their lives and prospects. The Scottish parliament must use its powers and those coming to it to address those concerns”
“Scottish democracy is so vibrant, and so determined to take the step down the road we began on”
“We must now start to turn [our] commitments into action. We will work with all the people of Scotland to advance these commitments”
“The debate has created fairly deep divisions. Those divisions now need to be addressed, and that requires leadership”
“My party will ensure that after this vote, we can remain united”
“Some of the arguments for separation were going to cause damage to our country. Those risks are real. It contributes to the sense of the Scottish people that those risks were too great to take”
“Come on Scotland, let’s get on with it together”
A second referendum has been ruled out. If Scotland goes to the polls for independence again, it will not be for 15 years at least.