Scotland's Independence Referendum vote results in a "No"

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Sarah Johansson

A 307-year union was put to the test in Scotland on September 18 when the referendum questioned whether Scotland should be independent from the United Kingdom hit polls. There was an 86 percent turnout and the “No” campaign came out on top with about 55 percent of the votes.

“Like millions of other people I am delighted,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron according to CNN.

The “No” vote means that Scotland will remain a part of the U.K. along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For the first time the voting age was lowered allowing 16-and 17-year-olds to vote. Over 100,000 teenagers registered for the referendum. Although it appeared the younger generation was notably pro-independence and could potentially swing the vote, the “No” campaign still prevailed.

The referendum votes totaled 1,617,989 for the pro-independence side and 2,001,926 for the pro-union side. Based on preliminary opinion polls, the voting gap was wider than expected. However, there is still a significant portion of Scotland’s 5.3 million population disappointed by the outcome.

The “Yes” campaign advocated for those living in Scotland to have the power to control the government and the wealth of the country. The Scottish people would be the ones to decide how money is spent which includes whether or not to spend money on the UK’s nuclear weapons that are currently placed in Scotland. The campaign argued that Scotland’s economy is stable enough to support itself and is not solely reliant on the oil reserves, as the opposition suggested.

Another aspect of the pro-independence campaign was the support for a democratic government. An independent Scotland would be able to have the democratic leaders for which the people consistently vote as opposed to the conservative government under which they are currently operating.

The pro-union “Better Together” campaign focused on the risks of an independent Scotland. This campaign cast doubts on the reliability of the oil reserves, questioned what currency the country would use, drew attention to the fact that some businesses would pull out of Scotland and emphasized that the country would have to reapply to be a part of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, and head of the “Yes” campaign, is resigning from both positions come November. Despite the loss, Salmond looks to the future.

“Let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short. Let us dwell on the distance we have travelled and have confidence that the movement will take this nation forward as one nation,” said Salmond.

The leader of the pro-union campaign, Alistair Darling, is also hoping to move Scotland forward.

“We have chosen unity over division and positive change rather than needless separation,” said Darling to CNN.

Because of the strong independence movement, Scotland will not go back to the way it was. According to CNN, following the result, Cameron addressed the pro-independence population.

“We hear you,” Cameron said.

The government is beginning work on new legislation to give more power to Scotland.

According to the pro-union side, the “Scotland Act” law should be completed by May 2015 and would be passed by the new parliament following the UK general election. The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh should receive more power in taxes, spending and welfare. However, the Scottish Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties have differing opinions on what more power exactly means. They each have an opposing idea of how much tax or welfare power will be most economically beneficial for Scotland.

Despite contrasting opinions in the beginnings of the new legislature and the 45 percent of people who voted for an independent Scotland, the country is trying to remain intact. The Sunday following the vote, a service of reconciliation was held at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Reverend John Chalmers gave a sermon which focused on unity and the future of Scotland. Close to 1,000 people listened to Chalmers’ words.

“Somehow we have to line up now, hold hands and build the future together,” said Chalmers.

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