September 18th 2014 proved to be one of the most important days in Scotland’s history. With a record breaking turnout of 84 per cent;  no matter what the outcome of the vote, what was clear was the people’s passion for the future of their beloved country as well as making history. For the first time, 16 and 17-year-olds were able to vote, the Scottish public had never before been so involved in politics and the nail biting results had the nation at the edge of their seats until the early hours of Friday morning. What followed was resignations, riots and a country that appeared even more divided than before.

The spring of 2013 saw the Scottish government decide which date the referendum would be held – and so it began. Glasgow’s role as host of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2014 Ryder Cup made 2014, in First Minister Alex Salmond’s words, ‘a great year to hold a referendum’. Thus began the campaigning either for or against an independent Scotland. There was the Yes Scotland campaign fronted by Salmond and supported by the SNP and Scottish Green Party and the Better Together campaign led by former Chancellor of Exchequer, Alistair Darling which had support from the three main parties: the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Throughout 2014, the main issues debated included North Sea oil, the National Health Service and whether or not Scotland would be able to keep the pound; the fates of each were left uncertain. What could be seen was the increasing popularity of the Yes campaign, with more and more ‘twibbons’ appearing on supporters’ Facebook and Twitter’s display pictures.

The 32 local authorities of Scotland opened their polling stations between 7am and 10pm. The 84.6 per cent turnout was incredibly high for Scotland considering the average turnout for Scotland in the UK parliamentary elections is normally between 50 and 60 per cent. Once the polling stations were closed the counting began and the crowds gathered in places such as George Square in Glasgow until the early hours in the morning to learn the fate of their country. As the results were announced one by one the hopes of the Yes campaign were shattered and the No voters breathed a sigh of relief with only four of Scotland’s local authorities having a Yes majority. The end result was 45 per cent for Yes and 55 per cent for No. Friday morning saw the resignation of Alex Salmond who was quoted saying: ‘We lost the referendum vote but Scotland can still carry the political initiative. For me as leader my time is nearly over but for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die’. Scotland appeared to have a very sombre atmosphere, but the question of whether or not  this would last was uncertain.

Other countries were quick to show their delight or disappointment with the result. President Barack Obama praised Scotland for their ‘full and energetic exercise of democracy’ but was glad of the result and looked forward to continuing America’s ‘strong and special relationship’ with the United Kingdom. However, Stéphane Bédard, leader of the Parti Québécois of Quebec was said to be ‘disappointed’ with the result. The loudest, most opinionated voice of all, however, would come from within Scotland itself.

Hours after the referendum, self-proclaimed Loyalists invaded George Square with Union Jack flags and rowdy behaviour on the mind. Yes and No voters were caught in arguments over the referendum result as well as a game of who can shout loudest with choruses of ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Flower of Scotland’ resonating through the city. Police formed human barriers in an attempt to separate both sides as violence played a prominent part in the demonstrations. Social media became alight with allegations of stabbings as well as the blame being cast on the No voters with many questioning if Scotland really appeared to be better together.

While Scotland waits for Westminster’s plans for more powers, the only hope is for both sides to eventually come together for the sake of their country. No matter what each Scot voted for and no matter how they have reacted to the result, what is important is the development of Scotland. The goal is to unite together despite differences and work together as one country to fight for what we can all agree is needed: a brighter and better future for Scotland and its people.


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