THE MAIN DEVELOPMENTS:
THE “NO” CAMPAIGN EMERGED VICTORIOUS.
Mood among “Better Together” supporters is buoyant.
PM David Cameron says “the people of Scotland have spoken”, promising major new powers for the UK’s four nations.
- First minister Alex Salmond has conceded already in Edinburgh.
- More than 3.5 million Scots voted, with turnout of around 84%, a UK-wide record.
- With almost all the results in, the result is NO 55%, against 45% for YES.
- Everyone was drinking heavily, but now they’re going home with a headache.
- We’re covering this live, so check back, click here, or refresh this page for updates.
Scotland has voted against independence.
For a brief moment, a couple of days, Alex Salmond and the Scottish National Party convinced themselves and the world that maybe, just maybe, they had enough votes to create a majority of Scots who wanted to go it alone.
But it was Scotch mist (an irresistible cliche).
The pro-independence “Yes” campaign may have made all the noise and provided all the media visuals. However, in the end, it was the “No” voters who held the real heart of Scotland.
The UK is a union that’s more than 300 years old. There has not been a significant conflict between Scotland and England for centuries. So, the SNP was going against the grain of history, and the final vote will reflect that.
Nationalists north of the border may have to wait another century or more to try this gambit again.
In the count on Thursday night and Friday morning, the smaller constituencies declared first. Orkney, Shetland, Clackmannanshire, the Western Isles — and they all fell for “No.”
As the Yes momentum died, news filtered through from the large Yes cities of Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow that turnout there was low — this was the SNP heartland and it didn’t show up.
By the time the big cities declared — Edinburgh later — the vote was already lost.
The Scots are proud to be Scottish. But it turned out being Scottish includes being British too.
It was exciting stuff.
Across the UK, a massive majority of English, Welsh and Northern Irish people will be glad to see the Scots come home. A smaller majority of Scots will feel the same way.
As for the nats … it’s time to accept that history has been made.
Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom.
HERE WAS OUR LIVE COVERAGE OF THE REFERENDUM AND THE VOTE COUNT:
Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken: “The people of Scotland have spoken… they have kept our country of four nations together.” The PM is promising major new powers not only for Scotland, but for England as well.
Alistair Darling, No campaign leader, makes a poetic victory speech: “We have reaffirmed all that we have in common and the bonds that tie us together. Let them never be broken.”
Alex Salmond, Scottish first minister, admits defeat: “Scotland has, by a majority, decided at this stage not to become an independent country.”
Salmond: “45%, 1.6 million of our fellow citizens voting for independence… I don’t think any of us, entering politics, would have thought such a thing credible or possible.”
The NO campaign is now more than 300,000 votes ahead.
FIFE: Yes 114,148, No, 139,788. It’s now official, there is no way for Yes to win.
GLASGOW: Yes 194,779, No 169,347. On a 75% turnout. A Yes win, but a small margin on low numbers.
EDINBURGH: Yes, 123,927, No, 194,638. Scotland’s second biggest city swings to No in a big way, counteracting Glasgow
PERTH: Victory for No.
N LANARKSHIRE: Yes 115,783, No 110,922.
S LANARKSHIRE: Yes 100,990, No 121,800
ABERDEEN: Yes 59,390, No 84,094.
ABERDEENSHIRE: Yes, 71,337, No, 108,606
E DUNBARTONSHIRE: Yes 30,624, No 48,333.
E. RENFREWSHIRE: Yes 24,287, No 41,690.
DUMFRIES: 36, 614, No 70,039.
ANGUS: Yes 35,044, No 45,192 – another No win.
FALKIRK: Yes 50,489, No 58,030. A big win for NO.
STIRLING: Yes 25,010, No 37, 153.
EAST LOTHIAN: Yes 27,467, No 44,283.
MIDLOTHIAN: Yes 26,370, No 33,972.
W. DUNBARTONSHIRE: Yes 33,720, No 28,776.
DUNDEE: Yes 53,620 (57%); No 39,880 (43%). A big win for YES.
RENFREWSHIRE: Yes 55,466; No 62,067. That’s a win for NO.
INVERCLYDE: Yes 27,243, No 27,329. That’s close, but it’s the first big constituency area.
EVERYONE ON THE BBC IS NOW TALKING ABOUT THE VOTE IN THE PAST TENSE. The media elite has already made up its mind.
ABERDEEN: Sources on both sides say the believe No will take Aberdeen.
FIFE LOOKING LIKE IT HAS VOTED “NO”: It was a big bellwether area. Almost impossible for the Yes campaign to put together a majority without taking Fife.
EILEAN SIAR: … Results being delivered in Gaelic … Yes 9,195 (47%); No 10,544 (53%). That’s a win for the pro-UK people.
HORRORS: Scottish pubs are NOT staying open all night, despite rumours! A nation feels its hangover kick in early. Business Insider’s Tomas Hirst has the photos of people passed out in front of Holyrood.
SHETLAND:Yes 5,669 (64%); No 9,951 (36%).Result was expected.
FIFE:A sample of votes shows a No victory, BBC says.
FALKIRK RESULT EXPECTED IN NEXT FEW MINUTES.Drama! … We’re waiting but no sign yet. Falkirk is about 3% of the electorate, but expected to go Yes. BBC reports “neck and neck.” That is not good news for Yes, since Falkirk was expected to be strong Yes territory.
COUNT MOVING SLOWLY: The count is now way behind schedule nationwide, probably because of the massive turnout. By 2.30 am, we should have seen about eight results; we’ve actually seen only two.
EDINBURGH: Worried faces in Yes camp; estimates that No got 60% of the vote.
We’ve entered a weird quiet period in which nothing seems to be happening.
ORKNEY:… A win for NO: Yes 4,883; No 10,004. That’s 67% to 32% in favour of the UK. Orkney very liberal, not expected to go for independence anyway.
WEST LOTHIAN YES LEADER CONCEDES: No official count yet, but BBC says independence activists have thrown in the towel.
PEOPLE ON THE STREETS OF LONDON ARE RANDOMLY CHEERING IN THE STREET: South of the border, the vast majority of English are hugely relieved Scotland has decided to stick with the UK.
CLACKMANNANSHIRE: Has gone to the No campaign by a large margin. It’s a small area, so no conclusions yet. Still, it bears up the pro-UK mood tonight. It is not looking good for the independence campaign: 35,410 votes counted, 88.6% turnout: Yes 16,350 (46%); No 19,036 (54%). Clackmannanshire was expected to go for Yes. So this is looking bad for the pro-independence Yes campaign.
YES CAMPAIGNERS IN GLASGOW ARE WORRIED: BBC says, “Yes campaigner and former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars admits he is disappointed by the relatively low turnout figure in Dundee, which is predicted to be a Yes stronghold. He says it causes a “degree of worry” for the Yes campaign.
LOWEST TURNOUT SO FAR IS DUNDEE: “Merely” 78.8%. Jeez, Dundee, what happened?!
BBC REPORTING AN ALLEGATION OF VOTE RIGGING IN GLASGOW: 10 votes only; seems minor.
EAST LOTHIAN: 62% in favour of anti-independence, “No.”
GLASGOW HAS GONE FOR INDEPENDENCE: … But not in the numbers activists hoped for, BBC says. 46-54 in favour of Yes. “Yes” activists are downbeat — they needed a bigger win in this, Scotland’s biggest city. It may not be enough to outweigh the “No” votes elsewhere.
SOUTH AYRESHIRE “NO” VOTE LOOKS POSITIVE: Better Together activists feeling confident there too, BBC reports.
CLACKMANNANSHIRE LOOKS SHAKY FOR “YES”:The BBC reports: “One prominent local ‘Yes’ activist says the picture here is ‘not as good as he’d hoped.'” Was perhaps among the most likely place in Scotland to vote Yes. “Not quite following the script,” BBC man says.
ALEX SALMOND REPORTEDLY CANCELS ABERDEENSHIRE COUNT APPEARANCE. He’s still travelling to Edinburgh on Friday morning, BBC says. Salmond denies the report.
FALKIRK GOES “NO,” ACCORDING TO BETTER TOGETHER: BBC TV reporting that pro-UK activists believe they have Falkirk. They are not making the same claim about any other area.
WE HAVE WITNESSED OUR FIRST FISTFIGHT OF THE EVENING: Pubs in Scotland are remaining open all night as the votes roll in, and people are drinking. Business Insider reporter Tomas Hirst tweets, “So turns out referendum night *is* similar to every other night you keep the pubs open late. Saw first fight of the evening over face paint.”
THE TIMES PREDICTS VICTORY FOR “NO”:Here is its front page. It’s a highly qualified prediction, but nonetheless its early edition has gone with the assumption that Scotland has NOT voted for independence. Again – caution! — not a single area has declared a result yet.
LABOUR MPS ARE ALREADY CALLING IT FOR “NO”: The BBC reports that two Labour MPs have already concluded the result is “No” to independence. Diane Abbott and Jim Murphy have both said they think the vote is leaning against independence. Let’s all be cautious about this: The votes haven’t even been counted yet.
PEOPLE ARE GETTING DRUNK IN EDINBURGH: Business Insider reporter Tomas Hirst tells me folks on the street are already fairly inebriated. We’ve got the photos right here. But it has not yet become widely apparent that it looks like “No” will lose. He has heard some ugly anti-English language. The pubs are staying open all night to let drinkers watch the results. The fear is that if the pro-independence people lose, they will get really angry and … bad things will happen.
BBC REPORTS YOUGOV POLL STACKED WITH POSTAL VOTES: John Curtice reports: “Election aficionados caution that postal voters comprise a rather high 30% of this sample.” Postal balloting is thought to lean “No” because voters who travel etc. are better resourced, and thus lean to the UK.
THE BBC HAS A GREAT RESOURCE FOR THE COUNT: Literally blow-by-blow stuff. Ballot boxes are arriving quickly from all over. The count is expected to take a long time because turnout was so high — they are literally more votes to count than normal.
FIRST CONSTITUENCY EXPECTED TO DECLARE AROUND 2AM: So we’ve got about three hours to go. The result is likely to come from Eilean Siar, which is the islands of the Outer Hebrides. Polling boxes were delivered by fishing boat, Twitter says.
THIS IS THE EXPECTED TIMETABLE FOR VOTING RESULTS:
THE BBC HAS A VIRTUAL SUBMARINE ON ITS SET: The Beeb is pulling out all the stops. It has a massive, multi-storey set with a gigantic CGI operation allowing it to project graphics in 3D for viewers on all the issues. That includes this virtual submarine, for when people want to talk about Trident, the nuclear sub program based in Scotland.
HERE IS THE YOUGOV PREDICTION:
This poll is a re-survey of those previously polled, not an exit poll. Nonetheless it appears to show a larger swing to the pro-UK “No” vote than was expected by the last opinion poll taken before voting started. The chief of YouGov is saying he cannot see the Yes side winning.
THERE WILL BE NO EXIT POLLS: The Guardian reminds is that no media outlet commissioned one. A lot of editors remember the way the media was embarrassed in the US when they miscalled the 2000 presidential election in fav ore of Gore instead of Bush.
BING PREDICTS ‘NO’: The Microsoft prediction engine reckons 48.7% to 51.3% in favour of “No.”
THE GUARDIAN’S EARLY EDITION DOES NOT FEATURE THE RESULT: Here’s the front page of the paper’s early edition:
NOBODY KNOWS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT: Let the counting begin! There was a 97% voter registration rate, BBC News says. Turnout, as we’ve noted repeatedly, is going to break records.
PHOTOS OF THE ‘BETTER TOGETHER’ HQ: Looking like a “sad laundrette.”
THE QUEEN IS BEING KEPT UPDATED: Sky News says Her Majesty is “being kept abreast of matters by officials in Edinburgh and London.” She is at her Scottish estate in Balmoral tonight.
POLLS HAVE CLOSED: It will be several hours before we get the first results. People who got in line before 10 pm will still be allowed to vote. Turnout has been very high — maybe above 90% across the entire country. Scots are telling the BBC it has been the most important day of their lives.
POLLS WILL CLOSE IN A FEW MINUTES: Scotland is nearing the end of voting on whether to end its 307-year union with the United Kingdom and go it alone as an independent country.
WE HEAR AN EERIE CALM HAS FALLEN OVER SCOTLAND: Just a few more minutes of official voting to go. And nothing is going on. A nation is holding its breath. It’s all over, nearly.
THE BBC IS COVERING ITS OWN INABILITY TO COVER THE POLLS: A dismal explanation for why the Beeb is handcuffed when it comes to the biggest story in the country right now: “Coverage is limited to uncontroversial factual accounts of things like the logistics of voting, how the count will be done, or just the weather, so the BBC’s output can’t be seen as influencing the ballot while the polls are open.
INDEPENDENCE WOULD REQUIRE THE RE-ORG OF 225 NUCLEAR WARHEADS. Business Insider’s Armin Rosen has the details: “Relocating the nukes wouldn’t just be costly but politically problematic as well. There’s talk of moving some of the nukes to the U.S. or to NATO bases elsewhere in Europe, but at that point it becomes even harder to justify keeping them under Britain’s charge.”
‘MY GIRLFRIEND HELPED ME’: Teenagers as young as 16 were allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum. (Madness, right?) The Guardian’s vox pop with various young people shows they put the proper amount of thought into it. The best quote comes from Brandyn Murphy, 16, from Dundee: “When I went into the polling place I didn’t really know what to do because it was my first time voting. My girlfriend helped me.” LOLS.
HOW A SHOCK ‘YES’ VOTE COULD EMERGE AT THE LAST MINUTE: People are quickly waking up to the fact that this vote, unlike any other, has a close to 100% turnout — and thus opinion pollsters are unlikely to be using sample sets that accurately reflect the kind of voter who otherwise doesn’t vote. Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal has the money quote: “I have no idea how the average 17 yr old is going to vote, but I know the average Celtic supporting Gorbels [sic] resident is going to vote Yes.”
TWO ARRESTS FOR ALLEGED VIOLENCE AT POLLING STATIONS IN SCOTLAND: Now we’ve got a bit more detail on the 44-year-old pro-Yes man arrested at a polling station in Clydebank. (And by “bit,” we mean, really, a bit.) In addition — the SNP will love this — a pro-No activist was also arrested at a polling station in Glasgow. The Liverpool Echo has the story:
Marie Rimmer, who has been on St Helens council for more than three decades, was held after, the ECHO understands, a woman was kicked at a community centre in the Shettleston area of Glasgow around lunchtime as Scots turned out to cast their vote in the landmark referendum.
Rimmer, 67, will likely be a candidate for the St Helens South and Whiston parliamentary seat. Knowing St Helens as I do, the allegation that she put the boot in will probably help her campaign to be an MP.
THE POUND SURGES AGAINST THE EURO AND THE DOLLAR: Currency traders appear to have already decided that Scotland will vote No to independence. A Yes vote would denote economic chaos and uncertainty regarding the currency, leading to a selloff and a decline in the pound. The opposite — people buying the pound because they think it’s going to get stronger — suggests investors believe the No vote will win tonight.
TURNOUT IS MASSIVE, AND IT MAY WORK IN FAVOUR OF THE YES VOTE: The polls say the No vote has it. But the Yes campaign has believed all along that if it can get a huge turnout — including the very poor who rarely vote, and thousands of new 16-18-year-old voters — then it will receive an unexpected bump at the ballot box that the opinion polls haven’t picked up. The Guardian goes into this here. And guess what? Turnout is indeed as close to 100% as an election is ever going to see. It’s 92% in Shetland, for instance. So if the “Yes voter opinion poll conspiracy theory” is to come true, then it will come true today …
DAVID CAMERON WILL ADDRESS THE NATION ON FRIDAY MORNING: No matter what the result, the prime minister will say something that attempts to sew Britain back together, The Guardian says. And it’s not just our broken hearts he’ll have to mend, it’s support on his own backbenches. MP Nick Herbert says his Scotland strategy was all wrong. Cameron yesterday insisted he won’t resign if Scotland votes Yes.
WHAT ABOUT NORTH LANARKSHIRE? Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal argues that the area to the right of Glasgow on the map is the bellwether — and its result will come really early in the night, about 2 am.
AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND COULD USE BITCOIN: Well, it could, in theory, possibly, hypothetically, suggests Quartz: “That idea may seem far-fetched, but it has been posited in at least one high-profile financial forum by the assistant governor of Australia’s central bank and in a publication by a British think tank.”
FIFE IS KEY: It’s the only large constituency where the Guardian cannot predict an outcome, and its result is expected at about 4 am, a long time before the final call. The Belfast Telegraph has a longer take, arguing that even if North and South Lanarkshire go for “Yes,” that won’t be enough if Fife leans for “No”:
Fife has a hefty 7% of the total Scottish electorate. Indications are it’s hard to call between Yes and No. If it’s close by this stage, No would probably need to win here. Highland is also a large declaration at this time and should go for No, and North Ayrshire should follow soon after. Similar to Fife and No needing to win there if its close, Yes would want/need to win North Ayrshire if it’s close at this stage.
*At this stage ie around 4am Yes would need to be ahead if it is to win.
It will be all about Fife tonight! (There’s more Fife news further down.)
VOTER TURNOUT IS GOING TO BE ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE: Channel 4 News chief correspondent Alex Thomson says 90% of absentee ballots have already been returned in Edinburgh. Here is some more detail from The Scotsman. This poll worker from Kelty says that with six hours of voting still left to go, she has already seen a 40% turnout. Some people are saying turnout could be as high as a staggering 97%. We’ll see.
THE UGLY SIDE OF THE REFERENDUM: The Huffington Post UK has a great summary of all the nasty tactics and venom we’ve seen in the runup to the vote. Nationalists think this is all anti-“Yes” media bias, of course. But it’s weird that reporters from so many different media organisations can only seem to find examples of SNP intimidation. It’s either a vast media conspiracy … or it’s true.
WHY THE BBC IS IGNORING THE SCOTTISH VOTE: Don’t bother watching the TV today, says Business Insider’s Mike Bird. The BBC and Sky News won’t be covering the referendum. (They’re talking about sports and the weather instead.) That’s because UK broadcasters are hemmed in by arcane laws to prevent them from affecting the outcome of the vote.
PHOTOS OF ‘YES’ CAMPAIGNERS BREACHING POLLING STATION REGULATIONS: Not a huge deal, but not exactly helping to dispel the myth that the “Yes” people aren’t too bothered if the “No” folks feel intimidated when they vote. Business Insider’s Tomas Hirst has the full story.
WILL THE ‘INDEPENDENT KINGDOM OF FIFE’ BE THE KEY? We noted earlier (below) that key areas to watch for as voting results are announced tonight will be North Lancashire, South Lanarkshire, and Fife, which hold 6.3%, 6.1%, and 7.1% of voters, respectively. Although it doesn’t have any of Scotland’s major cities, Fife is Scotland’s third-largest voting district and will declare around 4 am. So there’s a huge chance that once you know the vote in Fife, you’ll know the whole thing. Glasgow and Edinburgh are the biggest areas but they won’t declare until very late in the night — it might be too late if the Fife result confirms a winner. Here is the Guardian’s take:
Fife: Expected declaration time: 4am; 7.1% of the electorate
Known to its proudly independent residents as the Kingdom of Fife, this large semi-rural county north of Edinburgh has Scotland’s third-largest electorate of 302,108 voters. Once a Labour bastion — before its coal mines, naval dockyard and heavy industry faded — it is home to former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown and former UK Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell. But many Fifers vote SNP, particularly in the new town of Glenrothes and Fife’s commuter belt, which feeds Edinburgh, and its Labour vote cannot be taken for granted.
DO NOT MESS WITH THIS BAGPIPE FLAME-THROWER: Reuters found Ryan Randall playing these fire-spewing bagpipes outside a polling station in Edinburgh.
THERE MIGHT BE MORE OIL IN SCOTLAND THAN YOU THOUGHT: The Wall Street Journal says oil analysts are expecting a brief increase in oil supply from the North Sea fields. But it’s still downhill after 2018: “Respected oil industry analysts Wood Mackenzie have weighed in with some forecasts. The likely tale, they say, is one of a near-term uptick in output, followed by years of decline. North Sea production is likely to rise to 1.3 million barrels a day in 2018 from 1.17 million barrels a day expected this year. But after 2018 it will be a downward path, with production in 2023 likely to be 1 million b/d, a quarter of the level in 1999.”
MAN ARRESTED AT POLLING STATION: Scottish police have arrested a man at a polling station according to a tweet from The Mail’s John Stevens (below). The Telegraph confirms a 44-year-old was arrested.
BORIS JOHNSON WOULD LOVE IT IF SCOTLAND GOES INDEPENDENT: German paper Bild (translated via The Telegraph) notes that if the “Yes” campaign wins, it will hurt prime minister David Cameron, and London Mayor Boris Johnson is waiting in the wings to succeed him as leader of the Conservative Party. That scenario would deliver an almost permanent Conservative majority within England, Wales and N. Ireland — because Labour would lose all its Scottish seats — making Johnson a potential future prime minister. Just a thought!
HERE IS THE WORDING OF THE ACTUAL QUESTION ON THE BALLOT: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” It’s a masterpiece of simplicity, the BBC notes. Just six words will decide the fate of the nation. Voters must draw a cross next to the answers “Yes” or “No.”
CATALAN INDEPENDENCE PROTESTERS ARE IN EDINBURGH URGING A ‘YES’ VOTE: Business Insider reporter Tomas Hirst spotted them outside Holyrood, playing the Catalan national anthem to anyone who would listen. They’re annoyed because Spain won’t let Catalonia vote on its own independence. Catalans are hoping a Yes vote in Scotland will trigger independence for them, somehow.
LATEST POLL SHOWS ‘NO’ LEAD GETTING BIGGER: Ipsos MORI says voters are now split 53-47 in favour of the pro-UK “No” camp, the Evening Standard reports. Four per cent are undecided. This new poll fits in with the narrative of the past few days, which has seen the “No” camp solidify its slight lead over those favouring independence. Of course, polls aren’t votes …
THEY’RE ALREADY ARGUING OVER WHO WILL GET SCOTLAND’S GOLD: The Wall Street Journal reports that if the country goes independent, it may lay a claim to its share of the gold in the Bank of England: “Most of the UK’s official gold sits over two floors in clay-tiled vaults of the Bank of England. It’s the second-largest gold stash in the world after the New York Federal Reserve. The Bank of England’s Old Lady of Threadneedle Street app says the vaults contain an estimated 400,000 13kg bars of gold, each worth approximately £350,000 ($560,000). Part of these belong to the UK Treasury, representing the nation’s reserves.”
CRAZY PHOTOS FROM EDINBURGH: Business Insider reporter Tomas Hirst is up there with his camera, and it looks as if the country is enjoying one massive party right now.
BRITAIN’S FRONT PAGES: Check out all the rather magnificent front pages of the UK’s major newspapers. Everyone one of them is trying to sway the hearts of the Scots.
TEENAGE BAGPIPERS ATTACKED: The Times found this delicious nugget: “Pro-Union teenage bagpipers outside the rally at Festival Theatre in Edinburgh were told to “f*** off” by Yes voters with megaphones, but continued to play as water bombs were thrown from windows opposite.”
‘YES’ ACTIVISTS HAVE VANDALISED A POLLING STATION: This image comes from Jackie Baillie, the member of the Scottish parliament for Dumbarton. The polling station is Jamestown Parish Church Lennox Hall, according to The Telegraph:
BLIND ‘NO’ ACTIVIST ALLEGEDLY PUNCHED IN FACE BY ‘YES’ SUPPORTER: Let’s take this with a pinch of salt because it comes from The Mail: The paper is reporting that a blind man with a white cane handing out pro-UK leaflets in Scotland was sucker-punched by a nationalist on Wednesday. “Scottish nationalists mounted a last-minute bullying campaign to intimidate people into voting for independence,” The Mail says. Hmm. (The Mail has been virulently anti-Scottish National Party all along.)
The Mail also says that the BBC has hired private security guards to protect its reporters and editors, who have complained about the hostile atmosphere they’re working in. The nationalists generally believe the BBC is biased against them.
SALMOND THE ‘MAOIST’? To give you the tenor of the Mail’s fair-‘n’-balanced coverage, its online front page is hilariously accusing Scottish first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond of being a former Maoist.
3 KEY DISTRICTS TO WATCH: Everyone is focused on the big cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, which hold 8.7% and 11.5% of all voters, respectively. But as the count goes on, you’ll want to watch North Lancashire, South Lanarkshire and Fife, which hold 6.3%, 6.1%, and 7.1% of voters, respectively. They are also polling districts that are expected to call their results early — by about 3 or 4 a.m. If they go strongly one way or another, it will become very exciting indeed.
DAVID CAMERON IS NERVOUS: The one person who will arguably be most affected by the vote is UK prime minister David Cameron, The Independent says. The loss of Scotland during his administration would be a devastating blow. He’s also committed to holding a UK-wide referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, assuming his Conservative Party can win the next general election in May 2015. But if he can’t hold on to Scotland, there will be an internal effort in the Tory party to get rid of him before the next election.
THERE WILL BE DRUNK PEOPLE: The Telegraph notes something that could be increasingly interesting as the day/night goes on: “Many pubs plan to open all night.”
Tennis champ Andy Murray has revealed that he favours voting “Yes,” hours before the poll.
TV IS BEING CENSORED RIGHT NOW: Britain’s quirky TV broadcasting rules have gone into effect, preventing the major TV channels from commenting on the vote while the voting takes place, lest they influence the result. Here’s the BBC’s confession that until 10 p.m. Thursday it is basically going to be useless:
Strict rules mean the BBC — in common with other broadcasters — is not allowed to report details of campaigning until after the polls close.
So all the news is coming from the web and print outlets. Here’s the relevant news blackout rule from Ofcom:
Discussion and analysis of election and referendum issues must finish when the poll opens. (This refers to the opening of actual polling stations. This rule does not apply to any poll conducted entirely by post.)
Business Insider will, of course, be providing its regular ongoing coverage of the vote.
THE BACK STORY: Opinion polls show the country is evenly split with a narrow lead for the pro-UK “No” vote over the pro-independence “Yes” vote. But the difference is within the margin of error, so it is too close to call.
Friday, the Scots will wake up to a brand new, uncertain future. If the country votes for independence, it will have to face the fact that it has no currency, no central bank, and a chorus of economists who believe the nation will exist on the brink of “failed state” status (that last moniker comes from Glaswegian historian Niall Ferguson). The nationalists, of course, believe the opposite: That government from London has milked the country of its rightful oil revenues and can’t be trusted to maintain proper levels of spending on health, education, and infrastructure.
Or, if Scotland remains part of Great Britain, it will wake up with a giant hangover headache — they’re already partying North of the border — and the sound of the entire world saying “never mind!” And everything will go back to normal.
About 4.3 million, or 97% of the electorate, have registered to vote. The vote has been extended to 16-year-olds, and thousands of teenagers will also be voting as a result. Long lines are expected at polling stations, the Financial Times says:
Scotland has set up 5,579 polling stations, which means typically there will be no more than 800 voters allocated to each polling station, in a bid to avoid any large queues. The polls opened at 7am and will close at 10pm.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TONIGHT: The real fun comes when the polls close Thursday evening at 10 p.m. The final result won’t be known for hours afterward, with individual council areas reporting totals on a rolling basis. Here’s a rough schedule of how that’s likely to happen (below). Note that the crucial halfway point looks as if it’s going to come at about 3 a.m.