Scottish independence: What's going on in Scotland?

On 18 September, voters in Scotland will be asked in a referendum whether they want the nation to become independent from the rest of the United Kingdom.

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Why is it happening?
Wallace monument The Wallace monument, built to honour Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace

The Scottish National Party, whose central aim is independence, won the 2011 Scottish Parliament election by a landslide, giving them a mandate to stage the vote.

On referendum day itself, voters across Scotland will head to polling booths to answer the Yes/No question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

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The arguments for and against
Alex Salmond

The Scottish government, led by First Minister Alex Salmond, says the 300-year-old Union is no longer fit for purpose and that an independent Scotland, aided by its oil wealth, would be one of the world's richest countries.

He says it's time for Scotland to take charge of its own destiny, free from what he describes as the "shackles" of a London-based UK parliament.

On the opposite side of the debate, the UK government, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, says Britain is one of the world's most successful social and political unions.

The differing styles of Salmond and Cameron

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What are the key issues?
Oil rig

Two major issues have emerged during the campaign - oil and currency.

Oil

North Sea oil and gas reserves (or more precisely the tax take from Scotland's share) are vital to the Scottish government's case for independence.

Mr Salmond says earmarking a tenth of revenues - about £1bn a year - could form an oil fund similar to the one operated in Norway, creating a £30bn sovereign wealth pot over a generation.

Mr Cameron says the North Sea has been a British success story - and now the oil and gas is getting harder to recover, it's more important than ever to back the industry with the "broad shoulders" of the UK.

The SNP's opponents also argue they're pinning future hopes on something that's eventually going to run out.

North Sea oil in numbers

40bn

barrels extracted

24bn

could remain

  • 30-40 years of production remaining

  • £57bn tax revenue predicted by Scottish Government by 2018

  • 38% fall in oil revenue predicted by Office for Budget Responsibility by 2017-18

PA

North Sea oil: Facts and figures

Currency

Currency has been the other big area of disagreement.

Under independence, the Scottish government wants to keep the pound as part of a formal currency union with the rest of the UK.

It argues this is in everyone's best interests, but the three main UK parties - the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats - won't go for it, and say that whoever's in power after the next UK election will not agree to such a move.

This position came as the UK Treasury published analysis from its top civil servant, Sir Nicholas Macpherson who outlined several reasons why currency unions were "fraught with difficulty".

Scotland's first minister has warned the UK government not to dictate the terms of the debate

On the currency, the PM says Alex Salmond is now a man without a plan

Currency debate explained

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Do people want independence?
woman

Hard to say with any great certainty at the moment, although recent polling has prompted both sides to say the result is now too close to call.

While polling trends generally indicate most people don't want independence, the "Yes" side says the momentum is now with them, after a a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times suggested that, of those who have made up their mind, 51% planned to back independence, while 49% intended to vote "No".

Polling expert John Curtice said that, for the past few months, it looked like the referendum race had stalled, with polling rarely departing very far from No 57%, Yes 43% (once the undecided were left aside).

But the professor of politics at Glasgow's Strathclyde University says the race may now have become a lot tighter.

You can keep up with the latest trends through the BBC's referendum poll tracker.

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Who gets to vote
cakes

People aged 16 and over who live in Scotland get a direct say on the nation's future - as long as they're registered to vote.

There are some requirements, though. Eligible voters must be British, EU or Commonwealth citizens with permission to enter or stay in the UK.

That means the 800,000 Scots who live in other parts of the UK don't get a vote, while the 400,000 people from elsewhere in Britain who live in Scotland do.

Voter breakdown

Members of the armed services and their families serving overseas who are registered to vote in Scotland also get to vote.

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What happens on 19 September?
A Yes campaigner and a girl with a union jack painted on her face

On the day after the referendum, if there's a "Yes" vote, the Scottish government is likely to have a big party. After that, it will get down to the process of negotiating with the rest of the UK.

Mr Salmond wants to declare "Independence Day" in March 2016 with the first elections to an independent Scottish parliament in May. But, first, an agreement will have to be reached with what remains of the UK on issues like Scotland's share of the national debt.

However, if there's a "No" vote, the UK government is likely to have a big party, then turn its attention to the issue of giving more powers to the devolved Scottish Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats have been considering this issue the longest, and a commission led by former leader Sir Menzies Campbell, says there is now growing agreement among the pro-Union parties that the Edinburgh parliament should get significant new financial powers, like increased responsibility over tax-raising.

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Let's end with a history lesson
William Wallace impersonator

Thanks to the 1995 Hollywood blockbuster Braveheart, many people are familiar with the Scottish wars of independence, fought between the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

A series of events saw England's King Edward overpower the Scottish kingdom in 1296, before Robert the Bruce inflicted some serious payback in the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 - an event which has just reached its 700th anniversary.

Culloden

Other key moments through the ages included Bonnie Prince Charlie's ill-fated invasion of England in 1745, culminating in defeat at Culloden the following year.

Despite various challenges, Scotland is generally regarded to have asserted its independence from about 843, until the official unification with England took place in 1707.

At the time, the view was that Scotland was desperate for cash, but opponents of the move were outraged by claims that the Scots who put their names to the Act of Union were bribed.

Robert Burns

The episode moved Scotland's Bard, Robert Burns, to write: "We are bought and sold for English gold. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation."

The Scottish government now hopes to write another chapter in Scotland's history.

More Scotland politics stories

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Scotland Decides: SCOTLAND VOTES NO

  1. No 2,001,926
  2. Yes 1,617,989
After 32 of 32 counts Results in detail

Referendum Live

  1.  
    10:18: Youth vote

    Just a reminder of why today's discussion focused on the issue of 16 and 17-year-olds voting - Alex Salmond is to call for people in this age group to be given the vote at all future elections.

    He's set to make the plea this afternoon, as Holyrood reconvenes for the first time since the referendum.

     
  2.  
    10:12: Young electorate

    Glasgow boasts the biggest population in Scotland and also has a high number of teen voters. Figures from the 2011 Census show the city had more than 18,000 people aged 13-15.

    Depending on when their birthday falls, these youngsters will now be aged 16-19.

    Teenagers
     
  3.  
    10:03: How did teenagers vote?

    How did 16 and 17-year-olds vote in the referendum?

    According to a snap poll by Lord Ashcroft asking voters how they had cast their ballots, 71% voted Yes.

    More than 100,000 16 to 18-year-olds had registered to vote on Thursday.

    Referendum ballot paper
     
  4.  
    Text 80295 09:56: Referendum - Your Views

    Tom, Rosyth: Can anyone explain to me why 200 celebrities can sign a letter and make pleas on national TV for Scotland to stay in the Union but Andy Murray has to apologise for one innocuous tweet supporting independence?

    Kevin, Dundee: I'm totally disillusioned the No side didn't make one positive argument for keeping the Union. I'm off to Ireland: a small independent EU country who had the guts to take their sovereignty.

     
  5.  
    09:48: Referendum legacy

    Rev Galbraith adds: "I would like to think the referendum legacy would be that they [young people] see that they have a voice and if it is used wisely they can make a difference."

     
  6.  
    09:40: 'Their moment'

    Reverend Neil Galbraith, founder of the charity Glasgow the Caring City, says it would be hard to "put the genie back in the bottle".

    "In the referendum they [young people] were given the opportunity to have their moment - they could start to shine officially. Young people do remarkable work, there are many young folk who are exceptional," he tells BBC Radio Scotland.

    "The referendum has given them the chance to come to the fore...

    "It's young people who are the driving force behind the social change that we need to become a more compassionate society."

     
  7.  
    Text 80295 09:37: Referendum - Your Views

    Pat, Glasgow: It has made me decide that I shall never vote for the unprincipled Labour, Liberal and Conservative politicians, i.e. all of them. They told so many lies, they got into bed with each other.

    Jim: Since the result was announced, everything that has happened since has only reinforced my view that I was on the right side of the debate. And I now absolutely believe that we will be independent one day. PS. 16-year-olds should have the vote, although I would prefer if they avoided joining political parties until they were a bit older.

    G, Glasgow: Great idea to allow 16+ to vote. Able to look at all the sides and make up own minds, [they] are the best electorate, not just believing mainstream media.

     
  8.  
    09:31: Young people 'not independent'

    Luke Gittos, law editor at online magazine Spiked, says the young voters issue relates to independence.

    "16 and 17-year-olds are not independent people. They are dependent on the institutions that are around them - their families, their schools, their political parties," he tells BBC Radio Scotland.

    Polling station

    "They don't come to their political views as a result of an independent reaction to the world. They come to it through information handed down to them from the people around them - and I think that's problematic."

     
  9.  
    09:20: Youth vote

    Kyle Thornton, former chair of the Scottish youth parliament, says 16 and 17-year-olds "very much wanted to make up their own minds" on the referendum.

    "There was a responsibility that came across," he tells BBC Radio Scotland.

    "Young people were very clear that they felt really responsible about their vote and they wanted to learn and take a decision based on information."

    He says they should be allowed to vote in all UK elections and referendums.

     
  10.  
    Text 80295 09:10: Referendum - your views

    Richard, Aberdeenshire: I think there is an argument 16 and 17-year-olds should be able to vote but I'm also hit with a sense of predictable disappointment that the parties who are supporting this move are the parties that would benefit from it.

    James, Dalry: Oh definitely. You can't ask 16 and 17-year-old to vote on one of the biggest issues to me in the UK - and then tell them 'Oh you can't vote for a party' [in an election]

     
  11.  
    Text 80295 09:09: Referendum - Your Views

    Ali: If 16-year-olds are old enough to marry and have children and join the Armed Forces, surely they should be able to vote in all elections.

    Ben, Partick: Not a good idea for 16-year-olds to vote. At election they were carefree 71% Yes. Over 65s were 73% against. Fear motive - they had lived.

    Ronald: A vote for independence meant being able to look other Europeans in the face. Not doing so leaves us staring at our feet. Simple as that.

    Gayle: Every argument so far against teenagers voting, was made about giving women the vote. Anyone who has a teenager will be laughing at the implication they have any influence over their teen.

     
  12.  
    09:04: Yes 'feeling persists'

    Independence campaigners, broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and musician Pat King, have been talking to BBC Radio Scotland about where the Yes movement goes from here.

    Riddoch says strong feelings on Scottish independence "are still there in spades".

    While King says: "One of the next things the Yes movement can do - and I think a Yes movement persists - is to find a way to talk to itself, to meet with itself, and to educate itself.

    "The one thing that caused a No vote was an argument about viable economics or currency - we all need to become economists. What that will do is give us a basic confidence in the viability of [an independent] Scotland."

     
  13.  
    09:00: 'Funds to decrease'

    The Times reports that public funding given to Scotland by Westminster could fall over time as more fiscal powers are devolved.

    The Times

    The three UK party leaders have vowed to retain the Barnett formula as part of efforts to persuade Scottish voters to remain in the Union.

    But since last week's vote, Tory MPs have voiced anger at the funding model, which grants £1,600 a head more in public money to Scotland than England.

     
  14.  
    Text 80295 08:57: Referendum - Get Involved

    Stephen, Ayr: Can the failed Yes brigade stop blaming everyone else for an overwhelming No. The majority have spoken. Accept it and move on.

    Jon, East Kilbride: Give us all a rest from this debate. The Yes were well beaten and now harping on about anything: accept you were thumped and get on with life.

    Iain Brown, Dundee (weare45): I believe 16/17-year-olds should be allowed to vote because their contribution to society can make a difference for the future. At the same time, over 70-year-olds should not be allowed to vote. The reason being the kids want what's best for the country going forward, whereas over 70s are stuck in the past and make no work-related contribution to our society.

     
  15.  
    @bbcscotlandnews 08:51: Andy Murray - Your Views

    Alistair Gellatly tweets: And neither he should. Plenty people gave their opinion, many with less right to do so.

     
  16.  
    08:43: Referendum - Get Involved Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    Alex Salmond is expected to call for 16 and 17-year-olds to be given the vote in all future elections. Do you agree?

    Do you feel more empowered as a result of the referendum?

    Morning Call

    Get in touch via 0500 92 95 00 or text 80295 and listen live to the programme here.

     
  17.  
    08:39: View from NI Mark Devenport BBC News NI Political Editor

    There tends to be a different message here if you talk to nationalists and unionists.

    There is an element of common ground. Which is that Northern Ireland has long been asking for control over its own rate of corporation tax - that's because the headline rate for this tax in the Irish republic is much lower than the UK rate.

    Unionists and nationalists are generally saying 'Look we do want to get that power' and we're expecting David Cameron to make a decision on this - expected to be a positive one - once the Scottish referendum is out of the way.

    But in relation to any broader powers I think there is quite a lot of both economic and political disagreement, with nationalists, in particular Sinn Fein, calling for full fiscal to be devolved to Stormont but unionists saying 'Hang on, we're not sure politically about this' because it would dilute the union or economically.

     
  18.  
    08:30: Harman: PM being divisive

    Ms Harman says she finds it "a bit depressing an unworthy" that the prime minister should approach the devolution issue with the attitude: "'Oh well, if Scotland's going to have extra powers then we'll divide everyone up in England against Scotland'.

    Harriet Harman

    "I think that's divisive and not the right way to do things."

     
  19.  
    08:20: Harman: Powers have to happen

    "It was an absolute promise that was made," says Ms Harman on the issue of further powers for Scotland, adding: "It has absolutely got to be delivered. If you make a promise on the eve of an election... than that it absolutely what is going to happen."

    She says shadow chancellor Ed Balls "absolutely" backs the idea of devolving income tax and other powers to Scotland.

    What is being promised to England "makes no difference" to what is being promised to Scotland, she adds.

     
  20.  
    08:15: Harman on Scotland 'alienation'

    Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman says there is a "major issue" in Scotland with people feeling they cannot have any confidence about jobs or their futures.

    The party needs to address that feeling of "alienation and resentment that was so clearly there," she tells BBC Radio Scotland.

     
  21.  
    08:14: Murray would rethink indyref tweet

    Andy Murray has spoken publicly for the first time about comments he made on the eve of the Scottish referendum. The tennis star was criticised for sending a tweet supporting independence.

    Andy Murray

    "I don't regret giving an opinion. I think everyone should be allowed that," he said.

    "The way I did it, yeah, it wasn't something I would do it again. It was a very emotional day for Scottish people and the whole country and the whole of the UK - it was a big day.

    "The way it was worded, the way I sent it, is not really in my character. I don't normally do stuff like that. So, yeah, I was a bit disappointed by that. It's time to move on.

    "I can't go back on that and I'll concentrate on my tennis for the next few months."

     
  22.  
    08:03: View from Wales Sian Elin Dafydd BBC News

    Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones has emphatically said there is a need to rebuild the UK and give more powers to Wales.

    He's repeatedly called for a constitutional convention on the devolution of the UK. He's been doing it for more than two years - and some say he's been ignored.

    Yesterday he told the Labour Party Conference in Manchester that support for Welsh independence would grow unless Labour honoured its commitment to rebuild the UK.

    He says people don't want independence but they are attracted to parties like the SNP, UKIP and Plaid Cymru because they are so fed up with the status quo.

     
  23.  
    07:56: Lamont 'quitting' rumours Glenn Campbell BBC Scotland news

    Several newspapers are reporting rumours speculating that Labour leader Johann Lamont is considering stepping down as leader of the Scottish Labour party.

    Johann Lamont and Ed Miliband at the Labour Party conference in Manchester

    Her press spokesperson denied that last night and pointed to her Labour conference speech about leading the party into the 2016 Holyrood elections.

    It doesn't seem that there is any imminent announcement from her.

     
  24.  
    07:52: Harriet Harman interview coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    As Ed Miliband delivers his leaders' speech to Labour's conference @HarrietHarman #bbcgms 0810.

     
  25.  
    07:49: Analysis Glenn Campbell BBC Scotland news

    I think Alex Salmond will tell MSPs that, in his view, the referendum was a success.

    Clearly he didn't win independence, but he'll argue the high levels of voter participation and the high levels of interest from media from all over the world are things that people on both sides of the argument can be proud of.

    I think he'll also commit the Scottish government - and the SNP - to hold the UK political parties to the promises they made on further devolution and protecting the funding formula that supplies the Scottish government with the cash to spend on devolved services.

    Outgoing First Minister Alex Salmond

    He'll also call for votes for 16-year-olds in the next UK general election and subsequent polls because of the interest and engagement they showed in the independence referendum.

    I know that Labour leader Ed Miliband has been supportive in the past and there were reports overnight that he will commit to this in his conference speech later.

    The Lib Dems are also in favour of this but the Conservatives are against it.

     
  26.  
    Text 80295 07:45: Referendum - Get Involved

    ATB, from Sunny Leith by Sea, Zane: One of the funniest things I've heard this week (it is only Tuesday, mind you) it all boils down to a simple slogan - "Wales misses out on funding of around £300m per year, but there is some doubt over the funding calculations." They're going to struggle to get that out on Twitter, since the slogan itself is 113 characters!

    Norrie in Stevenston: Everybody, including the media, keep going on about more powers for Scotland but this wasn't on the referendum ballot paper. Why do we need more powers? Just more layers of bureaucracy and expense we don't need; things are fine the way they are thanks.

     
  27.  
    07:41: 'Why I bet £900k on the indyref'

    One man bet £900,000 on a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum...and won.

    Indyref bet

    He has given a fascinating insight to the BBC on his thought process for a significant political gamble...

     
  28.  
    07:36: SNP 'surge'

    The Herald reports that the SNP is on course to become the UK's third biggest political party, with a 62% surge in membership following the referendum.

    The Herald newspaper

    And comedian Billy Connolly predicts trouble ahead should Prime Minister David Cameron fail to honour his promise of further powers for Scotland.

    Read our newspaper round-up here.

     
  29.  
    @bbcscotlandnews 07:34: Referendum - Your Views

    Julie Thomson tweets: A No vote doesn't mean a #Labour vote. #SNP membership growing.

     
  30.  
    07:31: Scottish papers

    The Scottish newspapers are continuing to reflect on the fallout from the referendum.

    The Scotsman

    The Scotsman quotes the Leader of the House of Commons, William Hague, as saying that the pledge of flagship new powers for Scotland will be honoured.

     
  31.  
    07:30: After the dust settled... James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    Politicians return to Holyrood after Scotland rejected independence.

    Holyrood
     
  32.  
    07:26: The Big Yin fires a warnin...

    Billy Connolly has been giving his thoughts on Scotland's referendum.

    The comedian said there would be trouble if David Cameron did not honour his promise of further powers.

    Billy Connolly

    Speaking at the London premiere of What We Did On Our Holiday, he said: "It's 50:50 - 50% of the country are delighted, 50% are disappointed. But Scotland will get used to the idea.

    "If Mr Cameron keeps up his promises we should be okay. If he doesn't there'll be hell to pay."

     
  33.  
    Text 80295 07:24: Referendum reaction

    Dave, Aberdeen: I believe William Hague said a few days ago that any money raised by new powers over income tax would be clawed back with a £ for £ reduction in the Barnett Formula. Is this true?

     
  34.  
    07:21: 'Bitter-sweet occasion' Colin Blane BBC Scotland news

    This will be a bitter-sweet occasion for Scotland's outgoing first minister.

    Alex Salmond lost the referendum and is preparing to stand down but he does so against the backdrop of a sudden surge in membership for the pro-independence parties.

    His own SNP has added more than 20,000 new members in four days - an 80% increase - which means it has nudged ahead of the Lib Dems to become the third largest party in the UK.

    Mr Salmond is expected to tell the Scottish Parliament that both sides in the referendum can take pride in the campaign and in the huge turnout.

    He'll also say the way 16 and 17-year-olds participated makes the case for them to be given the vote in all elections.

     
  35.  
    07:20: Get Involved Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Something you want to get off your chest following Scotland's referendum vote? Send us your thoughts via email, text 80295 or tweet @bbcscotlandnews using #bbcindyref

     
  36.  
    07:18: 'Reflection time'

    Ahead of today's debate, Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick will open proceedings with "time for reflection", a Holyrood slot normally reserved for spiritual or philosophical contributions from religious or secular figureheads.

     
  37.  
    07:16: Holyrood debate

    The debate on the future of Scotland that follow Salmond's statement will go on for two days.

    Alex Salmond

    We'll bring you all the latest lines today and tomorrow as they happen.

     
  38.  
    07:12: Scots made right choice - Miliband
    Miliband speaking

    Also coming up - Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to tell his party's conference in Manchester that Scotland made the right choice voting against independence.

    But he will say a country that comes close to splitting apart "is not a country in good health".

     
  39.  
    07:09: Salmond successor

    The SNP parliamentary group will also meet today, with nominations for Mr Salmond's successor expected to open on Wednesday.

    Nicola Sturgeon

    Almost every member of the Scottish cabinet has publicly backed his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, to replace him as SNP leader and first minister.

     
  40.  
    07:05: Parties respond

    The Scottish Labour, Lib Dem and the Conservative parties will also offer their response to the electorate's decision to reject independence by 55% to 45%.

    Labour leader Johann Lamont is likely to offer to find common ground with the SNP.

    The Lib Dems are expected to urge Yes campaigners not to be bystanders as Holyrood pushes for further powers.

    And the Conservatives will accuse the Nationalists of having no intention of accepting the referendum result.

     
  41.  
    07:02: Salmond vote call

    Mr Salmond, who announced after the No result that he would stand down in November, is also expected to call for 16 and 17-year-olds to be given the vote at future elections.

    Outgoing first minister Alex Salmond

    He is also to vow to hold the UK parties to account over further powers.

     
  42.  
    07:01: Holyrood debate

    First Minister Alex Salmond is to address the Scottish Parliament later - for the first time since Scotland voted against independence.

    MSPs will also hold a debate on the outcome of the referendum.

     
  43.  
    07:00: Referendum reaction Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and welcome to today's live page coverage of the latest post-referendum news and analysis.

     

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