19 Sep 2014

#indyref: it looks like a no

Early indications are a no win is emerging from the mists. When even the Western Isles is voting no, a bastion of nationalist support, it suggests this isn’t happening for the independence supporters.

There are many bigger conurbations still to declare but no campaigners are feeling optimistic.

Polls Have Now Closed And Scotland Awaits The Results Of This Historic ReferendumI visited Inverclyde a few times in the campaign, the former ship-building area on the Clyde, based around Port Glasgow and Greenock.

The yes campaign work on the estates here was phenomenal. The yes poster count outnumbered the no posters by something like 30 to 1.

Everywhere, the yes campaign seemed to be making the noise. But no just won here – by the narrowest margins – but won nonetheless (27,243 to 27,329).  ​

The referendum as it happens: #indyref – the live results

Did the polls suggesting a late surge wake up the pro-union vote? Was the surge exaggerated by the silent no phenomenon? Were voters scared into voting no?

My impression was that there was significant slippage from yes to no in working class areas through August. Labour MPs told me they’d seen it with their own eyes, people switching directly from no to yes.

But there were also many people who kept quiet about their support for the union throughout this campaign.

Some would say they felt intimidated by yes campaigners. Some I questioned seemed to me certain to vote no even though they said they were undecided. It was almost as if they hadn’t reconciled themselves to a vote that embarrassed them. Some kept their no support to themselves.

The battlelines are already forming for the next row spawned by the fact that this referendum gave the pro-union parties the fright of their lives.

The Tories’ Chief Whip Michael Gove has indicated that David Cameron’s statement expected after the full count is declared later this morning will repeat his promise to fast-track a further phase of devolution but also indicate that Scottish MPs should lose the right to vote on exclusively English matters – but he does not support the idea of a separate English parliament.

Michael Gove is not saying how “English matters” should be defined – if you restrict it to devolved matters like education, say, that would be one thing.

Some Tories though are interested in a much more seismic re-casting of the role of Scottish MPs. They dream of barring them from budgetary matters and opening up the possibility of challenging the legitimacy of any Labour government whose majority was based on Scottish MPs.

A statement is expected from the Queen around 6pm. Like David Cameron she had two statements ready. Unlike him, hers were both quite similar.

It was a time for Scots to come together. Scotland is a country she and her family hold in great affection. Now it looks like she can release the one many think she really wanted to.

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