Scotland decides: As-it-happened
09:43 – From the Scottish Borders to the Shetland Islands, Scots are going to the polls in the most important vote in British political history.
In an extraordinary feat of logistics, land, air and sea travel will be used to get the ballot papers to counting stations. Helicopters will be flying in ballot papers from islands in Argyll and Bute. Other distant locations will use boats.
Over four million people are registered to vote in the election and a high turnout is expected, with 80% of the 790,000 postal votes already cast.
There will be no exit poll. A final result is expected at about 7am, but we might have a relatively clear idea of which way things are going from around 5am.
However, those expectations are based on previous Scottish elections. This time the number of people voting is much larger, with 97% of the electorate expected to vote. Turnout at the last general election, in comparison, was 64%.
Weather could also delay the result, given the large distances and reliance on boats and aircrafts.
There will be no recount, even if one side wins by a single vote. But there could be recounts at a local level, which can be requested by 'Yes' or 'No' camps.
Dundee will be one of the first tests of how things are going. It is as nationalist as any city in Scotland. If 'Yes' doesn't win there, it is heading for a massive defeat.
South Lanarkshire, which should declare around 4am, will be watched closely. There are more Tories there than elsewhere. If it goes for 'Yes', unionists will be braced for a landslide defeat.
Glasgow declares around 5am and is expected to go for 'Yes'. It has been a focus of 'Yes' activity and has many of the Labour-voting working class voters nationalists need in order to win. At about the same time Edinburgh will declare. The 'No' camp will be desperate to have held the city.
If the vote is very tight – as polls suggest it will be – Aberdeen could prove decisive. Just four per cent live here, but it will be the last to declare. Chances are, it will vote 'No'.
Our live coverage will start as the polls close at 10pm. You'll be getting news, analysis, video, photos and comment through the night from Adam Bienkov and Ian Dunt in London and Alex Stevenson in Scotland.
Our live coverage will continue tomorrow, as the after-effects of the result are felt throughout the country.
See you back here at 10pm for what could be the final night of the United Kingdom.
22.00 – The polls have closed and it's all over. Well technically this isn't quite right. Anyone joining the queue at their local polling station at 21.59 are unlikely to have been turned away and there's probably a few stragglers with their pens still hovering over the ballot paper right now.
But for all intents and purposes we're done here The most enthralling, important, divisive, but exciting political campaign this island has seen for generations is now over and the all important count can begin.
Here (via the Press Association) is a rough guide to when and where we can expect to start hearing results.
1. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar 02:00
2. North Lanarkshire 02:00
3. Inverclyde 02:00
4. Orkney 02:00
5. East Lothian 02:00
6. Perth & Kinross 02:00
7. Moray 02:00
8. Clackmannanshire 02:30
9. West Dunbartonshire 03:00
10. Dumfries & Galloway 03:00
11. Angus 03:00
12. South Lanarkshire 03:00
13. East Renfrewshire 03:00
14. Dundee 03:00
15. Falkirk 03:00
16. Renfrewshire 03:00
17. East Ayrshire 03:00
18. Aberdeenshire 03:00
19. Stirling 03:00
20. Midlothian 03:30
21. Argyll & Bute 03:30
22. West Lothian 03:30
23. South Ayrshire 03:30
24. Shetland 03:30
25. East Dunbartonshire 03:30
26. Fife 04:00
27. Highland 04:00
28. North Ayrshire 04:30
29. Scottish Borders 05:00
30. Edinburgh 05:00
31. Glasgow 05:00
32. Aberdeen 06:00
Incredibly no exit poll has been conducted tonight, so we really will have to wait a good four hours until we can get the first real clues what's happened. You'll stay with us until then though right?
22.10 – YouGov will soon release the closest we're going to get to an exit poll tonight.
This YouGov will announce its final #IndyRef prediction at 22:30, based on recontacting voters today after they voted
— YouGov (@YouGov) September 18, 2014
It was YouGov's poll putting 'Yes' ahead that set this campaign alight almost two weeks ago. Since then things have shifted back in the other direction. Could YouGov be about to hand us another big surprise?
22.30 – YouGov have contacted members of their polling panel and asked them how they voted. It's very bad news for independence camapigners.
— YouGov (@YouGov) September 18, 2014
This is a significantly bigger margin for Yes than YouGov's survey realeased earlier today, giving credence to those who suspected that there were a significant number of shy no voters, not being picked up by the polls.
22.40 – If YouGov's prediction is borne out then it would represent a comfortable if not quite overwhelming win for the 'No' campaign. It would also mean big sighs of relief among the bookies. They judged, possibly rightly, that undecided or wavering voters tend to shift to the status quo in the final stages of referendum campaigns. But if they've got reasons to relax, the pollsters don't. Because of the unprecedented nature of this referendum and the large turnout, there are good reasons to believe that the polls may have failed to pick up the true picture. We won't really start to get a real sense of how well or badly the pollsters have done until the results start to come in, in a few hours time.
23:20 – I've been out and about in Edinburgh today, talking to voters at polling stations and chit-chatting with the canvassers who lurk outside. The general sense, as you'd expect, is an air of general bewilderment as to the final result. But I sensed the No campaign were more quietly confident than their opponents, who are fervently passionately desperately hoping this will go their way.
The big trends seem to be:
- Old people mostly voted 'No'. The over-50s were rock-solid opposed to independence. They came out in force in the morning, when voting was very much against Alex Salmond's masterplan.
- Families mostly voted 'Yes'. Around 4pm, when the children were coming out of school, there was a big surge of pro-independence voters showing up. The No camp accept that if the entire contest took place during the school run, they would have lost hands down. Maybe this was always going to be the case, but that #PatronisingBTLady video probably didn't help.
- Young professionals are the real demographic to be fought over. They are full of undecideds – the kind who I spent a lot of time talking to earlier this week – who are torn between the pragmatism of sticking with the UK in order to avoid the gamble of independence, or the sheer romanticism behind breaking free. There's a lot of lefty politics going on, too: this isn't supposed to be about party politics, but many view this as a chance to create a country which doesn't have the kind of right-wing bigotry seen in England's darker corners.
23:30 – Something rather odd happened outside one polling station I visited, about two hours ago, in the middle-class-ish Marchmont area of Edinburgh. A group of people were standing around, looking organised with clipboards. But they weren't the 'Yes' camp, or the 'No' ones. It turned out they were a group of social scientists from the University of Edinburgh, who were asking people how they voted before they went into the polling station and afterwards. They were rather reluctant to explain the exact nature of their research, and it took a bit of questioning to find out what they were up to, but it turned out the target of their research was the 'undecideds'. They were trying to find out, in particular, whether people were changing their mind between entering the polling station and actually voting. They wouldn't reveal their hypothesis, exactly, but hinted there were a range of mysterious "factors" which they wanted to explore. It had something to do with the group of canvassers standing outside the polling station, perhaps. I'll be following up once they've got the data over the weekend.
23.40 – YouGov's Peter Kellner is the first to put his head on the block over tonight's result. In what could turn out to be immortal words, he told Sky News: "At the risk of looking a complete prat in about eight hours time I would say it's a 99% certainty it's a 'No' victory," adding that "I can't see 'No' losing this now." That's about as unequivocal as you can get.
23:45 – I've just remembered that bunch of researchers (see my 23:30 post) gave me a copy of the letter they give to participants in their study, which provides more of an inkling about their activities. It states:
"Although the question 'Should Scotland be an independent country?' is simple and straightforward, the implications of choosing 'Yes' or 'No' have changed significantly over the past months, weeks and even days. This research seeks to understand how these shifts and changes have affected individuals' decision-making processes."
Well, that would be interesting to find out. Either way, their work could uncover some serious flaws in this whole affair. Meanwhile, in case anyone is wondering whether their pestering of voters before they actually vote was a bit dodgy, they assured us they'd got permission from all the relevant bodies.
00:00 – Ian here taking over from Adam for the night. He'll be back around 6ish. Alex will be sending us in the view from Glasgow through the night. But there's no denying it: the next two hours are dead time. What are you going to do? Sleep through them? There's no way you'll get back up. And if you were the kind of person who was prepared to miss tonight you wouldn't be reading this in the first place. No, we are stuck here together until the result, like small fish in a bottle someone threw in the sea. We're in for the long haul. I will be keeping myself going with pizza, coffee and beer, so I'm not lying – it might get a little weird later. But with any luck I'll still be with it enough to provide you with results as they come in. Although who knows? By then I could be blind drunk.
00:07 – Here are the seats I'm looking out for in the hours ahead. I've done none of this research myself, obviously. I find that terribly dull. This is all ripped from far more knowledgeable people. The first results come at 2am. We want to look particularly at Inverclyde and North Lanarkshire, which are the kind of working class, former Labour areas which the 'Yes' campaign thought it was bringing over in their droves. These are bell-weather areas. If it's close, or if 'No' wins, Better Together will be breathing a sigh of relief.
00:09 – Reports coming in that David Cameron wil make a speech tomorrow as earlyu as 7am laying out massive constitutional change in the event of a 'No' vote. This will include reforms to English democracy, apparently. It's also possible the Queen will say something.
00:11 – The first official voter turnout figure is in and it's 83.7% in Orkney. That's just crazy high. The UK election record is 83.9%. It's extraordinary.
00:18 – Then at 3am we have Dumfries and Galloway – strongholds for Better Together. If 'No' can't hold them, they will almost certainly lose. Falkirk will also declare about now. It’s the precise opposite, full of people with a strong sense of Scottish identity who voted en masse for the Scottish parliament when Tony Blair was prime minister. If 'Yes' can't hold them, they will almost certainly lose.
00:23 – We don't hear from the big boys – Edinburgh and Glasgow – until about 5am. Together they hold 860,000 people, a fifth of the Scottish electorate. 'Yes' are desperate for Glasgow – it's working class, usually Labour, open to change and has been the scene of very aggressive campaigning. It has to be said, however, that polls suggest 'No' could be cruising to a victory here. In Edinburgh, which is more middle class, 'No' are expecting victory, although our interview with people on the street suggested a much more mixed picture.
00:30 – I've just got off the Edinburgh to Glasgow train, where I've been speaking with some determined-sounding nationalists. They're placing all their faith in the unprecedented levels of turnout. In working class areas like Muirhouse, its community organiser told me, turnout has topped 70% – double its usual level. "They're not voting for the status quo," I was told confidently. "They're voting for change."
00:33 – We're hearing that Better Together are expecting to win Falkirk. As I wrote below, that's massive. If 'Yes' can't win places like Falkirk, they should be very nervous about how tonight will go.
00:50 – There's rather a lot of fuss being kicked up about allegations of electoral fraud in Glasgow. Sky is reporting that people turned up to vote and were told they already had. Apparently ten ballot papers were affected, which have been taken by police. It's hardly earthshattering and in a campaign with this level of seriousness and engagement, you'll likely see the odd thing like this. But with lots of journalists watching events and very few events to distract them, it's getting a lot of attention.
00:53 – I'm in George Square in Glasgow, where a large crowd of nationalists has gathered. Right now the police are slowly being reinforced as numbers grow. They totally failed to stop one guy climbing up the large base of the column in the centre of the square – and he even managed to do a runner and get away with it. He led an impromptu chorus of Flower of Scotland before fixing a Saltire to the column.
He seemed to boost the excitable mood of the crowd, which is full of nervous anticipation. No-one here knows what the result will be.
The "bigoted, anti-Catholic BBC" are hated up here. One 'Yes' guy in the crowd says he thinks the coverage focusing on the "minority" of troublemakers is actually helping the 'Yes' cause. "One minute I think yes, the next minute I think no."
01:08 – I've been speaking to Robert, one of the most exuberantly passionate nationalists I've met so far in this campaign. He's convinced there's no going back now, whatever the result. "If there's a no, it'll be like a death in the family or a cancer. First there'll be denial, then resignation, then – right – mobilisation – what are we going to fucking do about it?" But he doesn't believe it will be a 'No' victory. "We'll live to remember this in 50 years' time. Have you been drinking? No? Who wouldn't be drinking on a night like this?"
George Square has been renamed – not sure if Robert Burns approves pic.twitter.com/HfDvs8GIui
— Alex Stevenson (@Alex__Stevenson) September 19, 2014
01:21 – There is some good news for 'Yes' coming in, but not that good. Reports are that Dundee, which had a turnout of 78.8% (high but not crazy high), looks like it's going to go to vote for independence by around 60%. Glasgow has probably also been won by 'Yes', by 54%. These are good results, but they needed to be better. Dundee should have been more convincing, Glasgow should have been a safe win. But hey, if they're accurate – they're wins. Can't ask more than that.
01:29 – First result. Clackmannanshire – Yes: 16,350 No: 19,036. That's 46% to 54% on a turnout of 89%. That's very cheering for the 'No' camp.
01:32 – All the mood musicis of 'No' victories but let's just pause for a moment and remember that we have almost nothing to base that on. There's a YouGov poll, conducted online, which is not an exit poll. There's a result from a tiny area with comparatively few votes. Remember they all count equally. It's not a seat or anything. This is not over yet. It hasn't even begun.
01:46 – Look at you. You've made it this far. And you look very good for this time of the evening. How will you look tomorrow at work, I wonder? Haggard, fatigued, possibly hallucinating. No change there. But worry not, the evening is still young. That's a long way off. We're about to hit that point in the night when the results come in thick and fast. Enjoy this moment of calm and tranquillity. There won't be much of it to come.
02:00 – There's an extraordinary disconnect between the people on TV and the people on the streets. Alex tells me no-one in Glasgow believes 'No' will win. But watching the telly you'd be forgiven for thinking it was already over. Again – that's not based on data. It's based on sources texting journos all over, building up a blurred and unreliable picture. That being said, it's the only picture we've got. The mood in Glasgow is unlikely to turn violent, but there may be some very, very disappointed people there soon. In other news: I think I might crack open the beers.
02:03 –Very solid win in Orkney for 'No'. It was Yes 4,883, No 10,004. That's no surprise, it was expected But it is a solid win which plays entirely to No's expectations. It again suggests there wil not be an upset by the nationalists.
02:13 – Apart from chanting "where's the fucking BBC", the crowd here in George Square are still fairly good-natured. But I am feeling just a little cowardly and my suit, English accent and habit of confessing I belong to the Westminster bubble may not do me any favours in the hours to come. There's a bunch of yoofs chanting anti-English slogans. The English are basically being equated with Conservatives: "Shove the fucking Tories off their arse." It's xenophobic, plain and simple.
An elderly kilt-wearer who looks like he could still stand up for himself approaches a policeman within earshot of me. He offers to step in and get them to move on. "Please don't," the policeman begs. "You'll only antagonise them."
The sudden appearance of a piper has lit up the crowd in George Square, prompting that kind of old-school dancing which wouldn't be out of place in a 19th century highland jig. I suppose one of the advantages of bagpipes is you can fit most kinds of chanting over the top. Like "no more foodbanks" or "hate the fucking Tories". This is the kind of hope which might not survive too long after independence.
02:22 – Something is beginning to shift in George Square. Those in the middle of the crowd are too busy chanting to be checking their smartphones, but on the fringes the first results from Clackmannanshire are not going down well. There's a rather bleak sense of resignation setting in. One group of Welsh nationalists seem especially despondent. "We hope Scotland will never be the same again."
A bagpiper has appeared to warm up the crowd. And George Square, which is now getting distinctly chilly, is loving it pic.twitter.com/zm9jE32Ahw
— Alex Stevenson (@Alex__Stevenson) September 19, 2014
02:44 – Another No win, in Shetland. It's 5,669 for Yes and 9,951 for No. This is what we expected. But again – there's no sign of a Yes upset.
02:49 – Having spent all night dissing the BBC, the appearance of a TV camera delights the crowd. Most here are just having too much of a good time to care about the early results. But there are some on the fringes who are both inebriated and updated. They're singing: "Fuck you Orkney, we're gonnae get a yes"
03:04 – New result. No has won the Western Isles by 10,544 to 9,195. That's an SNP stronghold – the first place to ever elect an SNP MP. But also, it has to be said, somewhere with a lot of people living there from elsewhere in Britain.
03:10 – I got to the Marriott hotel in Glasgow, where lots of people with English accents are looking relieved, just in time for the Western Isles result. The result, initially read out in Gaelic, was greeted with applause from approximately three people. Then, when it was repeated in English, the unionists gave a huge, huge cheer of triumph. It was, perhaps, the moment the No camp sensed victory.
There is a very different sort of atmosphere here than there is in George Square, that's for sure. It has all the organised feel of a party conference – and is just as sober. There are no bagpipes, only the BBC's referendum programme on the big screen. The police are not required because the Westminster parties behind this campaign are very good at shutting undesirables out. It is nice and warm and they have a buffet, which at this time of night really matters.
03:36 – That's seriously tight: No wins Inverclyde by 27243 to 27349. It's shocking that Yes didn't win that. Their chances of turning things around now look vanishingly thin.
03:41 – It sounds like Salmond has flown out of Aberdeen airport. There's a photo of him looking glum in a car, which speaks volumes.
03:55 – First win of the night for Yes. It's in Dundee and it's emphatic. Some 53,620 votes to 39,880. Good result, but they probably expected better in Dundee, which was their key Yes city. The turnout, interestingly, was quite low, at 79%.
03:58 – Renfrewshire votes No by 62,067 votes to 55,466. Just 25 more results to go. I've had a beer. It's not helping. What happens when you mix beer and coffee? Is it bad things? Because at the moment it seems a really good idea.
04:10 – Here in Glasgow, where turnout was "low" at 75%, it's still not clear who's going to win. One 'No' campaigner I speak to can barely speak. He apologises, explaining he's been up since 5am (23 hours ago). He shakes his head when I tell him about George Square. "They're a bunch of football hooligans," he says, complaining that his city's deprived areas may have been won over by the "bag of sweeties" offered by the nationalists. It's a common 'No' claim. One campaigner from Ayrshire says Alex Salmond has always been "slippery" – despite recognising that this is also a very handy quality when you're a politician.
You don't have to dig too deep to get a sense of frustration from 'No' voters, however. The grassroots campaigners gathered at the Marriott in Glasgow talk about the "arrogance" of its leaders. They complain of disorganisation, too, especially at the local level where they say the grassroots – in contrast to the nationalists – were often let down. One says that if the Yes camp had managed to sort out the currency issue early on, they would be winning tonight.
And then come two quick results. The Dundee shocker, a massive 57% for Yes, is greeted with applause by the No lot. The room appears stunned. "I don't understand why there's so much variation," someone standing next to me mutters. The cheer which follows the No campaign's Renfrewshire victory contains more than a dash of relief.
04:30 – The cheers in Glasgow are coming thick and fast. The first speech of the night, from No ringleader Blair Macdougall, was interrupted several times by big results. Stirling notched up an important win for No. The results were Yes: 25,010 No: 37,153. In East Lothian we saw a safe No win. YES: 27,467 NO: 44,283. First came the bellwether area of Midlothian, which gave Yes 44%, to No's 56%.
And here's another. Massive, massive cheers for Angus, which had been judged as close to call, but ends up being a strong win for No.
In Dumfries and Galloway, which had 106,000 -odd voters, the total number of 'Yes' votes was… 36,000… And I don't hear any more, because of the mayhem. That is a huge win for No. The nationalist cause is collapsing. Yes got just 34%, it turns out.
Next comes East Renfrewshire. There are 'ooohs' whenever the turnout exceeds 90%, as it did here. The result is another big win for No, which prompts more jumping out of chairs and whooping. And the same for East Dunbartonshire. It's all getting a little groundhog-day-ish. In Aberdeen, Yes only managed 41%. There's no going back from here.
04:55 – Glasgow has gone Yes. But it's not enough. The stats are Yes 194,779 (53.5%) and No 169,347 (46.5%) on a turnout of 75.0%. They needed much more to sort their 200,000 deficit. There are a stack of almost-certainly-No areas coming up. It's still technically possible for Yes to win, but for all intents and purposes this is over.
05:04 – It's hard to downplay the full extent of the emotion in the Marriott hotel as this latest round of results comes through. The tension is palpable; and every time it is broken by a No victory the relief is instant – and vocal. The very brief period earlier when it looked like the results might, overall, have been a little closer have long since been dispelled. Now we have a clear-cut situation where independence is being rejected across most of Scotland's 32 electoral areas.
The response to the Glasgow result here was one of stunned silence. It's the biggest setback for the No camp so far, and if it had come at the beginning of the night it might have set off a serious case of the jitters. As it is, everyone can do the maths. The numbers are becoming irresistible. And the relief is setting in. "We wanted to win decisively," one unionist says. They wouldn't have liked 51-49, for example. As it is, they're happy.
Happy people: every No victory is being treated with as much jubilation as the first pic.twitter.com/jFbPseoHmQ
— Alex Stevenson (@Alex__Stevenson) September 19, 2014
05:16 – Even the BBC has called it now. That's as close as we're going to get to an official call. It's basically become mathematicaly impossible for Yes to win.
05:40 – In the midst of the crowd of delighted No campaigners at the Marriott, who have now firmly shifted from nervous anticipation of victory to unabashed gloating, stands a slightly more concerned figure. Keith, from Glasgow, is deeply worried. "This was the easy part," he says. Keith was deeply disappointed by the result in his city, which bodes very badly for Labour in next year's general election. Then there's his concerns about the divisive nature of the contest. "We've lost out on two years of politics – they've just been dominated by this," he continues. His son, who joins the conversation, tells me he was called "scum" for three hours earlier. Also "traitor", and "quisling", and "judas". Despite all this, Keith urges his son that what's needed are efforts to "bring in" the bits of the Yes camp that have always sat on the fringes. "We need to say OK, you had concerns, now we'll address them." He's delighted by the result, but isn't going to let the exuberance of the moment shake his resolve.
05:59 – Edinburgh votes No. It's 194,638 votes to 123,927. No is very close to the point we can say they've formally won.
06:10 – FIfe votes No and that puts Better Together over the line. Fittingly enough, that's Brown's home town. But that's it now – it's official. The Scottish independence referendum is over. Scotland has rejected independence by a significant margin. After two years of campaigning, Great Britain is staying together.
06:18 – Salmond is making a speech, He thanks Scotland for the votes cast for independence. "We know there is going to be a majority for the No campaign." He says Scotland has decided not "at this stage" to become an independent country. "I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit".
06.25 – Alex Salmond is standing in front of a huge TV screen which has the unfortunate effect of making him look like a heavily pixellated avatar. "We shall go forward as one nation," he says in a rather lacklustre fashion before leaving the stage looking glum and frankly knackered.
06.30 – He's lost but the fight goes on. Salmond insisted that "all Scots" will demand the greater powers promised to them by Westminster in recent weeks. We'll get a better sense of whether he'll get his way when the prime minister David Cameron speaks in just over half an hour. Downing Street sources say it will be a "very significant statement" which sets out plans for greater devolution to both Scotland and crucially to England and the rest of the UK.
06.40 – An unmistakenly relieved looking Alistair Darling is now speaking. "The silent have spoken" he says cryptically. He insists the unionist parties will follow through on their commitments for greater devolution and promises to work to heal the divisions the referendum campaign has revealed and widened. He defends the negative nature of the 'no' camapign saying they had to highlight the risks of separation "because those risks were real."
07.10- David Cameron is speaking outside Downing Street "The people of Scotland have spoken and the result is clear," he says adding that a defeat would have broken his heart. He defends his decision to hold a referendum saying it would have been wrong to "duck the big decisions". He says there will be a new "balanced" devolution settlement for all of the UK including England. Draft legislation on Scotland will be pulished by January. "The righs of these voters will be protected, defended and enhanced." He gives the clearest indication that there will be new powers for England. "We have heard the voice of Scotland now the millions of voices of England must be heard."
07.20 – The prospect of English votes for English laws in the Houses of Parliament will now become the big issue. The principle that Scottish MPs should not vote on issues only affecting England and Wales seems unarguable but it could make it very difficult for a Labour government reliant on Scottish seats for its majority (a prospect that stands a good chancein 2015) would struggle to get its agenda through parliament and may even struggle to survive. This is a clear attempt by Cameron to put the pressure back on Labour and Miliband in the aftermath of what has been a bruising few months for the prime minister.
07.25 – Lord Smith of Kelvim will now head a devolution commission to look at new powers for Scotland. So what do we know about him? He's a former banker, BBC governor and current energy chief. It's hard to depict him as anything other than an establishment figure. But he is also well respected by both the SNP and other parties and will have little choice but to recommend significant new powers for Scotland.
07.40 – So how would Cameron's plans to tackle the so-called "West-Lothian" question work? This question has already been examined by the McKay Commission which released their report on the matter in 2013.
They concluded the following:
1. Parliamentary decisions with "a separate and distinct effect for England or for England-and-Wales" should "normally" only be passed with the backing of a majority of MPs for constituencies in England (or England-and-Wales).
2. This would not require a change in the legislation, but could be achieved simply through convention and a resolution of the house.
3. All legislation would need to take this principle into account.
4. It would not be entirely binding. A government could still pass England-only legislation on the back of the votes of Scottish MPs in exceptional circumstances, but only if they believed it was in the wider interests of the UK as a whole. "The right of the House of Commons as a whole to make the final decision should remain. But there should be political accountability for any departure from the norm." McKay found.
These changes would constitute a massive shift in how the UK is governed and is likely to be heavily resisted by the Labour party as it would place huge and possibly terminal restrictions on their powers should they form the next government in 2015.
08.00 – David Cameron's full statement can be read here. Willam Hague is going to chair a cabinet committee on dealing with the West Lothian question. "I hope that is going to take place on a cross-party basis…" he says pointedly.
08.05- What will further devolution mean for London and other big cities? I've spoken to a senior figure in Boris Johnson's administration, who believes that London is set to get big new powers, including tax-raising powers following Cameron's commitment to Scotland. City Hall believe London has as good a case if not better, for greater devolution than Scotland does. Boris and those around him will argue for a share of business rates and a series of other new powers. Johnson has been calling for these for some time, but events in Scotland means he now has a much stronger case to get his way. They expect to join forces with Manchester and other cities to call for these new powers.
08.25 – Cameron's comments about the West Lothian question this morning are both defensive and aggressive. Defensive, because he fears a major rebellion from his own MPs over his pledge to maintain the Barnett formula and extend powers for Scotland. Aggressive, because he hopes that it will put pressure back on Labour to either back English votes for English MPs and therefore nobble themselves in a future government, or refuse and be at odds with a majority of English voters who back such a measure. It's a clever political move, but it is undoubtedly being done from a position of weakness.
08.35 – Not for the first time, David Cameron has narrowly missed a bullet. Whatever his public claims, a vote for Scottish independence would have almost certainly spelled the end of his time in Downing Street. That Scotland voted 'No' yesterday and reasonably decisively will have secured his position for now, but there is no doubt that event of the past few weeks have seriously damaged his standing in the party and the country. He's looked at turns, panicked, indecisive and almost never in control of events. His repeated acknowledgement in recent days and weeks that hatred of what he called the "effing Tories" had fueled the surge for independence has crystallised a sense that the Conservatives are a deeply damaged brand, not just in Scotland, but across the UK. There's unlikely to be any serious move to unseat him before the election, but his chances of leading a united Conservative party to victory in the 2015 election now look significantly worse than they did at the start of the summer.
09.16 – Labour's Johann Lamont giving a less than inspiring speech. "This is a time to savour but not to be triumphalist," she says. This is an understatement. The Better Together campaign won, but the result is not all good news for Labour in Scotland. The party saw huge numbers of their supporters reject their calls to back the union, with much of the shift to 'Yes' in the final weeks coming from current and former Labour supporters. Lamont did not shine during the campaign and there have already been calls to replace her with a more significant national figure, perhaps even a current UK MP such as Jim Murphy or even Gordon Brown at some point.
09.25 – Alistair Darling is up now. He has had a mixed performance during the campaign, widely seen as having won the first TV debate against Alex Salmond there were initially calls for him to be brought back to the Labour front bench. However, his poor performance in the second debate and the resultant surge in support for 'Yes' have damaged him. In the end, it will be his old boss Gordon Brown who will receive the vast majority of credit for the 'No' victory while Darling's role will be largely forgotted.
09.30 – Ed Miliband emerges to thank what he calls "Team Labour" for the result. Like Cameron, Miliband has dodged a bullet with today's result. A 'Yes' victory would have been seriously damaging for his standing in his party and the country and would have raised the prospect of him possibly leading a lame duck government, in the event of a narrow victory in the 2015 general election. However, his troubles are not over. Cameron's moves to tackle the "West Lothian question" (see updates below) are designed to put Miliband and Labour on the spot. He avoids this question, saying only that England and the wider UK should be allowed further devolution and "change" and says Labour will be at the forefront of making that change happen. This is seriously vague. He won't be allowed to continue with this position for too much longer.
09.45 – William Hague has confirmed that the Tories plan to make stripping Scottish MPs of voting powers a key electoral issue in 2015. "I think with further devolution to Scotland it becomes inconceivable to continue to allow Scottish members to vote on everything that is happening in England when as you know English members and indeed Scottish members can’t vote on so much of what is happening in Scotland. That is the heart of the issue," he said, adding that: "Of course if there is no consensus, well then it is something at the general election, the parties will have to stake out their positions, but I think there is a strong view in England among the people of England as well the Conservative party and I think many Liberal Democrats as well."
10.10 – Here's the final results for each Scottish council, ordered by the percentage opting for 'Yes'. Just four of the 32 authorities found a majority voting for independence.
Dundee City – Yes: 57.35% No: 42.65%
West Dunbartonshire -Yes: 53.96% No: 46.04%
Glasgow – Yes: 53.49% No: 46.51%
North Lanarkshire – Yes: 51.07% 48.93%
Inverclyde – Yes: 49.92% No: 50.08%
North Ayrshire – Yes: 48.99% No: 51.01%
East Ayrshire – Yes: 47.22% No: 52.78%
Renfrewshire – Yes: 47.19% No: 52.81%
Highland -Yes: 47.08% No: 52.92%
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – Yes:46.58% No: 53.42%
Falkirk – Yes: 46.53% No: 53.47%
Clackmannanshire – Yes: 46.20% No: 53.80%
South Lanarkshire – Yes: 45.33% No: 54.67%
Fife – Yes: 44.95% No: 55.05%
West Lothian – Yes: 44.82% No 55.18%
Midlothian – Yes: 43.70% No: 56.30%
Angus – Yes: 43.68% 56.32%
Moray – Yes: 42.44% No: 57.56%
South Ayrshire – Yes: 42.13% No: 57.87%
Argyll & Bute – Yes:41.48% No: 58.52%
Aberdeen City – Yes: 41.39% No: 58.61%
Stirling – Yes: 40.23% No:59.77%
Perth & Kinross – Yes: 39.81% No: 60.19%
Aberdeenshire – Yes: 39.64%No: 60.36%
Edinburgh – Yes: 38.90% No:61.10%
East Dunbartonshire Yes: 38.80% No: 61.20%
East Lothian – Yes: 38.28% No: 61.72%
East Renfrewshire – Yes: 36.81% No: 63.19%
Shetland Islands – Yes: 36.29% No: 63.71%
Dumfries & Galloway – Yes: 34.33% No: 65.67%
Scottish Borders – Yes: 33.44% No: 66.56%
Orkney Islands Yes: 32.80% 67.20%
Total – Yes: 55.3% No: 44.7%
10.32 – Lord Ashcroft has released the results of a new poll of how Scots actually voted in the referendum.
The detailed findings are fascinating. Here's three things the poll reveals.
1. 'Yes' lost the referendum, but won the campaign.
Over half (52%) of 'Yes' voters say they decided to vote for independence since the start of the year as opposed to just 28% of 'No' voters.
2. Fear worked
For all the criticism of the 'No' campaign's negativity, it's central messages on the risks of independence appear to have won the day. 57% of 'No' voters named 'the pound' as one of the two or three main reasons they voted to stay in the union. 37% said the same of pensions and 36% said the same of the NHS. When prompted around half (47%) said that risks to the currency, EU membership, the economy, jobs and prices were the most important factors affecting their vote. By contrast patriotism and attachment to the UK was a the main reason for just 27% of 'No voters'. Conversely, fear also appears to have been one of the most effective strategies for 'Yes'. The second most popular reason to vote for independence among 'Yes' voters was the NHS, reflecting claims in the later stage of the independence camapign that continued union would mean the end of a publicly owned NHS.
3. Hatred of 'Westminster' is now endemic.
However, the overwhelmingly biggest reason for people voting 'Yes' was "disaffection with Westminster politics". Three quarters (74%) of independence voters listied this as the most important issue affecting their vote. If Scotland came close to leaving the UK, then this is why. This should deeply worry politicians in Westminster.
11.00 – Devolution used to be seen as a minority and slightly nerdy concern. No longer. The events of the past few weeks has pushed it right up the agenda. A new poll by Comres for ITV reveals widespread support for greater devolution, to individual nations, the cities and the regions. It will also put further pressure on Labour over the West Lothian question and give succour to those like Boris Johnson calling for more powers for London. Here's the full result.
"Not allowing Scottish MPs in the UK Parliament in Westminster to vote on issues that do not impact on Scotland"
Don't know: 24%
"Giving more decision making powers on issues such as tax, education, policing to big cities and regions in England and Wales"
Don't know: 27%
"Setting up an English Parliament for only English MPs"
Don't know: 27%
"Wales holding a referendum on independence"
Don't know: 30%
"London becoming independent from the rest of the UK"
Don't know: 17%
A closer look at the poll crosstabs suggests that 15% of Londoners support the city becoming an independent state, while 66% oppose and 18% don't know. Meanwhile, 25% of Welsh voters support holding an independence referendum, while 52% oppose it. I'm not convinced we should hold our breath for either.
Final summary – Scotland has voted decisively, if not overwhelmingly to remain in the UK. Turnout was the largest ever seen in Scotland and both sides agree that the question of Scottish independence has been settled for a generation if not a lifetime.
But where one question has been answered, many more will now be asked. Calls for greater devolution not just to Scotland but to the rest of the UK are now a major issue facing the country. How that question is answered could change the shape of the UK almost as much as Scottish independence would have done.
Other difficulties also need to be addressed. The independence campaign has exposed widespread dissatisfaction with Westminster, not just in Scotland but within the rest of the UK. Just a few months ago the three party leaders had assumed an easy win in this referendum. The last few weeks have given them an almighty shock. If nothing is done to address the problem of voter alienation across the country, then there are likely to be plenty more shocks for them to come.