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.

line
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?"

line
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

line
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

line
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.

line
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.

line
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.

line
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

RSS

Referendum Live

  1.  
    08:20: Morning Call Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    Coming up, have you seen or heard anything specific which has helped you decide how you are going to vote in the referendum?

    From the economy to health, from business to currency, let's have your questions and your comments.

    Louise White

    Lines are open now - call 0500 929500 text 80295 or email .

     
  2.  
    08:11: Tim Reid Political correspondent, BBC News

    Darling: "What you have is an undertaking. A promise. That if we say no to independence we will get the change most people want"

     
  3.  
    08:10: Tim Reid Political correspondent, BBC News

    Darling struggling to explain how pro union parties can "guarantee" powers other than "will be an awful lot quicker" than independence.

     
  4.  
    08:06: Salmond coming up...

    First Minister Alex Salmond will be speaking to Good Morning Scotland after 08:30.

    You can listen to the programme at the top of this page.

     
  5.  
    08:05: 'Energised and divided'

    Speaking about the nature of the campaign, Douglas Alexander said: "This campaign has both energised Scotland and it has divided Scotland. There's a heavy burden of responsibility on everyone involved in this campaign to conduct ourselves in a manner that means on Friday morning, whatever the result, we can bring Scotland together and we can move Scotland forward. I hope that is an approach that will be taken by everybody."

    yes/no
     
  6.  
    08:04: More Darling

    Mr Darling told BBC Scotland: "You can have a stronger, more secure Scottish Parliament.

    "Why on earth break up the entire thing? If we vote to leave, if it all goes wrong, we can't go back."

     
  7.  
    08:03: Guardian poll

    More than six out of 10 people in England and Wales believe the UK government should not enter into a currency union with an independent Scotland, according to a poll in the Guardian.

    Scottish notes

    The poll also finds that 56% of those who responded would be "saddened" if Scotland votes to be independent.

     
  8.  
    07:55: 'One-party state'

    Labour MP Douglas Alexander has dismissed Yes campaign claims that independence is the only way to get the government Scotland votes for.

    On BBC Breakfast he said: "I've got two governments that I didn't vote for and didn't support. I've got a Scottish National Party government in Edinburgh and I've got a Conservative-Liberal government in Westminster. So the only way you always get the government you vote for is in a one-party state and I don't think anybody is recommending that."

     
  9.  
    07:53: Darling on the NHS

    Alistair Darling, campaign leader of Better Together, has been speaking about the NHS this morning.

    He told Good Morning Scotland: "What we are saying is if we vote No, work will start on Friday morning on increased powers, particularly to raise additional funds.

    Alistair Darling

    "You can have a stronger more secure health service if we vote No.

    "The Scottish Parliament has the power to spend money, it will have the power to raise additional money, it can borrow more."

     
  10.  
    07:51: 'Massive opportunity'

    Ms Sturgeon added: "They [the pro-Union parties] are treating voters in Scotland with contempt."

    Asked how a "Yes" vote guarantee "better lives" for people in Scotland, she replied: "Independence is not a magic want, but it is a massive opportunity.

    "We can make life better, not overnight, but over time."

     
  11.  
    07:49: Sturgeon: 'No guarantees'

    Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been responding to the offer of new powers put forward by the pro-Union parties.

    Nicola Sturgeon

    Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Ms Sturgeon said: "If there was a serious intention to deliver more powers, why hasn't that happened before now?

    "Tory MPs, including Christopher Chope, have already said they would block more powers. If we vote No, there are no guarantees at all."

     
  12.  
    07:39: 'Faster change'

    Asked if the move smacks of panic, Mr Alexander told BBC Breakfast: "I don't think there's any embarrassment about placing policies on the front page of papers with just days two go.

    "I think the 'Yes' campaign are struggling. They had an avalanche of facts engulfed in assertions last week when it was announced every major Scottish bank would move their registered office to London.

    "The economic risks suddenly became very real last week, and at the same time we are offering what I believe most of us here in Scotland want which is faster, safer and better change."

     
  13.  
    07:35: More Alexander

    "That pledge, that vow that we can have faster, safer, better change is actually a vision around which Scotland can unite," he adds.

     
  14.  
    07:34: 'Best of both worlds'

    Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander has denied the powers pledge made by the pro-Union parties has come too late in the referendum debate.

    douglas alexander

    Mr Alexander told the BBC: "Here in Scotland, we have been talking about these powers for many months. What we are saying today is we can have the best of both worlds. We can have a stronger Scottish parliament but with the strength, stability and security of the United Kingdom."

     
  15.  
    Text 80295 07:34: Your views

    Frank, Helensburgh: The party leaders DO NOT have the powers to give away extra powers to the Scots

    J S Crieff: Vote no for stability not this daft idea of independence.

     
  16.  
    07:32: Yes response

    The Yes campaign claims the offer of further devolution signed up to by the leaders of all three main Westminster parties would give Scotland the power to raise only 30% of its taxes.

     
  17.  
    07:24: SNP chief executive Peter Murrell

    tweets: Promises Promises #Rattled

    Cameron and Miliband
     
  18.  
    07:19: Too late? Iain Watson Political correspondent, BBC News

    The problem all along, and this is what people would tell you privately in the "No" campaign, is that there is a very sharp argument between independence and all the risks it brings and staying with the UK.

    What they didn't do early enough, some of them would say, is put forward the alternative. They came up with a phrase which they used back in June when they said '"No" doesn't mean no change'. But they weren't clear what the change would actually be.

    Now they are emphasising it, now it's on the front page of a tabloid and some people think perhaps they've left this a little bit too late. And certainly it's quite difficult if you're using complicated arguments to get through to people who are first time voters, 16-year-olds, who have never voted in their life before.

     
  19.  
    Email: talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk 07:15: Get involved

    Everybody's talking about it...

    We want to hear your thoughts on the referendum itself, and the two campaigns. Tweet us using #bbcindyref, email us here or text 80295.

    If you are texting, don't forget to include your name and where you come from.

     
  20.  
    07:09: Media village Emma Ailes BBC Scotland

    With the referendum just two days away, the world's media is intensifying its gaze on Scotland.

    Media village

    At the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, preparations are under way to host hundreds of journalists and news crews from around the globe.

    A broadcast village with flood lights and scaffolding two storeys high has been erected in the grounds around Holyrood. From here, reporters will broadcast live.

     
  21.  
    06:57: 'Adds intensity'

    Calum Kerr, of Yes Scotland Borders, told Good Morning Scotland: "Bit by bit I have become massively involved. It's people that have never been interested in politics, they see a genuine opportunity for change.

    "It's a different challenge here, the proximity of the border adds an intensity.

    "A girl said we rely on England - the Morrisons is just across the border. You will still be able to go there."

     
  22.  
    06:49: On the campaign trail

    Scotland's desire for political and economic change has been heard and will be delivered, Ed Miliband will promise today.

    The Labour leader will insist a "vote for 'No' is a vote for change".

    Meanwhile, rival campaigners will argue independence would bring either a "golden opportunity" or "separation and risk".

    With just 48 hours until voters go to the polls, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Secretary John Swinney will be talking to apprentices in Renfrew.

    Liberal Democrat MPs Charles Kennedy and Danny Alexander will be joined by MSP Willie Rennie to highlight "the positive things that Scotland and the UK have achieved together".

    Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander will be campaigning in Edinburgh's financial district.

     
  23.  
    06:42: Border line

    Good Morning Scotland has been speaking to campaigners in the Scottish Borders on both sides of the independence debate.

    Michelle Ballantye, for Better Together, told BBC Scotland: "I think it's a bit of a nonsense we need to be independent to be fairer.

    "I think the Borders has a strong sense of being part of the UK. Our sense of connection is very strong."

     
  24.  
    06:25: Leaders pledge more powers

    The leaders of the three main Westminster parties have signed a pledge to devolve more powers to Scotland if there's a No vote.

    The pledge has been signed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and appears on the front of the Daily Record newspaper.

    Daily Record

    It includes promises of "extensive new powers" for the Scottish Parliament.

    Prime Minister David Cameron has denied the move is a panic measure.

    He said: "I always said right from the start of this campaign, if Scotland voted 'No' to separation, the rest of the United Kingdom would say 'Yes' to further devolution.

    david cameron, ed miliband and nick clegg

    "If Scotland wants more devolution - and I think Scotland should have more devolution - you have to answer the prior question 'Do you want to stay in the United Kingdom?'

    "And of course that wasn't just my view; that was the view of the leaders of other United Kingdom parties who all thought it was important. Let's settle the question of separation and then look at devolution."

     
  25.  
    06:13: Good Morning Marianne Taylor BBC Scotland news

    Good morning and welcome to Referendum Live, your minute-by-minute guide to all today's news, comment and analysis from both sides of the campaign.

    With just two full days of campaigning left, and with the polls so close, the stakes couldn't be higher.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.