Scottish independence: Rivals both say Scots 'better off with us'

 

The UK and Scottish governments are debating whether Scots would be better off under independence

Competing claims about the costs and benefits of Scottish independence have been set out to voters.

The Scottish government said everyone in Scotland would be £1,000 better off a year, in the event of a "Yes" vote in September's independence referendum.

But UK ministers said in their analysis people would benefit from staying in the UK by £1,400 per person, per year.

Each side of the debate also sought to discredit the figures put forward by their opponents.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said the Treasury's calculations had been "blown to smithereens", while Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander accused SNP ministers of offering voters a "bogus bonus".

Independence: Treasury view

Each person in Scotland

£1,400

a year better off in UK

  • 13% more tax needed to maintain independent Scotland public services, or...

  • 11% cut in public services needed to keep current tax levels

  • £1.5bn-£2.7bn estimated cost of restructuring Scotland's institutions

Getty Images

A new Scottish government paper said an independent Scotland would begin life with its public finances in a "strong" position, and could see its economy £5bn per year better off by 2029-30.

Mr Salmond said Scotland was one of the world's wealthiest countries, but needed the powers of independence to realise its full potential.

He told the BBC: "We put forward the benefit over a period of 15 years. We calculate that as each individual in Scotland being £1,000 better off - that's a £5bn bonus, or a family £2,000 better off a year."

The Scottish government paper said:

  • Scotland's finances in 2016-17 will be similar to, or stronger than, both the UK and the G7 industrialised countries as a whole.
  • Scotland's public finances show debt on a downward trajectory, enabling future Scottish governments to start an oil savings fund.
  • Scotland's estimated debt to GDP ratio in 2016-17 is forecast to be lower than the UK's under any potential outcome of negotiation with the UK over public sector assets and liabilities.
  • Scotland's fiscal position between 2008-09 and 2012-13 is estimated to have been worth £8.3bn, equivalent to £1,600 per person.
  • An independent Scotland could see tax income increase by £2,4bn a year by 2029-30, under a predicted 0.3% productivity increase.
  • A 3.3% increase in Scotland's employment rate would move it up to the level of the top five performing countries in the OECD and could increase revenues by £1.3bn a year, by 2029-30.

Independence: Scottish government view

Each person in Scotland

£1,000

a year better off out of UK

  • Onshore tax receipts will be up £5bn by 2030

  • 14% increase in oil and gas production between 2013-18

  • Tax receipts currently 14% higher in Scotland than UK

Getty Images

The first minister said his government's calculations were "based on reason and logic", as he hit out at UK government claims it could cost up to £2.7bn for an independent Scotland to set up the public bodies it needed, which made use of London School of Economics research.

LSE academic Patrick Dunleavy later posted on his Twitter account: "UK Treasury press release on Scotland costs of government badly misrepresents LSE research."

Mr Salmond added: "Danny Alexander's calculations have been blown to smithereens, because the Treasury relied on the work of the LSE professor, Professor Dunleavy, who this morning has accused them of grossly misrepresenting his work."

But Mr Alexander branded the Scottish government's £5bn figure a "bogus bonus", adding: "They're desperately trying to distract attention from that fundamental question, that there simply wouldn't be the same level of resources available for public services if Scotland were independent."

The Treasury published its own paper outlining what the UK government sees as challenges to an independent Scotland, including an ageing population, declining oil revenues and the potential for higher interest rates.

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Scotland in numbers
Scotland's population and age breakdown: Scotland accounted for 8.3% of the UK population (5.3 million) in 2012
  • What is Scotland's population?
  • What is Scotland's share of the national debt?
  • How does pay in Scotland compare with England, Wales and NI?
  • Key stats: Scotland in numbers
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Mr Alexander said: "Today we have shown that, by staying together, Scotland's future will be safer, with stronger finances and a more progressive society.

"Because as a United Kingdom we can pool resources and share risks. It means a UK dividend of £1,400 a year for every man, woman and child in Scotland.

"That dividend is our share of a more prosperous future. It is the money that will pay for better public services and a fairer society."

The Treasury analysis said:

  • Scotland, as part of the UK, was projected to be able to have lower tax or higher spending than under independence. This "UK Dividend" is estimated to be worth £1,400 per person in Scotland in each year from 2016-17 onwards.
  • Under independence, the loss of the UK Dividend would mean £1,400 per year for each Scottish person in higher taxes and lower public spending.
  • The "direct costs" of independence would include higher interest rates for an independent Scottish state to borrow, the net costs of setting up new institutions, and the net costs of funding the Scottish government's White Paper policies (including the potential economic benefits).
  • If the UK debt was split according to population at the end of 2015-16, an independent Scotland would take on debt of about 74% of its GDP, which could reach "unsustainable levels without policy action".
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Treasury graph
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Scottish tax receipts
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ANALYSIS - BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor

What is the £1,400 Union dividend?

Well, the UK Treasury says it's per person and would come into play at the onset of independence. It takes into account higher public spending borne by Scotland alone; lower oil revenues than Scottish government forecasts; a disproportionately ageing population; set-up costs of independence and the net effect of policies in the White Paper, such as a reduction in corporation tax. To counter that, Scotland would benefit from having a geographical share of North Sea oil, rather than having it shared across the UK as a whole.

So, what is the breakdown per head? The first six figures show costs to be added to Scotland's account (hence the plus). The seventh, about oil share, is a cost to be removed from Scotland's account (hence the negative).

  1. Lower UK borrowing +£47
  2. Set-up costs and net effects of Work and Pensions policies avoided +£261
  3. Costs of ageing absorbed across UK +£163
  4. Long term oil decline absorbed across UK +£130
  5. Lower Scottish onshore tax revenues absorbed +£207
  6. Higher public spending in Scotland +£981
  7. Oil revenues shared across UK, rather than geographically -£389

Total added costs: £1,789

Total gain: £389

Net downside: £1,400

And that, according to the UK Treasury, is how you get to the Union Dividend - worse off by £1,400 under independence, or taken the other way, £1,400 better off sticking with the Union.

Read more analysis from Brian Taylor on the two competing economic visions

 

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  • Comment number 1009.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1008.

    The main argument/grevance for independance is that the Scots do not feel represented adequatly at Westminster 52 MP's out of 400 (12% representation). If they join the EU they will have 7 MEP's in 776 about 1% rep. If it happens then the UK will also be weekened and a federal Europe will be one step closer for us all. Do not change the UK change the politics in Westminster. Scotland please stay

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1007.

    the money spent over the last 15 years alone in london and the south east from the Chunnel ,millennium celebrations, Terminal 5, Olympics, Opera houses and Cutty Sark farce and Boris is demanding more, better together i doubt that Danny, better start looking for a new job none of you lot will be welcome in a new Scotland and its politics

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1006.

    Salmond wants Scottish independence for his own legacy the numbers don't stack up. I can't believe anybody in Scotland wants this

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1005.

    As an Englishman Living in Scotland for the past 15 years this is a debate close to my heart. I am British and always will be but the Scottish see themselves as Scottish not British the vote is for if they WANT independence not if they can afford it!. alot of them do!, a fact overlooked by the "london south" I hope its a No vote but if it isnt then so be it!.

 

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  2.  
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  3.  
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  9.  
    00:18: Dumfries awaits

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  12.  
    00:16: Orkney turnout

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  13.  
    00:15: Question time Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    The evidence from throughout Scotland is of a large, indeed a phenomenal, turnout. A series of questions arise from that.

    1. Will this benefit one side or the other?

    That depends upon differential turnout. Is one side or the other feeling more motivated, more inclined to participate? It had been thought that the more motivated side would be Yes. It had been thought this could be worth 1% or 2% in the final tally.

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    Read more questions and answers here.

     
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  15.  
    00:13: Island powers

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  16.  
    00:11: New powers doubt

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  17.  
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    Clackmannanshire packed hall
     
  18.  
    00:09: 'Phenomenal' support Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    Speaking at the Ingliston count, Cat Boyd, of the Radical Independence grassroots campaign, says they had organised buses to get people to polling stations, but found that when she was in Glasgow's Drumchapel area earlier, many people said they'd been out to vote already.

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  19.  
    00:09: 'Uncharted waters'

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    "That's a good sign but we are therefore in uncharted waters."

     
  20.  
    00:07: "Everyone was buzzing" Keir Murray BBC Sport Scotland

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  21.  
    @DMiliband 00:06: Twitter reaction

    Former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband tweets: Wonderful to hear of 80/90 per cent turnouts in #indyref. Scots have taught us all a lesson in democracy.

     
  22.  
    00:02: Devolution debate

    Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael tells the BBC: "It is now for the English to have the debate that we've had in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

    This could mean an English Parliament, city regions or regional assemblies, but it is "not for me to tell them", he adds.

     
  23.  
    00:00: Poll caution

    Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson sounds a note of caution about polls, arguing that opinion pollsters might be the "losers" in the referendum campaign.

    "They haven't had a touch or a feel for Scotland," she tells the BBC. "They've tried to weight it to party politics and it just doesn't work."

    Ruth Davidson
     
  24.  
    23:57: 'Taking part in history' Willie Johnston BBC Scotland

    Counting officer Alex Haswell tells 175 counters in Dumfries they're "taking part in history" #indyref

    Dumfries and Galloway count
     
  25.  
    23:55: Brussels reaction Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

    Flemish nationalists have been on the streets of Brussels putting candles down on the Scottish flag. There is less enthusiasm for independence among EU politicians, however.

     
  26.  
    23:53: Fashion stakes Ian Hamilton BBC Scotland

    Black is clearly in fashion at the North Ayrshire count!

    North Ayrshire
     
  27.  
    23:51: 'Quite staggering'

    SNP MSP Fiona Hyslop told the BBC the people of Scotland had been on a journey.

    She said: "There are people who have voted for the first time, people in their fifties and sixties. The turnout will be something quite staggering.

    "In terms of what that means, politics has changed as a result of the referendum."

     
  28.  
    23:49: Tension in Midlothian

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    Sam Polling
     
  29.  
    23:48: 'Pride and humility'

    Labour MP Douglas Alexander said the story of the early part of the evening was the "enormous turnout".

    "We should all feel both extraordinary pride and a certain humility when it comes to a turnout of this scale because it is literally unprecedented," he said.

    "Predictions at this stage need to be taken with a barrel of salt not just a punch of salt."

     
  30.  
    23:47: Angus count David Currie Reporting Scotland presenter

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  31.  
    23:45: Glasgow count

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    The count at the Emirates Arena
     
  32.  
    23:45: Lifeboat of ballot boxes

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  33.  
    23:44: Labour 'relieved'

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  34.  
    23:43: Midlothian queue

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    Queue of boxes
     
  35.  
    23:42: High postal votes

    The BBC's Laura Bicker reports that 90% of the postal votes have been returned in Edinburgh.

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  36.  
    23:42: England powers

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  37.  
    23:41: Late undecided Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

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  38.  
    23:41: Highest-ever turnout?

    Prof Charlie Jeffery from the University of Edinburgh said if the reports of 90% turnout were correct they would be "record-breaking".

    "The highest ever turnout in Scotland was in Dundee East in 1950 - 88.6%," he said. "The highest Scotland-wide turnout was just over 80% at the UK election in 1951.

    "I think we are going to be above that Scottish record and we may even see some places which exceed that Dundee East record."

     
  39.  
    23:39: Inverclyde count

    All ballot boxes have now arrived for Inverclyde count, more than one hour after the polls closed.

    Ballot boxes
     
  40.  
    23:35: Too feart Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

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  41.  
    23:34: Ballot boxes in the Western Isles

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    If the fog closes in again, Plan B is to take them across the Sound of Harris by fishing boat.

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  42.  
    23:31: Votes at 16

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  43.  
    23:30: Stirling count Reevel Alderson Home affairs correspondent, BBC Scotland

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  44.  
    Murphy: 'Very big No'

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    Jim Murphy MP
     
  45.  
    23:23: Perth and Kinross count Suzanne Allan, BBC Scotland

    One Yes Campaigner said in one part of Perth he counted turnout at 82% - it's usually 35%. He had tears in his eyes.

     
  46.  
    23:22: Postal turnout John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

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  47.  
    23:21: YouGov poll John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

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  48.  
    23:21: Orkney count

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  49.  
    23:18: Falkirk count Fiona Walker, BBC Scotland

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  50.  
    23:18: 'Politics of people'

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  51.  
    23:17: First timers Richard Smith

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    Rachel Falconer and Sean Davidson

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  52.  
    23:17: Great speed

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  53.  
    23:15: Counting on Mary

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  54.  
    23:13: 'Historic judgement'

    Labour MP Douglas Alexander tells the BBC: "We can only welcome the fact that we have come out in our millions to cast our vote".

    He adds that the referendum will be a "historic judgement".

     
  55.  
    23:13: Malcolm Bruce in Aberdeenshire Steven Duff BBC Scotland reporter

    Deputy Lib Dem Leader and Gordon MP Malcolm Bruce tells me he's hopeful Aberdeenshire has voted "No", but admits it is still too close call.

    The turnout in Aberdeenshire is thought to be more 80%.

     
  56.  
    23:09: Sweet tooth Aileen Clarke BBC Scotland

    Are they expecting a long night? Someone is going round offering chocolate to the counters in Glasgow.

    Chocolates for the counters
     
  57.  
    23:06: Be patient... John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    A high turnout in this referendum means, of course, that the votes will take a long time to count. It could be at least 01:00 before the first results are in.

     
  58.  
    23:05: The woman in charge...

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    "There is a big job to be done today but we are ready for it," she told the BBC's Laura Bicker.

    "It seems to have gone very smoothly. It has been very busy. I know that polling has been brisk everywhere but I am not aware of significant queues. I am not aware of any major issues."

    mary pitcaithly
     
  59.  
    23:03: North Lanarkshire count Stuart Dale BBC Scotland

    The first ballot box from Motherwell arrives.

    North Lanarkshire ballot boxes
     
  60.  
    23:03: In the studio

    Jackie Bird is presenting BBC Scotland's results programme, along with Glenn Campbell.

    Jackie Bird
     
  61.  
    23:02: 'On schedule' Sandy Murray BBC Scotland news

    All voting papers have now arrived at Alloa Town Hall. On schedule for an early declaration here.

     
  62.  
    23:00: Edinburgh count Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    Ballot boxes are arriving at the Edinburgh count now.

     
  63.  
    23:00: 'Huge Highland turnout' Craig Anderson BBC Scotland

    "Yes" campaigners in the Highlands say postal votes here so far showing a majority for Better Together.

    But they say that's what they expected and believe the majority of the local authority's 190,782 registered voters will vote "Yes".

    Unofficial estimates of the turnout in the north are "huge" with some polling stations seeing queues of voters before they opened.

     
  64.  
    22:57: Survey reaction Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    At the Ingliston national count, The YouGov survey seems to have intrigued the "No" side. They're, of course, being VERY cautious, but one senior figure in the camp tells me it could be an indication that undecided voters might have gone for "No" - early days yet though.

     
  65.  
    22:57: 'Astonishing' turnout Andrew Marr BBC News

    Indications from the central count at Ingliston are that the turnout has been "astonishingly high".

     
  66.  
    22:56: Stirling count Reevel Alderson BBC Scotland's social affairs correspondent

    Counting has begun in the Albert Halls in Stirling which, until 22:00, was also a polling place.

    The counting officer says 62,400 people were registered to vote.

    A total of 10,845 postal ballots were sent out and by 16:00 95% had been returned.

     
  67.  
    22:54: Watch live

    Don't forget you can watch or listen to the BBC's live television coverage of the results at the top of this page.

     
  68.  
    22:52: Social media stats

    Today on Facebook, an 'I'm Voting' button was displayed to everyone of voting age in Scotland. As of 6pm tonight, the 'I'm Voting' button had appeared in people's newsfeeds more than 2.5 million times since 7am.

    On Twitter, the most re-tweeted tweet on referendum day came from Scottish tennis player Andy Murray, who shared his stance with his 2.7 million followers. That tweet was re-tweeted more than 18,000 times.

     
  69.  
    22:52: YouGov poll

    YouGov president Peter Kellner has been telling Sky News about their final poll of 3,000 people: it shows a 54-46 lead for the No campaign. He said he was now "99% certain" of a "No" vote.

     
  70.  
    22:48: Counters in Lerwick John Johnston BBC News, Shetland

    Shetland counters get ready for the most northern ballot boxes to arrive in Lerwick.

    Counters in Lerwick
     
  71.  
    22:48: Political panel

    SNP MSP Humza Yousaf told the BBC Scotland Decides programme he was "confident" of a victory for the "Yes" campaign.

    Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander said a high turnout could marginally help the "No" campaign.

    Scotland Decides studio
     
  72.  
    22:43: Vote count

    An election official counts votes at the counting centre in Ingliston, Edinburgh.

    Counting votes
     
  73.  
    22:41: Western Isles concern

    The BBC's Angus MacDonald says the plane that will carry the ballot boxes to Stornoway for the Western Isles count has arrived in Benbecula. However, there is a still a fog around the isles and they do not know if the plane will make it to Stornoway. They have a plan to use a ferry if the plane cannot fly.

     
  74.  
    22:39: Fife rumour

    There is talk on Twitter that a number of voters were turned away in Fife.

    In a series of tweets, Fife Council has clarified: Postal voters without their postal packs couldn't vote at polling stations, need to ensure people haven't voted twice. If people hadn't received/had lost their postal vote, they were told they could get another one from Glenrothes today. We've been putting info out online/in press asking anyone who hadn't received their postal votes to contact elections team

     
  75.  
    22:35: On-the-day poll

    A YouGov survey of voters previously polled has just been released. It shows support for "No" at 54%. "Yes" at 46%.

     
  76.  
    22:32: Islands flight

    There were concerns that the count in Stornoway on Lewis could be delayed by fog affecting the plane that was carrying ballot boxes from the other Western Isles.

    It seems the plane is flying so there is no delay expected - but that could change.

     
  77.  
    22:30: On Twitter

    Labour MP Jim Murphy: This is more of a feeling than an #indyref prediction. Today I just sensed a wee bit of movement in our direction. But far too early to call

     
  78.  
    22:29: East Lothian votes

    In East Lothian, they are reporting that at least 94% of postal votes have been returned. Its previous record was 65%.

    The 80% turnout figure for East Lothian does not include postal votes, apparently. The actual figure will be available later.

     
  79.  
    22:27: The Morning After

    This short film was broadcast at the end of the BBC's televised debate at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow where 7,500 16 and 17-year-olds watched a panel of politicians make the Yes/No arguments.

    Hydro poem

    It is a call to come together, whichever way the Scottish independence referendum vote goes.

    Schoolchildren from across Scotland each recite a line from Christine De Luca's poem "The Morning After".

     
  80.  
    22:23: Global interest

    Thousands of people across the globe have tweeted messages of support and encouragement as Scotland awaits the decision.

    interactive map
     
  81.  
    22:23: Highland breakdown

    BBC staff at the Highland count are breathing a sigh of relief after a satellite van, which broke down, finally made it to Dingwall.

    BBC satellite van
     
  82.  
    22:22: Reaction on Twitter

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg: The people of Scotland have cast their votes. I sincerely hope that they remain a part of our family of nations. #indyref

    SNP Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon: So that's that. Polls have closed. What an amazing, emotional, inspirational day of democracy this has been. Now we wait. #indyref

    NPR International Correspondent Ari Shapiro: My fav fun fact about #Scotland #Indyref: The final result that the counting officer reads is legally binding, EVEN IF SHE GETS IT WRONG.

     
  83.  
    22:20: Turning out in numbers

    The word from the returning officer at the East Lothian count is that 65,339 votes have been cast from a registered 81,947, giving a turnout figure of 79.7% for the local authority.

     
  84.  
    22:19: First boxes

    South Lanarkshire - the first boxes have started to arrive from polling stations.

    This is traditionally the area that is quickest to declare when it comes to parliamentary elections. But there will be a lot of counting to do tonight.

     
  85.  
    22:16: Huge turnout John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    Sky are reporting an estimated 90% turnout in Dundee.

     
  86.  
    Facebook/bbcscotlandnews 22:18: Get involved

    Kenny Lowe in East Renfrewshire on Facebook: Just about to step out the door and head for the Scottish Referendum 2014 count. What a feeling of history in the making. Best wishes to all on both sides of the campaign.

     
  87.  
    22:16: Going postal

    At 32 locations across Scotland counting has begun. While they wait for the ballot boxes to arrive from the polling stations, they are counting postal votes. And there are a lot by all accounts.

    Counting begins
     
  88.  
    22:14: What's the time?

    When will we know the result? It is very difficult to predict. The bulk of the local results are expected to come in between 03:00 and 06:00.

     
  89.  
    22:12: Postal votes

    In East Lothian, they are reporting that at least 94% of postal votes have been returned - the authority's previous record was 65%.

    Elsewhere, the Dumfries count reports a 95.5% return rate on postal votes. And there may be some handed into polling stations.

     
  90.  
    22:09: Count under way Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    Counting is getting under way for Edinburgh at the national count centre in Ingliston.

    Postal votes are first, with the first ballot boxes expected to start arriving at about 22:45, we're told.

     
  91.  
    22:03: On-the-day poll John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    YouGov have announced they will release the results of their on-the-day poll at 22:30.

     
  92.  
    22:03: Vote registrations

    There were 4,285,323 people registered to vote - that is about 97% of the possible electorate.

    There were 789,024 postal vote applications, which was the largest volume of registration for postal votes ever in Scotland.

     
  93.  
    22:00: Polls closed

    The polls have now closed at polling places across Scotland. The referendum on Scottish independence is all over bar the counting.

    "Should Scotland be an independent country?" was the questioned answered by voters.

    We should know the verdict of the people of Scotland by breakfast time.

     
  94.  
    21:58: Scotland decides John Mullin BBC referendum editor

    On television, on radio and online, the BBC is mounting its most comprehensive coverage ever of a major political event as Scotland decides. Our correspondents are at every count - all 32 of them - and beyond, to tell the full story of this momentous referendum. And, sometime tomorrow morning, they will deliver the answer that Scottish voters have given to the six-word ballot paper question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

    Before voting began at 7am today the polls told us it was too close to call - at this moment in time it could hardly be more exciting.

    The referendum - which sees 16 and 17 year olds given the vote for the first time - is the culmination of a campaign signalled more than three years ago when the SNP's Alex Salmond was returned again as first minister with an overall majority and on a manifesto pledge to deliver a referendum.

    Prime Minister David Cameron agreed, via the Edinburgh Agreement, but the third option - to vote neither for independence or the status quo but for further devolution - was ruled off the ballot paper.

    Throughout the night, the BBC news website will - on this page - bring you all the key developments, as soon as they happen. And you'll have plenty of reasons to stay with us because we'll have detailed stories, the key moments in pictures and video, analysis and reaction.

     

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