Health experts to argue for Scotland drink price plan

Cut-price alcohol The Scottish Parliament voted to set a 50p minimum price for a unit of alcohol in 2012

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Health professionals say they are stepping up efforts to see alcohol minimum pricing in place in Scotland, with a seminar being held in Brussels.

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) will speak at the event, which will explore Scotland's alcohol policies, on 5 September.

Legislation to introduce a minimum unit price of 50p north of the border, was passed at Holyrood in 2012.

But a legal challenge to the policy has been referred to a European court.

A group led by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and other European wine and spirits producers mounted a legal challenge to the Scottish government's plans, arguing that minimum pricing legislation breaches European law.

'Health case'

The SWA's legal bid was initially rejected by judge Lord Doherty at the Court of Session in Edinburgh last year.

Following an appeal hearing, judges at the court referred the case against the policy to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Scottish ministers have said they are committed to introducing the policy in a bid to address the country's unhealthy relationship with drink.

SHAAP - a partnership of the Scottish Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties and the Royal College of Nursing - has hit out at what is sees as "the continued opposition by global alcohol producers to the implementation of Scotland's alcohol minimum unit pricing (MUP) policy".

Start Quote

Initiatives in place seem to be working - alcohol-related harms and deaths have been falling in Scotland for many years.”

End Quote Rosemary Gallagher Scotch Whisky Association

SHAAP said written opinions from EU member states may be made to the European Court, with the deadline for this being mid-October.

Representatives of the body will head to Brussels to "make the case for health" at the seminar.

The organisation will be joined by industry supporters of the policy, including C&C Group and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).

SHAAP director Eric Carlin said: "We need other member states and the Commission to support or at least not oppose the Scottish policy.

"MUP (minimum unit pricing) is opposed by a consortium of multi-national alcohol producers who, inaccurately, are framing this as a health v industry issue.

"Demonstrating the falseness of this claim, we have speakers from the Scottish alcohol industry who support this policy from an ethical position."

Dr Peter Rice, chair of the body, said a 10% increase in average minimum price in Canada was associated with a 32% drop in alcohol death rates.

"Changes in the price of alcohol are a key determinant in rates of alcohol harm," he said.

"This vitally important health policy will save Scottish lives and it needs to be implemented as a matter of urgency."

'Uneasy relationship'

Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: "The SLTA is delighted to be involved in this very important seminar exploring Scotland's innovative alcohol policies.

"We fully support the most inventive of these, minimum unit pricing, and believe it to be a crucial element in trying to change Scotland's uneasy relationship with alcohol."

SWA spokeswoman Rosemary Gallagher, said: "Initiatives in place seem to be working - alcohol-related harms and deaths have been falling in Scotland for many years.

"It's important to debate the issues to identify the best ways to address the problem of alcohol misuse.

"It's therefore unfortunate that SHAAP continues to call for minimum unit pricing, the legality of which is being considered by the European Court, rather than focusing on steps that have been shown to be effective."

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Scotland Decides: Counting under way

  1. No 49,535
  2. Yes 36,097
After 4 of 32 counts Results in detail

Referendum Live

    tweet @bbcscotlandnews 03:11: Have your say

    Douglas Symon tweets: That result pretty much signifies it'll be no. #indyref

    03:11: Aberdeenshire turnout Simon Cousins, BBC Scotland News

    Aberdeenshire turnout is 87.2%.

    03:10: Dundee evacuation Andrew Anderson BBC Scotland News

    Counting staff evacuated from count for a second time due to another fire alarm...

    Dundee evacuation
    'Subdued' Kenneth Macdonald BBC Scotland Special Correspondent

    The atmosphere at this #indyref #yes party is now subdued to say the least. They'd expected more from Clacks and W Isles.

    03:09: Confirmed turnout figures Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    A flurry of confirmed turnout figures for you:

    East Renfrewshire: 66,021 votes (turnout 90.4%) East Ayrshire: 84,252 votes (turnout 84.5%) Stirling: 62,225 votes (turnout 90.1%) South Ayrshire: 81,715 votes (turnout 86.1%) East Lothian: 71,798 votes (turnout 87.6%) Falkirk: 108,626 votes (turnout 88.7%) Dumfries and Galloway: 106,755 votes (turnout 87.5%) Aberdeen: 143,664 votes (turnout 81.7%) Glasgow: 364,664 votes (turnout 75%) Perth and Kinross: 104,285 votes (turnout 86.9%).

    03:08: Suspected fraud

    Following reports that officials are investigating 10 cases of suspected electoral fraud at polling places in Glasgow, Police Scotland have said any crime would be "appropriately investigated".

    A spokesman added: "Police Scotland takes the safety and security of the independence referendum extremely seriously and is working with partner agencies including local authorities to ensure the integrity of the ballot."

    03:08: North Ayrshire count Ian Hamilton BBC Scotland


    Ian Hamilton

    The room is surprisingly quiet considering the importance of this vote.

    It's not that everyone has gone home, I think it's just the air of expectation here in North Ayrshire. All I can hear is the sound of ballot papers which to me sounds like birds flapping their wings.

    The vote appears to be very tight here and neither are claiming victory yet, we should know more at about 04:00.

    03:07: Aberdeen count Fiona Stalker BBC Scotland reporter

    The latest from Aberdeen is that a declaration could now be before 05:00. The "No" camp say they're "confident".

    03:07: Analysis Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale says it was "clear from the doorsteps" that people wanted more information on the offer of more powers. In short, that means the late restatement of the offer was driven by concern that ground was being lost.

    03:06: Dundee count Andrew Anderson BBC Scotland News

    Dundee count evacuated for a second time due to fire alarm.


    "No" wins by 10,544 to 9,195. That is 53% for "No" against 47% for "Yes".

    Ballot total: 19,758, a turnout 86.2%.

    02:57: 'Amazing turnouts'

    Scottish Education Secretary Mike Russell tweets: Amazing turnouts across Scotland (including a rumoured 100% on Jura) testify to the energising effect of #indyref on all of the country

    02:56: 'Early stage'

    Scotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney is at the count in Perth and Kinross.

    He said: "At this stage it looks as if Better Together is ahead, I would accept that, but we need to wait to see all of the work that is going on on the tables to see exactly how the vote is going to separate between the two counts.

    "I think we have to be really careful about making judgements based on the three declarations that have taken place.

    "The gap between the two positions is about 13,000 votes. These are three relatively small local authority areas. there are much bigger votes to be cast in other parts of the country. It is a very early stage in the night."

    02:54: Highland count Craig Anderson BBC Scotland

    Final ballot boxes for Highland expected imminently. Turnout figures due around 04.00. So far Better Together campaigners are happier with the count. Some glum faces among the "Yes" campaign.

    02:53: Fife count Simon Dedman, BBC Scotland News

    Labour MP Thomas Docherty tells the BBC he is confident "No" has won in Fife.

    02:51: Moray count

    The Moray vote count started after 02:00 - two hours later than expected. Click here for more updates on Moray.

    Moray votes
    02:50: 'Two year campaign'

    Musician and independence campaigner Ricky Ross agrees it is too early to predict a final result.

    "This has been a two year campaign. Let's not concertina the end!" he jokes.

    02:49: Murphy 'delighted'

    Labour MP Jim Murphy tells the BBC he is "delighted with the turnout" and the involvement of 16 and 17-year-olds in the vote. He says the "it's too early to say" what the final result will be.

    02:48: First three results Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    The first three results are a hat-trick for the Better Together side but they are three of the smallest council areas in Scotland.

    In terms of Shetland, they weren't notably keen on devolution in the first place, so it is no great surprise that they are not exactly giving a resounding endorsement to the concept of independence.

    Of the three results, of course, the Clackmannanshire result is far and away the most significant in that it was an area that perhaps should have been doing rather better for the "Yes" side.

    Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    One of those attending the Edinburgh count tonight is Benny Wenda, leader of the West Papua independence movement, who's currently living in exile in Oxford.

    He says he's here to send a message to the Indonesian government that it is possible to have a constitutional debate in a peaceful and democratic manner, as Scotland has done, rather than through violence. Benny's getting on TV a fair bit this evening, thanks in part to his extremely fetching headgear.

    Benny Wenda

    "No" wins by 9,951 votes to 5,669. That is a vote share of 64% for "No" and 36% for "Yes". The turnout was 15,620.

    02:43: Falkirk count Fiona Walker BBC Scotland

    "No" now confident of comfortable Falkirk win. "Yes" still think they could be in with a chance. Too close to call they say.

    02:42: Glasgow turnout

    SNP MSP John Mason tweets: 75% turnout in Glasgow. Twice turnout of 37% when I was elected in 2011. Congratulations to the electorate whatever the result.

    02:40: Edinburgh forecast Laura Maxwell, BBC Radio Scotland

    A senior figure in the Better Together campaign tells me Edinburgh is about 60%-40% for "No".

    02:38: Fife count Lisa Summers BBC Scotland

    What they are saying here is that it is too early to say with any certainty.

    On behalf of the "No" campaign, Thomas Docherty, the MP for Dunfermline, says he is fairly confident everything is going in their favour and it looks as if Fife will vote "No" this evening.

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    02:38: 'Politically aware'

    East Renfrewshire Labour MSP Ken McIntosh said of the area's 90.4% turnout: "East Ren has got a very good record of high results. I think we had the highest turnout at the EU election, the highest turnout at the last UK general election.

    "We have got a very politically aware constituency and I think people are very concerned about their children's future and they have exercised that democratic right at the ballot box."

    02:36: Western Isles turnout Catriona MacLean, BBC Scotland

    Western Isles turnout was 19,758 votes, which was 86.2%.

    02:33: Social media

    Nearly 83,000 tweets about the referendum were sent between 01:00 and 02:00 - down 16% on the previous hour.

    Many of the top tweets are about the Clackmannanshire "No" vote result. The most shared - retweeted over 2,000 times - came from @BBCBreaking.

    The most influential account in the last hour has been Scottish actress Karen Gillan, who tweeted: "Thanks everyone! I am now watching the results! Good luck Scotland xxx"

    Join the conversation via #indyref, tweet @BBCPolitics or @bbcscotlandnews, or go to the BBC News Facebook page.

    02:33: West Dunbartonshire count

    A "No" team photo shows the mood in the Playdrome. See here for more updates on West Dunbartonshire.

    No's in West Dunbartonshire
    02:26: Stirling count Reevel Alderson Home affairs correspondent, BBC Scotland

    Johanna Boyd, Labour leader of Stirling Council has predicted a victory for "No" in the area - greater than the 54% recorded in neighbouring Clackmannanshire.

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    02:25: Edinburgh count Laura Bicker BBC Referendum Correspondent

    This is quite a hefty count to go through so it could be 05:00 before we get the result. There are a few worried faces within the "Yes" camp.

    I have spoken to a few people here who believe it could be as much as 60% for "No" and 40% for "Yes".

    @jimmurphymp 02:21: Jim Murphy

    Labour's Jim Murphy tweets: Looks like a very big win for No in our local authority of East Renfrewshire on over 90% turnout.

    02:21: Argyll & Bute helicopters

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    Helicopter ballot boxes
    02:20: Close in Inverclyde Sally McNair Reporter, BBC Scotland

    The turnout is 87%, which is quite phenomenal for this area. The vote is neck and neck and could come to the last vote here.

    The "Yes" campaign were more confident earlier in the evening but they are perhaps less ebullient now. They have been fighting for every vote and it appears to be very close here.

    02:15: Perth & Kinross count

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    Police in Perth
    02:13: Convincing win Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    A very convincing win for "No" in Orkney - no surprise there, as it's solid Liberal Democrat country. There were two spoiled ballot papers.

    02:11: North Ayrshire turnout

    Turnout was 84.4% in North Ayrshire.

    02:11: 100-year-old voter Laura Maxwell, BBC Scotland

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    02:10: 'Remarkable' turnout Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    The high voter turnout is becoming one of the stories of the evening so far at the Ingliston central count.

    Lib Dem peer Lord Wallace says the 83% turnout in his former Orkney constituency is "remarkable", given turnout at elections there never really got above about 67%.

    02:09: Scottish Borders turnout Morag Kinniburgh, BBC Scotland News

    Scottish Borders turnout is 87.4%.

    02:08: Orkney analysis John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    This is probably one of the toughest council areas for the "Yes" side thus we should not be surprised if the council reports a very substantial "No" lead here.

    This is exactly what has transpired with "Yes" winning less than a third of the vote. We should probably avoid reading too much into this given the count of the area.

    02:07: Falkirk count Fiona Walker BBC Scotland

    Both sides say it's neck and neck in Falkirk. Both still smiling...

    02:07: Dumfries turnout

    Turnout in Dumfries and Galloway was 87.5%.

    02:04: 'Utter cynicism'

    Conservative peer and former Scotland Secretary Lord Forsyth tells the BBC: "The political class really ought to take a lesson from this referendum campaign because the one thing that came over on the doorsteps was utter cynicism about the political class."

    02:04: ORKNEY RESULT

    "No" wins by 10,004 to 4,883, or 67% to 33%.

    There was a turnout of 83.7%

    02:02: East Dunbartonshire John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    Another middle class area that commonly has a relatively high turnout has again repeated past patterns by emerging with no less than a 91% turnout. This is the highest turnout so far.

    02:01: Eilean Siar count Catriona Maclennan BBC Scotland

    Counting of the ballot papers from the Southern Isles now in full swing. Updated estimated time of declaration for the Western Isles is now 02:30. See here for more updates on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

    Southern Isles
    02:01: Turnout analysis John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    So far the differences between councils in their level of turnout is very similar to that which was evident in the May European elections.

    Thus, although the turnout is typically more than 50 points up on the turnout in May, it looks as though the places with a relatively high turnout in this referendum are going to be the same kinds of places that usually have a relatively high turnout.

    This casts doubt on claims that the "Yes" side has been successful in mobilising voters who do not normally come to the polls.

    02:00: It's big

    Turnout for this trip to the ballot box has been huge - from Glasgow at 75% to East Dunbartonshire at 91%, and East Renfrewshire and Stirling at more than 90%.

    This most certainly defies the trend of recent years. Study the figures in this picture.

    Datapic on turnout
    01:59: Perth and Kinross turnout Suzanne Allan, BBC Scotland News

    The turnout for Perth and Kinross is 86.9% - 104,285 votes cast.

    01:57: Falkirk turnout

    Falkirk turnout is 88.7%.

    01:57: More turnout figures Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    More turnout figures for you. West Lothian: 119,115 votes (86.2% turnout) Midlothian: 60,396 votes (86.8% turnout) Shetland: 15,635 votes (84.4% turnout) and Angus: 80,300 votes (85.7% turnout).

    01:56: City turnout lower John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    Aberdeen has reported a turnout of 82%. This is the third Scottish city to report a lower turnout than much of more rural and suburban Scotland.

    01:56: East Dunbartonshire turnout Sharyn Fleming

    The East Dunbartonshire turnout figure has been confirmed at 91%, with 79,011 votes cast.

    01:56: Alex Salmond clarification

    BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson: Aides to @AlexSalmond insist that he has not cancelled appearance at his count. They say he was not going in the first place

    01:55: South Lanarkshire turnout Catriona Renton, BBC Scotland News

    South Lanarkshire turnout is 85.3%, with 22,2937 votes cast.

    01:55: Shetland turnout Daniel Lawson, BBC Scotland News

    Shetland turnout is confirmed as 84.4%, with 15,635 votes cast.

    01:54: Glasgow's lower turnout John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    At 75% the turnout in Glasgow is markedly lower than elsewhere and appears to be fitting in a pattern whereby the turnout in Scotland's cities is lower than the rest of Scotland. Given the "Yes" side's hopes of doing well in the city this will come as a disappointment to them.

    01:53: Glasgow turnout Gillian Sharpe, BBC Scotland News

    The Glasgow turnout is 75%.

    01:53: West Lothian No? Alexandra MacKenzie BBC News

    We are hearing early and unofficial talk from the "Yes" camp that they have lost the count in West Lothian. They are telling us it is 45% for Yes.

    01:51: Get involved

    There have been nearly 94,000 tweets about the referendum sent between midnight and 01:00, down 18% on the previous hour.

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    The most shared tweet came from Sky News over the alleged electoral fraud which was retweeted 1,246 times.

    The most influential account in the last hour was that of Scottish entrepreneur Michelle Mone who tweeted asking who was staying up all night.

    You can join the conversation via the #indyref hashtag, tweet @BBCPolitics or go to the BBC News Facebook pageg

    01:50: South Ayrshire turnout Alasdair Lamont, BBC Scotland News

    South Ayrshire turnout is 86.1%, with 81,716 votes cast.

    01:49: South Lanarkshire count Catriona Renton BBC Scotland

    TV turned off in foyer after noisy reaction to Clackmannanshire declaration.

    01:47: Stirling turnout

    Stirling turnout is 90.1%.

    01:47: Angus turnout David Currie Reporting Scotland presenter

    Angus turnout is 85.7% and the total number of votes cast is 80,300.

    01:46: East Renfrewshire turnout Jane Lewis, BBC Scotland News

    The turnout at East Renfrewshire is 90.4% - total votes to be counted are 66,021.

    01:46: Record turnout 'probable' John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    Angus has reported a turnout of 86% in what, of course, is one of the SNP's strongest areas.

    On the basis of the results in so far, there is now a very high probability that the turnout will be higher than the record highest turnout in Scotland of 81% in the 1951 election.

    01:44: West Lothian prediction Alison Macdonald BBC Scotland

    The SNP council group leader in West Lothian is predicting a "Yes" loss to "No". Peter Johnson says they think "No" will get 53% and "Yes" 47%.

    01:43: Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    So it's a special congratulations to the 7 people in Clackmannanshire who voted both 'yes' and 'no'.

    01:42: South Ayrshire turnout

    81,716 votes have been cast in South Ayrshire, representing 86.1% of the electorate.

    01:41: Dundee count back on Andrew Anderson BBC Scotland News

    Counting staff now re-entering building after the count suspended due to a fire alarm. Building evacuated for 10 minutes.

    01:40: Clackmannanshire win Jamie McIvor BBC Scotland correspondent

    Better Together celebrates winning Clackmannanshire.

    BT celebrates
    01:40: Midlothian turnout Carol Purcell, BBC Scotland News

    Midlothian turnout is 86.8%, with 60,396 ballot papers.

    01:39: Analysis Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    Gordon Wilson, the former SNP leader, says it is beginning to look as if No might win the day. Not, he stresses, that he is conceding. Based upon the opening result from Clackmannanshire which, he said, was a disappointing outcome. The result there, of course, 54% to No, 46% for Yes.

    01:38: More turnout news

    Midlothian has reported yet another very large turnout, with more than 87% of the electorate having cast a ballot.

    The Angus turnout is 85.7% and East Ayrshire is 84.5%.

    01:36: Ballots found Aileen Clarke BBC Scotland

    All ten ballot papers at centre of police electoral fraud investigation in Glasgow have been found and will be passed to Police Scotland

    01:34: Caution from Curtice John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    Clackmannanshire is a relatively small part of Scotland and we should not place too much weight on the result.

    01:34: Wee county news

    Former Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell said he felt earlier in the week that Clackmannanshire would be good news for Better Together.

    01:33: Curran 'pleased'

    Labour MP and shadow Scotland secretary Margaret Curran says she is pleased with the "No" vote in Clackmannanshire.

    It is "perhaps indicative" of a better night than she expected, she adds cautiously.

    01:33: Clackmannanshire result Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    I would say this a disappointment for the "Yes" side. Not that they would have expected to sweep to victory but they would have expected to do better than that.

    01:31: 54-46 for 'No'

    The Clackmannanshire result means "No" wins by 54% to 46%.

    01:31: Dundee evacuation update Andrew Anderson BBC Scotland News

    Dundee counting staff outside count. Building evacuated due to fire alarm.

    Dundee evacuation

    "No" wins by 19,036 to 16,350. The total number of ballots was 35,410, a turnout of 88.6%.

    01:29: 'Influence will vanish' Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    Gordon Wilson, the former leader of the SNP, says that in the event of a "No" vote Scotland's influence will vanish into the sand.

    Mr Wilson voiced substantial scepticism as to whether the response of the UK establishment in such an eventuality would be radical.

    If it is indeed a "No" vote, the focus - or one focus - would be upon that offer of more powers. I stress, if...

    01:28: Dundee turnout

    Dundee turnout is 79%, with 93,558 votes cast.

    01:27: Dumfries & Galloway count Willie Johnston BBC Scotland

    Better Together confident of "No" vote in Dumfries and Galloway. Some activists saying it could be two to one in their favour.

    01:27: Dundee evacuation

    The Dundee count is being evacuated because of a fire alarm.

    01:27: 'Positive vibes' Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    The chairman of the official campaign for independence, Dennis Canavan, seems in good spirits at the Ingliston national count centre, saying he's "hopeful" of a good "Yes" result.

    The former Labour MP, who's been trying to convince disenfranchised Labour members to back independence, was in his old Falkirk stomping ground today, where he says he picked up "very positive vibes".

    01:26: Northern Isles John Curtice Professor of politics at Strathclyde University

    The turn out in Shetland is, like Orkney, somewhat lower than elsewhere and standing at 84%. Shetland is also an area where the "No" side is expected to do relatively well.

    01:25: Stirling count Reevel Alderson Home affairs correspondent, BBC Scotland

    I have to tell you among the "Yes" campaign there are some fairly glum faces awaiting the result that we expect about 03:00.

    01:24: Dundee turnout disappointment

    Yes campaigner and former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars admits he is disappointed by the relatively low turnout figure in Dundee, which is predicted to be a Yes stronghold. He says it causes a "degree of worry" for the Yes campaign.

    01:23: High flyers

    Argyll and Bute Council ballot papers were taken by helicopter to to be counted in Lochgilphead.

    ballot papers going into helicopter
    01:23: Clackmannanshire count Jamie McIvor BBC Scotland correspondent

    Clackmannanshire result due in five minutes. Magic number for the winning side will be 17,705.

    Better Together campaigners in Alloa looking relaxed.


    Alan Roden of the Scottish Daily Mail tweets: #indyref intelligence: No slightly behind in W. Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde, neck-and-neck in N. Lanarkshire, well ahead in S. Lanarkshire

    01:21: Orkney vote

    Dave Grey in Orkney is now saying the result will be declared before 02:00.

    He said: "The Better Together campaigners are looking happier. The seat has been Liberal or Liberal Democrat for as long as I have been alive so for the Yes campaign to take Orkney would be a bit of a coup."

    01:20: Perth & Kinross count Suzanne Allan BBC Scotland

    Perth and Kinross Council have had 600 commemorative pin badges made to hand out to staff in thanks for working on the referendum.

    01:20: West Lothian turnout Alison MacDonald, BBC Scotland News

    Official turnout for West Lothian is 86.2%.

    01:19: First to declare

    Clackmannanshire and Orkney are both expected to declare within the next 15 minutes. Who will be first?

    01:18: Glasgow hotel Eleanor Bradford BBC Scotland Health Correspondent

    I'm with the Better Together campaign at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow - they are looking increasingly confident.

    01:16: More turnout figures Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    Some more turnout figures for you: Renfrewshire saw 117,612 votes with an 87.3% turnout. Inverclyde: 54,601 votes with an 87.4% turnout, West Dunbartonshire: 62,532 votes, with turnout at 87.9% and Dundee: 93,592 votes with turnout at 78.8%.



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