Christianity Today Reports – It was a closely fought campaign to the end but on the night, Scots affirmed their desire to remain within the UK by a consistent margin.
Key areas like Glasgow and Dundee voted Yes as they had been expected to, but the victories were not substantial enough to turn back the tide of No votes across the 32 council areas. Edinburgh was a hefty 61 per cent against independence, a predicted No vote.
There were some surprises for both sides, with historically pro-SNP areas like Perth and Kinross voting No.
The turnout was consistently high, on average 85 per cent across the 32 local authorities. In the end, 45 per cent of Scots (1.6 million) voted Yes and 55 per cent (2 million) voted No.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond was greeted with rousing applause by Yes supporters as he took to the podium to deliver his first speech following defeat.
An emotional Salmond said British politics “won’t be allowed to go back to business as usual” after a significant 1.5 million Scots voted in favour of independence.
He reminded UK party leaders of their promise to devolve more powers to Scotland, saying, “Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course.”
“I pledge to work constructively in the interests of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom,” he said.
As it became apparent in the early hours of Friday morning that the vote was heading towards a No, Nicola Sturgeon had admitted to feeling “deeply disappointed” but also “exhilarated” by the referendum campaign and the high level of engagement by the Scottish people.
“The status quo hasn’t got any kind of endorsement tonight,” she told the BBC.
“People should not lose a sense of what has happened in Scotland over the last few weeks … We need to pick ourselves up and move on. That appetite for change is there, that demand for change is there, and it is our responsibility to make sure that demand is met.”
The focus has quickly shifted to the response from the UK party leaders and their pledge to give more powers to Scotland. Income tax, VAT and benefits are some of the areas that could be affected by further devolution.
Although Scotland has decided to stay, huge changes are set to come in across the UK as a result of the historic vote, with questions abounding about changes at Westminster and the decentralisation of powers across other regions, taking the UK towards a federal model.
As the conversations – and negotiations – over the future of Scotland and the rest of the UK begin in earnest, churches are focusing on reconciliation after months of intensive and often heated campaigning.
Source : Christianity Today