The territorial constitution of the UK has been radically reshaped since the late 1990s and has yet to find a settled equilibrium. The biggest challenge to that equilibrium so far was the referendum on Scottish independence held in September 2014. Although in the end the result was clear, with 55 per cent of Scots opting to remain in the UK versus 45 per cent voting for independence, the debate prompted by the referendum was long, intense and divisive, and the outcome was for a time quite uncertain. The question – ‘Should Scotland be an independent country’ – drew a stark dividing line through complex and nuanced issues. It pitted the UK and Scottish governments, pro- and anti-independence campaigns and, often, friends and families against one another. In doing so it prompted perhaps the most comprehensive popular engagement with a political question the UK has ever seen. Ordinary Scots took political participation to a new level amid formal campaign events on either side of the debate, in countless communitylevel meetings and ultimately in a record electoral turnout in Scotland of over 85 per cent. For many the intensity of the debate energised a political commitment which has extended beyond the referendum and shifted the terrain of Scottish politics, invigorating the Scottish National Party (SNP), the party that pressed for but lost the referendum. It also severely undermined the Labour Party which had dominated Scottish politics for most of the period since the Second World War and had been the biggest player in the victorious anti-independence campaign.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- The United Kingdom after the Scottish Referendum
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number