Everyone now needs to unite and work together to build a better Scotland was the message from the victorious No campaigners after last week’s Referendum.
While the SNP, the main political party behind the push to vote Yes to the independence question, has been left bruised by the result, both locally and nationally, Falkirk Council’s Labour leader urged people to get behind the promised change agenda.
Councillor Craig Martin said: “The No vote was never about the status quo: change is on the way.
“What now needs to happen is everyone gets behind that change so we get what has been promised. All political parties and all walks of life need to unite.
“People who showed they wanted change by voting Yes need to use that momentum to make a massive difference to Scotland.”
In the final days of the campaign – one of the longest in recent history, lasting more than 18 months from the publication of the Referendum Bill in March 2013 – pollsters showed Yes making massive gains.
But on the day, when all the votes had been counted, Mary Pitcaithly, Falkirk Council’s chief executive and Scotland’s Chief Counting Officer, made the historic announcement that 55.3 per cent of the Scottish electorate had voted No and 44.7 per cent voted Yes.
Earlier, at Grangemouth Sports Complex, where the Falkirk area votes were being counted, counting officer Rose Mary Glackin, first revealed there had been an 88.7 per cent turnout locally then, at 4.20 a.m., announced the Yes votes were 50,489 (46.4 per cent) with 58,030 (53.6 per cent) opting for No.
However, the Yes campaigners had realised a few hours earlier that it wasn’t looking as if things were going the way they’d hoped, either here or across the country. And as the first result was announced in Clackmannanshire with a 54 per cent No vote compared to 46 per cent Yes, the die appeared to be set.
As the votes across Scotland’s 32 local authorities came through, the Yes camp was momentarily in the lead when North Lanarkshire’s result came out. But that changed only three minutes later when South Lanarkshire declared. Shortly after 6 a.m. Fife’s vote gave Better Together the votes it required to take it across the finishing line.
Mr Martin added: “The vote was nothing to do with political parties, it was down to people voting with their conscience. If it had been politics, No would have won Glasgow and Dundee and Yes would have won Aberdeen and Angus, but that wasn’t the case.
“We need to move on from the Referendum. For two years, it has been the focus but we now need to get Scotland moving again.”
A disappointed Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, Falkirk Council’s SNP group leader, said: “A record turnout and more than 1.6 million people means Scottish politics will never be the same again.
“The campaign was the most enjoyable I have ever been involved in, with the eve of poll impromptu concert and rally at The Kelpies a personal highlight. Around 1000 people attended at short notice and created a family-friendly atmosphere that contrasted sharply with the scenes from George Square in Glasgow and the mayhem created by supporters of continued Westminster rule.
“The positivity of not only the Yes campaign but the active contribution of the people in the whole process is highlighted by the dramatic increase in SNP membership. We now have a politically active and astute population and thousands of new activists in the Yes side which has to be good for democracy.”