23.00 This is Paul Goodman blogging every half hour or so. The sum so far is that both Yes and No are claiming that they’ve won – but No seems more confident; those who have called the result so far have called it for No; a final YouGov poll – not, please note, an exit poll – shows No ahead by 54 per cent to 46 per cent. Over on Newsnight, Brian Binley has broken cover and said that in the event of a Yes vote “The Prime Minister needs to consider his situation very seriously.” 23.30 Steve Fisher of Oxford University lists, as in our 11.30 report, some of the councils which will declare relatively early and give us a steer. East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire and West Lothian are all “are all expected to declare their results before Glasgow and Edinburgh, they are likely to be announced with most others, perhaps between 3 and 4am…If these councils all have a majority for Yes then the overall result is likely to be Yes.” 00.00 This evening’s coverage is a reminder that BBC is a lumbering dinosaur in the lightning-quick Twitter Age. Andrew Marr is chatting away to Alistair Carmichael as I write about the abstractions of constitutional reform, while over on Twitter a mass of journalists (such as James Chapman, the Political Editor of the Daily Mail, and James Kirkup, the Executive Editor Politics over at the Telegraph, seem close to calling it for No – actually, James more than close: see above. 00.30 Over on Tweetminster, most Conservative MPs are keeping their heads down. But the tweet above in our midnight extract from Jake Berry is very telling. Tory MPs want more powers for Scotland balanced with more powers for England – and no nonsense about the Barnett Formula continuing. Even in the event of a No vote, Cameron will have his work cut out tomorrow morning to mollify an Party whose emotions are ranging from concern to anger – left, right and centre. 1.00 If it turns out to be Yes now, the entire Westminster Village will have egg all over its walls. If North Lanarkshire – which is expected to declare early and was also expected to lean Yes – votes No, the steady flow of pundits claiming that No has won looks to become a rush. Peter Kellner of YouGov has already declared that he is 99 per cent confident that No will win, on the basis of the poll taken today by the organisation which I wrote up earlier. 1.30 Let’s mull over Sarah Smith’s view above – that even a No vote this evening will worry Labour. It seems to me that this is right, and that such a result would leave Ed Miliband in very serious trouble in both England and Scotland. In England, because the devolution to it that would accompany more devolution to Scotland would end Labour’s electoral advantage south of the border. And in Scotland, because the SNP would be poised to punish Miliband for any backsliding on Barnett or powers. 2.00 The Clackmannanshire results looks very bad for Yes, although David Maddox of the Scotsman has tweeted that it may still win in North Lanarkshire and West Dumbartonshire. It really isn’t all over until the big city results come in a bit later, but the reports coming in on Twitter via No Campaign sources look more and more optimistic. By the way, if Aberdeenshire goes No, Henry Hill’s point that many SNP voters are Unionists, who only vote for Salmond’s party to keep Labour out, will be well made. 2.30 Some questions if it’s a decisive No – say the YouGov margin of 54/46 or larger. Was the No vote underestimated all along? If so, was the Cameron “Vow” to Scotland – the consequences of which look to alter the constitution radically – necessary in the first place? If not, how will the Prime Minister now square the different constituencies he has to please? And here’s another: did the wilder nationalist fringe frighten off floating voters – or were they closet Noes all along? 3.00 Orkney and Shetland has gone No. And Michael Gove is on television – emerging from the claustral silence traditionally associate with Chief Whips, but which will clearly not be a feature of his tenure in the post – to hint at English votes for English laws and play down any suggestion of an English Parliament (and, presumably, English Ministers). If that’s the line tomorrow, it won’t go down well with a significant proportion of Conservative MPs. 3.30 They think it’s all over: but it is now? After all, we have to date had only five results in – the latest being a No in Inverclyde by a whisker. This was an area that Yes would have had to win to be on track. According to one source, we should by now have had Perth/Kinross, Moray, Inverclyde, East Lothian, South Lanarkshire, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dundee, Falkirk, Stirling, Renfrewshire, East Ayrshire and East Renfrewshire. The massive turnout is presumably responsible for the counting go-slow. 4.00 Renfrewshire becomes the sixth successive council area to vote No. It is something of a swing area in this referendum, so the result is a big disappointment for Yes. Yes takes Dundee, its heartland city, a few moments later – but the turnout is described on the BBC as “significantly lower” than elsewhere. Yes needs huge wins in its strong areas to turn around the No lead. To date, it doesn’t look as though they’re coming. 4.30 The results are pouring in now. Aberdeen, Angus, Dumfries, East Lothian, Falkirk, Midlothian and Stirling go No – the latter emphatically. East Dumbartonshire also votes No. West Dumbartsonshire votes Yes but, according to George Parker of the Financial Times, it was hoping for a bigger win there. Angus is in the SNP heartland. Over at Labour List, Mark Ferguson says that Yes can’t be far enough ahead in Glasgow to make up for No’s lead in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. 5.00 Good morning, this is Henry Hill, taking this live blog over from Paul Goodman. As I write, Glasgow has just declared for ‘Yes’ – alongside North Lanarkshire a much-needed ray of light for a separatist campaign that is reeling from a string of heavy defeats. The thesis I advanced on Wednesday morning seems to have held up – SNP strongholds in ex-Conservative territory like Angus and most recently Perth & Kinross have broken sharply for the Union, whereas traditionally Labour areas like Glasgow and North Lanarkshire have fallen in with the separatists. At this point, the general consensus is that the Union has been preserved – tomorrow we wake up to the ramifications. 5.30 Speculation on the TV is beginning to turn to the aforementioned ramifications. Andrew Marr has emphasised that you cannot ignore the number of people who have voted to leave the Union, and some are now advocating implementing pan-UK federalism – on the basis of a referendum in one tenth of it. Tory MPs are growling about the West Lothian Question. The BBC has now officially forecast a ‘No’ vote. As I feared, Nicola Sturgeon has seized on the promises of ‘more power’ to argue that even a No vote is, on an important level, a rejection of the Union. Meanwhile North and East Ayrshire have broken for ‘No’ – the latter predicted as a strong separatist prospect. 6.00 Pundits filled the long gulf between results by turning their eyes to the constitutional struggles to come, as well as the very serious problems that the night’s results have posed for Labour in Scotland. In contrast Aberdeenshire – which contains Alex Salmond’s own constituency of Banff and Buchan – became the latest ex-Conservative SNP ‘heartland’ to return a thumping majority for the Union (pf these, only Moray remains), joined in short order by Edinburgh, Fife and Argyll and Bute. Fife’s results saw No formally triumph in this contest. Only Moray and the Highlands have yet to vote. 6.30 Salmond is giving his concession speech: expects the vows of the unionist parties “to be honoured in rapid course”, but pledges to work with Westminster in the best interests of Scotland and the United Kingdom. He too treats the vote as a blank cheque for constitutional reform – apparently the case for votes at 16 is now undeniable. He describes “the fear at the heart of the Westminster establishment” in the face of the separatist movement. He closes by urging Scotland to go forward “as one nation”, and his own supporters to dwell on the extraordinary journey they have been on. However, he does say that Scotland has not voted for independence “at this stage” – is that the first hint of a “neverendum”?
There is no sign of when Moray or the Highlands might declare – and I’m keen to see if Moray sticks to the pattern of the night and votes No despite electing Salmond, ‘Nat One’ himself – but with the referendum won and the Prime Minister’s statement due shortly I’m signing off. ConHome’s coverage of the referendum and the fallout will resume later this morning.
8.30 Good morning – it’s Mark Wallace here, taking over our live blog for a couple of hours. David Cameron has been quick out of the traps this morning in setting out his broad next steps following the referendum result. Evidently aware of the rumbling concern on his backbenches, he promised a new settlement for the Union “fair to Scotland but fair to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well”. That, he said, means English votes on English matters on a large tract of areas – including tax, spending and welfare. He invited (read: challenged) Labour to back the proposal.
9am The scale of the challenge now for Labour and Ed Miliband is huge – as Tim Montgomerie argued on the Today Programme, if Scottish MPs aren’t allowed to vote on English laws then the chances of Labour majority government in England are greatly reduced. In the past they’ve blustered their way around dealing with the issue, but now English devolution is so firmly on the agenda that they will struggle to repeat the trick. It’s a choice between losing MPs or losing votes in England – will Miliband be able to choose one? Or might he end up suffering both?
9.30am That’s not to say that this is a comfortable time for the Prime Minister. He still faces frustration and disagreement on the backbenches. The Barnett Formula question is a sore topic, after his pledge earlier in the week, and Owen Paterson has joined the ranks of those speaking out against it. Cameron’s early statement on English votes on English matters has put him out in front of that issue for now, but as the above tweet shows, Nigel Farage is intent on racing him for the title of English champion (he’s just published a list of demands in The Sun, too). This is the start of what will likely be a marathon to retain ownership of the issue.
10.30am Peter Hoskin here, putting in my shift on the old live-blog. One of the most striking developments of the past hour has come on Twitter: our proprietor, Lord Ashcroft, is broadcasting the results of the survey he conducted overnight with some 2,047 referendum voters. One of those sets of results – the age breakdown – is pasted above, but there’s much more on his Twitter feed. You’ll notice that the youngest age-group given the vote in this election, the 16 to 17 year-olds, seems to have come out heavily in favour of independence: 71-29. In fact, with the strange exception of the 18-24 year-olds, every age group below the 55-64 group seems to have been Yes overall. It’s like I said the other day: “How long before nationalists start referring to the “Independence Generation” – and saying they should have another chance to vote Yes?”
11am Tory MPs aren’t too happy with Cameron’s promise about the Barnett Formula, and now a certain soon-to-be-a-Tory-MP has let his disgruntlement be know as well. I’m talking about Boris, of course. According to a report in The Sun (£), he’s said that “we can’t just go on with a system that even Joel Barnett himself thinks is outdated.” But he does also suggest a wheeze by which the Prime Minister could (sort of) keep his promise whilst (sort of) satisfying Tory MPs: get Barnett to work on a different formula! Wonder what Downing St will make of that. In any case, all of this constitutional stuff is likely to figure in some internal Tory power struggles.
11.30am All of this constitutional wragling doesn’t just mean trouble for Cameron. As Mark said above, there are grim implications for Miliband too – particularly when it comes to the English Question. Some Labour figures are already trying to jostle their leader into recognising English votes for English laws. John Reid, for instance, and John Denham. But it’s the words of Jim Murphy that are particularly noteworthy. According to the Sun (£) – who are doing some great reporting on all this, btw – he’s said that “if we are going to look at how Scottish MPs vote, we have to look at London MPs as well”. What could he mean? London votes for London laws? No London votes on English laws? Both? Or something different? Given that Labour control the majority of the seats in London, it does make you wonder whether they’ll somehow try to capture the capital in return for an answer to the English Question.
12.30pm An addendum to my last entry (11.30am). The New Statesman’s George Eaton clarifies Murphy’s remarks with a quote that the Sun didn’t carry. Apparently, the Labour front-bencher’s argument was that, by the logic of English votes for English laws, “London MPs can’t vote on certain things” – because London, with its Mayor and Assembly, is also a sort of devolved territory. Some Tories might be cool with that, what with most of London’s MPs being from the Labour Party. But I don’t think Murphy is actually proposing it. It sounds more like the Labour leadership opposing Cameron’s answer to the English Question. The next few months of negotiation are not going to be easy.
1pm It’s time to bring this live-blog to a close. Thank you for tuning in. Our coverage of the referendum and its fraught aftermath will, of course, continue elsewhere on the site.