Scottish independence referendum

The Scottish independence referendum took place on Thursday 18 September 2014. On this page, you’ll find useful information about the referendum.

The Scottish independence referendum was a once-in-a-generation opportunity for people in Scotland to have their say about the country’s future.

The UK government believes Scotland is stronger in the UK, and the UK is stronger with Scotland in it.

Here you’ll find information about the issues that matter most.

Who was eligible to vote?

Most people over the age of 16 who live in Scotland were eligible to vote. As with other UK elections, to get a vote you had to register in advance. Unlike other UK elections, 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote in the referendum. For more information for young voters see the Electoral Commission’s FAQs for young voters.

Read the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum Voting Guide from the Electoral Commission (PDF).

What was the question?

The referendum question was: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” and voters were asked to choose yes or no.

What was the process?

Constitutional arrangements are the responsibility of the UK Parliament. However, powers were transferred to allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for the referendum. This happened in the Referendum Agreement, which was signed by Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond on October 15 2012.

Why did it happen?

It happened because the Scottish National Party, who campaign for Scotland to be independent, won a majority at the last Scottish Parliament election.

How was the result decided?

Scotland remains part of the UK because more people voted No. 55.3% voted No and 44.7% voted Yes.

Scottish independence referendum and the civil service

UK civil servants work on a range of issues which have an impact on the referendum. It is also clear there is a demand for the provision of information which will enable voters to come to an informed decision.

The UK government is not neutral on the issue of the referendum. It has a clear policy that it wishes to see Scotland remain part of the UK. On the other side of the argument, the Scottish government is clear in its policy of seeking independence.

The civil service’s role is to support the elected government of the day and implement its policies. While the referendum is politically contentious, it is correct that civil servants carry out their duties on this issue as they would any other government policy – this applies equally to policy and media work, including social media.

Contact us

If you’ve not received a copy of the booklet ‘What staying in the United Kingdom means for Scotland’ but would like to, please phone us on 0131 244 9010, or send an email to stating your address and the amount of copies you’d like.

Alternatively, write to us at: Scotland Office 1 Melville Crescent Edinburgh EH3 7HW

Find out more about the Scottish independence referendum