Aberdeenshire says ‘No thanks’ to independence

Councillors Charles Buchan and Lenny Pirie at the vote count
Councillors Charles Buchan and Lenny Pirie at the vote count

After two and a half years of intense political campaigning, canvassing and public meetings, Scotland has voted to remain part of the United Kingdom.

In line with the nationwide result, Aberdeenshire voted No, despite frenetic Yes campaign activity in the North-east.

Votes from around Aberdeenshire arrive at the AECC for counting

Votes from around Aberdeenshire arrive at the AECC for counting

The Aberdeenshire count took place at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, beginning shortly after polls closed at 10pm.

Staff worked through the night and the final announcement was made at 5.55am.

With an incredible turnout of 87.2%, Aberdeenshire voted by a margin of 60-40% to stay in the Union – a result which was met with jubilation from supporters of the Better Together campaign.

A total of 71,337 votes (39.6%) were cast for Yes and a total of 108,606 votes (60.3%) were cast for No in Aberdeenshire.

Vote counting is underway at the AECC

Vote counting is underway at the AECC

A total of 102 votes were rejected for a number of reasons including votes in favour of both answers, writing or marks by which the voter could be identified, unmarked votes and others were made void for uncertainty.

However, while there are no official figures for the referendum result broken down by constituency, the SNP said information gathered by the Yes Campaign’s Counting Agents at the count pointed to a clear Yes vote in Banff and Buchan.

Around 1,000 people made up the Aberdeenshire Referendum Team, with 700 staffing polling stations across the region and a further 300 involved in the count.

Commenting before the result, Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said: “The excitement on the streets has been palpable.

“We could be heading for a turnout of over 80%, which is the biggest turnout in an election in Scotland ever. When people talk about disengagement I think tonight proves this is a myth because people will turn out and vote if there is something worth voting for.

“In terms of what I’ve seen in Fraserburgh I feel very positive that there has been huge support for Yes in Fraserburgh.

“This referendum has electrified Scottish politics. People realise the future is in their own hands. People who have never voted before felt their voice was heard tonight.”

Liberal Democrat for the North East Alison McInnes commented: “I think it’s been a fascinating campaign on the whole.

“Change of this scale and of this nature can’t be decided by a few people, so I’m delighted with the turnout.

“I get the distinct sense from campaigning in Aberdeenshire that people were very anxious and my feeling is that No will win the day.”

Fraserburgh and District councillor Charles Buchan commented: “I’m extremely disappointed but this will be used as a foundation for another attempt in a few years’ time.

“It is quite amazing that we reached the stage of having a free and fair vote on independence without conflict and this was in large measure due to the Scottish Government negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement which set up the referendum.

“This referendum process has brought up a huge amount of interest in politics which I hope will be fostered in the future.”

“Although I’m disappointed at the national result, Yes supporters can take some consolation from the fact that Fraserburgh voted overwhelmingly Yes, with a 70% to 30% ratio of the votes cast in favour of Yes, the best in Aberdeenshire.

“I would like to thank all who voted Yes for their support for the aim of Scotland being an independent country, and especially the mass of activists and enthusiasts from all parts of the political spectrum who gave so much of their time, and did so much work at doors and on the streets, and the staff at the Yes office on Findlayson Street, and the businesses who supported us.”

Speaking before the result, Central Buchan councillor Jim Ingram said: “I hope in the morning, whether the Yes side or the No side wins - and I sincerely hope the Yes side wins - I hope we can come together and work for the good of the country. I’m sure we will.”

Meanwhile, commenting on the referendum result, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “Whilst the decision has been made for the constitutional status quo, as far as fishing is concerned there will most definitely need to be change in how we work together as an EU member state.

“For the last 18 months, the Scottish Government has lived in two parallel universes: engaging in normal business such as international negotiations, but pursuing at every opportunity the argument for separation. The Scottish Government had a mandate for this and it was absolutely right and necessary for the referendum process to run its course.

“But now that the referendum is over, the Scottish and UK governments need to work together as closely as possible. There are many challenges facing fishing, most notably the forthcoming discards ban, which has the potential to devastate our fishing fleets. We have had enough arm-wrestling during the independence debate, now is the time to work as a united team to get the best deal possible for fishing. We will be contacting both Fisheries Ministers in the coming days to set this in train and we are committed to playing our part in the process.”

Aberdeenshire Counting Officer Colin Mackenzie said: “This has been an historic night for Scotland and it is fantastic to see record numbers of voters in Aberdeenshire taking part in the democratic referendum process.”