Scottish Independence result: How historic night unfolded on Glasgow's streets

Alex Stevenson
Political journalist

23:20 - I've been out and about in Edinburgh today, talking to voters at polling stations and chit-chatting with the canvassers who lurk outside.

The general sense, as you'd expect, is an air of general bewilderment as to the final result. But I sensed the No campaign were more quietly confident than their opponents, who are fervently passionately desperately hoping this will go their way.

23:30 - Something rather odd happened outside one polling station I visited, about two hours ago, in the middle-class-ish Marchmont area of Edinburgh. A group of people were standing around, looking organised with clipboards. But they weren't the 'Yes' camp, or the 'No' ones.

It turned out they were a group of social scientists from the University of Edinburgh, who were asking people how they voted before they went into the polling station and afterwards.

They were rather reluctant to explain the exact nature of their research, and it took a bit of questioning to find out what they were up to, but it turned out the target of their research was the 'undecideds'.

They were trying to find out, in particular, whether people were changing their mind between entering the polling station and actually voting. They wouldn't reveal their hypothesis, exactly, but hinted there were a range of mysterious "factors" which they wanted to explore.

It had something to do with the group of canvassers standing outside the polling station, perhaps. I'll be following up once they've got the data over the weekend.

23:45 - I've just remembered that bunch of researchers (see my 23:30 post)  gave me a copy of the letter they give to participants in their study, which provides more of an inkling about their activities. It states:
"Although the question 'Should Scotland be an independent country?' is simple and straightforward, the implications of choosing 'Yes' or 'No' have changed significantly over the past months, weeks and even days. This research seeks to understand how these shifts and changes have affected individuals' decision-making processes."

Well, that would be interesting to find out. Either way, their work could uncover some serious flaws in this whole affair.

Meanwhile, in case anyone is wondering whether their pestering of voters before they actually vote was a bit dodgy, they assured us they'd got permission from all the relevant bodies.

00:30 - I've just got off the Edinburgh to Glasgow train, where I've been speaking with some determined-sounding nationalists.

They're placing all their faith in the unprecedented levels of turnout. In working class areas like Muirhouse, its community organiser told me, turnout has topped 70% - double its usual level. "They're not voting for the status quo," I was told confidently. "They're voting for change."

00:53 - I'm in George Square in Glasgow, where a large crowd of nationalists has gathered. Right now the police are slowly being reinforced as numbers grow. They totally failed to stop one guy climbing up the large base of the column in the centre of the square - and he even managed to do a runner and get away with it.

He led an impromptu chorus of Flower of Scotland before fixing a Saltire to the column.

He seemed to boost the excitable mood of the crowd, which is full of nervous anticipation. No-one here knows what the result will be.

The "bigoted, anti-Catholic BBC" are hated up here. One 'Yes' guy in the crowd says he thinks the coverage focusing on the "minority" of troublemakers is actually helping the 'Yes' cause. "One minute I think yes, the next minute I think no."

01:08 - I've been speaking to Robert, one of the most exuberantly passionate nationalists I've met so far in this campaign. He's convinced there's no going back now, whatever the result. "If there's a no, it'll be like a death in the family or a cancer.

Yes campaign supporters in George Square, Glasgow, as ballot papers for the Scottish independence referendum were counted through the night. (PA)

[Scottish Independence result: Salmond accepts defeat as Cameron says debate has been 'settled for a generation']

First there'll be denial, then resignation, then - right - mobilisation - what are we going to f**king do about it?" But he doesn't believe it will be a 'No' victory. "We'll live to remember this in 50 years' time. Have you been drinking? No? Who wouldn't be drinking on a night like this?"

02:13 - Apart from chanting "where's the f**king BBC", the crowd here in George Square are still fairly good-natured. But I am feeling just a little cowardly and my suit, English accent and habit of confessing I belong to the Westminster bubble may not do me any favours in the hours to come.

There's a bunch of ‘yoofs’ chanting anti-English slogans. The English are basically being equated with Conservatives: "Shove the f**king Tories off their arse." It's xenophobic, plain and simple.

An elderly kilt-wearer who looks like he could still stand up for himself approaches a policeman within earshot of me. He offers to step in and get them to move on. "Please don't," the policeman begs. "You'll only antagonise them."

The sudden appearance of a piper has lit up the crowd in George Square, prompting that kind of old-school dancing which wouldn't be out of place in a 19th century highland jig. I suppose one of the advantages of bagpipes is you can fit most kinds of chanting over the top. Like "no more foodbanks" or "hate the f**king Tories". This is the kind of hope which might not survive too long after independence.

02:22 - Something is beginning to shift in George Square. Those in the middle of the crowd are too busy chanting to be checking their smartphones, but on the fringes the first results from Clackmannanshire are not going down well. There's a rather bleak sense of resignation setting in. One group of Welsh nationalists seem especially despondent. "We hope Scotland will never be the same again."

03:10 - I got to the Marriott hotel in Glasgow, where lots of people with English accents are looking relieved, just in time for the Western Isles result. The result, initially read out in Gaelic, was greeted with applause from approximately three people.

Then, when it was repeated in English, the unionists gave a huge, huge cheer of triumph. It was, perhaps, the moment the No camp sensed victory.

There is a very different sort of atmosphere here than there is in George Square, that's for sure. It has all the organised feel of a party conference - and is just as sober.

There are no bagpipes, only the BBC's referendum programme on the big screen. The police are not required because the Westminster parties behind this campaign are very good at shutting undesirables out. It is nice and warm and they have a buffet, which at this time of night really matters.

04:10 - Here in Glasgow, where turnout was "low" at 75%, it's still not clear who's going to win. One 'No' campaigner I speak to can barely speak. He apologises, explaining he's been up since 5am (23 hours ago). He shakes his head when I tell him about George Square.

"They're a bunch of football hooligans," he says, complaining that his city's deprived areas may have been won over by the "bag of sweeties" offered by the nationalists. It's a common 'No' claim. One campaigner from Ayrshire says Alex Salmond has always been "slippery" - despite recognising that this is also a very handy quality when you're a politician.

You don't have to dig too deep to get a sense of frustration from 'No' voters, however. The grassroots campaigners gathered at the Marriott in Glasgow talk about the "arrogance" of its leaders.

They complain of disorganisation, too, especially at the local level where they say the grassroots - in contrast to the nationalists - were often let down. One says that if the Yes camp had managed to sort out the currency issue early on, they would be winning tonight.

And then come two quick results. The Dundee shocker, a massive 57% for Yes, is greeted with applause by the No lot. The room appears stunned. "I don't understand why there's so much variation," someone standing next to me mutters. The cheer which follows the No campaign's Renfrewshire victory contains more than a dash of relief.

04:30 - The cheers in Glasgow are coming thick and fast. The first speech of the night, from No ringleader Blair Macdougall, was interrupted several times by big results. Stirling notched up an important win for No. The results were Yes: 25,010 No: 37,153. In East Lothian we saw a safe No win. YES: 27,467 NO: 44,283. First came the bellwether area of Midlothian, which gave Yes 44%, to No's 56%.

And here's another. Massive, massive cheers for Angus, which had been judged as close to call, but ends up being a strong win for No.

In Dumfries and Galloway, which had 106,000 -odd voters, the total number of 'Yes' votes was... 36,000... And I don't hear any more, because of the mayhem. That is a huge win for No. The nationalist cause is collapsing. Yes got just 34%, it turns out.

Next comes East Renfrewshire. There are 'ooohs' whenever the turnout exceeds 90%, as it did here. The result is another big win for No, which prompts more jumping out of chairs and whooping. And the same for East Dunbartonshire. It's all getting a little groundhog-day-ish. In Aberdeen, Yes only managed 41%. There's no going back from here.

05:04 - It's hard to downplay the full extent of the emotion in the Marriott hotel as this latest round of results comes through. The tension is palpable; and every time it is broken by a No victory the relief is instant - and vocal.

The very brief period earlier when it looked like the results might, overall, have been a little closer have long since been dispelled. Now we have a clear-cut situation where independence is being rejected across most of Scotland's 32 electoral areas.

The response to the Glasgow result here was one of stunned silence. It's the biggest setback for the No camp so far, and if it had come at the beginning of the night it might have set off a serious case of the jitters.

As it is, everyone can do the maths. The numbers are becoming irresistible. And the relief is setting in. "We wanted to win decisively," one unionist says. They wouldn't have liked 51-49, for example. As it is, they're happy.

05:40 - In the midst of the crowd of delighted No campaigners at the Marriott, who have now firmly shifted from nervous anticipation of victory to unabashed gloating, stands a slightly more concerned figure. Keith, from Glasgow, is deeply worried.

"This was the easy part," he says. Keith was deeply disappointed by the result in his city, which bodes very badly for Labour in next year's general election.

Then there's his concerns about the divisive nature of the contest. "We've lost out on two years of politics - they've just been dominated by this," he continues.

His son, who joins the conversation, tells me he was called "scum" for three hours earlier. Also "traitor", and "quisling", and "judas".

Despite all this, Keith urges his son that what's needed are efforts to "bring in" the bits of the Yes camp that have always sat on the fringes. "We need to say OK, you had concerns, now we'll address them."
He's delighted by the result, but isn't going to let the exuberance of the moment shake his resolve.

No supporters react to results in the Scottish independence referendum at The Marriott Hotel in Glasgow
George Square continues to be a hotspot for Scottish Yes campaigners taking to the streets to sing, wave flags and dance
George Square was a hotspot for Scottish 'Yes' campaigners taking to the streets to sing, wave flags and dance in Glasgow. (SWNS)
Supporters of the Better Together campaign react to results of the Scottish independence referendum at The Marriott Hotel in Glasgow. (PA)