After a long and hard-fought campaign, Scotland has spoken. I’m delighted we have chosen to stay within the UK, and by such a clear margin. Locally, the result was even more strongly ‘No’, with 61% of voters across East Dunbartonshire Council area rejecting independence and voting to remain part of the UK.
What was particularly inspiring to see was the huge turnout, both across Scotland (85%) and especially here. At 91%, East Dunbartonshire recorded the highest turnout anywhere in Scotland. As I visited polling stations on Thursday to thank the hard-working staff making it all possible, it became clear that whatever the outcome of the poll, we were on course for a fantastic result in terms of voter engagement. I actually felt quite emotional seeing people flocking to vote, and hearing the polling station clerks tell me they had whole sheets with almost every name crossed off.
On our television screens too often we see places around the world where political disagreement ends in violence and conflict, issues decided by guns and brute force. Our democratic process is a wonderful contrast, showing the power of a stubby pencil marking a cross on a piece of paper in a community hall.
Of course people on both sides felt very passionately about their cause, and it was always inevitable that one group would end up incredibly disappointed with the result. It is important that we harness the energy demonstrated on both sides of the campaign to build a positive future for Scotland.
Following the promises made for more powers for the Scottish Parliament, delivery is vital. The timetable set out includes an intensive autumn of consultation with a white paper by St Andrew’s Day and a draft Bill by Burns’ Night. Along with other Scottish MPs, MSPs and campaigners, I will be working hard to make this happen.
Thank you for taking part in this momentous vote and making history with our record-breaking turnout. We can all be proud of this victory for democracy.