The Scottish Independence Referendum: a brief guide to the story so far

As the country prepares for the big vote on 18 Sep, we look back at the significant dates leading up to it

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727/Features/Indyref Time Line

It’s all about to come to a head: on Thursday 18 September, Scotland votes Yes or No. Peter Geoghegan looks back at the lead-up to the independence referendum

May 2011: Holyrood elections
The SNP win an unprecedented majority at Holyrood with 45% of the votes.

May 2012: Launch of Yes Scotland
Launch of Yes Scotland organisation to campaign in favour of independence. Featuring celebrities such as Alan Cumming and Brian Cox as well as the leadership of the SNP and the Greens.

Jun 2012: Launch of Better Together
Launch of Better Together organisation to campaign for the Union, led by Alistair Darling with the leadership of Scottish Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.

Oct 2012: The Edinburgh Agreement
A rather grand name for the compromise between Alex Salmond and David Cameron which gives next month’s vote its legal basis. Under the deal there will be a single Yes/No question, 16 & 17 year olds will be able to vote and the Electoral Commission will regulate.

Mar 2013: Date set
The date for the referendum of 18 September 2014 is chosen by Alex Salmond.

Sep 2013: March and Rally for Independence
A host of Scottish cultural luminaries including comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli and writer Alan Bisset assemble on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, calling for independence. The aftermath features a stramash about attendance figures: Nicola Sturgeon, SNP Deputy Leader, said 30,000 people; the police put the number at 4,000.

Nov 2013: White Paper published
At 670 pages long Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland gives Proust and Foster Wallace a run for their money. Launched at the Science Centre in Glasgow, the White Paper sets out the vision for an independent Scotland including the creation of a new Scottish broadcaster.

Feb 2014: Currency Union chaos
George Osborne rules out a formal currency union between the rest of the UK and an independent Scotland.

Feb 2014: David Bowie
‘Scotland, stay with us,’ appeals David Bowie in a statement read out by supermodel Kate Moss at the Brit Awards. The Thin White Duke’s unlikely intervention spawned endless Internet memes.

Apr 2014: Eddie Izzard
‘Please don’t go,’ comedian Eddie Izzard said before a fundraising gig for Better Together.

Apr 2014: Bragg backs independence
English cultural leading lights have not all been on the No side. Passionate political songster Billy Bragg says that a yes vote in Scotland could set the people of England on the road to devolution and social justice.

Spring 2014: George Galloway: Just Say Naw!
The Respect MP takes to the road to spread the socialist case against independence.

Summer 2014: Yestival
Sanquhar, Ayr, Falkirk, Harris, Orkney, Lossiemouth, Arbroath, Edinburgh. Just some of the dates on the epic 'Yestival' journey across Scotland. Organised by National Collective, the tour featured Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, singer Julie Fowlis and playwright David Greig.

Jul 2014: Biffy Clyro say Yes
Arguably the defining moment of Scotland’s biggest music festival: Biffy Clyro lead singer Simon Neil, a huge Yes saltire draped around his shoulders at T in the Park.

Jul 2014: Commonwealth Games
Contrary to expectations the politicians keep out of the games which flourish across the city of Glasgow sending a good-natured welcome to all participants.

Jul & Aug 2014: Lovebombs Ahoy
A host of minor celebs including Michelle Collins, Trinny and Susannah and Dan Snow join forces for the ‘Let’s Stay Together’ video campaign. Followed by more than 200 higher profile figures including Mick Jagger, Stephen Hawking and David Attenborough who sign a letter saying ‘what unites us is far greater than what divides us’.

Aug 2014: TV Debate
Alex Salmond goes head to head with Alistair Darling in round 1 on STV, followed by a second bout on the BBC. Pundits agree that Darling won the first round while Salmond scooped the second.

Aug 2014: Electoral Commission guide published
Over 3 million leaflets are sent out to households across Scotland explaining how to register for a vote, the voting process and the arguments from both sides.

18 Sep 2014
Scotland votes …

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