The ‘No’ campaign today won the GU Independence Referendum with an overwhelming majority of votes, claiming victory with 1614 votes to 967.
The mock referendum received 2589 votes, about a 11% turnout, the highest of any University vote since 2006. Just 8 votes were spoilt. This relatively high turnout was reached despite various criticisms over the way the referendum was set up – some would have preferred to see an online vote available.
Polling stations closed at 6pm, with the results being announced mere hours after at 8:30pm. The 62% lead for the Better Together campaign reflect other recent polls testing opinion on Scottish independence nationally.
Student campaigners for Better Together are pleased with the result, but also highlight that this is only the first hurdle. David Childs, a fourth year Politics student, said: “Obviously not too much can be taken for granted, but it is incredibly encouraging to see that the Better Together message – of having the best of both worlds – has been taken on board by a sizable amount of Glasgow’s student population.”
Conservative blogger and Politics student Ruaridh Frize said: “I think that the only referendum that matters is the one taking place next year so although it might be to early to celebrate, it’s a sign that at least 60% of Glasgow Uni student have their heads screwed on properly.”
The results were announced after a debate between Blair Jenkins, Jean Urquhart, William Bain, Jackie Baillie and Lesley Riddoch at the GUU. The audience grew rowdy throughout the debate, with the latter part of Jackie Baillie’s speech being drowned out by hecklers.
Despite this unrest, David Lockhart, President of the GUU, believed the event today is an asset to Glasgow University students. He said: “It’s great to see so many students taking part in a campus wide referendum on such an important issue. While it’s great to know how Glasgow students feel about independence, it’s even better to see the issue getting the attention it deserves and debated by both camps.”
Craig Angus, VP Media & Communications, agreed. He said: “Good to see a high turnout for such a contemporary issue, and hopefully more and more people will get involved leading up to the real thing.”
The referendum took place after various events held the both QMU and GUU helped shape the debate. Students from Edinburgh University visited campus to help campaign, as well as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to help the ‘Yes’ campaign.
Drew Smith, Labour MSP for Glasgow, expressed delight at the result. He said: “This is a great initiative from the students, providing an opportunity for debate and discussion on campus. I want to congratulate all those involved in organising these events, and hope they will continue to engage as the campaign progresses. I was pleased to see that the students at Glasgow University believe that Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom.”
Many other politicians have praised Glasgow University for holding the mock referendum, the first of its kind. It has received attention from the international media.
President of the Dialectic Society, who organised the event, Michael Gray said: “This was a fantastic way to engage all of our students on campus. In addition to the referendum itself we held several debates which attracted high profile speakers from both sides of the argument. The University of Glasgow student referendum was also well covered by national and international media. Whether our result points the way ahead for Scotland’s vote in 2014 remains to be seen – but we can only hope that the level of debate and engagement seen at the University of Glasgow over the past few weeks will be repeated as the nation prepares for the biggest decision in Scotland’s political history.”
Donald Mackay, member of Dialectic Society who helped run the QMU polling station today, said: “Its been a great project to be a part of and the massive turnout of over 2500 students has shown unprecedented engagement and, in catching the national imagination, it has really raised the tone of the debate. Obviously tonight’s result was conclusive, but there’s still a long way to go and this has sent a strong message to both campaigns to take heed of the student voice.”
Update 22/02/13: Initial article stated a 12.5% turnout. The actual figure is nearer to 11%.