Scots campaign for independence 2012-2014


Independence from UK

Time period notes

May 25, 2012 - September 18, 2014

Time period

25-MAY, 2012 to 18-SEP, 2014



Location City/State/Province

Whole country

Location Description

Whole country
Jump to case narrative


Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland; Dennis Canavan, chair of advisory board. Stephen Noon was a strategist.


Scottish National Party, the Scottish Green Party, and the Scottish Socialist Party

External allies

Women for Independence, Business for Scotland, Farming for Yes, Crofters for Yes

Involvement of social elites

Some famous Scottish actors endorsed independence: Sean Connery, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox; Poet Liz Lochead; musician Pat Kane; tennis player Andy Murray


"Better Together" was the opposition campaign.

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Rallies, petitions, social media and internet videos, debates.

Campaigner violence

While not physical violence, there was a problem with written attacks on people who satirized the independence debate. The campaign rejected the behavior. They have condemned 'any and all forms of intimidation'.


National-Ethnic Identity



Group characterization

Scottish nationalists

Groups in 1st Segment

Actors: Sean Connery
Alan Cumming
Brian Cox
poet Liz Lochead
musician Pat Kane;

Groups in 2nd Segment

Actress Elaine C Smith

Groups in 6th Segment

Andy Murray

Segment Length

20 weeks

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

1 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


3 out of 3 points

Total points

5 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

Large growth of support for goal over the campaign. 45% favored independence in vote.

Database Narrative

In 2012, the United Kingdom included Scotland along with England, Wales,
and Northern Ireland. Scotland had been an independent country from
1320 until 1707 when it joined with England to create the Kingdom of
Great Britain. In 1999, the UK Parliament created the Scottish
Parliament to provide limited self-rule. The Scottish National Party,
which advocated Scottish independence, won control of the Scottish
government in 2007. They began a “National Conversation” about possible
paths to full independence or increased powers within the United
Kingdom. In 2011, the Scottish National Party won a majority in the
Scottish Parliament. The Scottish government made an agreement with the
United Kingdom government called the Scottish Independence Referendum
Act 2013 and set a date of 18 September 2014 for a referendum on
independence for Scotland.

The Scottish National Party, the Scottish Green Party, and the Scottish
Socialist Party created an organization called “Yes Scotland” to lead an
effort to win a vote for independence in the Scottish independence
referendum, in 2014. The goal was re-establishment of Scotland as an
independent state. The opposition to independence formed an organization
in favor of preserving the union with the United Kingdom called “Better
Together”. The UK government opposed independence for Scotland. The
campaign for independence launched 25 May 2012 creating Yes Scotland and
hired Blair Jenkins as its chief executive and Dennis Canavan, as chair
of its advisory board. The goal was to win the referendum and then
implement independence for Scotland.

Yes Scotland decided to use a petition campaign as an organizing tool
for building support for the yes vote and independence. They set a goal
of 1 million signatures on their petition in favor of independence.
There were 4.4 million eligible voters by 2014 so that goal represented
about 25% of the electorate.

The contest over the political status of the region took place between
two competing nonviolent campaigns, one for independence and one for
preserving the union, using similar methods. They both used rallies and
marches as well as social media and internet videos, fundraising events,
debates, and even petitions etc.

The Yes Scotland campaign used community meetings and talking to people
door-to-door to contact voters and solicit signatures on the petition,
as well as distribute information and conduct debates. On 24 June 2012,
they held forty-five such events around the country. The signature
effort relied on face-to-face conversations.

Yes Scotland held their first major rally on 22 September 2012 in
Edinburgh, the capital and second largest city, with participation by an
estimated five thousand supporters. Organizers decentralized most of
the campaign work into local activity with small public meetings to
explain the independence campaign and argue for a “yes” vote, and to
collect signatures on the petition resulting from the growth in support.
As of 1 January 2013, Yes Scotland had set up more than one hundred
grassroots groups to recruit support for independence and to solicit for
signatures on the petition.

The opposition, Better Together, also worked to recruit organizers to
convince friends and family to vote for union. Yes Scotland launched the
Glasgow part of the campaign on 16 January 2013 and estimated nearly
seven hundred attendees from various groups, which they said was their
largest event to date.

In response to falling polling numbers in January 2013, Yes Scotland
used its more than one hundred thirty local groups to distribute half a
million leaflets around the country in one weekend.

The campaign held another large march and rally in Edinburgh on 21
September 2013 with estimates as high as thirty thousand participants
with speakers from the various parties involved in the coalition. In the
week before the vote, 18 September 2014, both sides held rallies and
marches to motivate their supporters to actually vote.

Both campaigns used social media to promote local events around the
country and provide information as well as links to off-site resources
for their supporters. Yes Scotland made videos of supporters talking
about why people should vote their way and uploaded them to an internet
web site,, that hosted videos for streaming for free.
Sometimes those videos included celebrity supporters. By 22 August 2014,
Yes Scotland had collected their goal of 1 million signatures on their

Scots voted on 18 September 2014 on the question of independence and
chose against independence by 55% vs 45% with 85% of registered voters
participating, a very high turnout. The effort failed to achieve their
goal of independence. The campaign did, however, result in promises from
the UK Parliament to extend new powers to the Scottish Parliament. The
exact nature of the new powers was not specified by the time of the
vote.  The campaign also strengthened the pro-independence political
parties, as their memberships grew after the campaign.


2012. "'Yes' campaign group holds first meeting," Dumfries & Galloway Standard (Scotland), November 9, p. 16. Retrieved May 12, 2015

2012. "Yes group take action," Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), June 24, p. 17. Retrieved May 11, 2015 (

2013. "Yes Scotland launches leaflets push," Blairgowrie Advertiser (Scotland), January 25. Retrieved May 12, 2015

2013. "Farage: Protesters 'deeply racist'," Blairgowrie Advertiser (Scotland), May 17. Retrieved May 12, 2015

BYLINE, NO. 2013. "Evening Times (Glasgow): Actress helps anti-Unionist campaign," Evening Times (Glasgow, Scotland), February 23.

2012. "Thousands at Scottish independence rally in Edinburgh". September 22. Retrieved March 29, 2015 Available:
2013. "Scottish independence: Yes campaigners rally in Edinburgh". September 21. Retrieved March 29, 2015 Available:

2014. "Scottish independence: Yes declaration hits million target". August 22. Retrieved March 29, 2015 Available:

Barnes, Eddie. 2013. "Yes campaign reveals its 'grassroots' groups," Scotsman, The (Edinburgh, Scotland), January 1, pp. 1. Retrieved May 12, 2015

Bowditch, Gillian. 2012. "No unionism at the school gates, please," Sunday Times, The (London, England), July 1, pp. 7. Retrieved May 12, 2015

Murray, Paula. 2012. "Thousands on march for referendum vote," Express on Sunday, The (London, England), September 23. Retrieved May 12, 2015

Paterson, Stewart. 2013. " 'Yes' Glasgow event is hailed a huge success," Evening Times (Glasgow, Scotland), January 17. Retrieved May 12, 2015

Peterkin, Tom. 2013. "Academic calls police after online abuse," Scotland on Sunday (Scotland), May 5. Retrieved May 12, 2015

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Jamie Irwin, 3/29/2015