Aye or Nae - The Referendum Experience in Scotland 1979-2014

  • Description
'The devolution referendums of 1979 stopped devolution but only for a while ... The 2014 Scottish independence referendum saw a No vote, but the outcome was enhanced devolution for Scotland and a stronger independence movement than before ... we need to be careful about claiming that referendums are always conclusive, even when they involve binary choices and seemingly clear results.’              Peter Lynch, from the Introduction
Since 1975, the people of Scotland have responded to a major political question posed to them in a referendum on six occasions: three were UK-wide polls (1975, 2011 & 2016), and three Scotland-specific. In Aye or Nae The Referendum Experience in Scotland 1979-2014, Peter Lynch investigates the three purely Scottish referendums of 1979, 1997 and 2014 when Scotland voted No, then Yes, to devolution and No to independence.

Lynch, a Senior Lecturer in Politics and Director of the Scottish Political Archive at Stirling University, considers the dynamics of the three referendums, provides the political and economic context within which the campaigns were fought, chronicles the changing nature of referendum campaigning and considers the impact of the regulation of referendums by the Electoral Commission since 2000.

He further discusses the contribution of, and impact on, political parties in each referendum, and how a fundamental internal split or adverse referendum outcome resulted in serious electoral consequences, such as with the SNP's loss of Westminster seats in 1979, or how backing the successful No campaign in 2014 led to the Scottish Labour Party's    subsequent electoral collapse. It also highlights how referendums have seen the establishment of new campaigning groups, particularly in 2014, which was a significant driver of citizen engagement above and beyond the traditional political parties.

Aye or Nae is essential reading for all with an interest in Scottish politics, and to political scientists studying the dynamics and role of referendums.

Dr Peter Lynch is a Senior Lecturer in the History & Politics Department at the University of Stirling and is also Director of the Scottish Political Archive.


He is the author of SNP - The History of the Scottish National Party (Welsh Academic Press, 2002), Scottish Political Parties and the 2014 Independence Referendum (Welsh Academic Press, 2014), and IndyRef to ScotRef - Campaigning for Yes (Welsh Academic Press, 2017).  


1. The Referendum Experience in Scotland and the UK
2. Campaigns, Campaigning and Referendums: Individual, Local and National Campaigning
3. The 1979 Devolution Referendum
4. The 1997 Devolution Referendum
5. The 2014 Independence Referendum
6. Conclusion - Campaigning at Referendums