Major referendums – in any part of Britain

The definition of a major referendum is one that comes under the remit of the UK Electoral Commission. As the Commission has existed only since 2000, referendums held before then are a matter of judgement though usually self-evident.

2016 UK votes to leave EU

51.9% voted to leave the EU on a turnout of 72.2% (higher than the 645 in 1975). The remain vote was 48.1%.  Though conducted on a UK Franchise, results varied in parts of the UK particularly Scotland, Northern Ireland and London. Wales voted to leave while its Assembly supported Remain raising for some a problem […]

2014 Scotland rejects Independence

No 55.3% Yes 44.7% Turnout 84.6% from a register of 97% of eligible voters. Held 18 September 2014. The Yes campaign entered the official regulated period at the end of May about 14 points behind in the polls. They reduced that lead in the run-up to the vote perhaps being ahead at one point but […]

2013 Thame Local plan approved by 76% Yes vote

Yes 76% No 24% Turnout 40% Held on 2 May 2013. Link to useful Voter information leaflet here Tags: TS minor-referendums

2013 Eden Cumbria Local Plan wins 90% Yes

Yes 90% N0 10% Turnout 33.7%. Held 7th March 2013. Neighbourhood planning is one of the new community rights introduced by government to give people more say over their area and puts communities in charge of setting out the homes, shops and amenities they want in their vicinity. People living and working in the Upper […]

2011 Britain says No to electing MPs by AV

Yes 32.1%  No 67.9%  Turnout 42.2%, Held 5th May 2011 the same day as general elections in Scotland and Wales and local elections in some areas of England. AV, a weak form of proportional voting, was proposed as a reform of Westminster’s First-Past the-Post system which, now that there are many more political parties sharing […]

2011 Wales votes Yes to law making powers for Assembly

Yes 63.4%   No 36.5%   Turnout  35.3%. Held 3rd March 2011 Tags: TS major-referendums

2009 Cardiff district says “no” to school plans

93% NO on 27.6% turnout. Held 17th February 2009. Total votes cast 3, 679 which was 1.3% higher than local council elections. Council proposed building new school on recreational land. Result advisory. A reminder that local referendums usually advisory are still used in the UK and there is a long standing right in England and […]

2005 Dingwall votes against building new school on existing playing fields

73.5% vote NO Turnout 63.6%. 2,517 total votes cast. Held 2nd February 2005. An advisory referendum organized by Dingwall Community council and though conducted by Electoral Reform Society, it failed to stop the Council carrying out the plan. Tags: TS minor-referendums

2000 Scotland votes to keep Section 28 – majority of voters boycott poll

86.8% to ‘Keep Section 28’ and 13.2% to Repeal the same law. Held 3rd June 2000. Turnout in a professionally run postal vote was 31.8% indicating the active abstention campaign had some effect. Section 28 prevented schools ‘promoting’ homosexuality even factual understanding of the issue in a more liberal age hence the desire for repeal. […]

1998 N. Ireland votes Yes to Good Friday Agreement – in huge turnout

71% Yes on 81% turnout. Held 23rd May 1998. Apart from the huge turnout where 140,000 people who didn’t normally vote came to the polls, the referendum was organized and decided in 9.5 weeks almost too short for anywhere but NI. The YES campaign was founded 19th March 1998, the Good Friday Agreement signed on […]

1998 London votes for Regional Assembly

Yes 72% on 34% turnout. Held 7th May 1998. Tags: TS major-referendums

1997 Wales votes for Welsh Assembly by narrowest margin

Yes 50.3 on 50% turnout. Held 18th September1997. The date was one week after the Scottish referendum in the hope that the Scottish result would boost the Yes side. An example of domino voting in referendums. As the result was so close, it would be a brave observer who would deny the possibility of the […]

1997 Scotland Votes for Devolved Parliament

Yes 74.3%  on  60.4% turnout

1997 Scotland Votes for Tax power

Yes 63.5% on 60.4% turnout on an old register. (Perhaps equivalent to a turnout of 73% on a new one.) Held 11th September 1997. Tags: TS major-referendums

1995 Kirkcudbright votes to use Common Good fund for swimming pool

92% YES on 84% turnout. 2,640 total votes cast. Held 26th June Tags: TS minor-referendums

1995 Harris votes NO to Superquarry

67.7%  NO on 83% Turnout. Postal ballot conducted by ERS on 22 May 1995.  This huge swing in opinion show how effective the Public Inquiry was in bringing all aspects of the issue before the voters. Tags: TS minor-referendums

1994 Strathclyde voters reject Water privatisation

97.2% NO on turnout of 71.5% in postal vote. Postal voting in March 1994 in which about 1.2m people voted.  It hardly fulfills the requirements for a referendum. It was advisory but proved an effective tactic in preventing HMG’s plan to privatise water in Scotland. Tags: TS minor-referendums

1993 Harris Referendum says YES to new Superquarry

62% Support proposal in a postal referendum conducted by ERS ending on 16th June 1993. Tags: TS minor-referendums

1991 Ullapool & Gairloch each vote for Sunday opening of leisure centres

Turnouts in the two referendums organised by Ross & Cromarty District Council were 68.8% and 57% respectively. Precise dates not known. Tags: TS minor-referendums

1979 Scotland votes Yes to Assembly – Result Invalid

Yes 52% on 64% turnout on a vote held 1st March 1979.  Yes vote failed to be approved by more that by 40% of registered voters so result was declared invalid. Tags: TS major-referendums

1979 Wales strongly rejects Welsh Assembly

No 80% on 59% turnout. Held 1st March 1979 Tags: TS major-referendums

1979 Shetland and Orkney vote No to Scottish Assembly

On a turnout of 50.3%, 73% voted NO to devolution for Scotland. Held 1st March 1979. Jo Grimond, the local MP had won an amendment to the referendum bill that required Shetland votes be counted separately and, if Scotland voted YES, Shetland would be excluded from devolution if it voted NO. In effect it was […]

1975 Britain votes to stay in EU (EEC)

Yes 67.2%  Turnout 64.5%. Held 5th June 1975. It was thought that Scotland would vote to leave being the least pro-EU part of Britain but an effective cross-party campaign by Scottish Tories and Scottish Labour politicians brought something of a surprise result to stay in the EU. Tags: TS major-referendums

1973 Northern Ireland border poll destroyed by boycott

99% say YES to stay in NI on turnout 59%. Held 8th March 1973. An effective abstention campaign by nationalist and catholic voters destroyed the validity of this referendum. It remains the best example in the UK of how a referendum can exacerbate division. David Trimble revived the idea with for another Border poll in […]

1968 Kirkintilloch votes to end Prohibition

Repeal Yes 52.1%  Continue prohibition  47.9% Total Votes cast 10,149. Held on 10th December 1968. The prohibition Vote was held every three years for 48 years ‘dry’. Source Handouts Collection: Temperance Kirkintilloch. Tags: TS minor-referendums

1922 Northern Ireland votes to revert to UK – after 48 hours in Ireland

Ireland became an independent country on 6 December 1921. A referendum was held on 12 December 1922 in six of the nine counties and 2 county boroughs (after 48 hours in Ireland and had to be held within a month) exercising the opt-out to rejoin UK.  Strictly a referendum in Ireland but material to the […]

1920 Scotland votes No to Prohibition

On 5th December 1920, Scotland held a national referendum on ‘prohibition’ which was strongly rejected by voters. Historians point out to the fact that the referendum was held at all demonstrates how powerful and widespread the temperance movement was worldwide in 1910. Prohibition in US was in effect from January 1920 to December 1933. The […]

1878 Kirkintilloch says Yes to municipal gas supply

Yes 76.7 %  Total votes cast by 366 with 281 ratepayers voting Yes.  It was held 26th January 1878.  The town had been supplied for 40 years since 1838 by a private company- Kirkintilloch Gas Light Company. This vote allowed the town to takeover the company.   Tags: TS minor-referendums

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