better together
This Better Together advert was widely mocked upon its release YouTube/BetterTogether

After nearly two years since it was first announced, people in Scotland are making their way to polling stations to cast their vote on the country's referendum.

On one side of the debate is Alistair Darling's Better Together campaign, which is saying "No" to Scottish independence, and the other is the "Yes" campaign led by SNP leader Alex Salmond.

In a fiercely contested campaign, which at times has been too close to call, both sides have battled hard over what they see as the best outcome for Scotland's future.

With the polling stations open and the whole of the UK awaiting the outcome of the historic poll, the IBTimes UK looks back and some of the key and memorable moments that have gripped this once-in-a-lifetime vote.

Wording of the question

When launching a referendum that will decide the future of an entire country, it is best to make sure the voters know what they are voting for.

When the decision on the poll was made, the Scottish government originally suggested the key question should be: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?".

However, many argued the phrasing of this question was not neutral enough, leading it to eventually be altered to "Should Scotland be an independent country?" in January 2013.

16 and 17-year-olds allowed to vote

Unlike the UK general elections, the Scottish referendum is open for those who are still in school to vote, with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arguing younger people are the ones with the "biggest stake" in the future of Scotland.

First live TV debate

Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling
Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling take part in the Scottish independence debate Getty

Darling and Salmond, the leaders of the campaigns, came head-to-head during the first live televised debate.

At the end of the often heated discussion, it was Darling's Better Together campaign that was perceived to have come out on top following repeated accusations Salmond still did not have a "Plan B" if an independent Scotland could not use the pound.

Second live TV debate

But that momentum appeared to have shifted during the second debate, with many saying Salmond was the victor in the debate that was broadcast across the UK.

'Yes' gain lead for first time

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond speaks during his final address to pro-independence 'Yes' campaigners Getty Images

Following Salmond's "win" in the second debate, the "Yes" campaign took a narrow lead in the opinion polls for the first time.

The YouGov poll conducted for The Sunday Times and released on 7 September placed the pro-independence campaign in front with a narrow 51% lead, a huge surge from around 39% at the start of the campaign.

'Patronising' No campaign

The Better Together campaign did itself no favours after a much-ridiculed advert featuring a woman who complained she had not made a decision on the most important vote Scotland had ever seen as there were "only so many hours in the day".

Saltire malfunction

After the "No" vote fell behind in the polls for the first time, Labour leader Ed Miliband suggested raising the saltire in cities across the UK in order to show solidarity with Scotland.

But, in front the watching media, the raising of the symbolic flag in Downing Street did not exactly go as planned.

Gordon Brown's speech

On the eve of the poll, Gordon Brown gave what was described as the speech of his life as he urged voters to keep the Union together.

Speaking at the final "No" campaign rally in Glasgow, Brown gave a rapturous and inspirational performance - something he desperately lacked during his time as prime minister - as he told the audience: "There is not a cemetery in Europe that does not have Scots, English, Welsh and Irish lined side by side.

He added: "We not only won these wars together, we built the peace together. What we have built together by sacrificing and sharing, let no narrow nationalism split asunder ever."

"Let us tell the undecided. The waverers. Those not sure how to vote. Let us tell them what we have achieved together."