Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Electoral Commission rejects Scottish Government’s independence referendum question

Post Thumbnail

The elections watchdog has rejected the Scottish Government’s preferred question for next year’s independence referendum.

First Minister Alex Salmond’s proposal for the historic vote is to ask voters: Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

But the Electoral Commission said using the phrase “do you agree” could encourage some people to vote yes. It said the question should have a more neutral wording, and recommended it be changed to: Should Scotland be an independent country?

John McCormick, Electoral Commissioner for Scotland, said: “We have rigorously tested the proposed question, speaking to a wide range of people across Scotland.

“Any referendum question must be, and be seen to be, neutral. People told us that they felt the words ‘Do you agree’ could lead voters towards voting yes.”

Voters have a “clear understanding that ‘independent country’ meant being separate from the UK”, Mr McCormick said.

But he also said voters want more factual information before the referendum so the commission has called on the UK and Scottish governments to clarify the processes that will follow the ballot, regardless of the outcome.

“We’re asking the UK and Scottish Government to provide that clarity and we’ll then make sure it gets to voters as part of our public awareness campaign,” Mr McCormick said.

Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon suggested that the Scottish Government could accept the commission’s findings. She told MSPs on Tuesday that ministers would attach “considerable weight” to these.

“There would have to be a very good reason to depart from Electoral Commission recommendations, and any government so doing would have to explain its position to this Parliament,” she said.

But the Scottish Parliament has the final say on issues such as the wording of the question when it considers the Referendum Bill.

“The Scottish Government will consider the wording of the question, and indeed other matters relating to the conduct of the referendum, in light of the commission’s advice and, of course, the Scottish Parliament will have the final say during its scrutiny of the referendum legislation,” she said.

The commission also suggests higher spending limits for the referendum campaign than the Scottish Government has proposed.

Pro-independence Yes Scotland, and Better Together, which wants Scotland to remain in the UK, should be allowed to spend up to £1.5 million, double the £750,000 suggested by the Scottish National Party administration.

The amount political parties are allowed to spend should be based on their share of the vote from the 2011 Holyrood elections, the commission said.

This would see the SNP, which won a landslide victory, allowed to spend £1,344,000, while the Greens, who back Yes Scotland, could spend up to £150,000. Labour would be allowed to spend £834,000, the Tories £396,000 and the Liberal Democrats £201,000.

For full reaction to today’s Electoral Commission report, see Thursday’s Courier or try our new digital edition.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from The Courier Politics team

More from The Courier