The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

A quick quiz

Posted on June 22, 2012 by

Can you spot what’s strange about this statement, viewers?

“We believe that the process of setting a single question should be taken out of the hands of elected politicians and given to relevant experts the public can have faith in.”

It comes from the mouth of Scottish Labour “leader” Johann Lamont, and forms part of her latest demand – along with her two partners in the Unionist coalition – that the Scottish Government should allow the defeated opposition parties to dictate the terms and conditions of the implementation of the flagship policy behind which it was so resoundingly and unprecedentedly elected a little over a year ago.

(Note in particular the sneaky way the overt demand also slips in a covert demand.)

We’re pretty sure that a general election is already, pretty much by definition, the primary means by which the public expresses who it does and doesn’t “have faith in”. We have, on the other hand, absolutely no way of knowing how much faith that same public does or doesn’t have in the ironically-unelected Electoral Commission, which is appointed by – who’d have guessed it? – the UK Parliament. And just by the by, below are a couple of other relevant snippets from the Commission’s Wikipedia entry:

“The Electoral Commission has a number of responsibilities in relation to referendums. These include:

  • commenting on the wording of the referendum question (the government is responsible for proposing the wording)

The Commission has no legal position in the legislation concerning referendums proposed by the devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations.”

Our emphasis, there. So, and we admit this is just a crazy madcap idea we’re putting out there, maybe the business of government should properly be conducted by the people the electorate have democratically chosen to do the job, no?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

40 to “A quick quiz”

  1. Juteman

    At least she admits the public have no faith in her.

    They still don’t get what happened at the last Scottish election.

  2. CyBOS

    This issue has already been examined by Ian Davidson’s Separaton Committee! The pollsters pretty much destroyed the delusion being potrayed time and time again by pro-dependant politicians. 

    In fact, the pollsters said it is best to keep the question simple and had no problem with the Scottish Government’s proposed question.

    See this video:


  3. TheMaganator

    The SNP want their wording – we all get it. We are not stupid. We know why. 

    The Unionists want the Electoral Commission – there are problems with this as well – as pointed out above.

    Is there scope for cross-party commission in Holyrood to either come to an agreement as to the proposed question? Or, even to agree to have a separate independent commission to be set up to determine the question?

    Which ever side you are on – I think we can all agree that we want the result to be definitive and not open to accusations of bias wording etc.

    The SNP should not press on and ignore all outside output on this one. This is too important.

  4. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “Is there scope for cross-party commission in Holyrood to either come to an agreement as to the proposed question? Or, even to agree to have a separate independent commission to be set up to determine the question?”

    To be honest, I don’t see much chance of finding common ground between “Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?” and “Should we rip ourselves out of the international community and abandon Scotland to the certainty of crushing poverty and constant terrorist attack under the neo-fascist jackboot of isolationist separatism? NO/NO”

    “I think we can all agree that we want the result to be definitive”

    I see no ambiguity or uncertainty whatsoever about the proposed question, nor any possibility of anyone claiming they didn’t know what they were being asked when they went to the polling station. Personally I’d be happy with a one-word question: “Independence?”

  5. redcliffe62

    I think a rider is required to state this relates to the 1707 agreement and not 1603 as I think many people will assume that it is. Or be told it is in true Obama muslim fashion.
    Many people are apolitical and not crash hot on anything newsy except the beeb, who I supect are playing a role to keep the status quo and avoid true discussion.
    A Beeb debate on the NO campaign and what it stands for heading towards 2014 would be good but it will never happen.  
    Anyone against this comment on 1707 being included in an explanation has a vested interest to muddy the waters.

  6. TheMaganator

    It was shown than the word ‘agree’ added support for Indy when 3 separate questions asked to same people in same Poll. That makes the question weighted in my opinion.

    There has to be common ground and that ground has to be found. It will require maturity from both sides. 

  7. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “It was shown than the word ‘agree’ added support for Indy when 3 separate questions asked to same people in same Poll. That makes the question weighted in my opinion.”

    We dealt with this before:

    If you frame the statement the other way, NOT including the word “agree” biases the outcome AGAINST independence. So how to decide which way round wins? Who the public elected to run the country seems a pretty good basis for determining who gets to choose. If the Unionists want to frame the question the way they prefer, then perhaps they should have (a) stood for election on a platform of offering a referendum rather than opposing one, and (b) won that election.

  8. DougtheDug

    The LibLabCon unionist coalition have been attempting to control the referendum from the start so this is nothing new.
    First of all they didn’t want the referendum to happen at all by refusing it when they were in a majority.
    Then they wanted to control the date of the referendum by calling for it to be held immediately when the SNP won power.
    Then they wanted to control the number of questions on the ballot paper. Successfully as it turns out but they’ve just cut off their noses to spite their own faces by slapping down any idea of a devo question.
    And now they want someone else to control the wording of the question.
    In all cases what they don’t want is for the SNP to have any contol over the referendum they never wanted in the first place.

  9. TheMaganator

    I still maintain that all parties should be involved in the framing of the question.

    Leaving the way it is, as you agree, is bias in favour of the YES vote. That cannot be correct.

    Cross-party Holyrood-based commission has to be at least attempted. If it fails, then fine, but consensus must at least be sought. 

  10. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “Leaving the way it is, as you agree, is bias in favour of the YES vote. That cannot be correct.”

    Feel free to articulate why the previous feature is wrong.

  11. TheMaganator

    If you accept that it is going to be bias one way or the other why not try to achieve consensus on what is the least bias option?

    You are just saying – common ground wont be found so let the SNP decide. 

  12. redcliffe62

    The cross concensus approach was lost when the SNP MP was run off the scottish affairs committee under bovver boy Davidson. threatening women is a poor show even for a guy familiar with what Glasgow kissing is.
    No concensus there,  
    Discussion let alone concensus was sought but it was not allowed by westminster even when they had the majority of the committee. 

  13. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “You are just saying – common ground wont be found so let the SNP decide. “

    Nearly – I’m saying common ground CAN’T be found, so let THE GOVERNMENT ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE decide how it wants to pursue the manifesto on which it was elected.

    There might, almost, be a moral case if the three UK parties had stood for election offering a referendum. But they didn’t. They didn’t want one at all, so it’s none of their damn business. Their democratic entitlement is to speak against it in Parliament, and to campaign for the answer they want to whichever question the government asks. It ends there, because that’s where the electorate decided it ended.

  14. TheMaganator

    “Discussion let alone concensus was sought but it was not allowed by westminster even when they had the majority of the committee.”
    Well, it is disputed that that ‘threat’ even happened but that debate is for another day and has no doubt been tweeted and blogged to death.

    The suggestion is a Holyrood committee – nothing to do with Westminster.  

  15. Colin Dunn

    TheMaganator – “Leaving the way it is, as you agree, is bias in favour of the YES vote. That cannot be correct.”
    This isn’t a poll, where people on the street can be swayed by the biased wording of a question presented to them out of the blue. It’s a referendum with a long run-up time, and NO potential for people to be confused by the proposed SNP question.
    Sorry, but this whole thing is just a cynical and desperate attempt to wrest control of the referendum from the party that won the election on that plank by those who lost. 

  16. Juteman

    @ TheMaganator.
    The ‘consensus’ was arrived at in Holyrood.

    Are you saying that the Scottish Government shouldn’t be in charge of the referendum?
    Does the SNP have any say in the present Condem policies at Westminster?

  17. TheMaganator

    ” it’s none of their damn business.”

    Those of us living in Scotland will have to do so post-Referendum which ever way it goes.

    If consensus is not reached the results will be questioned and potentially even challenged in the courts.

    Get consensus before the Referendum and it may go some way to smoothing over  the divisions this referendum will cause.

  18. Juteman

    I actually preferred the old ‘accepted wisdom’ that a majority vote for the SNP was a vote for independance.
    Declaring UDI now on that basis would be rather nice.

  19. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “If consensus is not reached the results will be questioned and potentially even challenged in the courts.”

    There is ZERO possibility of a court challenge to the referendum result based on the SNP’s proposed question. None whatsoever. Maybe less than that.

  20. TheMaganator

  21. MajorBloodnok


    It’s all Labour’s fault. If they hadn’t used the word ‘agree’ (twice) in the Devolution referendum back in 1999 then we wouldn’t even be in this situation.

  22. TheMaganator


    Well, yes, there are a lot of things that are Labour’s fault! 

    Thankfully I have never – and will never – support Labour!

  23. Arbroath1320

    Apologies for the naivety here folks, but why is there a problem with the proposed Independence question.
    “Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?”
    Why is there now a problem with the Independence question but there was  no problem with the Devolution question. We couldn’t be witnessing the opposition behaving like spoilt little children by any chance?
    Question 1

    I agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament.
    I do not agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament.

    Question 2

    I agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers.
    I do not agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers.

    I apologise for my stupidity here but I can not  see any difference between either the proposed Independence and the two questions that were on the devolution referendum. Therefore in my view the current proposed question should stand!
    Now if these numpties had stood up and raised merry hell about the questions in the lead up to the Devolution referendum them I might have more respect for them, they didn’t and I don’t!
    My response to the Dependence Brigade is “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander!”

  24. John Lyons

    In resonse to the Maganator, if the Unionists are so concerned why don’t they simply start campaigning and tell us all of the reasons why Scotland would be better off staying in the Union? The Electoral commision aledy said it doesn’t mater a whole lot as it’s a referendm and not a poll or survey. Ifyou’re given 30secndsto read he question and the give your answer the wording can have an impact, but surely over 2 years of campaigning would make a signifiantly larger difference.

    The whole point here is that the Unionists cannot come upwitheven one god reason to stay in the Union. Thier campaign is stationary and the best they can do is try to slow down the nationalists with the repeated Mantra of the question is unfair. Next week we’ll be back to Salmond is pals wi Murdoch and these two topics will be interchanged because there is no positive case for the Union.
    Also, imgine we have a referendum with the SNP version of the wording. Imagine we agree that using theword agree gives the SP a 1 or 2 percet advantage. Imagine they win by10% It doesn’t realy matter unless it’s close. And if it’s close there will be all sorts of accusations flying about. Words will be the least of our worries.

    And finally those of us livng in Scotland do NOT have to keep doing so post referendum. You are free to leave any time. This is not North Korea.
    To Red Cliffe, 1707? What? You say people aren’t interested in the news of today but expect them to be interested in the news of three or four hundred years ago? The people who are ignorant of the news today are unlikely to be any more knowledgeable about the creation of the Union. In fact, I’d wager if you mentioned Darien to them most of them would think he’d been on big brother.

    As for Muddying the waters, if the average voter gets confused by different voting systems used when having a Scottish election and a local election on the same day I’m damn sure most of them will be wondering why you’re going on about seven minutes past five in the evening! 

    Further more, the referendum is not about the past, it’s about the Future.

    And to Rev Stu. You are bang on the money mate. The Democratically elected party who have the backing of the majority of the people of this country should set the question.

  25. Peninsula

    The unionist parties never wanted a Referendum and made it clear they’d block any attempt by the (minority) SNP to hold one

    Now they want to control the wording, timing, and question on a referendum they were/are totally opposed to??

    Get real.  This is fantasy stuff. It really, really, doesn’t work like that.  

  26. Juteman

    Let’s make the question more similar to the Unionist question for devolution. Have two ‘agrees’ like then.

    1. I agree Scotland should be an independant Country, and control its own affairs.
    2. I agree Scotland should only be a region of the UK, and be controlled from Westminster.

  27. Arbroath1320

    I think the word JEALOUSY best describes the Dependence Brigade here.
    They are jealous because:
    They refused to JOIN the discussion on Independence
    They are now EXCLUDED from the discussion on how to move the debate forward
    They have NO answers to the question of What are the benefits of the union
    They see the SNP as being a popular party and they are not popular
    They see the SNP have ANSWERS but they have NONE

  28. Juteman

    It’s possibly just as simple as that Arbroath.
     Being on the outside looking in can get lonely.

  29. Arbroath1320

    Do you think this can also explain the disgraceful slurs being banded by Labour about the Leader of Dundee council Juteman?

    Oh dear. The y not only don’t get to be involved in the discussions on Independence they fon’t get to meet the Dalai Lama either. Shame!
    Perhaps if they were a grown up political party and stopped throwing all their toys out of the pram they may actually realise that to be invited to ANYTHING first of all you must be GROWN UP and behave accordingly!
    Oops, sorry. I forgot I’m talking about Labour, they don’t do grown up! 😆

  30. Juteman

     Being a Dundonian, i’ve tried to post twice on NNS on that very subject. My posts are not welcome. I’m finished with NNS. What could be a good resource for fellow travellers has turned into something strange.

    STV 6pm news (Dundee version) was  actually quite refreshing. Bob Duncan, the LP, was fairly reported as meeting the Dali Lama after attending a family funeral. The reporter, Craig Millar, as good as said it was an attempted political stitch up by the Liberals and Labour. He’ll get sacked shortly if he keeps on reporting the truth like that.
    He turned Wullie Rennie into a gibbering ‘yeah but no but yeah but’ no’ fool’.

  31. Arbroath1320

    Join the club Juteman. It appears I’ve upset some of the moderators some time ago over at NNS as well! I have occasionally put a post up since being sent to the “naughty step” but it takes about an hour for it to get up, if they don’t get too upset about it. Mind you with their new policy of 30 minutes between posts I guess that’s an improvement for me! 😆
    I usually just read their articles now. NNS has, in my view gone from a good site right down to a mediocre site, which is a shame because I used to really enjoy posting there. I am not the most knowledgeable but I did have a good laugh, pity NNS don’t do FUN any more! 🙁
    I’d like to say your in good company but that may not be what you want to hear, any way the “Darkened Room” is open! 😆
    Here’s how the STV site is currently reporting the Dalai Lama’s visit. They still manage to get the Muppet Rennie into the report. He still doesn’t get the difference between Political leader and Religious Leader! What a numpty! 😀

  32. albaman

    Rev Stuart Campbell,
    Can you check on something for me please?,.
    That is the wording by the then British Government, on the referendum on whither to
    join the European union, or was it an earlier one on the Free trade?.
    Anyway I seem to remember the wording began with=”DO YOU AGREE 
    I know you or the posters here will dig it out if true       

  33. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    The 1975 EEC referendum question was:

    “Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)? YES/NO”

  34. Appleby

    Labour had their chance and refused to do anything about it for year after year. They could have held the referendum. They could have set a question, etc. They instead decided to ignore demands for the referendum and run the country poorly until they were thrown out on their ear. They have no right or mandate to lay down the law after being the clear losers.
    Does anyone really think that dimwit Lamont and her kind would be desperate to take it out of the politicians’ control and hand it all over to a third party if SHE had control over it by being First Minister? It’s a pathetic and transparent attempt. She does not have the guile to pull that one off.

  35. Angus McLellan

    The BBC and others are reporting that Welsh FM Carwyn Jones has gone a bit off piste as far as the Labour message goes. He’s come out in favour of two questions in the referendum.
    With a straight question, he said, “people would be forced into a choice between the status quo – which it seems to me the people of Scotland don’t want – and independence which the opinion polls again suggest is something the people of Scotland are reluctant to accept“. Interesting choice of words there, “don’t want” vs “reluctant to accept”, and not all that different from Alan Trench’s piece last year on Devolution Matters about the dangers for the No camp of a single question.

  36. Tris

    I just can’t see what’s dubious about “Do you wish Scotland to be an independent country?”

    Maybe it’s just  they think we are too supid to understand what it means. 

    The arguments will have be threshed out for two years. Everyone who hasn’t been comatose for that period will know what is at stake if they want to know what is at stake.

    Yes, I want Scotland to be independent

    No, I do not want Scotland to be independent.

    Even the stupidest of us could work out the difference.

    But who are these relevant experts that Lamont thinks the people can trust. I imagine she has done her research and knows that the Electoral Commission is not competent to get involved in this. So who else… churches, London, the EU, the UN, America, China, the Law, oor Wullie?

    I’d really like to know, because right now I don’t trust anyone.


  37. zander

    If the unionist parties wanted to participate in the wording of THE question, and much more, they should have supported the referendum in the last session of Parliament. They did not. They effectively asked the Scots for direction. May before last, the Scots gave Parliament direction. Therefore, I do not see they have any reason to bubble about it now. Its called consequences of your actions – bummer eh?

  38. redcliffe62

    In Oz we had an article on TV showing people did not want independence as they wanted to keep the Queen.
    Mr and Mrs Average has limited nous in a media landscape of bias. 
    Vote indy and lose the Queen etc. Not good.
    I think it needs to be stated that this is an amendment to the Houses Of Parliament being returned to Edinburgh but it has no bearing on the Union of the Crowns. That is worth 2 or 3% in my view.
    And clarity like this cannot really be argued with by the other parties, as another scare tactic is removed. 

  39. douglas clark

    Would your ballot paper have a question something like this on it?

    Do you agree that the Scottish government should negotiate with Westminster on a dissolution of the Act of Union of 1707 with a view to separating the parliamentary legislatures of Scotland from that of the rest of the UK, whilst retaining the Union of the Crowns of 1603?

    Because, in essence, asking:

    Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?” is just a simplified version of the above, given the nature of the modern world and it’s inter-relatedness.

    I fear that constitutionalists are perhaps not the best people to pose a referendum question. (Edit: I am referring to myself there, being quite keen on constitutional issues, not your good self)

    The old engineering expression KISS comes to mind.

  40. The Sage of the Spice Rack

    TheMaganator says:
    “If you accept that it is going to be bias one way or the other why not try to achieve consensus on what is the least bias option?!”
    But consensus has been achieved.
    RUTH DAVIDSON MSP, Official Report, 25 January 2012: “What the First Minister posited today is a fair and decisive legal question, which I welcome…”
    DANNY ALEXANDER MP, BBC GMS, 26 January 2012: “I welcome particularly the focus on a single clear question on whether or not Scotland should be independent”…
    If Ms Davidson and the LibDems are now doing an abrupt u-turn that strongly suggests politicking. Therefore not credible.
    “You are just saying – common ground wont be found so let the SNP decide.”
    No. Parliament will decide. Exactly as happens in Westminster.
    “The suggestion is a Holyrood committee – nothing to do with Westminster.”
    Incredibly incompetent to suggest a Holyrood Committee should do something that a Holyrood Committee will be doing anyway as part of the Bill process. Exactly as happens in Westminster.
    Demanding something that is going to happen anyway is just grandstanding.
    And who is saying the question is biased? The Scottish Affairs committee doing an investigation into what they call “separation”.
    Since they are approching the issue from a clearly biased standpoint their views on bias can be dismissed as politicking. Their conclusions have no credibility.
    The question back at ’em is why a process that the Parliament (Westminster) they elevate to such high status and which they want to make decisions for Scotland is not okay for the Scottish Parliament? If they donlt like this process why do they want Scotland to remain subject to a Westminster Parliament that does it?

Comment - please read this page for comment rules. HTML tags like <i> and <b> are permitted. Use paragraph breaks in long comments. DO NOT SIGN YOUR COMMENTS, either with a name or a slogan. If your comment does not appear immediately, DO NOT REPOST IT. Ignore these rules and I WILL KILL YOU WITH HAMMERS.

  • About

    Wings Over Scotland is a (mainly) Scottish political media digest and monitor, which also offers its own commentary. (More)

    Stats: 6,609 Posts, 1,192,771 Comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Tags

  • Recent Comments

  • RSS Wings Over Scotland

  • A tall tale

↑ Top