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What’s the magic word?

Posted on January 22, 2013 by

We’ve raised this subject before, but it was brought to mind again by a conversation we had on Twitter last night and this morning, and it never gets any less relevant. Opinion polls are tricky things. Let’s just remind ourselves of a few:

Who do you trust to act in Scotland’s best interests?
Scottish Government: 71%
UK Government: 18%

(Source: here. Also reported in Scotsman subsidiary Fife Today, but mysteriously now completely vanished from the internet.)

Which decisions about Scotland should be made by Holyrood?
All of them: 43%
The same ones as now: 21%

(Source: here, table A1. A “devo-max” option scored 29%.)

Should Scotland be an independent country?
Yes: 28%
No: 48%

(Source: here, although see here.)

Alert readers will of course have noticed (again) that these three questions are in fact all the same as each other. They all describe independence. Yet the answers are radically different. Scottish voters trust the Scottish Parliament to act in their best interests vastly more than they trust the UK Parliament. They think it should make all decisions about the governance of Scotland. Yet ask them if they want to vote to make that exact thing happen, and they change their minds completely.

There’s clearly a serious democratic disconnect here. What to do?

The referendum question hasn’t been decided for certain yet, and the Unionists are in a state of more or less perpetual fury about the proposed formulation, so it wouldn’t be hard to change. Scots clearly want independence, as long as it isn’t called that. So what’s the word or phrase that doesn’t scare them off, and which can be answered “Yes”? (As it’d be a pain to have to change the YesScotland campaign’s name now.)

“Should the Scottish Parliament make ALL decisions about Scotland?” seems to fit the bill. Would the Electoral Commission find fault with that? It’s hard to see how. It has the benefit of not including the supposedly “leading” prefix “Do you agree”, and the word “all” is pretty unambiguous. It means “all”.

Would it need clarification, perhaps “including foreign policy, taxation and defence”, so that nobody could possibly complain the electorate was being duped? It seems to us that that would actually make it LESS clear – by suggesting that there were still perhaps some unnamed powers being reserved to Westminster – so it’s best as it is.

Would the Unionist parties be able to portray it – and we know they’d try –  as somehow inviting a particular answer? It’s difficult to think of any grounds. You can’t ask a question that requires a binary decision without a word like “should”, after all, and it’s the “Do you agree” part they’ve made all the fuss about.

It encompasses democracy. The word “independence” is inextricably associated with the SNP, and the No campaign continually conflates the two for its own ends, attempting to frighten people with the notion of a one-man Alex Salmond dictatorship for life. Focusing the question on the Parliament rather than a single cause is a far more honest and accurate portrayal of the situation.

At nine words, our question is even shorter than the ten-word one proposed by the Scottish Government. It’s clear, fair and decisive. By autumn 2014, nobody will be in any doubt as to what it means. And for whatever reason, it seems far more able to let Scottish people vote for the thing they really want.

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    127 to “What’s the magic word?”

    1. Cuphook says:

      This is precisely what was happening in 2010. When questioned people showed massive support for SNP policies and then declared that they would be voting for Labour and policies with which they disagreed. We all know what happened in 2011.

    2. cath says:

      Or it could ask: “Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country”, with the explanatory text, “ie the Scottish parliament makes all decisions about what happens in Scotland.”

    3. Training Day says:

      Agreed, Stu, I have always had much sympathy for the view that a ‘softer’ question should be asked in order not to frighten those who seem to live in perpetual dread of the ‘i’ word (although being realistic anyone who is frightened of a perfectly normal state of affairs which exists throughout the world perhaps shouldn’t venture beyond their front door). 

      Playing Devil’s advocate though – would your question allow some weaselly lawyer (I’m reliably informed that there are some affiliated to the Better Together campaign) to muddy things and claim that the United Kingdom had not been formally, legally ended with a Yes response to your question?

    4. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

      How About. Should the Scottish Parliament make all decisions about Scotland, Independent from Westminster rule?

    5. Luigi says:

      These poll results are very encouraging. For the Labour party in particular, they must be terrifying. I think the apparent “disconnect” indicates that a sizeable chunk of the Scottish population currently want to remain in the union, in spite of everything. They fully appreciate what the Scottish government has done since 2007, and they already know that the union is crap, but they are not yet ready to make that final leap. These are the people that voted SNP cautiously, for the first time, in 2011. These are the people that are gradually changing from “No” to “Undecided”. These people have no faith in unionist parties. They are still hanging on to the union, for emotional/sentimental reasons, but they are still unaware just how awful things are going to become if we vote “No” in 2014. Thankfully, these people are beginning to open their eyes. The nation is slowly waking from its 300 year slumber.

    6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      Ronald: however irrational it is, people do seem to be afraid of the i-word. The purpose of this exercise is to take it right out of the equation.

    7. dadsarmy says:

      Interesting. Perhaps Ian Davidson and his SACs are actually in favour of Independence, and trying to tell us that we’re going about this in the wrong way.

      Because I’m fairly sure that in one session they had a long debate about would people understand what Independence is, and shouldn’t it be something else?

      Myabe most people actually want Indpendence, they just don’t know what it is, hence the opinion poll results. Absence of smiley.

    8. Cuphook says:

      The actual question is largely irrelevant as when people go into the booth they will know what they are voting for, it could be ‘Please vote for Option 1 or Option 2’ for all that it matters. Trying to remove the i-word is handing the Unionists a headline. Words only matter during the campaign.

    9. Keef says:

      Should Scotland be Governed by the Scots?

      It’s only seven words as well.  

    10. Melanie McKellar says:

      Should Scotland repeal*/revoke*/dissolve* the 1707 Treaty*/Act* of Union?
      (*choose as desired)

       

    11. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      Keef: much too ambiguous. Gordon Brown was a Scot. Alistair Darling was a Scot. John Reid was a Scot. Tony Blair, at least technically, was a Scot. Michael Gove is a Scot. Etc.

    12. dadsarmy says:

      cath
      Yes, I read a bit of an Electoral Commission report, and there was a discussion about explanatory text for the North-East reogion referendum. There was apparently quite a long explanatory text there. The SG should definitely use that, but I don’t remember there being anything about it in the consultation. It wqould need to be “cleared” with the EC though, but perhaps that could be done as a later add-on, I don’t know.

    13. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Should Scotland repeal*/revoke*/dissolve* the 1707 Treaty*/Act* of Union?”

      Nobody knows what that really is, and they’re not going to read it to find out.

    14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Trying to remove the i-word is handing the Unionists a headline.”

      I’ll gladly trade them a million headlines for a Yes vote.

      “The actual question is largely irrelevant as when people go into the booth they will know what they are voting for”

      Will they, though? For how long have we been pointing out that the referendum decides only one thing, only for people to come back again and again with “What will an independent Scotland’s policy on X/Y/Z be?”

      As I’ve said, if we focus on the Parliament rather than a word inextricably linked to the SNP, we take party politics out of the debate far more effectively than we’ve managed so far. And we must do that if we’re going to win.

    15. Kenny Campbell says:

      The last question makes the person answer a question that requires change from the position we are in today, the first two are questions regarding hypothetical opinions that require a level of change that is so abstract that its not interpreted as ‘real’ change..
       
      People are scared and concerned by what they see as real change.  The MSM and Westminster politicians ‘magic’ is working….too wee, too daft, too poor…

    16. Aplinal says:

      I expect S_S to come along and explain these apparent different returns to what, as you say, appear to be the same/similar question.
       
      Maybe it is simply that the word “Independence” has been given such a negative definition here in the UK – strange that EVERY other country has no problem with it, and nor does the UK government!  cf. Kosovo for example.  It is ONLY a problem when considering Scotland.
       
      So, how about:
      Should Scotland re-assume ALL powers over its governance?  (or does that also need more explanation?  It does seem a bit convoluted!)

    17. Holebender says:

      I like the short succinct question. For those who want to spell out that it means full independence without using the “i” word, how about
       
      Should the Scottish Parliament make all decisions about Scotland, and repeal the 1707 Act of Union?

    18. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

      I realise that Stu, but It could provide an acceptable definition of Independence.

    19. Holebender says:

      Oops, looks like Melanie beat me to it!

    20. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      Holebender: too confusing, because it sounds like two questions. I guess you could replace “and repeal” with “repealing”, but I still don’t like referencing the AoU at all.

    21. creag an tuirc says:

      How About. Should the Scottish Parliament make all decisions about Scotland, seperate from Westminster rule?

      It’s an in out question and “Should the Scottish Parliament make ALL decisions about Scotland?” is a devo max question. I do think there is a better question out there it just needs to be found.

    22. muttley79 says:

      The problem with the other question Rev Stu is that unionists will twist it by saying that the EU makes decisions that affect Scotland.  People like Alf Young, who passes himself off as impartial, has done this already.

    23. dadsarmy says:

      Mmm, quickly, explanatory text on the Ballot Sheet

      Do you agree that Scotland should be an Independent Country? YES / NO

      What is meant by “Independent Country”?

      This means that Scotland would be able to make all decisions. Currently there are matters which are reserved by Westminster, which means that these decisions are made at Westmineter, and the Scottish Government can not make these decisions for Scotland. Being an “Independent Country” would mean that these matters would all be the responsibility of the Scottish Government, and decisions at Westminster. Westminster would no longer have any control over these matters.

      Something like that!

    24. Brian Ritchie says:

      Personally I would leave the i-word in, but include “parliament”.
      “Do you believe Scotland should have a fully independent parliament?” 

    25. Ray says:

      The big problem I see with Rev’s suggested question is that those against independence will bring up the EU and their laws/decisions over countries even more than now, muddying what should be a simple question to answer. Apart from that though, I love it.

    26. R.Louis says:

      Wholly agree with the notion behind this piece.  I have often felt, that a question which asks Scotland to take control of its own affairs, in any poll would garner near 90% support in Scotland.

      I think the Scottish Government needs to explore all options, which needn’t be difficult given the ability of unionists to complain no matter what the question is.  We fully expect them to whinge no matter what the question is.

      In some ways, the question of the Scottish parliament taking full control, in essence makes what independence entails very clear, and avoids any confusion. Perhaps the electoral commission might think it indeed superior to the current proposed question.

    27. dadsarmy says:

      Typo and too late to edit:

      ” and decisions at Westminster” should of course be

      ” and decisions made at Holyrood”

    28. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “The problem with the other question Rev Stu is that unionists will twist it by saying that the EU makes decisions that affect Scotland.”

      A good point, except that they do that now with the i-word anyway. They say “You’re not independent if you’re ruled by Brussels!” or “You’re not independent if you’re in a currency union!”, so we’re losing nothing there.

    29. Aplinal says:

      @dads
       
      Do you think people would read all the ‘guff’ as they are considering where to put their “X”?  All this should be clear before voters enter the polling booth, if it isn’t, we have already lost the argument.
       
      I suppose our expressions of concern here are based on the apparent disconnect between what many posters have reported through their personal experience, and what the pollsters seem to be suggesting.  Maybe, just maybe, respondents to polls are “lying”, but in a nice way – “I really am thinking about YES, but don’t want to say so to you people!”

    30. muttley79 says:

      You could ask the voters: Do you agree that all the powers that Westminster has over Scottish Affairs be transferred to the Scottish Parliament?  
       

    31. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “How About. Should the Scottish Parliament make all decisions about Scotland, seperate from Westminster rule?”

      Two problems. (1) it includes the s-word, which is even worse than the i-word, and (2) “separate from” implies that Westminster rule is still somehow in the picture. You could argue that it in fact meant the status quo – all decisions, apart from the ones made by Westminster.

      “is a devo max question”

      It’s really not. “Devo max” means MOST decisions, not ALL.

    32. Doug Daniel says:

      I can imagine someone saying this should mean Scotland out of the EU too – “oooh, I voted for Edinburgh to make ALL decisions, not Brussels.”

      And I imagine the unionists would say “Trident is a decision about the UK, not Scotland alone” or something like that.

      But as you say, they’ll find fault in anything. Any excuse to avoid having to debate the actual substance of the issue. And they’ve got such an aversion to the word “independence”, so they surely can’t complain about that being taken out…?

    33. Holebender says:

      A possible fly in the ointment is that the Electoral Commission is already testing the SG’s proposed question. Their tests would have to be scrapped and started over if the question was changed. This could cause delays, and lead to accusations of the SG trying to avoid an unfavourable report from the EC re bias, etc.

    34. Aplinal says:

      Just been rethinking my suggestion, and it’s pants! 🙁
       
      Should all decisions affecting Scotland be made by the Scottish Government?
       
      This allows for “cross-border” decisions, e.g. accepting EU regulations etc. to still be MADE by the Scottish government.

    35. naebd says:

      cath says:
      “ie the Scottish parliament makes all decisions about what happens in Scotland.”

      Yikes! Even how many eggs I have for my breakfast? Count me out!

    36. Seasick Dave says:

      Q. Should Scotland continue to be shafted by Westminster?

    37. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “A possible fly in the ointment is that the Electoral Commission is already testing the SG’s proposed question. Their tests would have to be scrapped and started over if the question was changed.”

      True, but there’s plenty of time, and the government could say “Look, this is exactly why we didn’t rush into the referendum recklessly like the Unionists wanted.”

    38. muttley79 says:

      It seems to me that if these polls are correct, there is a significant number of voters in Scotland with cognitive dissonance over independence.  The three polls at the top indicate this clearly.  How do you solve this problem?  It appears to me that many people support independence but are unaware of it.

    39. Keef says:

        Stu, if scots is too ambiguous then howabout – should Scotland be governed by the Scottish?

      From the Oxford dictionary:-
      The terms Scottish, Scot, Scots, and Scotch are all variants of the same word. They have had different histories, however, and in modern English they have developed different uses and connotations. The normal everyday word used to mean ‘of or relating to Scotland or its people’ is Scottish.

    40. naebd says:

      Should all decisions affecting Scotland be made by the Scottish Government?

      All decisions? So, the import duties that Venezuela imposes on Scottish exports are controlled by the Scottish Parliament… Count me in!

    41. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Stu, if scots is too ambiguous then howabout – should Scotland be governed by the Scottish?”

      ETHNIC NATIONALISM KLAXON.

    42. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

      How About. Should the Scottish Parliament make all decisions about Scotland and retain The Union of Corwns?

    43. Kenny Campbell says:

      Q:Should we tell the Westminster Government to fuck right off ? yes/no , the audacity I think would appeal to Glaswegians like myself.

    44. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “All decisions? So, the import duties that Venezuela imposes on Scottish exports are controlled by the Scottish Parliament… Count me in!”

      Yep, that’s the problem with the “affecting” wording. All sorts of things affect us but are none of our business to decide. “About” is clearer.

    45. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “How do you solve this problem? It appears to me that many people support independence but are unaware of it.”

      Precisely the point of the article, mon ami.

    46. Kenny Campbell says:

      Should decision about Scotland be made in Edinburgh or London ?

    47. Adrian B says:

      Do you trust the Scottish Parliament to make Scottish decisions?

    48. Rabb says:

      Do you agree that Scotland should be a sovereign nation again?

      Yes

      No

      Simples!

    49. creag an tuirc says:

      @Rev. Stuart Campbell

      was having a bit of fun with the seperate word (should have used a smiley face) The ALL question is open to attacks from the FUDs IMHO. How about free instead of separate, so “Should the Scottish Parliament make all decisions about Scotland, free from Westminster rule?”

    50. Holebender says:

      Keef, does that include the diaspora? How about Scots-born people living furth of Scotland? How about non-Scottish people living in Scotland? Should they be excluded from making decisions about the place they live in? Remember, they will have a vote – how many will vote yes on the basis of your question?

    51. dadsarmy says:

      Aplinal
      It was a very quuick effort and could be improved and shortened.

      It would, however, be discussed and ridiculed by Unionists, who have more space in the MSM, so the message would get out there a lot faster …

    52. Keef says:

      Stu a similar argument was made by the no campaign. A.S. countered it by saying regardless if you are Pakistani,Indian, Polish etc. if you reside in Scotland and are the electoral role- you are Scottish

    53. dadsarmy says:

      I like Kenny Campbell’s question 🙂

      (the fuck off Westminster one)

    54. creag an tuirc says:

      @dadsarmy 
      I like Kenny Campbell’s question

      me too 🙂

    55. Keef says:

      @ hole bender.

      Not the faintest idea.

      In saying Scots or Scottish I’m trying to convey the people who reside there.  

    56. Seasick Dave says:

      Kenny

      I think that you have cracked it.

      Can we get it fired off to the Electoral Commission? 

    57. Keef says:

      Should Scotland be governed by its own parliament?

    58. muttley79 says:

      @Rev Stu
       
      Precisely the point of the article, mon ami.


      I meant more if the question stays the same, or if there is only minor changes to it.  In a campaigning sense how would you solve the cognitive dissonance problem? 

    59. EricF says:

      Maybe think about ditching the single question while we’re about it, and not necessarily making a virtue out of brevity.  What about:

      1) Should all decisions about Scotland be made by the  Scottish Parliament?

      OR

      2)  Should the Westminster parliament continue to retain its power to make decisions about Scotland?

      Either 1) or 2).  Let people in the voting booth not just contemplate the prospect of Scotland becoming independent, but also get them to actively vote for the prospect of Westminster control, if that’s what they REALLY want.

    60. Cameron says:

      Possibly a little wordy, but how about;
       
      Should the Scottish Parliament have the full authority to govern Scotland, independent of other UK parliaments?

    61. Doug Daniel says:

      “Is Scotland a country, rather than a region?”

      “Should Scotland grow up and start making its own decisions?”

      “Do you want that chip off your shoulder?”

      “Is it time to stop being a wee pretendy nation of pussies?”

      Not sure any of these would get past the EC, mind… 

    62. Doug Daniel says:

      Kenny’s one is good, but fails the “can I answer ‘yes’?” test.

      It’d have to be reworded into something like “Do you want all reserved matters at Westminster to be devolved to Scotland in full?” 

    63. Aplinal says:

      @dads
       
      No prob – ps. sorry about using the word “guff” it seemed a bit brusque in retrospect!

    64. cath says:

      Kenny’s is good. I’d vote for that.

      One thing, amidst all the re-wording and semantics is that, just possibly, the Yes campaign are not too worried by the supposed cognitive dissonance at this stage.

      While unionist questions such as “do you want Scotland to leave the UK, separate etc?” draw low numbers of yes votes, “do you want independence?” draws a little higher and “do you trust the Scottish parliament / want it to have full powers” is a fairly overwhelming Yes, it means the Yes camp have cards to play.

      So rather than re-wording and making the question more complex, the key may be simply to make sure voters understand over the next year or so that independence IS the Scottish government taking all decisions.

      It’s not necessarily cognitive dissonance, but a gradual coming around to the fact that words they have long been sold as too scary, or a minority view, or extremist, and that they may therefore be wary or uneasy agreeing to for pollsters, are not, but are normal, reasonable and desirable. Gradually, those who think the Scottish parliament should have all powers should naturally move to a Yes simply because that’s what independence is.

      There’s a strong case that allowing people to think it through and come to that decision themselves is better than trying to word a question to capture the best result in polls. 

    65. turnip_ghost says:

      I do prefer The Rev’s question however the conversation about it, to me anyway, seems to forget one thing…By the time the referendum comes about every single person eligible (and let’s face it, not eligible) to vote will know EXACTLY is meant by the question. By the time the referendum comes all the quibbling and scare tactics about the question will be long forgotten.

      Anyone who doesn’t understand the question by then shouldn’t be getting the vote. ;-D haha

    66. Yesitis says:

      Do you agree Scotland should be free of further Eleanor Bradford NHS loophole investigations?

    67. AndrewFraeGovan says:

      I don’t think the proposed question will turn out to be problematic, however in light of the cited polls, perhaps the yes campaign should emphasise “The Scottish Parliament should make ALL decisions about Scotland” while minimising use of the i-word, just in case!

    68. FreddieThreepwood says:

      My apologies if someone’s already made these points (having to dash and no time to read all the responses) – but I foresee a couple of issues with your wording Rev.
      First, I don’t doubt for a minute the unionists (and probably Electoral Commission itself) would say it is deliberately designed to bring about independence without explicitly saying as much (which, of course, it is).
      Secondly – and to be pedantic – independence will not allow Holyrood to make ALL decisions for and about Scotland. Our disagreement with the Ian Davidson’s of this world who paint independence as some sort of gory battlefield amputation is that we live in a multi-layered, interdependent world and an independent Scotland, at least under current proposals, would be sharing decision-making with the likes of the Bank of England and Brussels.

    69. Macart says:

      I still think Yuppfurrit? Aye / Naw, is a winner. 🙂

    70. Doug Daniel says:

      Yesitis says:

      “Do you agree Scotland should be free of further Eleanor Bradford NHS loophole investigations?”

      I’m not sure a person can say “yes” to that enough.

    71. Cameron says:

      @ Macart
       
      🙂 🙂 🙂

    72. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      Should the people of Scotland elect representatives to the Holyrood Parliament as a Nation State once more, to make all decisions on behalf of Scotland including foreign affairs, taxation and defence?

      YES / NO

      Im quite happy with the actual question but heres an alternative.

    73. muttley79 says:

      Do you think there should be a clear out of BBC Scotland’s Labour luvvies? (Bird, Campbell, Wark, Renton etc).

    74. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      Or just:

      Should the people of Scotland elect representatives to the Holyrood Parliament as a Nation State once more?

    75. James says:

      Would you like Scotland to be an independent country?

    76. Training Day says:

      @Muttley

      “Do you think there should be a clear out of BBC Scotland’s Labour luvvies? (Bird, Campbell, Wark, Renton etc).”

      Not viable, I’m afraid.  It would cost Scots billions to relocate them and besides, there isn’t anywhere in England with the facilities to accommodate them.

    77. muttley79 says:

      @Training Day
       
      Not viable, I’m afraid.  It would cost Scots billions to relocate them and besides, there isn’t anywhere in England with the facilities to accommodate them.


      Worth a try.  😀

       

    78. gerrydotp says:

      Slightly O/T But when Scotland votes to become independant, will the “Assets” and “Liabilities” of the UK be handed over to independant admistrators to be distributed between Scotland and what’s left (whatever it’s called).  I get the impression that Westminster thinks it would then enter negotiations with Scotland to decide the distribution of assets.  They being completly unbiased and fair you know.

    79. cath says:

      “It would cost Scots billions to relocate them and besides, there isn’t anywhere in England with the facilities to accommodate them.”
       
      Scaremongering. They can be decommissioned and sent to the US within 2 weeks according to my experts.

    80. Silverytay says:

      How about
      Do you believe Scotland should become a normal country and run it,s own affairs .
      Apologies if someone has already posted this or something similar , just rushing out for the night and have not had time to go through this story . 

    81. Midgehunter says:

      What I can’t get ma head round lately is not just that people want all decisions and interests made in Hollyrood by the SG but they’re seemingly not polling for it.
      This just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever …?!
      Then again there doesn’t seem to be many real polls being conducted lately, just bits and pieces where the indy seems to get a bashing.
      Add in the fact that the NO bitters all seem to be getting edgy and nervous, not to mention aggresive in speech. The queen and olympics are over and we didn’t all convert to NO. The NO bitters are still nobodys, nobody goes to their meetings, nobody has any charisma. Why all this sudden interest in Devo something??
      Of course I could be completely wrong but I recken there are polls being taken by the NO-bodies and it’s scaring the living s..t out of them which is why nothing’s being published. There’s a big black unseen dog prowling outside of the nobody house and it’s getting closer and closer …..

    82. dadsarmy says:

      How about:

      Do you agree that Scotland should be an Independent Country and keep a free NHS, free tution, benefits for all, and have better opportunities for employment, higher value jobs, its own place in the world (this is a YES), or should it stay under Westminster’s thumb for ever, with an NHS that you pay for, tuition fees of probably £30,000 per year, more unemployment, no benefits (if you’re unable or sick you get euthanised) and invading foreign countries starting with Malta to protect the UK’s interest in the Middle East and run as a remote part of the UK for its own benefit by rich posh gits (that’s NO)? YES / NO

      You can put an X in one or two boxes.

      It’s a single question!

    83. orpheuslyre says:

      The equivocation here is that the first two questions refer to readily identifiable practicalities that are evidently political. The third question is complicated by identity issues that are not necessarily political, and to some extent can not be resolved.

    84. Luigi says:

      Do you believe that Scotland should get off it’s knees?

    85. The Rough Bounds. says:

      It seems to me that it wouldn’t really matter what the wording was for the referendum as long as the people actually fully understood what was meant.
      This means the Yes campaign getting the message to every single person in Scotland before the referendum. A free newspaper spelling out exactly what you will gain by independence and the dire consequences (and lets not mince our words with this; the DIRE consequences) of remaining in this union has to be delivered to every single voter in the country.
       
      No one should be in any doubt about what the hellish consequences will be if we vote No.

    86. Brian Ritchie says:

      Yes I think you have a point, which is why I think linking the concept of independence with the parliament i.e Do you think Scotland should have a fully independent parliament would put the question back into the political sphere, and also link independence with the parliament, something which is both familiar and popular.

    87. Hetty says:

      REALLY IT IS ABOUT EDUCATING THE SCOTTISH PEOPLE WITH THE FACTS SO THEY CAN MAKE AN INFORMED CHOICE. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO STILL DO NOT KNOW, (THROUGH IGNORANCE OR THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO EARN THEIR CRUST AND TOO BUSY), WHAT POWERS SCOTLAND ALREADY HAS IN MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS FOR ITS OWN PEOPLE. IT’S HOW TO GET THE MESSAGE ACROSS TO ALL VOTERS JUST EXACTLY WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES WILL BE SHOULD THERE BE A NO VOTE. IT COULD DESTROY SCOTLAND WITH WESTMINSTER CUTTING THE BUDGET MASSIVELY SO THAT ANY DEVOLVED MATTERS WOULD LIKELY BE RENDERED USELESS AND MEANINGLESS.
      HOW DO WE INFORM THE PUBLIC OF THE REAL FACTS, WHO AT THIS PRESENT TIME READ AND BELIEVE WHAT THE GUTTER PRESS PUBLISH EVERYDAY?
      THE MILLIONAIRES DOWN IN LONDINIUM DO NOT CARE ABOUT SCOTLAND AND SO HOW DO WE GET THE MESSAGE TO PEOPLE HERE THAT GOVERNING OUR OWN COUNTRY COULD ONLY BE A GOOD THING. POLITICS SHOULD ABSOLUTELY BE PART OF THE CURRICULUM IN SCHOOLS SO THAT YOUNG FOLK KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT AND DEALING WITH HERE. ALSO IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO FIND OUT HOW MANY 17 YR OLDS ARE INFORMED ABOUT IT ALL.
       
       

    88. Luigi says:

      Do you agree that it is really stupid to pay a cowboy builder in advance (jam tomorrow)?

    89. dadsarmy says:

      This would of course lead to legal challenges, but since Holyrood is totally responsible for the SINGLE question, and the ballot paper, how about:

      Do you agree that Scotland should be an Independent Country?
      YES ( )
      NO ( )
      Devo-Max ( )

      You may put a cross in one or two boxes, but don’t put an X in both YES and NO.

    90. Brian Ritchie says:

      The equivocation here is that the first two questions refer to readily identifiable practicalities that are evidently political. The third question is complicated by identity issues that are not necessarily political, and to some extent can not be resolved.
       
      Yes I think you have a point, which is why I think linking the concept of independence with the parliament i.e Do you think Scotland should have a fully independent parliament would put the question back into the political sphere, and also link independence with the parliament, something which is both familiar and popular.

    91. Hetty says:

      sorry, I had caps lock on for my last post, oops!

    92. Dcanmore says:

      ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an Independent country?’
       
      The only reason Unionists don’t want this worded question is because it isn’t inherently biased in THEIR favour. Better Together and Labour North Britain do not want a fair and just debate, they want as much bias in their favour as possible (such as MSM) so they can win. They want a dirty war of attrition, obfuscation and confusion, anything to put the electorate off Independence, or even the referendum itself. Winning is everything and political survival within the British State must be retained. There is nothing wrong with the question above and the Electoral Commission will see it that way. What we will witness is the lengths Better Together and Labour NB will go to try and win, and we just might watch a horror show unfold once this ‘phoney war’ comes to an end. They will be the architects of their own downfall.

    93. dadsarmy says:

      Hetty, yes this is something the YES campaign badly need to cover, as people don’t know what the parliament can and can’t do.

      So something like a table saying what we can do and can’t do, with three columns at the top “Powers” “With devolution” “With Independence”

      and downwards such as:

      Use all the revenue we generate: NO YES
      Control tax bands: NO YES
      Control Airport Passenger Duty: NO YES
      Control Corporation Tax: NO YES
      Control Income Tax fullyL NO YES
      Control welfare benefits: NO YES
      Set our own defence policy: NO YES
      Control foreign policy: NO YES

      and so on. Ity really shows the meaning of a NO vote, and a YES vote at a glance.

    94. Edulis says:

      The sovereignty of the Scottish nation is vested in the people. Do you want that expressed through:

      1) The Scottish Parliament ?

      2) The UK Parliament ? 

      This would give those MSPs and former MSPs in the Labour and LibDem parties a difficulty because they have already signed up to the sovereignty of the people argument.  

    95. Castle Rock says:

      dadsarmy at 4.30pm
      Good suggestion and maybe someone could develop this into a proper table so that people can see at a glance what the different options mean.  I would like to see nuclear weapons included in this with a line along the lines of “nuclear weapons based on Scottish soil”

      O\T I was flicking through channels last night and one of the programmes described Wembley as the home of British football.  When did this happen? Have I missed something?
       

    96. Craig P says:

      Edulis, that could confuse some types because they would see the word sovreignty and say to themselves that is vested in the queen.

    97. orpheuslyre says:

      Brian Ritchie

      Yes, your suggestion Do you think Scotland should have a fully independent parliament appears to me more tangible straightaway and identifies in an image what is being talked about instead of an abstraction. Something like that is on the right lines.

    98. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Should decision about Scotland be made in Edinburgh or London ?”

      “Yes.”

    99. Seasick Dave says:

      I’ve just had a junk e-mail from Travel and Tourism Intelligence, claiming that the United Kingdom is the third most exciting country in the world.

      I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the UK is not a country. 

    100. macdoc says:

      Do you want what is best for Scotland? Yes or No?

      Nice and simple anyone can understand it.  

    101. Edulis says:

      #Craig P

      You have missed my point. There is already an acceptance that Scottish Constitutional Law has a  fundamentally different take from English Law where sovereignty is vested in the Crown through parliament. The Scottish interpretation has already been accepted by the Labour and LibDem sides in the Claim of Right in the run up to the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and again last year. It misses out the contentious ‘I’ word and nobody can argue with its straightforward fairness in offering a clear choice.  

    102. Seasick Dave says:

      Q. Do you wish Scotland to become totally separate from the Motherland and to float out into the North Atlantic and sink? Well, do you?

    103. velofello says:

      No questing wording at all other than “Which do you prefer of the following?”.
      A Saltire beside the Yes vote box
      A Butcher’s Apron beside the No box. 

    104. Edulis says:

      To add: there is also plenty of time to raise this difference in the constitution as a way of saying we are different. We have a different heritage and a different view of how society should function.

    105. blunttrauma says:

      What’s wrong with the question as it is?

    106. dadsarmy says:

      As I keep saying “Butcher’s Apron” is disrespectful, and is hardly likely to win over the undecided, especially those who feel both Scottish and British. In fact, if anything, it’s likely to turn off some YES voters. The NO campaign will be laughing in their socks.

      The correct term is “Union Jack”.

    107. LisaR says:

      Rev, You should ask the editor why first poll disappeared from Fife Today…him being friends with Gordon Brown along with our Fife local papers being owned by Johnston Press I’m not surprised he has made it disappear or been told to remove it.  Heres the editor Allan’s Twitter…I look forward to his answer:)

       https://twitter.com/FifeFreePressEd

    108. TamD says:

      For what it is worth, when people get round to think about these questions (and many haven’t or just trying to avoid all the blowhards & committed on both sides), they will realize that the answer to last one is much the same as the first two. So I predict this year the third question response partition will fall into line with the first two.

       

    109. TamD says:

      Following from above. If you are really worried, when people read these multiple styles of questions, they will be shocked and surprised at their cognitive dissonance and will correct their thinking about the process, accordingly. So in the end we should thank Johnson Press for such a useful way to bind the idea of all power should reside in Scotland and independence. I would recommend this type of polling to the YES camp.

    110. Morag says:

      The correct term is “Union Jack”.

      Actually, no it isn’t.  That is only the term when the thing is flying on a ship.  The correct term is “Union flag”.

    111. dadsarmy says:

      Thanks Morag, you’re right.

      It does bug me. Over the last 3 months we’ve seen the YES vote stay steady, but the NO vote change to don’t know by 5%, and two journalists move over either to the YES camp, or nearly so. We’re also seeing more impartial coverage on the Herald, to some extent on the Scotsman, and even on BBC Scotland. This because of negativity and insults hurtled by the NO camp, which is clearly antagonising the journalists.

      WHY on earth would we want to copy the NO camp and use insults?

    112. Sam Seaborn says:

      I’m not so sure that questions 1 and 2 are the same as question 3.

      Questions 1 and 2 might be interpreted as having the words “At the present time…” in front of them. This isn’t hair-splitting; at the moment, given the overwhelming anti-Conservative feeling in Scotland, most Scots, even those who regard themselves as Unionists, would probably rather have decisions affecting Scotland taken at Holyrood. Faced with a Labour majority government in London, and (let’s say) an SNP/Lib Dem coalition at Holyrood, the answers might be different. Or, of course, they might not.

      Question 3 involves making a permanent change to Scotland’s governance, regardless of who is in power in London or Edinburgh.

    113. Morag says:

      Of course I could be completely wrong but I recken there are polls being taken by the NO-bodies and it’s scaring the living s..t out of them which is why nothing’s being published.

      I’m inclined to think the same thing, on the basis of everybody’s behaviour.  However, we have to bear in mind Soapy’s point.  He persistently reports very few of his acquaintance admitting to a Yes intention.  He also says the No people are more adamant about their persuasion, while the Yes people appear tentative.

      I’m sure he’s giving a genuine account of his own experience.  We can discuss the “shy yes voter” right enough, but I’m not sure that explains the whole of the discrepancy.  I’d sure like to see some of the Yes Scotland private polling.

    114. Richie says:

      Are you sick of the c***s in Westminster yet?
      Yes or No? 

    115. Richie says:

      @Dadsarmy and Hetty

      Rev has a table like that already. Click on the Jamwatch link at the top of the page. 

    116. Naebd says:

      Should Holyrood make all the decisions = “would a bungie jump be kinda cool?”

      Should Scotland be independent = “climb these stairs then.” 

       

    117. R Louis says:

      Regarding union jack.  It is true, that the term union jack explicitly refers to use at sea, but in modern English either Union jack OR union flag are correct.  It’s really a personal choice.  Either way it really doesn’t matter.  I still call it the union jack, as that is what I the media and everybody I knew have called it all my very long life.  It is only a very recent phenomenon for the likes of the BBC to call it the union flag.

    118. Bill C says:

      I think Luigi’s first post is bang on the money. In daily conversation with friends and family I am detecting two thought processes developing: 1. People are becoming very angry with the negativity of the ‘Bitter Together’ mob, they are sick of the constant put downs; 2. They are now actively thinking which way they will vote. I suspect there are many more ‘Don’t knows’ out there than there was even 3 months ago. 

      Luigi is right it is almost as if the nation is reawakening after a 300 year kip. Hope so anyway. 

    119. dadsarmy says:

      Richie
      Thanks, that’s brilliant. Great minds think alike!?!

    120. Keef says:

      Should the Scottish govt. negotiate with Westminster to repatriate all powers back to Scotland?

      I think it has already been mentioned that this is what will actually happen when the yes vote wins, so why not simply ask if this is what the people want? 

    121. Christian Wright says:

      Since ts is plausible there will be decision to neuter the Scottish Government in the event of a NO vote, it should become a major argument of the YES campaign that it WILL happen.

      The revised focus of the campaign becomes as detailed below with NO utterance of the (apparent) epithet – “independence”. The principles of independence can be better communicated. It will be argued they are synonyms for “independence” presented in a way more accessible to voters. Who can argue with that?

      “Do you want to keep YOUR Scottish Government? Then vote YES on Octoder 17 (2014).

      “Vote YES to keep YOUR government”

      “Holyrood of Westminster, which do you want to govern YOU? Vote YES to keep YOUR Parliament”

      Westminster – 10% of members of parliment represent you
      Holyrood.     – 100% of members of parliament represent you
                         – Vote Yes on October 17

      Vote NO and 9% of Scotland’s oil revenues will be spent in Scotland
      Vote YES and 100% of Scotland’s oil revenues will be spent in Scotland.

      Vote YES to keep YOUR government.

      Your parliament is facing extinction – vote YES to save it

      Save Scotland’s parliament – vote YES

      Let’s’ keep our parliament – vote YES

      Say YES to keep Scotland Government
        

    122. Ron says:

      I signed the ‘YES’ declaration last year and volunteered to leaflet households in my area, but with nothing to distribute, so far. It seems to me that the proposals by Hetty @ 4.28, dadsarmy @ 4.38, Christian Wright @ 11.35 and Rev’s own table could and should be combined in easy to read and understand leaflets. After all, questions requiring a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response are the easiest to react to, confirm and remember.

    123. deewal says:

      dadsarmy says:
      22 January, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      How about:
      Do you agree that Scotland should be an Independent Country and keep a free NHS, free tution, benefits for all, and have better opportunities for employment, higher value jobs, its own place in the world (this is a YES),
      http://i1193.photobucket.com/albums/aa342/abderg/Steve_Cram_and_Nicola_Sturgeon_at_launch_of_Atos_Glasgow_2014_sponsorship_March_16_2012-550×436.jpg

    124. commenter says:

      Yeesh. Don’t give up your day jobs folks.

    125. Melanie McKellar says:

      I said: “Should Scotland repeal*/revoke*/dissolve* the 1707 Treaty*/Act* of Union?”
       
      Rev. Stuart Campbell said: “Nobody knows what that really is, and they’re not going to read it to find out.”
       
      You are of course technically correct Rev.Stu, however it is the Treaty of Union 1707 that binds us to Westminster.  

      The treaty of Union is a mere 25 articles, many of which have subsequently been reneged on in its 300 year history, but the treaty remains in place.  We are reminded of this as it  is listed under section 5 of the Scotland Bill 1998/2012 as a reserved matter :
      The following aspects of the constitution are reserved matters, that is—
      (b)the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England,

      Hence all the foray over the section 30 order…
       
      However all that said I can see your point regarding the ‘i’ word (and your thoughts also appear quite noticeable from anti-‘i’ campaigners in recent weeks as they repeatedly state ‘Scotland is already Independent’.. ) but no matter how you jiggle the question about -Scotland is being asked if we want Scotland to be Independent from Westminster and therefore if the time has come to repeal the Treaty of Union 1707.  That is what Independence means to me.

      to quote David Scheffer from Newsnight Scotland last night: 
      “I think a process needs to unfold in this country where the expression of the Scottish people needs to be confirmed in a referendum and if the answer is YES then a pathway should be discovered for the INDEPENDENCE of Scotland.
      [….] SCOTLAND has been on the path towards it [independence] since the 1970’s and it is a logical trajectory.  There is nothing shocking about it [referendum], no-one should be surprised that a referendum is being held [….]”

      I don’t know much about the man but he speaks volumes And Brewster had no argument!

    126. BishBashBosh says:

      Q: Do you wish to change your democracy provider? 8 words

    127. Indion says:

      ” Should Scotland be our own democracy? Yes/No? “



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