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Who has the right to poll position?

Posted on May 09, 2012 by

A&E departments all over Scotland were reportedly swamped by spinal-injury cases yesterday, resulting from the nation collectively falling off its seat in surprise as the Scottish Affairs Committee of Westminster MPs concluded that the SNP’s proposed referendum question (“Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?”) was biased. The committee, headed by delightful Labour MP Ian I only meant I’d assault you physically, not sexually Davidson, decided after consulting a carefully-chosen panel of “experts” that a question posed by an SNP government might just be designed to increase support for independence.

We jest, obviously. In fact it’s not entirely unexpected that such a conclusion would be reached by an all-Unionist committee of Westminster MPs who would all lose their £200,000-a-year jobs in the event of a Yes vote and who are currently engaged in producing a document called “The Referendum on Separation for Scotland“. (No, we’re not kidding – it’s really called that, and therefore clearly an entirely neutral and impartial investigation.) But there’s an interesting angle to the committee’s findings that inexplicably doesn’t get a lot of media analysis.

The key fact uncovered by the committee’s diligent deliberations is that if you formulate the referendum question in three different ways, you get three different outcomes. (Well, we say “different outcomes”, but they’re three variants on the same outcome – all three formulations deliver a clear No vote, with the closest being 59% to 41%, so one might reasonably wonder what the Unionists are so unhappy about in the first place.) Bizarrely, though, the committee and the media both conclude that this means only the question delivering the best result for the Yes camp is biased.

Students of logic will naturally be raising an eyebrow at such an assertion, because what the report clearly reveals is the stunningly obvious fact that ALL of the three formulations are “biased” – it all depends on your starting point. If you propose Formulation 3 (“Should Scotland become an independent country or should it remain part of the United Kingdom?”) as the default, then it’s clearly “biased” in favour of a No vote, because the other two options both produce more favourable Yes responses.

And if you choose Formulation 2 (“Do you agree or disagree that Scotland should become an independent country?”), the argument is of course that it’s biased against both sides, because whichever one you’re on it produces a less favourable outcome than the one you really want. It’s clear that the Unionist strategy is therefore to paint that as the middle, and therefore “fair” option.

But that, of course, depends on who’s setting the frame of reference for the debate. To make your favoured option appear to be the “middle” one, all you need to do is come up with an extreme formulation that’s more favourable to you and put it forward as a potential alternative, even if it was never going to be on the table in reality.

The debate about the question has nothing to do with “bias”, because bias – in the disingenuous sense that the Unionists are using the term – is an inherent and inevitable product of the process: if you compare ANY two possible referendum questions on any subject, they’ll produce different results and BOTH will therefore be “biased” one way or the other. The debate is actually about controlling the frame of reference, and there are no legitimate grounds for debate around that at all.

The three Unionist parties all stood for election on not only an anti-independence platform, but also an anti-referendum one. Only the SNP have an electoral mandate to conduct a referendum – indeed, arguably they’re the only party in the UK with a clear mandate to do anything, since they’re the only one with a majority – and it therefore follows that they’re the only ones with a mandate to choose the question.

The Unionists are obviously entitled to campaign for the outcome they desire, but they lost the right to dictate the terms of the question at the only place it counts – the ballot box. The SNP had no say in what was on the voting paper for the 2011 AV referendum, because the electorate didn’t elect enough of them to make any demands. The situation at Holyrood is the same, and when push comes to shove our prediction is that the SNP will stick to their guns and dare Westminster to try to interfere.

(The anti-independence parties could of course have dictated the wording, had they not instead united to block a referendum being held at all when the SNP were a minority government from 2007-11. With 79 Holyrood seats between them against 50 for independence, they could have forced a referendum with whatever question they wanted. But they gambled on intransigence – complacently believing the SNP could never achieve a majority – and lost all their power in the Parliament as a result.)

The Scottish Government’s proposed question is empirically clear and unequivocal. Nobody can possibly be in any doubt as to what it means – independence, yes or no? – and as such it satisfies all reasonable interpretations of “fairness”. Being able to present an indisputably fair and clear question in the manner that’s to your own greatest benefit, however, is one of the prizes you get for winning an election, just like when you post the fastest qualifying time for an F1 race, you get to start at the front, even though that then biases the outcome against those at the back.

It’s an advantage the nationalists earned fair and square, and the Unionists would be well advised to keep their petulant sore-loser whining to a minimum. The electorate tends not to care very much for constant carping about its democratic choices.

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    81 to “Who has the right to poll position?”

    1. G. Campbell says:

      Scotsman leader, 26 January 2012:

      Asking Scots: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent county?” is admirably simple and far less contorted than previous suggestions.
      http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/opinion/comment/leader-much-more-to-be-made-clear-before-we-reach-journey-s-end-1-2077335

    2. Peter A Bell says:

      If anyone was in any doubt about the agenda of the Westminster anti-referendum committee  then the deplorable performance by Ian Davidson on Newsnight Scotland would surely dispel those doubts. The man is a gibbering oaf and an embarrassment to Scotland.

    3. Doug Daniel says:

      Having watched some of the morons being questioned in the street in Scotland Tonight, I come to the conclusion that this is a decision far too important to be left to chance. Therefore, we should make each voter complete a test before being allowed to vote, to make sure they’re actually intelligent enough to make such a big decision, and not leave the result in the hands of clueless idiots.

      I’m only half-joking there. I mean come on, if you’re confused by such a simple question, what business do you have thinking you have a right to deny other people of their choice just because you’re too stupid to comprehend such a basic concept and choose the “no change” option? Hopefully such people would simply choose not to vote anyway (they seem like those “ooh they’re all the same!” types that don’t vote) and leave it up to those of us on both sides of the debate who actually bother to inform ourselves.

      Or they could, like, get informed. Which is what will happen between now and Autumn 2014. So, that leaves it in the hands of the two sides to make the best case and get this communicated as effectively as possible. Suddenly, the question matters little.

      End rant. 

    4. Angus McLellan says:

      I am puzzled. Why didn’t Ian Davidson complain when Scots were asked to agree that there should be a Scottish parliament in 1997?

    5. Arbroath1320 says:

      I tend to lump Ian Davidson in with ALL unionist politicians……….STUPID!
       
      I mean they ALL keep coming out with the same line be they Tory, Labour or the other lot erm……Lib/Dems. What exactly are these individuals taught before jumping into the cash trough that is Westminster.
      I’ve heard about perpetual motion before but I’d never heard of a perpetual question. Well that was until the Westminster mob suddenly acquired mutual memory loss. I mean how difficult is it to answer such a simplistic question that IS the perpetual question?
      What is the perpetual question I hear you ask. Well that is simple. It is “What exactly does Independence mean?” We all should recognise this question, after all it usually starts every unionist’s rant.
      In order to answer this extremely difficult question I have come to one conclusion. Tell ALL unionists who continue to ask the perpetual question to open a dictionary. The answer to the question they seem incapable of comprehending is there in black and white, under the letter I and along side the word I N D E P E N D E N C E! It really is quite easy once you know how.
      Perhaps I’m making too many assumptions here. Maybe the Westminster gang can’t read, or write, speak English or are just plain DUMB!

    6. Christian Wright says:

      There is evidence that channeling (the “cognitive chute”) can occur and varies as the way in which a question is asked changes. As I recall it, the data I have seen where derived mostly from respondents who had not thought much about the issue, or indeed knew nothing at all about the issue. 

      Additionally, those most affected by the style of the question, and most easily channeled where those who knew least about the issue and had no particular emotional attachment to the outcome. 

      So the degree to which a respondent can be channeled is dependent upon, the the form of the question, the level of understanding the respondent has of the issue, and the degree of emotional attachment the respondent has to a particular outcome.

      More emotional attachment to a particular outcome, more resistant to channeling. More informed about the issues, less susceptible to channeling.

      Well all of that is pretty obvious stuff, I think, but it does prepare the ground for the following proposition.

      The electorate will read and here every possible form of the question on independence during the next two plus years as they are offered and re-offered via every conceivable medium, by pundits and politicians. The public will be fair drippin’ with them.

      It is unlikely any Scot interested in the issue of independence enough to cast a vote,  has zero emotional skin in the game. It is likely that every Scot casting a vote will have an emotional attachment to one outcome or the other.

      Additionally, with the respective campaigns in full throttle, most Scots by mid to late October 2014, will have had enough time and exposure,  to acquire some reasonable and purely cognitive understanding of the issues (through a process of osmosis if nothing else) that will allow them to form (in their mind at least) a reasoned opinion on which choice best serves their interests. 

      Those who are currently on the fence will have alighted before they enter the polling station.

      All who enter the polling station will know how they intend to vote.  

      All will be wholly resistant  to any channeling effect associated with the question printed on the ballot paper. None will change their mind on how they will vote because of the form of the question on the ballot paper.

      The question as currently formulated and proposed by the Scottish Government will have no measurable effect whatsoever on the outcome of the referendum. 
       

    7. Christian Wright says:

      Doug Daniel – “Hopefully such people would simply choose not to vote anyway (they seem like those “ooh they’re all the same!” types that don’t vote) and leave it up to those of us on both sides of the debate who actually bother to inform ourselves.”

      Yes, those not informed and not interested, are not likely voters. They are self-deselecting on the day.  

      You know, when they conduct referendum opinion polls I wonder to what extent these people are over represented in the population sample. The sampling has to be of likely voters. It would be a tautology to say that all Nationalists qualified to vote will vote on the day. I have not seen a poll where declared affiliation as a Nationalist is a qualifier for classification as a likely voter (I’d say a certain voter). 

      Some of the current airheads will become educated and form an attachment to one outcome or another, and may vote. Those who do not become educated and have no emotional attachment to either outcome, will not vote on the day.

    8. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Scottish MPs at Westminster have SFA to do and lots of time to do it in.
       
      Most of the meaty legislation comes from Bruxelles and most of the routine Scottish stuff now is done in Holyrood. They really are spare bellends at a whore’s wedding.
       
      It would seem that their creative energies are channelled into expense claiming, bar hopping, brawls optional, and forming wee non escape committees to ensure that they don’t lose their entitlement. 
       
      In the old days of Empire the indolent club and officer class took to inventing games and sports to while away the awakened hours. At Westminster they can sleep on the job, metaphorically and literally – watch “live” broadcasts from the House of Lords. Maybe we should have had a competition for new Olympic sports as part of the original bid proposal?
       
      Anyway, I know what the point of an eariwigis,  but what is the bliddy use of Ian Davidson and his cohort?
       

    9. Juteman says:

      I think it’s a good point that those against the question will lose their jobs, so they must be biased.
      Maybe the next SNP member interviewed could make that point.
      I wonder how much Westminster cash independence will save us?  Has anyone added up the figures for the total cost of Scottish MP’s, Lords, and associated Commitee members and hangers-on?
      Maybe the SNP could announce that all that money saved will be given to the Scots to spend on a post Independance party! 🙂
      That should add a few yes votes.

    10. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      Well, there are 59 Scottish MPs, each paid a basic salary of £65,000 a year for five years. That’s £19.2m per Parliament before expenses. The AVERAGE amount of expenses per MP, per YEAR, was £145,000 in 2009:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/5078578/MPs-claiming-average-of-144000-on-taxpayer-funded-expenses-8000-more-than-last-year.html

      That figure is likely to have dropped a little under the new expenses rules, but then you have to factor in inflation and the fact that Scottish MPs’ expenses tend to be higher than the average because they’re based the furthest away from London, so let’s arbitrarily say it’s down to £130,000 a year now, because that makes the sums nice and easy.

      That triples the total to £57.6m per Parliament, or £11.5m a year. Enough to keep a good few libraries and Post Offices open, for sure.

    11. Macart says:

      Mr Davidson is exactly as he appears and his words and actions paint a far more condemning picture than anything we could come up with. He will soon be out of a job and his dream of wearing ermine robes will be no more. Many a small furry critter will sleep soundly knowing there won’t be a mass genocide in order to provide the trim going round that robe. 🙂

      Everyone and their granny knew what the outcome of those committees would be. As far as I can see it was merely an excuse to have some jollies down in London and spend some of our cash. We could have saved a packet by cutting to the chase on day one and said ok independence bad – union good, now who’s getting in the first round?

      If they wish to form the question for this referendum, y’know the one they didn’t want in the first place, then all they have to do is get a mandate from the people of Scotland, simples. 

    12. Barbarian says:

      Sorry, but that proposed question is a leading one, and therefore subject to bias.

      I’m not an expert in economics or engineering, but I am an expert in interviewing, and I don’t just mean asking someone a few questions at a job interview. I’ve trained and assessed interviewers as well. Leading questions should only be used by journalists and talk show hosts.

      The key phrase is “Do you agree…..”. That is asking for an opinion, not what someone desires.

      Had the unionist side come up with a similar question such as “do you agree the Scottish Parliament should be dissolved and power returned to Westminster”, I imagine more than a few would be up in arms.

      I’ve already blogged this myself, but once again the Scottish Government has opened itself up to criticism. What is wrong with “Do you want Scotland to be independent from the rest of the UK?”. THAT is what should be asked, not an opinion.

              

    13. Doug Daniel says:

      <i>”I’ve already blogged this myself, but once again the Scottish Government has opened itself up to criticism. What is wrong with “Do you want Scotland to be independent from the rest of the UK?”. THAT is what should be asked, not an opinion.”</i>

      All they’ve done is follow the basic rules of negotiation – you don’t start things off with the price (or in this case, question) that you’d be happy to settle for, otherwise you end up getting less.

      Incidentally, if folk are confused by what “independence” means, they’ll be even more confused by “independent from the rest of the UK”. “Does that mean we lose the Queen and the pound?” etc.

      How about: “Do you agree the Tories are ace?” I’m sure people will manage to avoid being led towards “yes” by that question!

    14. Embradon says:

       
      Juteman said:
       
      May 9, 2012 at 7:25 am
      I think it’s a good point that those against the question will lose their jobs, so they must be biased.
      Worse yet are those “Lords” who will lose their job for life – unless, of course, the r-UK can find a use for the likes of Forsyth and Foulkes. Turkeys indeed and Christmas is coming whether they vote for it or not.

    15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Sorry, but that proposed question is a leading one, and therefore subject to bias.”

      You seem to have entirely missed the point.

    16. Longshanker says:

      @doug daniel
       
      Having watched some of the morons being questioned in the street…


      You’re starting to worry me slightly Doug. Statements like this make you sound as civic as someone  referring to the Northern Irish electorate who choose to vote for Sinn Fein as ‘spectacularly retarded’.
       
      I assume you’re being tongue in cheek, but you have stated elsewhere in this site that you think Nationalists are more intelligent than Unionists. Sounds like the kernel of something unpleasant, half joking or not.
       
      I know you aren’t unpleasant, but why are you taking this tack? If the Independence referendum is lost will it mean you agree that ‘Mostly everyone in Scotland is a moron?
       
       

    17. Kenny Campbell says:

      Even up to this point we haven’t got agreement that a straight majority is enough for the opposition parties, therefore everything is still to be negotiated although Westminster is in my view the junior partner. It may hold some tenuous legal argument over ‘legality’ of outcome if they do not agree to it  but if it goes ahead and its yes they really won’t be able to directly challenge it without risking international outrage.

    18. Tris says:

      What were the questions for the 1997 referendum?

      What was the question for the mayors in England?

      I can appreciate that none of them wants to loose his place on the gravy train and that they must all be becoming a little concerned as 2014 looms ever closer, but they seem oblivious of the fact that we know what their motivations are.

      I propose another referendum question:

      Should people whose own jobs are reliant on the outcome of the referendum on independence be allowed a platform on the subject?

    19. Morag says:

      This was exactly the reaction I had when I heard the story.  If the unionists had posted their question first, the independence supporters could use the identical methodology to declare it was biassed – with arguably more justification.  Who decides where the “middle ground” lies?  The group that can dream up the most extremely biassed question to skew the playing field?

      It’s all very well to say the average citizen will find this all a bit surreal, because quite obviously the SG’s question is clear and straightforward and unambiguous.  The worst it can be accused of is appearing friendly, which as noted above is hardly likely to skew the result of a poll conducted after more than two years of high-profile debate.

      The aspect that worries me is that this has provided yet another platform for the unionist media to run stories declaring that the SNP is trying to rig the referendum.  The unionist politicians have been making this accusation for ages, with no apparent justification.  But now this ridiculous exercise is being spun as “Salmond’s rigged referendum”.  It all adds to the negativity and mud-slinging, and I don’t like it.

      In a rare moment of honesty, Ruth Davidson initially welcomed the proposed question as clear and decisive.  That’s because that is what it seems to any normal person lacking the twisted bilious minds of the unionist politicos.  But now they have succeeded in turning a perfectly clear and straightforward question into another smear labelling Salmond as dishonest.

      I’ve heard several unionists (including Mags Curran) imply that they would like a question where the “yes” answer was for the continuation of the union.  She said so, with a sleekit wee smirk, on Newsnight some months ago.  I think that was when Westminster was still posturing about “shooting Salmond’s fox” by running its own referendum first.  God only knows what question they would have asked.

      We do have a problem, as long as the unionist media refuse to comment on the aspects highlighted in the above post, and continue to act as a megaphone for the nonsensical smears coming from Westminster and the unionist parties on this.  How many people actually read the copy and realise it’s a nonsense, and how many people just see “Salmond’s rigged referendum”?

    20. Longshanker says:

      @RevStu
      it therefore follows that they’re the only ones with a mandate to choose the question.


      Only if you relinquish the precepts of constitutional law and section 30.
      Just because they have the mandate to call a referendum, doesn’t automatically mean they have the mandate for the frame of reference of the question. It should mean they should have first choice. Which I believe they exercised.
       
      If it’s disagreeable, as the committee clearly feels it is, then it should be reframed to something ALL interested parties can agree on.
       
      Your argument sounds like the wee boy who owns the ball getting to decide what does and doesn’t constitute a goal. There has to be some sort of consensus or else you’ve got more tedious wrangling which ultimately diminishes the spirit of the game (which you allude to in your conclusion)
       
      Being able to present an indisputably fair and clear question in the manner that’s to your own greatest benefit, however, is one of the prizes you get for winning an election,
       
      Not according to the committee. And they have the potential of waving the section 30 stick. They don’t appear to believe the question is fair and clear. Therefore it is disputable because it’s being disputed.


      our prediction is that the SNP will stick to their guns and dare Westminster to try to interfere.


      No absolute guarantee. Why not? I thought you had an inside track on this kind of thing.


      Personally, I don’t see what’s wrong with the question as framed.
       
      However, if the other side aint happy, you can’t just come up with the playground argument put forward by you that because the SNP have the mandate for the referendum it automatically follows they also have the mandate for the wording of the question.
       
      Consensus has to be the name of the game. Otherways, both sides look as ridiculous as the other. Which they constantly do anyway, it has to be added.

    21. Bill Cruickshank says:

      Name calling of people, whether folk in the street or politicians who do not hold our point of view, will not advance the case of independence.  Rev Stu is right ,the Scottish Government has the mandate from the Scottish people (confirmed again at the local elections) to hold a referendum on independence and therefore it has the right to frame the question; no other body has a mandate from the people to interefere in the process.
      “The question” is really just a unionist red herring, the real problem for the nationalist community is how to persuade our fellow Scots (the folk on the streets) of the very real benefits of independence.
      Two issues hold the key to indepndence:
      a) Persuading our fellow Scots with a massive campaign of facts highlighting the real benefits independence will make to their everyday lives. No name calling, no smarmy braveheart slogans, just a straightforward, genuine, national discussion on why we would all be better off governing ourselves;
      b) Countering the lies, propaganda and smears of an increasingly desperate unionist cabal of politicains, MSM and vested interests. To win the referendum the SNP must counter the black ops. of the unionist establishment. Goebbels may have died in 1945, but his black art lives on in the heart of the British establishment.

    22. Melanie McKellar says:

      One of the best posts on here is from 

      Christian Wright who says:
      “The electorate will read and here [sic] every possible form of the question on independence during the next two plus years as they are offered and re-offered via every conceivable medium, by pundits and politicians. The public will be fair drippin’ with them.”

      And then Christian concludes with:

      “All who enter the polling station will know how they intend to vote.  
      All will be wholly resistant  to any channeling effect associated with the question printed on the ballot paper. None will change their mind on how they will vote because of the form of the question on the ballot paper.
      The question as currently formulated and proposed by the Scottish Government will have no measurable effect whatsoever on the outcome of the referendum. ”

      So if asked “Do you agree that Blue smarties should be in packets of sweeties”? 
      What would your answer be NOW and what your answer be after you have heard any arguments for or against Blue Smarties?

      In addition the Scottish Affairs committee lay reference to their decision that the question is Bias based on 2 Annexes :

      The first, bizarrely is a GCSE Statistics question from 2003:

      Annex 1
      8. Mary is carrying out an investigation into the cost of food at her college canteen.
      She asks people in the queue for canteen food
      “Do you agree that canteen food is value for money?”


      (a) Why is her sample of people likely to be biased? (1)
      (b) Why is her question biased? (1)
      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmscotaf/1492/149207.htm  
      The point of this is that this is a Poll, the people in the queue have had no opportunity to debate the question.  At the point of time the question was asked the answers would give only an opinion.  

      This has been summed up by Barbarian an acclaimed Interviewer who says:
       “The key phrase is “Do you agree…..”. That is asking for an opinion, not what someone desires.”

      The point is that for a Poll the use of the phrase “do you agree…..?” may well be shown to be a leading question but following rational debate surely the Question is simple, fair and straightforward ?

      In Annex 2 the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC)  provided Survey results from Lord Ashcroft.

      This is where 3 sets of questions were put to 3 different sets of Scottish voters +/- 1000 in each section.  The questions were Polled the day after the SG released their preferred question and therefore before any ‘debate’ had started, it is therefore an ‘opinion’ Poll to which no matter how you put the question, on Independence, the majority of people in Scotland were swayed towards a NO vote.
      It would be more appropriate if the SAC and Lord Ashcroft conducted another opinion Poll now that the debate has started to see if any changes have occurred.

      http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Referendum-poll-tables-Jan-2012.pdf

       Finally the SAC itself is not an unbiased entity, it seems rich that they should be preaching about fairness when the committee itself is made up of 10 unionists and 1 pro-independence.
      Look up YouTube 
      http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tvJF3GIqizY

      Referendum for Scotland – Seperation  pt 8 in particular you can see the way leading questions are given! (but that is just my opinion!)
       

       
       

    23. Peninsula says:

      How about –

      ‘Do you agree that Scotland should continue to be ruled by non-accountable Westminster governments?’

      or

      ‘Do you agree that Scotland should remain in a union which renders it’s voters virtually impotent in a General Election?’
      or

      ‘Do you agree that Scotland should continue in a union where the voters of another country decide which government presides over Scotland?’
       

    24. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Just because they have the mandate to call a referendum, doesn’t automatically mean they have the mandate for the frame of reference of the question.”

      Yes it does.

      “Consensus has to be the name of the game”

      No it doesn’t. If the Unionists want to run their own referendum with their own question, nobody’s stopping them. But the referendum is SNP policy, and the other parties don’t get to dictate the terms of execution of any other SNP policy, so what’s different about this one?

    25. Ken Mac says:

      ‘The Scottish Affairs Committee is appointed to examine the  administration, policy and expenditure of the Scotland Office and relations with the Scottish Parliament. It also looks at the administration and expenditure of the Advocate General for Scotland.’

      The above is the definition of the purpose of the Scottish Affairs Committee. Referendums called by the Scottish Government  and the question(s) they propose to ask, agreed by the Scottish Parliament, would seem to be way beyond their remit.

    26. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      @ Ken Mac
       
      The Devil makes work etc.
       
      They are just defending their nice little earning concession.

    27. Dál Riata says:

      The whole ‘questioning the question’ is just noise and distraction from the Establishment/Unionist cabal.

      It’s just another part of their collective strategy of installing doubt, negativity, fear and trepidation into people’s psyche – a psyops operation of manipulating public perceptions enacted on an unrealizing populace. This strategy will be applied relentlessly until the day of the election.

      As to ‘The Question’: “Independence for Scotland? Yes (  )  No (  )” There you go, simple! No need for Westminster committees or any other nonsense. 

    28. douglas clark says:

      It is of the utmost importance that we do not alienate voters. This referendum belongs to the Scottish people and we will not win it without persuading lots of folk that vote for other parties to vote for this. Indeed, I’d like to think that we can persuade people that have never voted before to vote for this.

    29. Arbroath1320 says:

       
      Tris says:
      May 9, 2012 at 11:17 am
      What were the questions for the 1997 referendum?
      What was the question for the mayors in England?
      Tris, the questions asked in 1997 were:
      “Do you agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament? Yes or no”,
      and the second:
      “Do you agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-rising powers? Yes or no”.
      Here’s a link to an article about them in the Herald 17th January this year. The article seems to be going on about how the unionist parties are getting tied up in knots all about the SNP’s choice of question, despite an almost identical question being asked in 1997.
      http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/follow-lead-set-by-two-questions-in-1997-devolution-referendum.16496947
      With regards to the question asked about the mayor in London in 1998 the question was:
      Are you in favour of the Government’s proposals for a Greater London Authority, made up of an elected mayor and a separately elected assembly?*
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_London_Authority_referendum,_1998
      The questions asked in this year’s mayoral elections were:
      By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.
      Or
      By a mayor who is elected by voters. This would be a change from how the council is run now.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_mayoral_referendums,_2012
      Just as a final comparison the question asked in the (in)famous AV referendum in 2011 was:
      “Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the ‘alternative vote’ system instead of the current ‘first past the post’ system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?”
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-10729454
      However, the Electoral Commission were not too keen on the length of the question and they wanted it shortened. Here’s their preferred question:
      At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?
      I guess we all know which question Westminster went with there!
      https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=440122257158&id=29932480539
       
      Oh before I forget.
       
      Bugger (the Panda) says:
      Anyway, I know what the point of an eariwigis,  but what is the bliddy use of Ian Davidson and his cohort?
      I have it on good authority, nightmare last night actually, that Mr. Davidson and his cohorts are using their Westminster experiences as a training period before they all hit the road as stand up comedians. 😀
       

    30. MajorBloodnok says:

      I think the mandate issue that was raised is crucial.  All the other parties have been agin it and the SNP for it and indeed included the prospect of a referendum in their manifesto.  Scots voted the SNP into power on that manifesto and if that isn’t the definition of a political mandate I don’t know what is.

    31. Peter A Bell says:

      I wonder how often some people need to be reminded that we are not talking about a survey or a poll or an interview. It’s a referendum. A referendum with a two year campaign period. We are not going to be…
       
      Why bother!

    32. Peter A Bell says:

      All this talk of legalities and “Section 30” misses a crucial point. As fundamental as constitutional law may be it is trumped by the voice of the people. The people are sovereign. That sovereignty cannot be constrained by any law or any act of any parliament.
       
      Regardless of anything else, when the people vote for independence that is exactly what they will have.

    33. Arbroath1320 says:

      Just come across this job advert for the BBC. Nothing wrong with that you might say and I’d probably agree with you. HOWEVER, and it is a BIG HOWEVER, check out the requirements for the job. I don’t think anyone can still hold the “nothing wrong with that” view after reading this part of the job application.
      https://careers.bbc.co.uk/fe/tpl_bbc01.asp?s=QzByEJgTrIUzWwIro&jobid=43397%2C6952988956&key=61341156&c=415915140212&pagestamp=serftkdwubeijdwlpw
      Labour is alive and well and ruling the BBC!

    34. G. Campbell says:

      My carefully crafted referendum question:

      Well?

      [ ] Yes, I would like Scotland to become an independent country

      [ ] No, Gordon Matheson promised me a go on his scooter and I want to be English

    35. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Arbroath 1320, I followed through into the MS Word Doc.
       
      The position, apparently a short term contract, maybe a form of probationary sifting position, is for 6 months and only concerned with analyses and production of briefings on the Labour Party.
       
      I suppose it is a specialised role and presumably would be mirrored by the same on the Tories and perhaps the LibDums.
       
      I doubt if the BBC would have anybody specialised in the SNP on their books beyond the twisting and bending reality, with which they are past masters.

    36. Arbroath1320 says:

      G. Campbell, you were promised a scooter, HUH! I was only promised an orange sash! 😀

      Panda I saw it was only for 6 months, but like a lot of things these days short term has a habit of turning into long term. Being a member of the “We don’t trust the BBC for anything” clan I wholly admit to being extremely sceptical about anything where political party “membership” is linked to a job, short or long term, at the BBC. Much of this sceptism does, I admit, come from the close ties between BBC Scotland and the Labour party that has been discussed many times in the past on various sites and will, no doubt, continue right up to the referendum.
      You may be right Panda, there may be similar situations concerning someone with expertise in the Tories or the Lib/Dems and I think you are definitely right with respect to the involvement of anyone with similar expertise with the SNP. I just think it is strange that such a requirement would be advertised.
      The post is advertised as being involved in the areas of Analysis and research. Does the applicant REALLY need to intimate knowledge of the Labour, or any other party for that matter, to be able to carry out general analysis and research work. Personally I am very dubious.
      Despite everything I still believe in the old adage of:
      If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck then it most likely is a duck. 😀

    37. Juteman says:

      How about this question that i heard was Mr. Davidsons first choice?

      “If you ignore my impartial advice, and vote Yes for Independence, i’ll lose my £200,000 a year job, my second home in London and any profit i make on the sale. I’ll also lose my huge pension. Plus i’ll lose my future position in the Lords, that i’ve earned for being a ("Quizmaster" - Ed). Also i might have to get my hands even dirtier, by working in a factory to make up any shortfall. You know how it is, nobody can survive on a £2,500 a week pension.”

      Do you think the question is too long or confusing? I made a point of leaving out the word ‘agree’.

    38. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      He wouldn’t actually lose his pension, though, would he?

    39. Juteman says:

      Depends on who it was up to?
       I would make him keep it, and live in Easterhouse, and do a paper round in his Armani suit.

    40. Suth says:

      Considering that the Scottish Tories themselves said the question put forth by the SNP government was fair and many others commented on how resonable it was this tantrum after the fact is simply ridiculous and them trying to put their finger on the scale to ensure all the odds will be in their favour. They are like spoiled children and will scream until they get what they want and if they get it they will scream until they get even more. It’s blatantly part of the usual distraction, harassment and negotiations.
       
      As you pointed out, the Westminster (or previous Hollyrood governments under Labour) could have held a vote on the issue at any point in the many years beforehand. They squandered that time and chose to keep putting it off. Now they are going to have to take their lumps. They waited until the ball was out of their court and now they still want to be able to dictate what direction you send it.

    41. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @RevStu – Nice comment on the Alternative Queens Speech site! 😀

    42. douglas clark says:

      Is interference in a referendum on independence by any outside agent not against the UN Charter?
      There are, apparently, rules about this sort of thing.
      The question then arises is whether any Westminster politician – I give a pass to our SNP MP’s – is not grossly compromised by the nature of their employment in London. For it is difficult to see how they will get a similarily lucrative job anywhere else.
      I recall some idiot in the Lords wanting all sorts of caveats to the Scotland Bill, something to do with Rockall and The Orkneys and Shetlands.  I would be interested to know how this sort of thing has worked out in other independence movements.
      However, it would be a mistake to assume that it is only politicians that benefit from the union. There are other people in senior positions that could also see their careers compromised by a positive vote in 2014.
      It would, perhaps, be worthwhile identifying people whose views are compromised by their pecuniary interests?
      Sadly, a certain Telegraph journalist comes to mind…….
       
       
       
       

    43. douglas clark says:

      Apropos nothing at all.
      Apparently there is a chap called Scott Minto that does sports journalism. Are they, perchance, one and the same? Or would one or the other be insulted?

    44. Arbroath1320 says:

      Why be sad D.C. I think we all know the name of the squirrel. 😀
      He seems to have dropped the anti Independence tirade and is giving it a rest for the moment. The last two days he’s been on a rant about Westminster, in particular Phillip Hammond, destroying the Scottish regiments, those that are still around, for now.

    45. Suth says:

      Talking about Scotland “splitting from the rest of the UK” doesn’t make much sense really as the united kingdom is Scotland and England. It’d be like a woman getting a divorce from her husband and someone phrases it as her “splitting away from the rest of the marriage”. When she’s gone there is no marriage – it would be the end of the union.

    46. Arbroath1320 says:

      I think we now have yet another reason FOR Independence. The latest news concerning the disbandment/restructuring or whatever fancy name Westminster gives it is nearing fruition.

      http://www.thecourier.co.uk/News/National/article/22652/hands-off-the-hackle-furious-reaction-to-new-black-watch-threat.html

      As things stand at present the name of each of Scotland’s regiments are quite a mouthful. For example,The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 Scots). Personally I hate all this 1 Scots, 2 Scots etc I much rather prefer the original names Black Watch, Argyll ans Sutherland Highlanders etc.

      Now we have the latest suggestion for the future of Scottish regiments. If you thought that the regimental names were a mouthful before, I think you aint seen nothing yet! 😀

      http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-regiments-to-merge-as-defence-cuts-bite-1-2284937

      I don’t know where to begin with this one. Will it be something like:

      Black Watch and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 3rd Battalion and 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 / 5 Scots).

      By the time you’ve finished reading out the regiment’s name the conflict Westminster was intending to send them to will probably have ended. 😀

    47. Angus McLellan says:

      Based on the unscientific survey James Kelly ran recently, I am the only nat in Scotland who definitely reads Guido Fawkes. That means that I might be the only person who reads WoS who saw this: http://order-order.com/2012/05/09/exclusive-blair-mcdougall-tapped-for-pro-union-no-role/ (For the sake of your peace of mind don’t read the comments on Order! Order!. Not on this story and not on any other one either. If you do, and I told you not to, Awkward Ed Miliband Moments might aid recovery: http://awkwardedmilibandmoments.tumblr.com/)
      The first and most important sentence in the story says: Former [James] Purnell SpAd and David Miliband campaign organiser Blair McDougall has been approached to run the pro-Union No campaign against Scottish independence. Is this a heap of steaming … nonsense? We’ll find out soon enough.

    48. Doug Daniel says:

      Longshanker – I called those people morons because their replies on the programme were, well, moronic. They weren’t being asked if they supported independence or not, they were simply being asked if they understood what the question was asking. Regardless of whether people think the wording of the question is biased, there’s no denying that it’s about as straight-forward as you could get. “Do you agree Scotland should be independent?” – anyone who claims to not understand what is being asked there is either lying, being deliberately obtuse, or is simply of extremely low intelligence.

    49. Captain Caveman says:

      “Do you agree Scotland should be independent?” 

      As an outsider to this debate, I am bemused (and irritated) by the proposed wording here. Surely there is at least a whiff of implied approval of Scottish independence within the question, which if so, is surely biased and totally unfair to the other equally legitimate side of the divide. I mean, I’m sure you chaps would take offence at “Do you agree Scotland should remain part of the Union”, right…?

      Excuse my naivety here, but what’s wrong with “Should Scotland become independent? YES/NO”…? 

      Surely we can all agree that this is a momentous issue that deserves a fair hearing on all sides, and above all, a simple, fairly worded, unloaded question at the end of it all. That way there can be no disputing the end result – either way.

       

    50. R Louis says:

      Just a wee point relating to the BBC ‘Labour’ job alluded to above, I think the really important point is not just that it requires knowledge of the Labour party, but also constitutional affairs;

      “You’ll have a comprehensive knowledge of the Labour Party and a good awareness of constitutional affairs. ”  [my bolding]

      source
      https://careers.bbc.co.uk/fe/tpl_bbc01.asp?s=QzByEJgTrIUzWwIro&jobid=43397%2C6952988956&key=61341156&c=415915140212&pagestamp=serftkdwubeijdwlpw

    51. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @douglas clark:
      “Apparently there is a chap called Scott Minto that does sports journalism. Are they, perchance, one and the same? Or would one or the other be insulted?”

      I can confirm that I am NOT the useless sports commentator Scott Minto, but an entirely different person.

      Good to celar up the confusion! 😀     

    52. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @R Louis

      The job advert was not merely for the Labour party. Three almost identical adverts went out. 

      One said must know Labour, another Conservative and the last was Lib Dem.

      I have not seen any that asked for the lesser known parties or the SNP.        

    53. Seasick Dave says:

      Captain Caveman

      There is nothing wrong with your proposed wording; I fully understand the question and what my answer would be.

      Similarly, I understand the SG question and what my answer would be.

      For completeness, if the question was, “Do you agree that Scotland should be  dependent?”, I fully understand the question and what my answer would be.

    54. Macart says:

      In answer to your post on NNS yesterday RL, yer right, it is eerie. That phrase stuck out to me as well.

    55. Captain Caveman says:

      “Captain Caveman
      There is nothing wrong with your proposed wording; I fully understand the question and what my answer would be.
      Similarly, I understand the SG question and what my answer would be.”

      With all due respect, that does not answer my point. I am not suggesting that the question, as currently worded, cannot be understood (at all), merely that it introduces an element of implied approval as regards Scottish Independence – spin if you like. I don’t think there’s any need for this and nor is such as thing desirable, in just the same way as I wouldn’t approve of ” “Do you agree Scotland should remain part of the Union”, either, despite being a Unionist (and I’m pretty damn sure you wouldn’t either, for the precisely the same reason that I’ve outlined. Boot on other foot etc.).

      Above all, I want the Referendum to be fair and beyond reproach. All of the peoples of Scotland surely deserve this, so it’s surely appropriate to simply ask  “Should Scotland become independent? YES/NO” and accept whatever answer said peoples give.

       

    56. MajorBloodnok says:

      I was thinking along the “Should Scotland be (or become) an independent country?” lines myself, as an alternative to the “Do you Agree…” route.  The point is that the latter formulation is exactly the same as used by Labour and others (and very recently too), although I do realise that blatant hypocrisy is their forte.

      A bit rich insisting selfrighteously on fair play and lack of bias and all that when it’s so bleedin’ obvious that that is prcisely the opposite of what they are up to themselves.

      By the way Newsnet Scotland appears to be down? Hacked or run out of money, I wonder.

    57. Longshanker says:

      @RevStu

      so what’s different about this one?


      The section 30 stick and the need to be free from a legal challenge. Which, if the SNP stick to their guns will, in all likelihood, be challenged.

      It could also be used to accuse, as it is now anyway, the SNP of trying to rig the vote.
      Don’t you get that?

    58. Suth says:

      Hang on. Didn’t Captain Caveman say he wasn’t posting here any more and now he’s turning up again out of the blue?  How odd.

    59. Captain Caveman says:

      @MajorBloodnok

      “I was thinking along the ”Should Scotland be (or become) an independent country?” lines myself, as an alternative to the “Do you Agree…” route.  The point is that the latter formulation is exactly the same as used by Labour and others (and very recently too), although I do realise that blatant hypocrisy is their forte.
      A bit rich insisting selfrighteously on fair play and lack of bias and all that when it’s so bleedin’ obvious that that is prcisely the opposite of what they are up to themselves.”

      Completely agree with you, on all fronts. I’m no apologist for Labour, or indeed any political party. I’m quite sure you’re right.

      As you imply though, two wrongs don’t make a right, and the SNP would do itself no favours IMO were it to disingenuously try to argue that this wording was somehow acceptable and not “loaded” in their argument’s favour in any way. In fact, I’d say that their being seen to play fair and not emulate the likes of Labour would only do them good in the long run; they would differentiate themselves as fair brokers, rather than the usual scumbag politician dross like everyone else. 

      The moral high ground is worth fighting for, and AS has a high “trust rating” in my view, even south of the border.

       

    60. Macart says:

      Question – does anyone else think that THE question has already done its job?

      For instance it’s already caused a split between conservatives north and south. Its close enough in intent and wording to the devolution questions to give Messrs Forsyth, Davidson and their committees a serious headache as they tie themselves in constitutional knots. The Libdems have found themselves well and truly out in the cold with their core vote as they try and justify support for the Westminster position whilst juggling little things like home rule and civic Scotland. They simply cannot claim sovereignty of the Scottish people is paramount and agree to Westminster interference in the referendum process. In fact I’d say the question practically invited Westminster interference.

      Yet for all that, positive connotation or not, it is a perfectly straight forward question with a basis in previous referenda wording.

      If the fall out has been accidental, then its extremely fortuitous. If planned, then its been a well crafted piece of work. 

    61. Captain Caveman says:

      “Hang on. Didn’t Captain Caveman say he wasn’t posting here any more and now he’s turning up again out of the blue?  How odd.”

      Yawn. Actually, I rather patched things up with Stu and said I’d submit an article at some point. But anyway, what exactly is wrong with my perfectly polite, reasonable point/post, such that you felt the need to troll me?

       

    62. MajorBloodnok says:

      Thanks Captain Caveman.

      Here’s a variation, which I quite like:

      “Do you want Scotland to be an independent country?”

      It’s in plain english and is positive without being leading, I think.  I’m not really that keen on the shoulds/woulds/coulds/mights/mays, etc.

    63. R Louis says:

      Since you are all here (loitering), has anybody got any info on NNS status??

    64. Aplinal says:

      Apologies for the length of this post!
      A bit late to this discussion, but it is nice to see it (on both sides) being conducted in a civilised manner – so different from some other sites!
      I find nothing particularly wrong with the question as stated, but anything on similar lines would be equally acceptable.  The difficulty for me (something alluded to by many posters here) is that we (Scots voters) will have two years of discussion about the issues, and therefore will most probably enter the polling booth with our minds made up.  What is wrong with this assessment is that we WILL have two years of DISCUSSION. 
      If the attitude of the BBC Scotland and Scottish MSM in the run up to the local elections is a guide (and I think it is) we will have two years of spin, obfuscation, distraction, smears, lies, misinformation, disinformation, hyperbole, exaggeration and straw-men “arguments” from the pro-Unionist media together with a complete media blackout for the Independence position.
      Intelligent people can not give anything more than an “opinion” if they are denied the facts.  We still see it today, despite the truth “being out there”.  One example only, I can not recall the exact timing, but on or about the local elections in a discussion on the BBC Scotland the Scottish Steel lie was again thrown into the airwaves for the subliminal benefit of the casual viewer.
      This sort of thing happens all the time.  Who really thinks it will change unless a third party (e.g. CoE) intervenes?  I suspect that most (all) posters here actually do their own research on the web, take different opinions, form conclusions and come to a position.  Most people will not.  the future of the country will be decided by these people, and not those of us who regularly contribute here and elsewhere.  
      As it stands, it seems that “most” voters will base their decision on their sympathy with one position or the other, and not on a proper understanding of the facts.  Blame the MSM/BBC if you want (and I DO), but somehow, somewhere the facts need to get out there.  To echo Doug Daniel, this decision is too important to be left up to an “ignorant” (that is someone ignorant of the facts, not an imbecile) non-interested voter to decide the outcome.

    65. Macart says:

      @ RL

      Nope, still blanking on trying to connect. Could be a return of the server problems experienced at the tail end of last year. 

    66. Melanie McKellar says:

      @ Captain Caveman

       “Should Scotland become independent? YES/NO”

      Problem with that is that since devolution we are in the process of ‘becoming’ Independent but that process could take another 300 years to complete.

      ‘Do you agree Scotland should BE an Independent country?’ is about the here and now” 

    67. Longshanker says:

      @captain caveman
       
      SNP would do itself no favours IMO were it to disingenuously try to argue that this wording was somehow acceptable and not “loaded”


      A straw poll by YouGov of 3000 plus respondents –  the picture display of the results is on my site – showed how “loaded” the question was compared to other hypothetical questions. It significantly affected voting percentages – as referred to by RevStu. Come referendum time that type of swing could be crucial to both sides.
       
      I don’t have a problem with the question, though I agree it is loaded. This is an SNP made problem. If they don’t want to be seen as disingenuous, as you quite rightly point out they will, they’re going to have to change the wording.
       
      …differentiate themselves as fair brokers, rather than the usual scumbag politician dross like everyone else.
       
      Mr Salmond is making up for lost time here. The Blairite style ‘discipline’ displayed by the party recently is more than a smidgeon worrying. Coupled with Mr Salmond’s penchant for secrets, they’re looking more and more like the same kind of ‘dross’ as every day goes by.
       
      @Suth
       
      Didn’t Captain Caveman say he wasn’t posting here any more
      Behave yourself. Can’t you bear to take on board an alternative opinion?

    68. So is it a weighted question,and are people too stupid to know the difference?
      I would first like to say that if 6 unionist come up with different “results from their poll” I would question their choice of participants,just me ?or is it the years of experience with them?
      If I ask you “Do you agree to me poking you in the eye with my sharp stick” how many are stupid enough to answer yes? so does framing the outcome as something different prove its not weighted?
       

    69. Melanie McKellar says:

      @Longshanker

      The ‘Poll’ you have is exactly that ‘a Poll’ ,  and it was the very same Poll refered to Annex 2 of the SAC namely Lord Ashcroft Poll.
      It was also ‘Polled’ the day after and for the following 5 days, the SG announced the question. Be interesting on the results if the same respondents were asked the same 3 questions now because a debate has started and we are 5 months in.

    70. Captain Caveman says:

      @Melanie

       “Should Scotland become independent? YES/NO”Problem with that is that since devolution we are in the process of ‘becoming’ Independent but that process could take another 300 years to complete.
      ‘Do you agree Scotland should BE an Independent country?’ is about the here and now” 

      I honestly don’t get this? From a Unionist perspective, Scotland is not (necessarily) becoming independent at all; devolution and independence are totally separate things and one does not necessarily lead to another. There are plenty of examples of devolved states around the world that have not inexorably moved to independence; devolution has its own virtues and it’s quite possible to be a devotee of it – namely decentralised, repatriated power – without (from a Unionist POV, obviously) throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

      Regardless though, it’s an empirical fact that Scotland is not, as of now, independent and therefore, the use of the term “become” is entirely correct (including grammatically as well as literally) and not at all misleading?

      All of that said, I personally wouldn’t have much of an issue your use of the word “be”, simply the “do you agree” pre-loaded front end. I honestly can’t see why anyone would claim this wasn’t so; like I said, I’m sure no-one here would be happy with “Do you agree Scotland should remain part of the Union” for the same reason, myself included.

       

    71. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “It could also be used to accuse, as it is now anyway, the SNP of trying to rig the vote.
      Don’t you get that?”

      I get it. I just don’t care about the opinion of diehard Unionists who will never be happy with the referendum no matter what the SNP do. The question, everyone seems to agree, is absolutely clear. It would be biased whichever side posed it, and endless whining about “rigging” when the question is clear just insults the electorate and sounds like excuse-making in advance from a side that thinks it’s going to lose. If the Unionists want to do those things, I’m more than happy to let them.

    72. Captain Caveman says:

      “I get it. I just don’t care about the opinion of diehard Unionists who will never be happy with the referendum no matter what the SNP do.”

      That may even be true for all I know, but you can’t dismiss everyone who dares to think (the blindingly obvious) that as currently phrased, the question has a pro-independence spin to it, as “diehard Unionists”. In my own case, I am nothing more than a casually interested observer; most even here seem to agree about the “spin” element anyway, as evidenced by my inversion of the same question to a pro-unionist one.

      “The question, everyone seems to agree, is absolutely clear. “

      Total straw man argument; why do you persist with this? No-one is suggesting that the question can’t be understood, merely that it is somewhat (and unnecessarily) biased.

      “It would be biased whichever side posed it “

      No it wouldn’t. What’s wrong with mine and Major Bloodnok’s simple suggestions?

      ” and endless whining about “rigging” when the question is clear just insults the electorate and sounds like excuse-making in advance from a side that thinks it’s going to lose. “

      There’s no “endless whining”, we are just responding to your piece in perfectly reasonable terms. As for “insulting the electorate”, once again, no-one is suggesting the question won’t be understood – see above straw man reference. However, in terms of a potential skew brought about by what any reasonable person with a basic command of the English Language, including your own correspondents, would certainly concede to be an element of “spin” embedded within the proposed question wording – if this affects 2% or 3% of those voting, that could actually be decisive.

      As for a “side that thinks it’s going to lose”, surely the SNP doesn’t paint itself in a particularly bullish light, if having to resort to stuff like this, and nor do those who even refuse to acknowledge the obvious issue here and/or refuse to engage in any meaningful discussion about it, without simply resorting to insults.

       

    73. Melanie McKellar says:

      Captain Caveman says:

      Regardless though, it’s an empirical fact that Scotland is not, as of now, independent and therefore, the use of the term “become” is entirely correct (including grammatically as well as literally) and not at all misleading?”
      My answer to your question would have to be, YES the use of the word ‘become’ rather than ‘be’ would be misleading.

      ‘Do you agree Scotland should BE an Independendent country’
      This is a decisive question.  it settles the issue and has a clear YES/No outcome to Independence.

      Do you agree Scotland should BECOME an Independendent Country’
      This is indecisive, or it doesnt settle the issue of being Independent.
      I may agree that Scotland ‘should become an Independent country’ (eventually) but I might not necessarily vote for Independence at this moment in time…should I vote Yes or No?
      On the other hand I might not agree to Scotland becoming Independant because I favour a Devo+/max option but then afterwards think that Full Independence would be better…would I lose my chance? Should I vote Yes/No 

      Maybe I am just looking at it from an Independent point of view……
      .

       

    74. Arbroath1320 says:

      Sorry folks but it is Arbroath the brainless here. 😀
      I have a question.
      What exactly is the difference between Option 1 Option 2 below?
      Option 1
      “Do you agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament? Yes or no”,
      and the second:

      “Do you agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-rising powers? Yes or no”.
      or
      Option 2
      “Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?”


      Now to me and my simple single cell brain, when I can find it :D, there is absolutely no difference between the way the questions in Option 1 were asked and the way the question in Option 2 is asked.  The reason I say this is because the WESTMINSTER government have already laid the ground rules for referendi by using the “Do you agree…….” scenario in their 1997 Scottish Devolution questions (Option 1).
      I therefore see absolutely NO problem with the question as it is currently set being asked in 2014. Should Westminster try and demand a change to the wording then they are purely interfering in a referendum outwith their control.
      In my humble opinion if the phrase “Do you agree……..” is good enough for a referendum from Westminster in 1997 then it is damned well good enough for the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014!

    75. Captain Caveman says:

      “My answer to your question would have to be, YES the use of the word ‘become’ rather than ‘be’ would be misleading.”

      Yes, I understand that you think the use of ‘become’ is misleading, Melanie, but as I’ve already explained, it is, in fact, technically and grammatically correct regardless? Scotland is not currently independent; in order to do so it would have to become independent, surely? You don’t explain why, and despite these facts, you consider the use of ‘become’ to be misleading, which is afterall a pretty major charge.

      But anyway, *I* don’t have any issue with the use of “be”, as I’ve already said. The only issue that I, and others, do have is as regards the “Do you agree…” front end, again as previously stated.


      ‘Do you agree Scotland should BE an Independendent country’
      This is a decisive question.  it settles the issue and has a clear YES/No outcome to Independence.”

      Yes, yes and yes. All agreed/never denied, but of course, the precise same is true of mine and Major Bloodnok’s alternatives as well, not to mention even my pro-Unionist version originally posted (that I am not advocating of course). So what, then?

      The point is, it clearly also puts (an entirely avoidable) pro-independence spin to the question AS WELL, as explained at length. This is what people are concerned about, quite reasonably so in my opinion.
       

    76. Captain Caveman says:

      In my humble opinion if the phrase “Do you agree……..” is good enough for a referendum from Westminster in 1997 then it is damned well good enough for the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014!”

      We’ve covered that already mate. I make no excuses for the same mistakes made by English politicians in the past – they were wrong as well. Doesn’t mean you have to be.

       

    77. Melanie McKellar says:

      For a video on the bias of the question and the reason ‘Do you agree….?’ is not biased you should watch this Video, it is brill!

      http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PM5ouYL8cPU

      Captain Caveman….Do you agree we should agree to differ?


    78. Tris says:

      Arbroath:

      Thanks for the answers to my questions. I’m wondering how different they really are from what we intend to ask.

      Not a great deal, certainly compared with the question in 1997.

      Wait for Johann Lamont to walk into that one on Thursday. 

    79. Captain Caveman says:

      Captain Caveman….Do you agree we should agree to differ?”

      But of course! Cripes, many people disagree with me; I have no problem with that, far from it. (Just as bloody well, too. I have a penchant for being “the dissident”, as Stu will no doubt wearily confirm). I’ve laid out my argument and given my reasons, which seem fair enough to my mind, but feel free to think it/they are a bunch of cobblers.

      Will check out the vid later. 🙂 

    80. Morag says:

      Oh for 15 minutes with the microphone of KwithanE.
       
      “The Referendum on Separation for Scotland” is the title of your committee’s report.  Do you think that’s unbiassed wording?
       
      How would you reply to the accusation that the fact that your chosen referendum questions produced lower votes for independence is evidence that these questions are rigged in favour of the union?
       
      It’s likely you would lose your £65,000 per annum job as a Westminster MP if Scotland votes for independence.  Is this not a conflict of interest?
       
      What are Westminster MPs elected from Scottish constituencies actually for, anyway?
       
      And so on.



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