22 Aug 2012
An expert panel tasked with forming a question for the separation referendum has today presented its findings.
The Scottish Conservatives, along with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, asked Prof Stewart Sutherland, Dr Matt Qvortrup and Ron Gould to draft wording for the referendum ballot paper.
The panel has said the question must be “clear, understandable and decisive” and “should also be unbiased and fair, and seen to be so”.
The panel has recommended that the ballot paper includes the statement: “Scotland should become an independent state,” followed by the tick-box options of “I agree” or “I do not agree”.
Prof Stewart Sutherland said:
“My hope is that this clears the ground about the detail of the question and allows proper debate to be clearly focused on the future of Scotland.”
Dr Matt Qvortrup said:
“Every people has a right to a self-determination but that right can only be exercised if they are asked a clear and unequivocal question.”
Ron Gould added:
“This is a clear and unambiguous question which provides all parties with the same basic and understandable starting point.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has welcomed the findings, stating it adds further weight to the argument that there should be no second question on the ballot paper.
“Surely Alex Salmond will agree his referendum on separation must produce a clear result and that is precisely what the expert panel’s simple, unbiased question was devised to deliver.
“It is obvious from the panel’s excellent work that a referendum is only effective when there is clarity on both the issue and the question, so this must rule out any notion of a further question on devolution which would produce nothing but confusion.
“The people of Scotland face the most important vote in 300 years and I am very grateful to the panel for producing a clear, fair and decisive single question, and I urge the First Minister to accept and adopt the findings.”
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said:
“This independent body of work represents a real opportunity for all sides of this debate to reach a consensus on one of the fundamental parts of the referendum.
“The question has to be fair in order that the result properly reflects the will of the Scottish people and by endorsing the question put forward by the expert panel this ensures that no advantage can be gained from either side.
“I hope that we reach agreement with the First Minister on this at the next meeting of the party leaders and move on to the real debate about our country’s future.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:
“This panel is the only independent expert panel that has been established to draft the question for the referendum.
“We know that Stephen Tierney, adviser to the First Minister, has refused to draft a question for the Scottish Government.
“So the proposal from this expert group will help us all reach a conclusion to this matter.”