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05.03.12

Scottish independence campaign planned for May

The ‘Yes’ campaign for Scottish independence is to launch officially from May, following the end of the Government’s consultation and the local elections. Plans are to hold a referendum on independence in autumn 2014.

The SNP Government has proposed the referendum question: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

First minister Alex Salmond has expressed his preference for a single question, but is open-minded about additional questions on more powers for Holyrood.

Many on the pro-union side are campaigning against independence but still want more autonomy for the Scottish government and parliament, with various options suggesting including ‘home rule’, ‘devo max’ and the newest one, ‘devo plus’, which would see full control of income tax, corporation tax and most welfare spending by the Scottish Government, but with responsibility for pensions, VAT and national insurance remaining with Westminster.

Salmond told Sunday Politics presenter Andrew Neil: “So confident are we about winning the referendum, that shortly after the local elections in Scotland in May and the final position on the Scottish Government’s consultation – which I think is 11 May – then the yes campaign will be launched.

“It will be a broad-based campaign with civicScotland, with the job creators ofScotland, with the unions ofScotland, a variety of people coming together to annunciate the case for independence.

“And that positive approach is going to contrast very markedly with our opponents who are united only in their negativity.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has voiced his intention to oppose Scottish independence with ‘the fight of my life’.

Independent academics have questioned the form of words to be used in the ballot question, saying the SNP formulation could prejudice the answer in favour of a ‘yes’ vote. People tend to be predisposed towards ‘agreeing’ rather than ‘disagreeing’, all other things being equal, they say, while many campaigners on the pro-union side say the question should also highlight the fact that independence entails Scotland leaving the UK – which usually polls lower than simply asking people if they want independence. 

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