Alex Salmond’s loaded question

Alex Salmond’s loaded question

Alex Salmond’s ‘loaded’ question for Scots on breaking away: ‘Do you agree your country should be independent?’

Mr Salmond wants the referendum question: ‘Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?’
‘We want 16 and 17-year-olds to vote on Scotland’s future’, SNP leader says

Alex Salmond has unveiled his plans for a referendum on Scottish independence – publishing a question which most people would agree was ‘loaded’ and designed to destroy a United Kingdom.

Scotland’s First Minister sketched out a calendar which could see an end to the 300-year Union of England and Scotland by 2016.

But his plans have caused a heated debate since they appeared designed to destroy the usual democratic safeguards over referendums – or to trigger a row with the British Parliament which would also boost the Scottish National Party’s chances of a Yes vote.

Mr Salmond said Scottish voters would go to the polls in 2014 – the 700th anniversary of the Scottish victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. They would be asked: ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?’

He said he would allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote, a proposal that contravenes UK election law and is designed to boost support from pro-independence teenagers.

The SNP leader also said that if the Scottish public demands it, he is prepared to sanction a second question on the ballot paper on whether Scotland wants beefed up devolution, known as ‘devo max’.

Most controversially, Mr Salmond attempted to bypass the usual procedure for holding a referendum in which the Electoral Commission, which helps to run the vote, has to sanction the question as fair.

Mr Salmond made clear that he only regards the watchdog’s role as consultative rather than binding, allowing him alone to decide how the question is ultimately phrased.