Let the Electoral Commission decide Independence Referendum question

SINCE my last Evening Times column, the Westminster Parliament has debated and passed a very important piece of legislation – the Parliamentary Order that has transferred the responsibility and legal ability to hold a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future to the Scottish Parliament.

Loading Comments

When I joined the Labour Party it was to fight against the causes of poverty and inequality and discrimination wherever they lie and to promote equality of opportunity, regardless of a person's background.

I had no idea at the time that one of the first big fights of my political life would be to stop the break-up of my country.

The referendum vote will be the biggest decision any of us will take in more than 300 years and that is why the terms and tone of the debate are so important.

I want to be clear: the SNP has the right to hold a referendum. It won the election and has the right to ask the question.

But, equally, the people of Scotland have a right to answer that question in a way that is open, transparent and fair.

Scotland deserves nothing less than a Scottish Government that will put the country's interests before its own and ensure the will of the people of Scotland comes before all else.

So it is very concerning to see the reluctance of the SNP and the Scottish Government to commit to accepting the decision of the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission is independent, experienced and trusted. Its only motivation is ensuring a fair outcome.

Its two key areas of consideration are very important to the fairness of the referendum; the impartiality of the question and ensuring the spending limits are appropriate to allow a full and informed debate.

There is disagreement over the wording, with many arguing it is a leading question skewed to a particular result. I say let the Electoral Commission decide.

It will test the question and any advice offered will not be supposition or political assertion, but based on evidence and the result of rigorous testing.

The SNP has already proposed spending limits of less than those available to council candidates from each party during last May's council elections.

Is the SNP seriously suggesting the referendum on the future of Scotland is less important than that of electing your local councillor?

After its 2011 Holyrood victory the SNP has an overall majority in the chamber and in the Parliament's committees. So with the passing of the Parliamentary Order a heavy responsibility now lies with the Scottish Government.

The majority places a greater responsibility on the party of Government to act responsibly and live up to the highest of ideals: to be judged not as just members of the SNP, or as Members of the Scottish Parliament, but as democrats.

Because if done right the legacy – whatever the referendum outcome – can be a Parliament we can all be proud of and a result we can all have faith in.

The people of Scotland deserve nothing less.

Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.


Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

The Look Awards, a bra fitting and going veggie at Usha’s.




Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

Jam packed with Empire biscuit making.

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.