Scottish independence: Campaign for future of Scotland hots up
A campaign to encourage public debate surrounding the Scottish Independence Referendum has been well received in its first week, gaining fresh support from Scottish organisations and citizens.
The Future of Scotland umbrella campaign, which was launched last week, is a coalition of trade unions, businesses, churches, voluntary groups and other organisations in the third sector aiming to gather opinion on the future direction of Scotland.
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Independent from the government's official referendum consultation, Future of Scotland aims to reach all demographics in the country promising to “bring the debate” to schools, community halls, care homes and social media networks amongst others.
Among the partners involved are the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Reform Scotland, Scottish Youth Parliament, Church of Scotland and Faith in Community Scotland. Martin Sime, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) said of the campaign:
“We’ve struck a chord with people who are beginning to tire of this debate being dominated by people, mostly politicians, who know the answer they want and work back from there. We want to start with the issues and challenges people face in their everyday lives and end up with options for the future which reflect on those issues.”
Although at an early stage, the campaign has already gained significant support from other organisations. Charlotte McNeill, a spokesperson for SCVO said that while Future of Scotland has yet to have “much response from individuals”, increasing numbers of “new organisations have signed up” since the campaign began ten days ago.
The Scottish electorate will, over the next few months, debate the possibility of a third option in the referendum of increased devolution which would allow Holyrood to make more decisions for Scotland but fall short of full independence for the country.
The first question on the ballot paper will ask: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” Both the SNP and the UK government support a “yes/no” ballot however First Minister Alex Salmond said he was “open-minded” about including an additional question proposing more powers to be delegated to Holyrood.
The Scottish Government has opened a public consultation on the independence referendum which includes soliciting views on whether a second ‘devo-max’ question should be asked at the same time. The consultation which closes on April 30th is part of The National Conversation which was created in August 2007 encourages citizens in Scotland to debate the referendum which the Scottish Government feels will allow “the people of Scotland [to] make an informed decision on their future.”
Future of Scotland’s launch conference will take place on March 1st at the SECC, Glasgow and is free to the public.
Separately, Robert Hazell, Professor of British Politics and Government & Director of the Constitution Unit and Alan Trench, Constitution Unit Honorary Research Fellow and author of the Devolution Matters blog will talk at an event dealing with the legal and political implications of Scottish Independence. The discussion will take place on March 12 at University College London.