The Scottish government's independence referendum consultation
has been published IMAGE: STOCKPIX.EU
Scottish independence: SNP publishes referendum consultation results
by Joseph Blythe
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today published the results of the Scottish
government's independence referendum consultation, over a week after Alex
Salmond and David Cameron signed the Edinburgh Agreement covering the legal framework for the vote.
The figures have shown that a majority of the respondents supported a single question on the ballot paper, as well as the SNP’s preferred timetable for the referendum, and the right for 16-17 year olds to participate in the vote.
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Over 26,000 responses were used to produce the results of the consultation, which began iin January this year.
Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament:
“The Edinburgh Agreement, signed by the Scottish and UK governments last week, will ensure that the biggest decision the people of our country will make for many generations is made here in Scotland for the benefit of all of those that live and work here.
"This will be a referendum designed and delivered by the Scottish Parliament, meeting the highest standards of fairness, transparency and propriety. The Government will now consider carefully the responses and the analysis in finalising our Referendum Bill.
"But we are encouraged that the analysis indicates broad support for the Government's current position on a range of the central issues - particularly votes for 16 and 17 year olds, spending limits, and the proposed question."
Of the respondents, 64 percent broadly agreed with the wording of the referendum paper, with 28 percent disagreeing, while 62 percent were against the idea of a second question, ahead of 32 percent in favour.
62 percent were also in favour of the SNP’s proposed Autumn 2014 timetable for the vote, with the consultation claiming that responses suggested thought “it gave the Scottish electorate sufficient time to consider the arguments being put forward”.
Other issues raised in the consultation included the idea of whether holding the referendum on a Saturday would allow more people to vote, and the spending limits for participants in the referendum campaign.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie commented on the clear support for a single question paper, saying:
“Despite all of their best efforts to rig support for a two question referendum in their favour, the SNP has finally admitted it did not even have the public backing it boasted about at every turn. The SNP government has wiped out its credibility in one fell swoop.
“The Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see an open and honest debate about Scotland’s future. It is gravely worrying that the SNP leadership has been so willing to mislead the public to suit its own narrow nationalist goals.”
Alex Salmond’s government has already faced criticism over the time it has taken to release the consultation results, with the closing date for responses back in May.
Scottish Labour MSP, Patricia Ferguson said:
“It is truly shameful that it has taken the best part of six months for the Scottish Government to publish this consultation; let alone that they have done it after cutting a deal behind closed doors.”
Last week’s Edinburgh Agreement saw David Cameron and Alex Salmond agree that Westminster would transfer the legal powers for Holyrood to hold the referendum by the end of 2014.
Independence referendum timeline
5 May 2011: SNP wins majority in the Scottish parliament elections, paving the way for a referendum on Scottish independence.
25th January 2012: Scottish Government launches consultation on independence referendum
3rd April 2012: SNP rule out anonymous responses in consultation
11th May 2012: Deadline for responses passes
15th October 2012: Edinburgh Agreement lays groundwork for referendum in 2014
23rd October 2012: Full Consultation Responses Released
Autumn 2014: Preliminary date for independence referendum.
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