Following last month’s agreement between David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, the Scottish Government has now rubber-stamped the SNP’s proposed question for the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence: ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?’
The proposed question has yet to be approved by the Electoral Commission. The Commission’s role in determining the intelligibility of proposed referendum questions is, strictly, merely consultative. However it would be at best embarrassing for the SNP to ignore the Commission’s recommendation.
Dr Matt Qvortrup, a member of The Constitution Society’s Working party on Scottish Independence and a leading authority on referendums, said last week that in his view the Electoral Commission are unlikely to endorse the proposed question on the grounds that the word ‘agree’ biaised the question towards an affirmative answer.
Earlier this year a group of academics including Dr Qvortrup proposed an alternative, neutral, phrasing of the question which is broadly supported by the opposition parties: ‘Scotland should become an independent state: I agree/I do not agree’