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On 18 September 2014, Scotland will decide if it wants to become an independent country

Friday, March 22nd 2013 - 02:22 UTC
Full article 64 comments
First Minister Salmond made the announcement before the Scottish parliament First Minister Salmond made the announcement before the Scottish parliament

First Minister Alex Salmond set a historical vote in motion announcing on Thursday the date for a referendum on Scottish independence, 18 September 2014 and promising to campaign hard for the “Yes” side. The simple question reads: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

“That day, 547 days from now, is the day we take responsibility for our country. When we are able to speak with our own voice, choose our own direction and contribute in our distinct way.” Mr. Salmond told the Scottish parliament. “The day we stand up on our own two feet – but do not stand alone.”

He also introduced legislation outlining the rules for the official campaign, which will last 16 weeks. The rules include a spending limit of £1.5-million, for the Yes and No campaigns, and a drop in the voting age to 16.

Mr. Salmond’s Scottish National Party has been fighting for sovereignty for decades but only gained power as a majority government in 2011. It set to work on the referendum last year and won agreement from the U.K. parliament on a general framework for the vote.

His arguments face stiff opposition in his own backyard. Support for independence has been falling steadily and hit just 23% at the end of 2012, the lowest level since 1999 according to the annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey.

That same survey showed 61% per cent backed Scotland remaining within the U.K. but with more powers. However, a poll last month by Ipsos MORI found that support for independence had gone up to 34%, with 55% against.

Initially Salmond had proposed asking voters “Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?” But that question was deemed biased to the Yes side by Britain’s Electoral Commission, which is overseeing the referendum. The commission proposed the current question which Mr. Salmond adopted.

The No campaign, called Better Together, issued a call to arms after Mr. Salmond’s announcement, urging supporters to stop Mr. Salmond from “buying Scotland a one-way ticket to a deeply uncertain destination.” The No side, led by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, has seized on a private memo to the Scottish cabinet written by Finance Minister John Swinney last year that raised dire forecasts about the financial health of an independent Scotland.

“I think most people in Scotland are desperately anxious to know the facts here, to know what the details are,” Mr. Darling told reporters Thursday. “Of course I’m ready and I’m willing to put forward a powerful case for why Scotland is stronger and better as part of the U.K.”

Mr. Salmond has insisted that Scotland contributes far more financially to Britain than it receives in return and he has argued that revenue from the North Sea oil fields will continue to flow for at least another 40 years.
 

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • Marcos Alejandro

    About time Scotland.

    Mar 22nd, 2013 - 02:58 am 0
  • Bryzi

    Can't see it happening really. I haven't met that many people who will be voting yes. Most people I've discussed it with seem to think its a bad idea.

    Mar 22nd, 2013 - 03:03 am 0
  • brit abroad

    marcos, why?

    @ 2, he will play to the unemployed and the hardline nationalist (which there are not many of).

    An independ. scotland canot rely on north sea oil to feed and maintain its economy and defence. However it is worth noting that it is one of the (London and the South east of England being the front runners) the most economically stable parts of the UK.

    I dont think it will be an issue for many English people if they were to get independance, but to be honest i think this is all about a particular small group of egoistic nationalist who want the glory for themselves. Only to leave all the finer more complicated details to the politicians who follow.

    On another note what currency will they use?
    Euro? Hehe,
    British Pound/Stirling? that will be capped to the Bank of England (so not a good idea),
    The scottish Pound? A new currency with no international clout, and the expense of re-minted it all.
    The US Dollar??
    The RG Potato??(sorry i couldnt resist).

    Mar 22nd, 2013 - 05:17 am 0
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