Scotland sets date for referendum

Saturday, March 23, 2013

On Thursday, Scotland's First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond set the date September 18, 2014, for the country's referendum on political independence from the rest of the United Kingdom. The question to be presented at the ballot is: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"; if a majority vote "Yes", the union of the parliaments, in-place since 1707, will come to an end.

Graph charting opinion on the referendum from several surveys undertaken during the past year.
Image: Metallurgist.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the SNP believe Scotland would be more prosperous under self-government controlling their own resources, including the oil, fishing and farming industries.

The vote comes from what Salmond describes as a chance "to build a better country". Salmon urged the Scottish population to seize the opportunity for independence, quoted by ABC as saying, "[t]he choice becomes clearer with each passing day - the opportunity to use our vast resources and talent to build a better country, or to continue with a Westminster system that simply isn't working for Scotland,"

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However, Independence opponent and Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont claims the SNP have failed to detail how an independent Scotland would support itself. Lamont told the The Guardian that Salmond has failed to explain how the new nation would deal with health care and education issues, as well as what its polices would be on tax, pensions and welfare.

For this election only, the voting age of the September referendum has been lowered to 16. Polling expert Prof John Curtice told the BBC: "If you look at the polls in the round, what you discover is, yes, younger people are perhaps a little more likely to be in favour of independence." However, the Professor was sceptical if younger voters would be the all-deciding vote that the SNP believes them to be.

ABC reports opinion polls show only 30% of the Scottish population currently support independence, with 50% favouring the status-quo as part of the the United Kingdom.