The Big Question

Preliminary talks on the Independence Referendum took place last week between Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, and the Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, followed by a more substantial meeting with David Cameron, during the UK Prime Minster’s one-day visit to Scotland.

I am pleased that some progress may have been made.  Hopefully, Scotland will be able to move on from the technical considerations of the Referendum to the all-important discussion of what Independence means for our country and people.

A number of issues have still to be revolved between the Scottish Government and Westminster over the Referendum.  I do not see anything being decided until the conclusion of the Scottish Government’s Your Scotland, Your Referendum consultation and the UK Government’s consultation on the same. 

After consultation, to which I hope all interested West Fifers will make a submission, we shall see the Scottish Government’s final proposals for the Referendum.  Hopefully, an amicable arrangement can be reached with Westminster, so that suitable legislation can be passed through the Scottish Parliament for the Independence Referendum to be held in Autumn 2014.

I expect agreement on the Electoral Commission overseeing the Referendum under Scottish Parliament terms. More difficult issues may be the exact question(s) to be asked and whether 16- and 17-year olds are to be included in the electoral franchise.

The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.

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