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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Salmond Launching Independence Ballot Plan


He will re-affirm his intention to hold a ballot in the autumn of 2014 in a statement to MSPs at Holyrood.


Afterwards, he is scheduled to host a news conference inside Edinburgh Castle.


The SNP leader is not expected to name an exact date but he will announce his intention to hold the referendum on a Saturday in a bid to maximise voting numbers.


He will also indicate he is prepared to compromise on the involvement of the Electoral Commission as the ballot 'referee', as long as it reports to the Scottish Parliament.



I want the Scottish Government paper to have a clear acknowledgement that a legal referendum is in the interests of the Scottish people and that the two Governments should work together to achieve that.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore

The Commission's involvement is one of the conditions sought by the UK Government in offering Holyrood the legal authority to hold a binding referendum.


Westminster is also resisting the lowering of the voting age to include 16 and 17-year-olds, in accordance with the SNP's wish.


It has also insisted that there should be only one question on the ballot paper - independence, yes or no - and has called for the ballot to be held as soon as possible.


Mr Salmond has rejected the UK Government's offer and dismissed its claim that a referendum without Westminster's consent would be illegal.


In publishing his 'consultation' document, he will open the door to the prospect of 'devo-max'.


It has yet to be fully defined but is, essentially, a souped-up version of devolution that would make Scotland all but independent, with full fiscal autonomy.



Prior to the publication of his consultation document, a spokesperson for Scotland's First Minister told Sky News: "Scotland is moving forward and we look forward to the great debate that lies ahead.


"The Scottish Government and people across Scotland believe that we can and will make a compelling case for independence - with the powers we need to build an economically successful and socially-just nation.


"While others disagree, we do come together on the democratic principle that it is a decision for Scotland to make. And the referendum must also be made in Scotland."


Today's launch comes two weeks after the UK Government published a consultation of its own.


Scottish Secretary Michael Moore will meet Alex Salmond in Edinburgh on Friday to discuss the way forward.


That meeting will be followed by talks between Mr Salmond and British Prime Minister David Cameron.



Alex Salmond has an opportunity today to clear up all the confusion and give some certainty over this historic referendum.

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont

Mr Moore told Sky News: "I want the Scottish Government paper to have a clear acknowledgement that a legal referendum is in the interests of the Scottish people and that the two Governments should work together to achieve that.


"I also hope they will confirm that they support a simple yes-no question on independence. That is what people expect.


"I also hope that if the Scottish Government continue to put forward their preference of Autumn 2014 for a referendum, that they will justify why they want three more years of delay and economic uncertainty."


Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont told Sky News: "Alex Salmond has an opportunity today to clear up all the confusion and give some certainty over this historic referendum.


"The people of Scotland deserve a clear, decisive result - that means the SNP reaffirming its commitment to asking a single, unambiguous yes or no question."


Of the issues on which there may be compromise, the number of questions on the ballot paper is, perhaps, the least likely.


While Alex Salmond's unionist opponents acknowledge that the SNP's victory at the last Holyrood election gave it a mandate to conduct a referendum on independence, they insist it wasn't a mandate to ask anything else.

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