‘In-between’ option has some appeal
In THE political context of 2012, Lesley Riddoch (Perspective, 9 July) correctly assesses the public mood on independence for Scotland.
Those Scots who take an interest in the matter do want an “in-between solution”. But it does not follow that the public mood will not change; it does not follow that the way to resolve the matter is to press for a second question on the ballot paper when the poll is at last held.
It is for those political parties that believe in increased powers under the devolved settlement to put forward their proposals now, to campaign for them in Holyrood and Westminster. This will enhance their case for a No vote to independence if the public sees that the increased powers have either been achieved or are on their way.
But the situation does not need to be blurred by pressure for a second question. It is more important that people actually know what independence will mean rather than what devo-max in its various forms means. In politics people often come to the same conclusions but for different reasons.
Margo MacDonald MSP may be a fundamentalist on the independence issue and feel that a simple question is the best way to test public opinion.
Others may simply feel that a single question offers clarity, simplicity and the way forward.
The real choice should be between a clearly defined independence settlement and the existing arrangements.
Whatever the outcome, I cannot believe that it will finally settle the Scottish question.
In a democracy, future generations will be entitled to take the matter up again.
They are likely to do so with vigour if the 2014 poll gives an outcome that is equivocal and uncertain as a result of too many questions and badly thought out constitutional details.
One question regarding the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence which does not seem to have been addressed yet is what voting system will be used?
If it is a clear Yes/No choice, then the first past-the-post-system is the only option, but what percentage of the vote will be required?
I suggest that it needs to be at least 70 per cent of the votes cast to ensure that the way forward is truly the will of a majority of the Scottish people.
If there is more than one question – ie Yes, No and devo-max – then would single transferrable vote (STV) be considered? This might give a more representative idea of people’s views.
Many issues in the referendum debate still need to be clarified.
Perhaps proposals to include a third option and to use STV might contribute to more constructive debate and less empty rhetoric.
Sheila M Chambers
Port Seton, East Lothian
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