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The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Most Rev Dr Idris Jones

"The future for Scotland lies in the development of inter-dependence. The world's peace is not best served by having everyone living with a sense of separateness - we are debating now about how to promote integration within our own nation. Nor is the world's health served without being able to sustain and harness distinctiveness of cultures and nations as well. The way forward is not by opposing Union to Independence but by working towards inter-dependence based on mutual respect and trust."

Derek Ogg, QC

"I have been a life-long devolutionist. I remember going out campaigning in the 'Yes' campaign in the 1970s. I think it preserves our unique Scottish identity and strengthens our institutions, but keeps us in our broader British family.

"I am also, and always have been, a very committed European. So, I am pro-devolution, pro-Union and pro-Europe. My views have not changed in a lifetime of experience. I have been delighted with the way devolution has gone and I think it can get better."

Aamer Anwar, solicitor

"Speaking as somebody born and brought up in England but having spent the last 20 years in Scotland, if you had asked me 20 or even ten years ago, I would have said the future of Scotland lies in the Union. But I think with the unaccountability of the British Government, which does not reflect the views of the vast majority of Scottish people, I think people are becoming more inclined towards independence as time moves on.

"I think it is unfortunate. I do not believe in divisions or national boundaries. But with the war in Iraq, a lack of civil liberties, legislation dictated by Westminster rather than Scotland, I think it is not if, but it is when Scotland will be independent."

Joe Beltrami, solicitor-advocate

"I am against independence, and very much in favour of the existing union. I have always been been against it because I do not think it would succeed. The personnel running the place if it were independent, I do not have much confidence in them. I think it could be disastrous."

Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Joseph Conti

"The political future of Scotland is a question for the Scottish people. I would be in favour of independence in a very qualified sense, namely in an autonomy which reflects and ensures respect for Scotland as a nation with its own distinctive history, culture and values which have helped shape it.

"I am unconvinced of the need for independence if that term is a synonym for isolationism or that besetting but infuriating Scottish "wha's like us" mindset.The world is becoming smaller not only through low cost air travel and hightech wizardry but by design. The last century has seen the formation ofthe UN and the EU both for ensuring peace and the economic benefit of mankind (the latter still to be achieved). Therefore no country can any longer be considered truly independent and I see the future being built on a dynamic towards unity rather than a separation.

"I believe less attention in the national debate should focus on Scotlands union with the rest of the UK, but assuming and building on that, on our role as a distinctive voice (like that of Bavaria or Alto Adige) within the European Union."

Blair Nimmo, managing partner, KPMG Scotland.

"I'm a huge patriot and I've got a high regard for Alex Salmond, but am I looking for a truly independent Scotland? Probably not.

"From what I've seen of the SNP's business policies, its reduced corporation tax, reduced business rates, which is good for small companies; there's a lot of good things in there, the question is how you pay for it all.

"I would be hugely concerned about large Scottish companies being nervous about being based in an independent Scotland, even just the concern that things might go against them.

"Before devolving and more powers to Holyrood, people would have to have more confidence in the MSPs themselves, for example, how engaged are any of the MSPs, who for the most part are professional politicians, how engaged, knowledgeable and interested are they in business? I think if you asked most people in business the best answer you could get is not as much as they would like."

Duncan McLaren, chief executive, Friends of the Earth Scotland

"Independent or not, Sotland is never going to be a world-beater in the brutal race-to-the-bottom of mass-market globalisation.

But we could be a genuine world leader in a new ecological enlightenment setting an example for global environmental justice by redoubling our efforts to tackle climate chaos and develop renewable energy.

We could even aspire to replace the morally bankrupt American role-model for the world by demonstrating that a developed nation can deliver high quality of life for all while consuming only a fair share of the worlds resources."

Harry Benson, international celebrity photographer

"Scotland will always have its own identity, but I think it also feels part of the United Kingdom. I think it's a good idea that Scotland has its own parliament and is not so tied to Westminster for decisions to be made about specifically Scottish things, but I don't see any benefit in breaking from England. There's more that binds us than sets us apart."

Alan McDonald, Moderator of the Church of Scotland Moderator

"When Scotland joined with England in 1707 it found a way to spread itself around the rest of the world - for good and for ill. Today we are more aware than ever of how the rest of the world is connected to us. We relate to it in the political institutions of the United Nations and the European Union - and need to support both. But our national history and inheritance of faith should both alert us to the need to be generous, welcoming and responsible members of an interconnected human race."

William McIlvanney, author

"I've always been supportive of independence, but what I would like to see is the SNP grapple first with the issue of devolution. I also believe that its more than a personal choice, it has to be carried by the overwhelming majority of the people of Scotland if it is to have a solid mandate and true validity."

Bashir Maan, author and Scottish representative of the Muslim Council of Britain.

"I would say that our future lies within the union. Twenty years ago that was not the case, I would have supported independence, but I do believe that Scotland is getting a much better deal through devolution, though I would like to see even greater devolution."

James MacMillan, composer

"I think I am probably the only Celtic fan to have conducted Rule Britannia!

"I did this in Sydney a few years ago and it was all great fun. Like most Celtic fans I vote for a unionist party, and there is no contradiction here.

"I value a rich and complex identity, taking in Britishness and Scottishness, shaped by the Irish Diaspora and international Catholicism, flavoured with a taste of localised cultural presbyterianism. When I go abroad I am comforted by signs of Britishness - union jacks, the universally respected BBC, and the British Council, which does so much for British culture, and has welcomed and sponsored me from Barcelona to Brisbane. I have gradually been converted to the moderation of our culturally confident and historically secure constitutional monarchy, still admired affectionately throughout the world.

"The destructive and anachronistic process of seccession would be a generation-long, energy-sapping exercise in petty mean-mindedness, and even more brooding, navel-gazing introspection; and would cripple Scotland."

Steven Campbell, artist

"I say get rid of it, start again and begin again with a whole new view point. It would have to be quick. A mini-Russian revolution. I think we could go independent. I think it would be a whole new opportunity for a moral education, for example using art, literature and poetry, as a foundation for a moral reeducation of the country, there are so many good writers and artists and film-makers about. We should use that reservoir instead of some bureaucrat with a useless degree.

"When people say we have done well out of the union, it feels like a pat on a back. If you are constantly told you are doing better you have a tendency to agree with it. I don't know economically maybe we are, maybe we aren't. Yet I think England is getting worse. I was down there last week and there is no way Scotland could benefit from that. I can't see it. We had a wonderful tradition of education and a deep moral understanding, and natural care for each other and that is a great basis for starting anew.

"We need a new way of looking at things. I would say get the guys at the top changed. Bomb them out."

Alan Grant, comic book writer

"I would like to see an independent Scotland as I believe that all nations, regardless of how big or small, should be able to shape their own destiny and not be told what to do by a larger neighbour. However what does concern me is the SNP slogan of Independent in Europe which is an impossibility. It's like jumping over the moon. It's bad enough having a layer of numpties in Westminster without the numpties in Brussels. The problem is I have no confidence in politicians."

Clive Fairweather, CBE, former chief inspector of Scotland's prisons and former colonel of the Scottish Division.

"I couldn't really see the point of the new 'pretendy wee' parliament until I had to appear in front of the Holyrood Justice Committees.

"Then it dawned that Roseanna Cunningham and other MSPs were able to question and debate a whole lot of things that Westminster never had the time or the interest in.

"Thus chastened, I realised that devolution must be a good thing for Scotland.

"I'm not for complete independence; defence and foreign affairs are intertwined and I can't see Scotland ever going it alone in these areas. Nevertheless, it would appear to be a logical step for Holyrood to have more fiscal or tax-raising powers."

Magnus Linklater

"We have scarcely begun to make devolution work, so what on earth gives us the idea that independence is a practical alternative?

"The Scotland Act gave this country the power to improve public services over a wide area and the budget to do it. We need to realise that potential, make our national institutions work better, and stimulate economic development rather than assume that independence is the panacea for all our ills.

"The union has worked well for Scotland, and though we can develop greater autonomy within it, the idea that we should throw it all away in favour of an untried, left-leaning, incoherent form of nationalism, is absurd."

John Byrne, playwright

"The ban on smoking on stage has given me pause. What else can they possibly dream up that's going to curtail our freedom?

"Morning, noon and night we are treated as infants, with smiley slow down signs and all that kind of stuff, I see it getting worse. Just leave us alone. People die of smoking, they die of drink, they also die of boredom. I would have said yes, independence would have been the way to go. I've not interested in the English crown and the way it was all set up in the first place was a piece of jiggery-pokery .

"To be patronised that way down the centuries was a real pain, but I can not trust this mob or any like them to let us be independent within an independent country and be proud to say we are Scots. "

Stephane Denve, conductor and music director, Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

"It's certainly good, for me, to do both things together. Develop your religion and your particularities because of your richness, at the same time, go hand in hand with Europe.

"That's why I do believe that actually you have to cultivate your difference, your talent, your particularlity, your accent, a certain form of independence, each human being should feel unique. At the same time I think you have to help people feel in a larger group, we all have to feel responsible for the earth.

"We should feel more that we are European, and the UK should feel more European sometimes. Politically its good that we don't lose the fact that we are all Europeans.

I do love the feeling that it's very special to be a certain community. I feel in the orchestra, there is really a pride to be a Scottish orchestra."

James Boyle, former chairman Scottish Arts Council, former controller Radio 4

"The issue is not independence but courage. We have the power to grow a strong economy but we don't have the bottle.

"Tax-varying powers? Then drop tax rates and encourage Scottish businesses and workers. Create a tax differential and channel wealth into Scotland.

"Dependency culture? Reduce the public sector significantly; abandon interventionist politics and futile struggles with the market. Our academics and business people are more imaginative than our Parliamentarians. Politics has to catch up with society in Scotland.

"I considered independence before devolution. Now my attention is seized with wanting the Scotland Act to be put to full use. We are not hobbled by others but by ourselves."

Peter Howson, painter

"I have believed in independence for Scotland but I chop and change, being the erratic person that I am. Generally speaking, fundamentally, even though I was born in England, I would say I was a nationalist, and Scotland should flaming well learn to stand up for itself and have an identity.

"The world is moving more and more towards this globalised thing, and I've always been of the view that it should be in smaller units. If it had been done years ago the wealth from the oil would make a difference.

"New Labour, I think the whole thing stinks. At one point I was interested in the Scottish Socialist Party but I got put off by the people involved as well.

"The only problem that puts me off the independence, though I haven't changed, it's the politicians, there's not enough good politicians. They are lacking in charisma. I don't know what I think about the whole Sean Connery thing with independence because there's a whole hypocrisy there. I quite like Alex Salmond, but that's because he said something nice about my paintings. He seems like a reasonable character, I'm not exactly up on what he represents."

Alasdair Gray, the Lanark author and painter

"I have written two pamphlets called why Scots should rule Scotland. They were written two general elections ago and I have not stopped wanting Scottish independence.

"The kind of parliament we have now, is not enough, is irresponsible in the sense that it hasn't full responsibility for Scotland and is still able to fob off the most important decisions, to push them south to London."

Donnie Munro, former Runrig singer, Gaelic activist

"I have always been a pretty convinced devolutionist but I always thought the UK was a pretty small land mass and for that reason I consider there are very major strengths of being part of that union.

"Accepting that I'm committed to the development for the Scottish parliament dealing with issues related to Scotland.

"The whole nature of politics is an evolutionary process and it will be for the Scottish people to decide what form that evolution takes.

"There is nothing about the current situation politically, either national or international, that Scotland would be better disentangled from the whole sctures, the business structure, the social structure, the cultural locus that have existed over this period of common history.

"There is nothing in the political context that would support an absolutely unnecessary upheaval of all these aspects of our national lives."

Joyce McMillan, Scotsman drama critic, academic and cultural commentator

"The Union between Scotland and England has always been, at bottom, a practical and pragmatic arrangement, rather than a sentimental one.

"It's therefore far more important for UK politicians who value the Union to look after the practical wellbeing of the people of Britain - to offer them prosperity, security, an effective welfare state, and a credible and trustworthy system of government - than for them to indulge in patriotic rhetoric about "Britishness". History suggests that if our politicians look after these basics of practical politics, then the Union will look after itself.

"It's the failure of the present government to to deliver on our practical wellbeing, and a credible and trustworthy system of government, that has inevitably led to a new wave of nationalist feeling in Scotland since 2003. When the UK government seems in a mess - burned-out, compromised and directionless - it's always tempting to imagine Scotland doing better on its own. It has certainly had that effect on me. That trend will not reverse again until - or unless - government at Westminster once again becomes more dynamic, more credible and more progressive; and in the meantime, the SNP has a historic chance to take power at Holyrood next spring, if only it can organise itself to seize the moment."

Alastair Campbell, former director of communications and strategy for Tony Blair

"As someone who was born in England of Scottish parents, and who has lived most of my life in England, I consider myself to be British first, Scottish second, and English a long way behind.

"Whether from the British or the Scottish perspective I am a passionate believer in the Union as being good for Scotland and good for Britain. The old slogan, Stronger Together, sums it up. Economically, socially, diplomatically, Scotland gets added strength from the Union.

"Independence would be an economic, social and diplomatic disaster. It would cost jobs, strength and influence in the world. It is a simplistic idea but one which does not have Scotland's real interests at heart.

"I believe the devolution settlement brought in after the 97 election struck the right balance. Scotland has more control over its own affairs, but without losing the benefits of union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland."

Tom Wood, former deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police

"Of course, it was always going to take time and the vision of a parliament of able and independent free thinkers was never a reality. Party politics made sure of that.

"It was a very shaky start. Try as I might, I couldn't see fox hunting and clause 28 as top priorities.

"I feared an on-going and expensive raft of minor legislation. It was a gloomy prospect, accompanied by endless bickering about the Holyrood building itself.

"However, from this poor start it has begun to spring some sense of hope and success. The anti-smoking legislation was a triumph of moral courage and good sense. It has brought real improvement to the people of Scotland and I believe its almost universal approval sends a signal to a maturing parliament."

Maitland Mackie, head of the family ice-cream making firm which is one of Scotland's biggest and most innovative agri-businesses

"We're based in rural Aberdeenshire - 70 staff and 600 cows - but our customers are national and international and business is all about competitive ability.

"Politically, independence would make no sense, but that's a separate argument. Purely from the business point of view it would make no sense either.

"Firstly, there is no shadow of doubt that if Scotland became independent, it would have to lift its tax rate to compensate for what would be lost from the UK Treasury. Employers and employees would have to pay more tax with a full-blown government to support - and that's daft.

"Secondly, it would complicate our business if we were saddled with different rules than those in the rest of the UK.

"Firms like ours are national, our main market is England. To have England treated as an international market when going global on level terms is what businesses like us want to do would also be plain daft."

John Kinnaird, president of NFU Scotland

"Devolution is good news for Scotland's farmers. 80 per cent of our land mass is farmed, so Holyrood was always going to have a stronger rural voice than Westminster. The Executive has also made genuine attempts to build a partnership with industry, in a way that never existed in London.

"However, whilst the Executive has produced laudable strategies and initiatives, many of the real decisions that affect farming families are made in Brussels - and there, devolution has failed to live up to its billing.

"A real opportunity has been missed to forge links in Brussels to bring common sense and a Scottish perspective on issues such as regulation. The Executive has never really got to grips with the EU-aspect of devolution, preferring to deal with Brussels through London or not to raise issues at all. The result has been a dilution and, at worst, a complete sidelining of Scottish priorities on the EU stage. That is not itself an argument for independence, it is a plea for the next administration to punch its weight in Europe - or at least be willing to put the gloves on in the first place."

Michelle Mone, founder of MJM International and inventor of the Ultimo gel-filled bra

"I actually like things the way they are and don't see any real need for anything different politically. The thought of a dramatic change frightens me.

"I strongly believe that for business and personal reasons it benefits us to be part of the UK.

"We don't own our gas or oil and I would be concerned that taxes would go up and we'd end up becoming a poorer nation. I don't see that there would be any benefit to us at all.

"I'm extremely proud of being Scottish and us having our own parliament but would never want a dramatic change. The Welsh are also proud of their heritage and having their own parliament but don't want independence.

"Without a doubt my business should be based in London but I'm prepared to travel three days a week because I love Scotland and will never move away."

Susie Stoddart, champion F3 racing driver

"We're such a small nation I don't see that it would be beneficial to break away from the rest of the British Isles.

"The UK is one of the most powerful countries behind the US and we would lose that status and strength if we became independent. There would also be financial implications that many people probably haven't thought about.

"It would be such a huge step into the unknown and so much more would be expected of us. We would also have to be responsible for trying to make tough decisions on issues such as defence. But having said that when people are put into situations they are forced to cope.

"The Scottish Parliament was a major step forward but it hasn't changed my views over the past few years.

"I don't think we always realise how lucky we are. When I was at university in Scotland Scottish students were dealt a better card than English ones in terms of having our fees paid, and other things which I didn't realise at the time.

"I'm really proud to be Scottish and to part of a racing tradition which includes people like Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard. I always run the Scottish flag when I'm racing instead of the Union Jack and everyone recognises it. We're much better thought of in Europe and the United States than the English because of our sense of humour and our way with people. Being Scottish is something really special in my world.

Liz Lochhead, writer

"I'd personally like to see an independent Scotland within Europe. I'm not a member of the SNP but I think it would be good to be responsible for going our own way."

Robina Qureshi, director, Positive Action in Housing

"Scotland is a country which wants to stand on its own two feet and have control over its own affairs, especially on issues such as asylum seekers and dawn raids.

"We have a situation where we Scots are told by Westminster that asylum is a reserved issue. This leads directly to disgusting instances where children are dragged out of their beds causing great distress to them and everyone else who is affected by it such as neighbours and teachers. And we can't do anything about it.

"These young children and their parents are the future lifeblood of Scotland especially since the population is in decline.

"I would like to see Scotland deal with its own affairs and do so in a humanitarian way to reflect the humanity inherent in way the majority of ordinary Scots behave.

"If Scotland claims to be able to manage its own parliament then it can manage its own affairs separate from Westminster."

Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman, Muslim Assocation of Britain

"There are not a lot of arguments that can be made for the Union anymore. Proponents of it are reduced to bleating about "divorce" and "separation".

"They say we're too wee to look after ourselves. It's an implicitly racist argument that Scots uniquely cannot run a country, when there are far smaller nations than ours in the world that do it just fine.

"The subsidy proposition is also equally absurd, as if Westminster is a charitable organisation that bails Scotland out annually from the goodness of its heart. London has done really well from Scotland, particularly from the oil. It makes me angry to think how much more advanced Scotland could be if only 30 years of oil had been spent here rather than frittered away.

"The original rationale behind the Union was that we would have access to the markets of the British Empire. This certainly no longer applies in a world with globalised borders. As an independent nation, Scotland could market itself better, as well as sitting at the EU table, rather than being the perpetual Cinderella.

"Most powerfully, we could dissociate ourselves properly from the foreign policy blunders - past and possibly future - emanating from Westminster.

"They have killed many and put us in ever greater peril. Without the ties that bind, we could play a far more constructive role in creating a more peaceful world."

Author Sandra Brown, OBE, Scotswoman of the Year

"I was thrilled at the prospect of devolution and the idea that we were finally to get our own parliament.

"There were high hopes at the outset about what the new parliament could achieve in the areas of social justice but I have to say that I've been disappointed.

"Scotland's justice system should be the envy of the world and MSPs had a real opportunity to bolster the rights of children but it just hasn't happened. It's frustrating to see there is so much resistance to change within the legal establishment.

"However, there have been some plus points. We should be proud of the legislation that banned sex offenders from cross-examining their victims in court, but there is still a great deal of work to be done.

"Perhaps the appointment of a female Lord Advocate will pave the way for vulnerable child witnesses to get a better deal in Scotland's courts."

David Green, convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority and chairman of the Crofters Commission

"My opinion is that we can't say for sure either way whether independence or being part of the union is best for Scotland. There needs to be more facts on the pros and cons and perhaps some serious long-term research done into the whole issue - and who better to undertake this than the new University of the Highlands and Islands.

"One thing I'm aware of though, is that some of us have a tendency to switch between pro-union and pro-independence depending on the topic of the day. For example, if Scotland wins against Ukraine tonight the pro-independence lobby will swell tomorrow! This would be too important a decision to take on the basis of a 'Braveheart' mood!"

Robbie the Pict, campaigner

"Are we 'a People'? To Ukania, Scotland is 'a part of the United Kingdom'. Accepting such annexation is betrayal of both our forefathers and our children. Any Unionist ministry of Ukanian components is a hanging offence.

"The need for self-determination is strengthened by recent Anglo-American acts in Scotland. The Lockerbie munitions cover-up, the Skye fraud, the McKie scandal, the abductions and arms dealing via Prestwick - all are judged a public disgrace to the Kingdom of Scotland's good reputation in the world.

"Three hundreds years of shame and abuse is enough. The battered wife must escape Ukanian violence and recover Caledonian self-respect."

Prof James Hunter, author, historian and director of the UHI Millennium Institute Centre for History

"Both the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive are delivering - not least in the Highlands, the area with which I'm most involved and an area which, I suspected initially, wouldn't do any better when run from Edinburgh instead of London.

"Land reform; the designation of 2007 as Scotland's Year of Highland Culture; the transfer of SNH's headquarters to Inverness; strong backing for a University of the Highlands and Islands and for a programme of economic regeneration which has boosted Highland population growth and (almost miraculously) brought Highland unemployment rates below those of Scotland as a whole: these are among the benefits we've had in the north from a devolutionary experiment that's not yet eight years old.

"While I've no problem with independence, I don't think it'll be readily or rapidly achieved, and I'd hate to see recent gains put at risk by a reversion to constitutional bickering of the kind that took up far too much time prior to 1999."

David Sutherland, chairman of Tulloch Ltd

"I have seen nothing to change my view that separation would be very harmful socially and economically for Scotland. It would be extremely damaging for Scottish business and would throw up an array of practical difficulties and commercial constraints, not least taxation and excise differences.

"Many Scottish companies, like mine, do business in England and would inevitably be in a disadvantaged position post-separation. If we opt out of the rest of the UK then UK firms would find it simpler to do business with companies within their own fiscal regime. There might well be an element of commercial relocation to south of the border.

"Being Scottish within a United Kingdom is a very positive context and remains the best option, for business and for our people."

Colin Marr, director of Eden Court Theatre, Inverness

"In reality I suspect that our future will lie within the union but that the devolution settlement will probably change in the future and give Scotland a bit more independence. What would I like to see? The devolution settlement is far from perfect and there are areas where we appear to be hampered by national policies. I would particularly like to see us exploit our huge potential in renewable energy better than we are currently able to and to have our own voice on the major issue of future nuclear power provision.

"However, on balance I believe that a loose union is the best option. As a small nation we have been freed from the burdens of defence and foreign policy. This gives an opportunity to change how we judge our policy making and to concentrate on the single aim of making the people of Scotland happier.

"It's a very simple aim and one that we could lead the world on. We're small - we can't do much to influence world politics or to solve the world's hunger problems. Too often nations and politicians judges their success by economic growth but there is increasing evidence that economic growth has no link to well being and happiness. Scotland does not have to fall into this trap. We have a real opportunity to concentrate on what really matters - the well being and happiness of our citizens.

"Have my views changed in recent years? Not on independence but I increasingly think our politicians have not fulfilled their promise of avoiding confrontational politics and are stuck in their old party political habits to no ones benefit but their own. Let's make the most of devolution first and if we succeed in doing that we could start to contemplate the next step."

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute for Scotland

"If teachers felt that convergence with England was the main driver behind education policy, then that would accentuate the demand for a review of the relationship between the two countries.

"One of the consequences of devolution has been greater policy divergence in education, so right now I don't think this is an issue that is exercising the minds of most teachers. But that's not to say it won't become an issue in the future."

Judith Gillespie, Scottish Parent Teacher Council

"I think I voted 'no' in the 1979 devolution referendum, but I definitely voted 'yes' in 1997.

"I think it would be interesting to see how devolution would work if there were different parties in power at Westminster and Holyrood. It's hard to assess how independent it is at the moment when you have the same party in both places.

"We haven't seen any challenge to the current level of funding we receive and the big question mark surrounding complete independence would be funding. I don't think Scotland has any problem legislating for itself, but there is a question mark over whether the funding could be guaranteed. If it could be, I don't think Scotland would have any problems running its own affairs."

Robin McAlpine, the editor of the Scottish Left Review

"My views are quite straightforward and quite pragmatic.

"You have to look at the structure that gives you the world that you want to live in and the simple problem we have is that the British state is too much in thrall to big money interests.

"The reason why Scotland should be independent is that we need to be able to control policy at a level closer to the people and further from big money interests."

Tom Dalrymple, chairman of Flyglobespan

"I think that we have all gained emotionally from devolution, but it has yet to deliver what the average 'Scot on the bus' was led to expect.

"Regrettably, people still don't feel that that they can make a difference and, therefore, voting levels continue to fall. It is now time to consider the Swiss system of government by referendum.

"By asking the voters opinion on all of the big issues and making it clear that policy is going to be implemented based upon the ticks in the boxes, Joe Public would see a good reason to get off his couch.

"As a passionate Scot, Nationalism makes me go weak at the knees. But in the ever-shrinking world I just don't see how it can work. It's just too introverted and full of politics."

David Spaven, chair of sustainable transport campaigners TRANSform Scotland

"My number one concern is what kind of government will deliver a sustainable future for Scotland in the era of climate change. I used to be all for independence, but so far, the outcome of devolved Scottish powers over transport is not encouraging - a 1 billion road-building programme, subsidies for air travel, and reckless encouragement of airport expansion.

"When climate change really begins to bite, and the peaking of global oil production kick-starts soaring energy prices, we'll have to get used to the idea of much less travel, and meeting many more of our needs for food, goods and services within Scotland.

"The logical government structure to manage that kind of sea change is an 'independent' Scottish state, but have we got enough politicians with the vision and the courage to put their heads above the parapet and argue for such radical change?"

Alan Mitchell, assistant director, CBI Scotland

"There is no great enthusiasm on the part of the CBI's membership in Scotland for independence. That was the case before devolution and it remains the case today. It is not too difficult to understand why.

"Businesses are pragmatic and tend to be in favour of things that confer a distinct advantage on them. The advantages that Scots firms, who increasingly define themselves as part of the global business community and the global marketplace, would get from an independent Scotland are far from clear.

"The Scottish Parliament already has a huge annual budget of 30 billion and significant powers, including transport, taxation and skills. Survey after survey consistently highlights the significance that businesses attach to these areas of public policy in terms of making them competitive.

"There are businesses that derive considerable benefits from being Scottish and associated with Scotland. But, they already enjoy those benefits within the current arrangements." And, of course, businesses will be worried what the implications are for them when an independent Scotland has to cut spending or raise taxes to bring its fiscal deficit down, even just to EU recommended levels. Even allowing for the best case scenario in terms of the share of North Sea oil and gas taxes allocated to Scotland, there would be a hefty deficit of nearly 7bn between what we spend and what we raise in taxes each year.

"Ultimately it is up to Scots themselves to decide whether they want independence. The business community, however, has, a very simple outlook, which forms the core message of CBI Scotland's manifesto for next year's Holyrood elections. Businesses are an integral part of a complex society, which has many legitimate goals and aspirations. But first and foremost amongst these must be growing the economy, to create the wealth from which we all benefit. Independence has yet to be proven to deliver that."

David Begg, publisher, Transport Times, and a former government transport adviser

"There is a growing body of opinion in England amongst politicians, business community and opinion formers which is supportive of Independence for Scotland. However I would support the current devolved set up because it's in Scotland's best interest.

"The Barnett formula ensures that Scotland is treated well by the UK government. In transport this means that projects are getting approved which would not move past the drawing board in England. The Borders railway, rail links to airports and trams in Edinburgh would not be approved south of the Border because of funding constraints. I would contend that we have 'never had it so good'."

Neil Greig, head of policy, AA Motoring Trust in Scotland

"The key question is could an independent Scotland fund all the promised road schemes, eliminate the 1 Billion backlog in local road maintenance and deliver a public transport system worthy of the best small country in the world?

"The answer is complicated by changes to the way that drivers may be taxed in the future. Within ten years we are promised a UK road charging system that will bill us for every car trip. On the face of it, that could mean much lower motoring bills for most Scots but it might also mean pressure from busy parts of England to keep what they will see as 'their' income. We may be driving cheaply but avoiding a lot of potholes! Running a separate road charging scheme for Scotland could raise compatibility issues so some links to a UK system would be required.

"Big decisions loom ever closer with a replacement Forth Road Bridge likely to absorb a huge chunk of current transport spending plans. Without some UK government investment it is hard to see how Scottish drivers could afford to pay huge increases in tolls to fund a new bridge themselves.

"Continuing the Union offers improved decision-making which is starting to show dividends. Independence takes that a step further, but long-term funding mechanisms that won't increase motoring costs for already hard-pressed Scots are not yet clear.

"For drivers, the Nationalists' increasingly pro-road stance may be seen as a green light for their support. Until we can be sure who pays, the AA Trust will continue to take its chances in the middle of the road."

Prof Sheila McLean, director, Institute of Law and Ethics in Medicine, Glasgow University

"I have never been a supporter of independence, and my opinion on this has not changed since devolution, although I confess to being slightly less supportive of devolution now that I have seen the reality.

"An independent (or a devolved) country needs, in my view, strong leadership, yet some of our best parliamentarians, like Susan Deacon, are deserting Scottish politics.

"Equally, although some more powers might reasonably be devolved to Scotland, in my view it makes no sense for Scotland to have different policies, for example on defence, when we are so intimately - even if mostly geographically - linked to the rest of the United Kingdom.

"I am proud to be Scottish, and always introduce myself as that. But I don't need an independent country to retain that pride in our history and, hopefully, in our future. "I am at a loss to identify why, in a world driven by dissonance and division, independence or separation still seems to hold such a powerful sway in the public imagination."

Ex-Scotland football captain Colin Hendry

"The Scottish Parliament probably would be a step towards independence.

"I think the majority of Scottish people would like to be independent - but I'm not sure, from Scottish society's point of view, that that would be good for the economy.

"The economy would be biggest fear for me."

Stewart Milne, chairman of Aberdeen FC and chairman and chief executive of the Stewart Milne Group, one of Scotland's leading house builders

"From my perspective, both as a citizen and a businessman, the Union is the logical way forward. This has always been my view and, while I always like to keep an open mind, I would require a considerable amount of convincing before changing that belief."

Professor Hugh Pennington, the eminent microbiologist at Aberdeen University

"I don't think that separatism is really something that is going to cure all our ills, as it were.

"The more devolution the better in many ways. The Scottish Parliament is working quite well and I don't think separatism would necessarily improve that very much because we will have to have close relations with England anyway as we are on the same island.

"I don't think any kind of barriers need to be put up more than the boundaries which are already there which are really quite substantial in many ways. We have a lot of autonomy anyway and I don't see that [independence] as producing such big advantages that would be worth the effort of setting up our own diplomatic, foreign service and military and so on."

• Read the second 50 of our 100 voices here