Time to reflect

WE ARE obliged to respect Professor John Curtice’s perceptive political comments, as expressed at the recent Scotsman conference and in your reports on the options for the referendum question, however, there is a danger that his expertise will drag us into a multiplicity of options that could render comprehension beyond what is necessary to achieve a “legal, fair and decisive” outcome.

All that is required is a two-question presentation: a Yes or a No vote for independence, with those voting No having to answer Yes or No to “Do you wish additional powers for the Scottish parliament?”

If the Yes to independence vote, which implies favouring more powers, fails to succeed, the second Yes vote to more powers would be added to the Yes for independence to produce a total for, or not for, more powers. The unionists are frenetic about bringing the date of the referendum forward from the SNP’s proposed October 2014 to autumn 2013. If they are really concerned about the misgivings industry allegedly has about the delay, then why do they not press for their single-question referendum to be held in September 2012?

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Much spadework remains to be carried out to pull out the facts and figures relevant to enabling voters to make a valid judgment.

In the run-up to the 1979 referendum, a needs assessment study was carried out to identify the public spending in the various territorial UK regions, and how much of that could be associated with need. That relatively simple exercise took more than three years to complete.

So if we are to be an informed electorate, it is rational to allow sufficient time to perform the examination; two-and-a-half years seems to be an appropriate timescale.

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent

Currie, Midlothian