Electoral Commission to take on ‘statutory’ role

THE Electoral Commission will have a “statutory” role in over-seeing the independence referendum, the SNP confirmed during The Scotsman Conference on the conduct of the poll.

Bruce Crawford, cabinet secretary for strategy, said: “We are happy to work with the Electoral Commission and to put that on a statutory basis.”

Addressing the conference, Electoral Commissioner for Scotland John McCormick said the setting of any question would be for parliamentarians to decide on.

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However, Mr McCormick said that if the Electoral Commission was to advise a change of wording, it “raises issues” for those politicians to consider.

In reality, it means that if the commission decided that the Scottish Government’s preferred question should be re-worded, ministers would be left with little political choice but to accept those conclusions.

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In January, First Minister Alex Salmond said he was confident that the Electoral Commission would accept his wording of the question – “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

However, opposition figures including former chancellor Alistair Darling have claimed the question is “loaded”, as it asks people to “agree” to the proposition.