Scottish independence: McConnell wants to see referendum by next year

LORD McConnell has called for the referendum on independence to be held by September next year, and warned both Edinburgh and London that their failure to agree a deal on the vote could only “delay recovery” from the economic downturn.

In a submission sent to both Alex Salmond and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, the former First Minister says that the vote should be held within 18 months. “Uncertainty and disagreement over the timing of a referendum can only delay our recovery from this economic slide,” he said.

Lord McConnell also put forward his own preferred question for the ballot paper. He said voters should be asked to choose between two statements: I agree that Scotland should become an independent country/ I agree that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom.

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He said: “I believe there is a strong compromise position between the stated preferences of the pro-independence and pro-UK parties. And I believe that compromise would be welcomed by the people of Scotland.”

He also backs the proposal to give the Scottish Parliament the power to hold the referendum, with the Electoral Commission in charge of all the rules.

Meanwhile, the Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, said: “The Church does not want the debate to be simply one of constitutional change in and of itself. Self-determination for any nation is a good political principle, and this includes the right of the electorate to vote for or against constitutional change.

“The key issue is to ensure that social justice is improved.”