Analysis of referendum consultation responses
The Scottish government has published analysis of more than 26,000 responses to its public consultation on the planned referendum on Scottish independence. Here are some of the highlights of the analysis.
The proposed question: do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?
Of those respondents who commented on the suggested question 64% broadly agreed with the wording; 28% did not. The remainder had unclear or mixed views.
Respondents who agreed generally described the proposed question as clear, concise, unambiguous, simple, straightforward, to-the-point and easy to understand.
Those who disagreed often described the proposed question as biased, leading, misleading, loaded, too simplistic, unclear and confusing.
The proposed timetable: a referendum to be held in autumn 2014
Of those who commented on the timetable for the poll 62% broadly agreed; 36% did not. The remainder had unclear or mixed views.
Those who supported the proposed timetable argued that it gave the Scottish electorate sufficient time to properly consider the arguments being put forward.
Those in favour of an earlier referendum commonly made the following points:
- the Scottish economy could suffer due to perceived uncertainty
- the referendum was being held later than necessary because the current administration needed two years to convince the electorate of the case for independence
- the proposed timetable was part of a political ploy which was intended to capitalise on the "feel good factor" of other key events in 2014
Devo max - the second question
Of those who commented on the issue of a second question on the ballot paper on "devo max", that is, the transfer of more powers to Holyrood, stopping short of full independence, 32% were broadly in favour; 62% were not. The remainder had unclear or mixed views.
The main arguments for a second question were:
- it would provide a greater choice to the electorate
- devo max was felt to be the next logical step for Scotland
- it would provide the Scottish government with a stronger negotiating position with the UK government in the event of a no vote on independence
The main argument against the inclusion of a second question was that it would complicate matters and cause confusion.
Of those respondents who commented on the possibility of holding the referendum on a Saturday, 46% broadly agreed with the idea; 32% did not. The remainder had unclear or mixed views.
Votes for 16 and 17 year olds
Of those respondents who commented on the idea of extending the franchise to include those aged 16 and 17 years, 56% broadly agreed with the idea; 41% did not. The remainder had unclear or mixed views.
The main arguments in favour were
- If 16 and 17 year olds can get married and join the army they should also be allowed to vote at elections
- Younger people who will live with the outcome of the referendum vote should be entitled to have their say
Respondents who supported the extension of the franchise for the referendum often suggested that the franchise should be extended for all elections
The main arguments against letting 16 and 17 year olds vote were:
- they saw the change as politically motivated
- they felt that 16 and 17 year olds were not mature enough or they had insufficient life experience to make such an important decision
- society does not consider 16 and 17 year olds responsible enough to buy alcohol or cigarettes, so why should they be considered mature enough to vote?