Scottish independence: Referendum to be held on 18 September, 2014


Alex Salmond announced the date of the referendum in a statement to the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish independence referendum will be held on 18 September 2014, First Minister Alex Salmond has said.

He revealed the date as draft legislation on holding the vote was brought before the Scottish Parliament.

Voters will be asked the yes/no question, "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The Scottish government said it was a historic day, but opposition parties accused the SNP of keeping voters in the dark for too long.

Scots ministers previously only said the referendum would take place in autumn 2014.

Announcing the date while speaking in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Mr Salmond said: "It's worth reflecting, just for a moment, on the privilege this nation and this generation will have - nothing less than choosing the future course of our country.

Diary dates for 2014

When? What?

22-25 May

European Parliament elections

24 June

700th Anniversary of Battle of Bannockburn

23 July - 3 August

Glasgow Commonwealth Games

28 July

100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI

18 September

Referendum on Scottish independence

26-28 September

Ryder Cup at Gleneagles

"We have been on a journey since 1999, since the restoration of our parliament here in the heart of our ancient capital. We've witnessed a growing confidence, an increase in democratic accountability.

"I'm honoured to announce that, on Thursday the 18th of September 2014, we will hold Scotland's referendum - a historic day when the people will decide Scotland's future."

Scottish ministers - who will publish their substantive case for independence in a white paper later this year - said a "Yes" vote would allow Scotland to use its natural assets to build a better country.

Scots opposition parties who support the Union - Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, as well as the Westminster government - said Scotland was better off as part of the wider UK.

Mr Salmond said: "People will be able to choose if they want a Scotland that is independent and able to make her own decisions - with a Scottish Parliament that is responsible for making the most of Scotland's rich resources to benefit its communities and safeguard the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens and accountable for how we engage other nations around the world."

Referendum campaign 'persuaders' get to work

MSPs will need to approve the arrangements for the vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, although the SNP's parliamentary majority means the passage of the legislation is assured.

The Scottish government said the bill would make sure that:

  • The referendum itself is preceded by a 16-week formal campaign period, during which limits will apply to the amount of money registered campaigners can spend, to ensure a level playing field for both sides of the debate.
  • The vote is overseen by the independent Electoral Commission watchdog, which is responsible for regulating campaign rules and informing the public about the referendum.
  • The ballot is conducted under the direction of a "chief counting officer", who will be responsible for appointing local counting officers.

Reacting to the date Johann Lamont, leader of Scottish Labour, said: "The truth is, Alex Salmond knows if he held the referendum now, he wouldn't just lose it, he would be routed.

"All the self-aggrandizement of today isn't just a sign of the first minister's usual pomposity.

Start Quote

Thoughts as to why 18 September? Ministers looked long and hard at October but there were big obstacles”

End Quote

"Making an occasion out of a delayed announcement is an attempt to con the people into believing that we have moved a step towards independence when we haven't."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson welcomed the clarity provided by the date, adding: "I believe that, in September of next year, the people of Scotland will vote to stay within our United Kingdom.

"Recognising that the autonomy the Scottish Parliament has in areas such as health, social care education and justice, allied with the strength of being part of a larger UK family, the safety and security of our intelligence services, the international standing from our diplomatic corps and the advantages of being one of the largest economies in the planet means Scotland can make a positive choice for devolution - the very best of both worlds - not opt for separation."

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, told MSPs: "I'm sure the first minister is excited by today's events, but after all the build up, this looks like one of those occasions where the trailer's more exciting than the movie.

Referendum Bill timetable

21 March: Bill introduced to parliament.

May-June: Parliament's cross-party referendum committee to take evidence on its contents.

Mid-September: Parliament asked to endorse the bill, in the first of three votes.

October: Referendum committee votes on the bill at the second stage.

12-14 November: Bill expected to be passed during final debate and vote.

December: Referendum Bill becomes law when it gains Royal Assent.

Timeline - Road to referendum

"It's taken the first minister almost 700 days to get the Cabinet to agree to the date of the referendum - why on earth does he think it will take him less time to break up the country?"

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, whose party supports independence, said: "Now we have the date for our diaries, the effort to persuade those who are undecided must focus on the needs of real people and not just those with loud voices and deep pockets."

Independent member Margo MacDonald, who also backs a "Yes" vote in 2014, said the level of debate must now be raised, telling the parliament: "This is about a country's soul - it's about your children and your grandchildren's standards and place in the world."

For the UK government, Scottish secretary Michael Moore welcomed news of the date, adding: "The debate about Scotland's future has already begun and will only intensify, and that is something I look forward to.

"I am confident when Scots go to the polls they will vote in favour of Scotland staying within a strong and secure UK family."

A special Scottish Parliament cross-party committee is to begin scrutinising the referendum legislation, and has asked interested individuals and organisations to submit their views.

The Scottish government has already introduced separate draft legislation to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the ballot.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    So many experts, so little knowledge....

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    Haven't they had the referendum yet? Oh yes that's right, its not happening until September next year. Another 5000 articles on Scottish independence to come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    David Cameron has only ONE Scottish Conservative MP (out of 650 MPs) left sitting on his bum in the House of Commons, David Mundell.
    I hope Scotland gets away from the cesspit in Westminster, faster than a bat out of hell. Vote YES!

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Scotland has the resources, skills and will to be a great independent country. Massive renewable power, no trident, free education and a lower budget deficit than the UK as a whole. On top of this imagine never having a Tory government again!

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    I truly hope and dream the Scottish people vote to stay with us we and I think I speak for most of Briton value them as members of our union. Why they enrich us as a nation culture speaking but I all so total support there right to vote on this. Getting it out the way just like i wish we get our vote on Europe so the issue could just be put to bed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    The only question I've got over the referendum is.-
    If the vote is Yes, how long before an independent Scotland gets a General Election to vote Salmond out?
    Afterall he and his party will have served their purpose by then

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    Hope the Scots get it right, 16/17 year olds getting the vote? will they still get the vote if they become a separate Nation, seems a little young for me over such a critical decision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    Some people here are surprised by the slagging off of Scotland by some English. Well it is because of the constant Anglophobic comments the English have had to to put up with for 50 years at least.
    I have a Scottish clan surname (got it from my dad) and have to constantly explain to English people of other ethnic roots why the Scots are so chip laden. I personally do not understand the Anglophobia

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Why are there some English people using this to have a go at the welsh and N. Irish? Disgusting, but portrays exactly why the Scots don't want to be associated with their all too often self serving nature and bully boy tactics - get some decorum. And they honestly ask themselves why they aren't liked the globe over...

  • Comment number 323.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    @Immigrant 226 - if you're eligible to vote in Scotland then you'll get a vote. If you're not on the voters role, then no, you wont.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    #294 Tanglewood
    There are internationally agreed laws regarding territorial waters. If Scotland leaves the UK, the waters around its costline become Scottish territorial waters. Ergo any resources thereunder become Scottish.
    293. In Gold I trust.
    You want free prescriptions? speak to your MP. You do not 'subsidise' Read the GERS reports not the Daily Mail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    I'm English, but hopes Scotland votes Yes - I actually like Scotland and the people, but this is not about being either slightly better or worse off, more about how people feel and how they see their identity. Scotland has never been enthusiastic about the union, and if it feels 'ruled' by the English, then it will only be happy being its own country. Time to break free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    A majority of politicians voted for this referendum not the majority of people in Scotland. Says it all really. It's a top down referendum with no ground swell and therefore, in all probability, will fail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    Dear Monkeys Bum (281), My plan includes Northumbria and Cumbria and makes England keep Glasgow. :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    speaking as an englishman and a Brit, I wish the Scots the very best and I hope that between now and the referendum that there will be clear and honest info about the pro's and con's of the consequences of leaving the union, from both sides of the border. Let them choose with the best available information.

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    Good luck to the scots either way. If they vote yes I'm sure they'll be fine, probably much better off than under Westminster rule.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    303... the 12 mile rule would apply, just as it does for the isle of Man or channel islands... Stop spreading lies you read in some propaganda ridden newspaper.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    Im looking forward to Scotland going it alone. it will be a mssive relief with respect to tax burden on us down south. Will of course mean major unemployment in Scotland as the scotish regiments and other armed forces infrastructure are withdrawn. No way they could remian part of the British Union forces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    The sooner there is a viable Scottish opposition the better for all and for democracy. Ms Lamont is embarrassing. Are snide references to 'self-aggrandizement' and 'pomposity' really her best contribution on this momentous day? Please please can we have an intelligent debate.


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