Scottish independence: Campaigns mark 500 days until referendum

Scottish independence The date for the independence referendum was announced last month

With 500 days until voters take part in Scotland's independence referendum both sides of the debate have stepped up their campaigns.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said independence would give Scots "the chance to build a better future".

The pro union Better Together campaign, meanwhile, published 500 questions about independence it said needed answers.

The referendum is due to take place on 18 September 2014.

Ms Sturgeon said: "In just 500 days' time the people of Scotland will get the opportunity to answer the question 'Should Scotland be an independent country?'

"A vote for independence means we take Scotland's future into our own hands.

Start Quote

This debate is too important to be based on anything other than cold, hard facts”

End Quote Alistair Darling Better Together

"Being independent means we always get the governments we vote for and that's very important."

The SNP politician cited Scotland's oil, renewable energy, life-sciences and food and drink sectors as examples of "a wonderfully diverse economy" and said the country also had "some of the best universities in the world".

She went on: "Independence gives us the chance to build a better future.

"To fulfil the vast potential of our economy and make sure we have the kind of society we want to live in, the kind of society we want our children to grow up in."

Better Together used the 500 day milestone to publish 500 questions that it said had been submitted by individuals, organisations and businesses over the past few months.

They cover areas including Europe, defence security and foreign affairs, taxation and spending, health, crime and justice, energy and the environment and media and culture.

Communities campaign

Alistair Darling said: "This debate is too important to be based on anything other than cold, hard facts.

"Unfortunately, we find ourselves living in a country where legitimate questions are met with bluster and assertion, rather than detail and debate.

"Experts, businesses and trade unionists who raise their concerns about what independence means are often shouted down."

The former Labour chancellor added: "Over the next 500 days we will seek to change this.

"We will give voice to the millions of Scots who want to know exactly what separation would mean for their jobs, their pensions and their country."

Yes Scotland, which includes the SNP and other supporters of independence, marked the 500 day countdown by announcing a major stepping up of its communities campaign.

It said it would redoubling its efforts to connect and engage with people in their own communities.

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