In quotes: Reaction to Scottish independence referendum report

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John McCormick
Image caption,
Scottish electoral commissioner John McCormick unveiled the recommendations of the watchdog

The Electoral Commission has published its advice about how the Scottish independence referendum should be conducted next year.

The Scottish government has accepted the question should be: "Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes or No."

The commission also recommended increases in the campaign spending limits proposed by the Scottish government in the run-up to the referendum.

And it called on the Scottish and UK governments to work together to provide more clarity on the vote.

Nicola Sturgeon, deputy Scottish first minister

"I would like to thank the Electoral Commission for the work they have done on testing our proposed referendum question and giving advice on campaign spending limits. I am pleased to confirm we will accept their recommendations in full.

"I am particularly delighted with the conclusion the Electoral Commission has reached on the question. While its view is that our proposed question was clear, simple and easy to understand, I am nevertheless happy to accept their recommended change.

"Their advice is based on rigorous testing and we will submit the Electoral Commission's recommended question - 'Should Scotland be an independent country?' - to the Scottish Parliament as part of the Referendum Bill.

"Given the Scottish government is accepting all recommendations from the Electoral Commission I would hope that the UK government is prepared to do the same."

Michael Moore, Secretary of state for Scotland

"I welcome the Electoral Commission's report. It is a highly respected independent body which provides essential oversight and advice on the neutrality of the referendum process.

"We accept the commission's advice on the clarity of the question, the funding levels for the referendum and on the clarity of the process. The UK government has always acted on the advice of the Electoral Commission for every previous referendum.

"We are also pleased the commission recognises independence cannot be pre-negotiated and that voters must have a better understanding of the huge changes becoming a separate country would entail.

"We are setting out our evidence-based analysis of Scotland's position in the UK and the Scottish government must do the same."

Blair Jenkins, chief executive, Yes Scotland

"The report is an excellent step forward. I am very pleased with this question, which officially designates the Yes and No campaigns, and with the proposed funding arrangements.

"The Electoral Commission was asked to come forward with proposals for a level financial playing field, taking into account the particular circumstances of Scotland's political system, and that is exactly what they have done.

"I am sure that the Scottish Parliament will now move quickly to agree these matters, so that everybody knows precisely what they will be asked when they go to vote in the autumn of next year."

Alistair Darling, chair, Better Together

"I am pleased that the impartial Electoral Commission has rejected the fixed referendum question which Alex Salmond demanded.

"They have also rejected the nationalist's attempts to silence their opponents by setting spending limits that would have given them an unfair advantage.

"The commission's experts have also said that nationalist attempts to gag business, unions and civil society are wrong."

"I think that once the referee has blown the whistle the players should obey the decision. That is why we said months ago that we would accept the commission's recommendations in their entirety."

David Cameron, UK prime minister, speaking at Westminster

"First of all can I welcome the fact that the SNP have accepted what the electoral commission found because the electoral commission were worried that, frankly, it was a biased question.

"Of course, we will work with the Scottish government in providing information but let me be clear about what we won't do.

"We will not pre-negotiate Scotland's exit from the United Kingdom.

"It is his party [Angus Robertson of the SNP] who wants to break up the United Kingdom and it is his party which has to make the case."

Patrick Harvie, co-convener, Scottish Greens

"It seems perfectly reasonable to ask people if Scotland 'should' be independent rather than asking them to 'agree'. And the funding arrangements seem fair, although I feel this debate can be advanced by spreading ideas not just splashing cash.

"This is a major milestone which helps us move towards a more detailed debate on the opportunities for Scotland taking its own decisions. The Electoral Commission is quite clear that the public want detailed information about what independence means and what will happen whatever the result of the vote.

"It is essential for both sides and all parties to engage positively and constructively with the public over the next 20 months."

Ruth Davidson, leader Scottish Conservatives

"We are particularly satisfied that the commission has also recognised that it is unrealistic to expect the terms of independence to be negotiated before the referendum.

"What has come out and loud and clear is that the public need more facts on the implications of separation."

"The onus is now on Alex Salmond to provide the people of Scotland with detailed information on independence rather than just assertion and bluster."

Johann Lamont, leader Scottish Labour

"We welcome the Electoral Commission's findings and will, of course, vote for them to be accepted in full.

"We did not get everything we asked for, but the most important people in this process are the people of Scotland and we believe that in the interests of clarity and certainty all parties should agree to these proposals which have been arrived at independently.

"We also welcome the suggestion that both sides of this debate clarify what will happen after the referendum."

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford, chairman, Scottish Parliament Referendum Bill committee

"The Tory-led government at Westminster and the No campaign have said time and again that the Electoral Commission recommendations must be implemented in full - therefore they must abandon their obstructionist stance of rejecting pre-referendum talks to prepare for a possible Yes result, in line with the commission's recommendation at paragraph 5.43.

"Unless they accept this recommendation without equivocation, and agree to pre-referendum talks with the Scottish government, the Tory-led government will stand accused of tainting the process."

Willie Rennie, leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats

"Yesterday I said we'd back the Electoral Commission whatever their advice. My position remains the same today.

"I will accept their word. They have wisely changed the wording from the SNPs leading question, found a balanced spending formula and set out the need for a clear post result process.

"Setting out the considerable process of breaking up a country would help voters understand the seriousness of the decision."

Labour MP Ian Davidson, chairman, Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee

"I am pleased the Electoral Commission has endorsed the conclusion of the Scottish Affairs Committee that any question beginning 'do you agree . . .' is a biased question, and that the SNP have finally accepted this.

"It's a pity it took so long for them to do so, but Scots can now move on from these arguments about process to consider the real choice facing us: separation or staying within the UK.

"The sooner we can make an informed, fair choice the better."