You are living through one of the most interesting and exciting times in Scotland’s history – you have the chance to help determine the future of Scotland.
It has been announced that the vote on Scottish independence will take place on Thursday 18th September 2014
At the moment Scotland is part of the UK (along with Wales, England and Northern Ireland) with each of the countries having varying degrees of control over their own affairs.
Scotland has had its own Parliament since 1999 when more powers were devolved from the UK Parliament in Westminster (“devolution”). This means while the Scottish Parliament has control over many things like Health, Education, and Housing, the UK Parliament is still responsible for Defence, Benefits, Foreign policy and other matters.
Last year the SNP (Scottish National Party) won the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament. Part of their commitment to the voters at the time was to hold a referendum (a vote) on Scotland’s future. This is what is currently being discussed. As usual, however, there are many different points of view about how and when this should be done.
Here, we explain some of the terms used, the options for the people of Scotland and how you can get involved and have your say:
- Referendum – A referendum is a vote in which everybody in the country who is legally allowed to vote is asked to either decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a particular idea. In this instance the idea, or proposal, is that Scotland should become an independent country.
- Devolution – In political terms, devolution is when certain powers or responsibilities are given by a central government or administration to a local or regional administrator. In 1999 the UK Parliament transferred some of its powers to the Scottish Parliament and Scotland became responsible for things like Sport, the Arts & Tourism. The UK Parliament is still responsible for Employment, Money and Financial & Economic matters.
- Independence – As an independent country the Scottish Parliament would be completely responsible for decision making in Scotland. The Scottish Government has also stated that they would want to keep the Queen as the Head of State and continue being a member of the European Union.
What’s happening now?
The Scottish Government and the UK Government both launched consultations to gather people’s thoughts and opinions on what the referendum question should be, how the referendum should be managed and other issues. both of these consultations have now closed and the responses will be being examined.
The Scottish Government has published the following timeline of key dates for the referendum:
- European elections - June 2014
- Start of regulation period - Summer 2014
- Pre-referendum period (no government publications to be published) - 28 days before referendum;
- Referendum - 18th October 2014
On 26th November 2013, the Scottish Government published it's white paper for Scottish independence. The 670 page document lays out the blueprint for independence in Scotland should the referendum vote go in that favour. For more information on the white paper visit the Scottish Referendum website.
Campaigns for and against independence
The 'Yes' Campaign
The ‘Yes’ campaign is encouraging people in Scotland to vote 'yes' in the referendum in October 2014. The campaign promotes the view that Scotland is a better and stronger country independent from the United Kingdom - economically, politically and socially.
For more information on the campaign you can visit the ‘Yes’ Scotland website.
‘Better Together’ Campaign
The 'Better Together' campaign is encouraging people in Scotland to vote 'no' in the referendum in October 2014. The campaign promotes the view that Scotland is a better and stronger country as part of the United Kingdom - economically, politically and socially.
For more information on the campaign you can visit the Better Together website.
Votes at 16
Would you like to vote in the referendum? The UK and Scottish Governments have made an historic agreement that allows 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the referendum in 2014. This is a huge opportunity for young people to have a say in Scotland's future. Keep checking this website for more information on the ongoing 'yes' and 'no campaigns.
How to find out more...
You can also find out more by visiting the Future of Scotland website. The Future of Scotland are a group of organisations who want to start a discussion on some of the issues around independence or further powers for Scotland.
Click on the button to visit their website:
For more information on voting visit the Young Scot article on 'How do I register to vote?'.
Voting is essential for democracy, read our article on 'Five reasons you should vote' for reasons why you should be getting involved.