Scottish Independence, pt. 5: Burns night politics

The World

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond chose Burns Night, the national celebration of Scotland's greatest poet, to publish a consultation paper, "Your Scotland, Your Referendum," which is the first step of the legislative process that will lead, ultimately to a vote in autumn 2014 on Scottish independence.

The document proposes that the ballot paper have the question: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?" But also seeks the public's views on the inclusion of a second question: "The Scottish Government is willing to include a question about further, substantial devolution on the lines of “devolution max” if there is sufficient support for such a move."

The consultation paper proposes that the referendum should be run in exactly the same way as an election and solicits public opinion on whether 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote in the referendum (16 years is the age when people can leave school and in theory, could enter the job market full-time).

Salmond's move in publishing the consultation paper has already put him at odds with the British government, as The Guardian reports. Salmond insists he has the authority to organize this vote on his own without seeking permission from Parliament. The fact that he chose Burns night was noticed today at Prime Minster's Questions and led to Prime Minister David Cameron quoting Burns "Address to a Haggis."


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