Scottish independence referendum, 2014
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The Scottish Government will hold a referendum of Scotland's electorate, on the issue of independence from the United Kingdom, on Thursday 18 September 2014 following an agreement between the Scottish Government and HM Government. The Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, setting out the arrangements for this referendum, was put forward on 21 March 2013. The question asked in the referendum will be "Should Scotland be an independent country?" The Bill was passed by the Parliament on 14 November 2013 and received Royal Assent on 17 December 2013.
After failing to obtain support from other parties for a referendum on independence during the 2007–11 Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party (SNP) again pledged to hold an independence referendum and won an overall majority in the 2011 Scottish election. On 10 January 2012, the Scottish Government announced that it intends to hold the referendum in the autumn of 2014. An agreement was signed on 15 October 2012 by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, and the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, which provides a legal framework for the referendum to be held.
The principal issues in the referendum are the economic strength of Scotland, defence arrangements, continued relations with the UK, and membership of supranational organisations, particularly the European Union and NATO.
- 1 History
- 2 Administration
- 3 Demonstrations
- 4 Debates
- 5 Issues
- 5.1 Citizenship
- 5.2 Monarchy
- 5.3 Economy
- 5.4 Defence
- 5.5 European Union
- 5.6 United Nations
- 5.7 Science
- 5.8 Sport
- 5.9 Status of the Western, Shetland and Orkney Isles
- 6 Response
- 7 Opinion polling
- 8 Potential consequences
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
A proposal for Scottish devolution was put to a referendum in 1979, but resulted in no change, despite a narrow majority of votes cast being in favour of change, due to a clause requiring that the number voting 'Yes' had to exceed 40% of the total electorate. No further constitutional reform was proposed under the Conservative Thatcher and Major governments between 1979 and 1997. Soon after Labour returned to power in 1997, a second Scottish devolution referendum was held. Clear majorities expressed support for both a devolved Scottish Parliament and that Parliament having the power to vary the basic rate of income tax. The Scotland Act 1998 established the new Scottish Parliament, first elected on 6 May 1999.
2007 SNP administration
A commitment to hold a referendum in 2010 was part of the SNP's election manifesto when it contested the 2007 Scottish Parliament election. As a result of that election, it became the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, the devolved legislative assembly first established in 1999 for dealing with unreserved matters within Scotland, and formed a minority government led by First Minister Alex Salmond. The SNP administration accordingly launched a 'National Conversation' as a consultation exercise in August 2007, part of which included a draft of a referendum bill, as the Referendum (Scotland) Bill.
After the National Conversation was concluded, a white paper for the proposed Referendum Bill was published on 30 November 2009. The paper detailed four possible scenarios, with the text of the Bill and Referendum to be revealed later. The scenarios were: No Change, Devolution per the Calman Review, Full Devolution, and Full Independence. The Scottish Government published a draft version of the bill on 25 February 2010 for public consultation. The 84-page document was titled Scotland's Future: Draft Referendum (Scotland) Bill Consultation Paper and contained a consultation document and a draft version of the bill. The consultation paper set out the proposed ballot papers, the mechanics of the proposed referendum, and how the proposed referendum was to be regulated. Public responses were invited from 25 February to 30 April.
The bill outlined three proposals: the first was full devolution or 'devolution max', suggesting that the Scottish Parliament should be responsible for "all laws, taxes and duties in Scotland", with the exception of "defence and foreign affairs; financial regulation, monetary policy and the currency," which would be retained by the British government. The second proposal outlined Calman type fiscal reform, gaining the additional powers and responsibilities of setting a Scottish rate of income tax that could vary by up to 10p in the pound compared to the rest of the UK, setting the rate of stamp duty land tax and "other minor taxes", and introducing new taxes in Scotland with the agreement of the UK parliament, and finally, "limited power to borrow money." The third proposal was for full independence, stating that the Scottish Parliament would gain the power to convert Scotland into a country that would "...have the rights and responsibilities of a normal, sovereign state."
In the third Scottish Parliament, only 50 of 129 MSPs (47 SNP, 2 Greens, and Margo McDonald) supported a referendum. Due to the opposition from the other main parties, the Scottish Government eventually opted to withdraw the bill after failing to secure their support.
2011 SNP administration
The Scottish National Party repeated its commitment to hold an independence referendum when it published its election manifesto for the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election, in which it won an absolute majority for the first time. In a television debate days before the election, First Minister Alex Salmond stated that the referendum would be held in the "second half of the parliament". Salmond stated that this was because he wanted to secure more powers for the Scottish Parliament via the Scotland Bill first. The SNP gained an overall majority in the election, winning 69 of the 129 seats available, thereby gaining a mandate to hold an independence referendum.
In January 2012, the UK government offered to legislate to provide the Scottish Parliament with the specific powers to hold a referendum, providing it was "fair, legal and decisive". This would set terms of reference for the referendum, such as the question(s) asked, the electorate used and which body would organise the referendum. The Scottish Government then announced that they intended to hold the referendum in the autumn of 2014. Negotiations continued between the two Governments until October 2012, when an agreement was reached.
The Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 27 June 2013 and received Royal Assent on 7 August 2013.
On 26 November 2013, the Scottish Government published Scotland's Future, a 670-page white paper laying out the case for independence and the means through which Scotland would become an independent country. First Minister Alex Salmond has described it as the "most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published", and argued it shows his government seeks independence not "as an end in itself, but rather as a means to changing Scotland for the better".
Date and eligibility
The Scottish Government announced on 21 March 2013 that the referendum would be held on 18 September 2014. Some media reports have speculated that autumn 2014 was chosen by the Scottish Government because it was close to the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn (despite the anniversary actually occurring in June), although these claims have been denied by Alex Salmond. Other reports have suggested that autumn 2014 was chosen because Scotland will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2014 Ryder Cup around this time.
Under the terms of the 2010 Draft Bill, the following people would be entitled to vote in the referendum:
- British citizens who are resident in Scotland;
- citizens of the 53 other Commonwealth countries who are resident in Scotland;
- citizens of the 27 other European Union countries who are resident in Scotland;
- members of the House of Lords who are resident in Scotland;
- Service/Crown personnel serving in the UK or overseas in the armed forces or with Her Majesty's Government who are registered to vote in Scotland.
The Scottish Government is proposing to reduce the voting age for the referendum from 18 to 16, as it is SNP policy to reduce the voting age for all elections in Scotland. 16 has been the age of legal capacity in Scotland since the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991. Following the Edinburgh Agreement between the Scottish and British governments, it appeared likely that 16 and 17-year-olds would be allowed to vote in the referendum. Legislation to extend the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds was formally lodged by the Scottish Parliament in March 2013.
In January 2012, Labour MSP Elaine Murray led a debate arguing that the franchise should be extended to Scots living outside Scotland, including the circa 800,000 Scots living in the other parts of the UK. This was opposed by the Scottish Government, who argued that it would greatly increase the complexity of the referendum and cited evidence from the United Nations Human Rights Committee that a referendum based on criteria other than residence would be queried by other nations. In the House of Lords, Baroness Symons argued that the rest of the United Kingdom should be allowed to vote on Scottish independence, on the grounds that it would affect the whole country. This argument was rejected by the British government, with Lord Wallace pointing to the fact that only two of 11 referenda since 1973 had been across all of the United Kingdom.
Prior to the scheduling of the 2014 referendum, there had been debate as to whether the Scottish Parliament had the power to legislate for a referendum relating to the issue of Scottish Independence without a Section 30 Order. Under the current system of devolution, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to unilaterally secede from the United Kingdom, because the constitution is a reserved matter for the parliament of the United Kingdom. The Scottish Government insisted in 2010 that they could legislate for a referendum, as it would be an "advisory referendum on extending the powers of the Scottish Parliament", whose result would "have no legal effect on the Union."
In the end, the Scottish Government did not hold a referendum in the 2007–11 parliamentary term. Following the landslide election of the Scottish National Party in 2011, the Scottish Government confirmed intentions to hold a referendum in 2014, again dismissing claims that it was outwith the Scottish Parliament's legal competence. In January 2012, the UK government expressed the contrary opinion that the holding of any referendum concerning the constitution would be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. Lord Wallace, the Advocate General for Scotland, said that private individuals could successfully challenge a referendum bill passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The UK parliament could temporarily transfer legal authority to the Scottish Parliament to prevent this, but the Scottish Government had objected to the attachment of conditions to any referendum by this process. The two governments eventually signed the Edinburgh Agreement, which allows the temporary transfer of legal authority. The agreement states that the Scottish and British governments have agreed to promote an Order in Council under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 in the United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments to allow a single-question referendum on Scottish independence to be held before the end of 2014. The Order will put it beyond doubt that the Scottish Parliament can legislate for that referendum.
According to the Edinburgh Agreement, the Electoral Commission will be responsible for overseeing the referendum, with the exception of the conduct of the poll and announcement of the result, and the giving of grants. In its role of regulating the campaign and campaign spending, the Electoral Commission will report to the Scottish Parliament. The poll and count will be managed in the same way as local elections, by local returning officers and directed by a Chief Counting Officer.
The Edinburgh Agreement states that the wording of the question will be for the Scottish Parliament to determine and will be set out in the Referendum Bill to be introduced by the Scottish Government. Under the terms of the agreement, the Scottish Government referred the proposed referendum question and any preceding statement to the Electoral Commission for review of its intelligibility.
Alex Salmond stated that his preferred question would be "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?". This formulation was criticised by some, who believed prefacing the question with "Do you agree" was intended to garner a positive response. After consultations by the Electoral Commission, the question was amended to "Should Scotland be an independent country?".
Campaign funding and costs
In the original 2010 Draft Bill, the Scottish Government proposed that there would be a designated organisation campaigning for a Yes vote and a designated organisation campaigning for a No vote, both of which would be permitted to spend up to £750,000 on their campaign and be entitled to one free mailshot to every household or vote in the referendum franchise. There was to be no public funding for campaigns. Political parties were each to be allowed to spend £100,000. This proposed limit on party spending was revised to £250,000 in 2012.
In 2013, the Scottish Government agreed to new campaign funding regulations proposed by the Electoral Commission. The proposals will be in effect for the 16-week regulated period preceding the poll. The proposals allow for the two designated campaign organisations to spend up to £1.5 million and for political parties to have an individual limit determined by their performance in the 2011 Scottish election.
According to the Scottish Government's consultation paper published on 25 February 2010, the cost of holding the referendum was "likely to be around £9.5 million", mostly spent on running the poll and the count. Costs would also include the posting of one neutral information leaflet about the referendum to every Scottish household, and one free mailshot to every household or voter in the poll for the designated campaign organisations. As of 2013, the projected cost of the 2014 referendum is £13.3 million.
The campaign in favour of Scottish independence, Yes Scotland, was launched on 25 May 2012. Yes Scotland is being led by Blair Jenkins, formerly the Director of Broadcasting at STV and Head of News and Current Affairs at both STV and BBC Scotland. The campaign is supported by the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party. Its launch featured a number of celebrities and urged Scots to sign a declaration of support for independence. Alex Salmond stated that he hoped one million people in Scotland would sign the declaration. By 24 May 2013, the number of signatories had reached 372,103.
The campaign in favour of Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom Better Together, was launched on 25 June 2012. Better Together is being led by Alastair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and has support from the Conservative Party, Liberal Democrats and Labour Party. The campaign works with the digital media company Blue State Digital.
A number of demonstrations in support for independence have been co-ordinated since the announcement of the referendum. The March and Rally for Scottish Independence in September 2012 drew a crowd of between 5,000 and 10,000 people to Princes Street Gardens. The event was repeated in September 2013 with greater numbers: police estimated that over 8,000 people took part in the march, while organisers and the Scottish Police Federation claimed between 20,000 and 30,000 people took part in the combined march and rally.
Debates over the issue of independence have taken place on television, in communities, and within universities and societies since the announcement of the referendum.
University and school debates
In September 2013, a debate on independence involving 200 students took place at the University of Abertay. Before the debate began, 59% of the attending students opposed independence compared to 21% in favour. After the debate, the percentage of students supporting independence rose to 51% and those opposed fell to 37%.
After the first of four University of Strathclyde debates on independence, the proportion of the audience that said they would Yes increased by 4.1% and the proportion that said they would vote No decreased by 1.6%.
Later in November 2013, 56% of around 200 senior pupils at St Paul's School in Pollok, Glasgow voted in favour of Scottish independence after a debate between Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and Scottish Government minister Humza Yousaf.
Three televised debates have so far taken place on special instalments of Scotland Tonight, a current affairs programme by STV:
- Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) vs. Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore (Liberal Democrat)
- Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) vs. Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar
- Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) vs. Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat)
The third debate took place on 27 November, the day after the publication of the Scottish Government's White Paper.
The Scottish Government intends to extend automatic Scottish citizenship to all British citizens "habitually resident" in Scotland and British citizens born in Scotland, even if they already hold dual citizenship with another country. UK Home Secretary Theresa May said future policies of an independent Scottish Government would affect whether Scottish citizens would be allowed to retain British citizenship.
The SNP is in favour of retaining a personal union with the rest of the UK and also seeks membership of the Commonwealth of Nations. With regard to the British monarchy in Scotland, Salmond has said the monarchy would be retained and his close relationship with Queen Elizabeth II was seen as favourable towards maintaining ties. The Queen was still said to "fear" for the future of the United Kingdom, but will accept the result of the referendum.
Some figures within the SNP, including Holyrood's justice committee convenor, Christine Grahame, believe it is party policy to hold a referendum on the status of the monarchy, owing to a 1997 SNP conference resolution to hold "a referendum in the term of office of the first independent Parliament of Scotland on whether to retain the monarch", but Alex Salmond claims the policy has changed since then.
Underlying economic strength
A principal issue in the referendum is whether or not Scotland would perform better economically as an independent state. One opinion poll suggested that a majority of Scots would vote for independence if it could be shown that the people would be better off. The Barnett formula has resulted in public spending being higher per head of population in Scotland than England, but Scotland also produces more tax revenue per head of population than the UK average, mainly due to the production of North Sea oil. The Institute for Fiscal Studies reported in November 2012 that a geographic share of North Sea oil would more than cover the higher public spending, but warned that oil prices are volatile and that it is a finite resource.
Given the uncertain nature of an independence settlement, such as what portion of the UK's public debt would be inherited, the credit rating and borrowing rates of an independent Scotland is also an issue. Despite these deficits, the UK had, until late February 2013, retained the highest triple A rating, resulting in it having low costs of borrowing to finance its debts. Fitch, a principal credit rating agency, refused in October 2012 to offer an opinion on what rating Scotland would have. The agency explained that it could not yet give an accurate view because the state of Scottish finances would largely depend on the result of negotiations between the UK and Scotland dividing its assets and liabilities.
As of 2013, Scotland has a lower rate of unemployment than the UK average and a lower fiscal deficit than the rest of the UK. Scotland performed better than the UK average in securing new Foreign Direct Investment between 2012–13, although not as well as Wales or Northern Ireland.
Another economic issue is the currency that would be used by an independent Scotland. The principal options are to retain the pound sterling, to form an independent Scottish currency, or to join the European single currency.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the SNP's policy was that an independent Scotland should join the euro. In the run-up to the referendum campaign, the SNP changed this position and argued instead that Scotland should continue to use the pound sterling. There is debate over whether Scotland would be required to join the euro if it wished to become a European Union member state in its own right. The SNP has argued that Scotland would inherit the United Kingdom's opt-out, and Stephen Noon and Alyn Smith MEP have cited the European treaties as evidence no member state can be forced to adopt the euro.
The Scottish Green Party has said that keeping the pound sterling as "a short term transitional arrangement" should not be ruled out, but the Scottish Government should "keep an open mind about moving towards an independent currency". The Scottish Socialist Party's national co-spokesperson Colin Fox favours an independent Scottish currency, describing a sterling zone as "untenable", but says currency should be determined not in the referendum but in the first elections to an independent Scottish Parliament.
If Scotland joins a formal currency union with the UK, some form of fiscal policy constraints could be imposed on the Scottish state. Banking experts have argued that being the "junior partner" in a formal currency arrangement could amount to "a loss of fiscal autonomy for Scotland". Dr Angus Armstrong of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has written that: "An independent Scotland is likely to find the implicit constraints on economic policy, especially fiscal policy, are even more restrictive than the explicit ones it faces as a full part of the UK."
Gavin McCrone, former chief economic adviser to the Scottish Office, has stated: "While I think it would be sensible for an independent Scotland to remain with sterling, at least initially, it might prove difficult in the long run; and, to gain freedom to follow its own policies, it may be necessary for Scotland to have its own currency". However, he warned that this could lead to Scottish banks relocating to the UK.
Leading politicians in the rest of the UK have been sceptical or hostile to the idea of a currency union. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, suggested that the UK would be unlikely to agree to such an arrangement as it would compromise its sovereignty and open it up to financial risk, while Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has said the plans are "economically incoherent" and would be "less advantageous than what we have across the UK today". Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has also rejected the idea of a currency union, claiming that it would require the UK to underwrite Scottish debt.
The Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has said that he would seek a "veto" on a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK, as this would be a "very messy system" and "a recipe for instability". Alistair Darling, head of the Better Together campaign, said voters in the rest of the UK could choose not to be in a currency union with Scotland and criticised the proposal with the mantra "everything will change but nothing will change".
The Jimmy Reid Foundation produced a report in early 2013 that described retention of the pound as a good "transitional" arrangement, but recommended the establishment of an independent Scottish currency to "insulate" Scotland from the UK's "economic instability". The report argued that the UK's monetary policy had "sacrificed productive economy growth for conditions that suit financial speculation" and that an independent currency could protect Scotland from "the worst of it".
Yes Scotland maintains that a formal currency union would benefit both Scotland and the rest of the UK, as Scotland's exports, including North Sea oil, would boost the balance of payments and therefore strengthen the exchange rate of the pound sterling. However, Professor Charles Nolan of the University of Glasgow has said that including Scottish exports in the balance of payments figures would make little difference because the pound is a floating currency. He said: "All that is likely to happen if the continuing UK loses those foreign exchange revenues is that the pound falls, boosting exports and curbing imports until a balance is one again restored."
In Scotland's Future, the Scottish Government identifies five key reasons that a currency union "would be in both Scotland and the UK's interests immediately post-independence":
- the UK is Scotland's principal trading partner accounting for 2/3 of exports in 2011, whilst figures cited by HM Treasury suggest that Scotland is the UK's second largest trading partner with exports to Scotland greater than to Brazil, South Africa, Russia, India, China and Japan put together
- there is clear evidence of companies operating in Scotland and the UK with complex cross-border supply chains
- a high degree of labour mobility - helped by transport links, culture and language
- on key measurements of an optimal currency area, the Scottish and UK economies score well - for example, similar levels of productivity
- evidence of economic cycles shows that while there have been periods of temporary divergence, there is a relatively high degree of synchronicity in short-term economic trends
The UK Treasury issued a report on 20 May 2013 that suggested Scotland's banking systems would be too big to insure depositor compensation in the event of a bank failure and that it would be less able to guarantee the deposits. The report claimed Scottish banks would have assets worth 1,254% of GDP, which is more than Cyprus and Iceland before their financial crises. It suggested Scottish taxpayers would each have £65,000 GBP of potential liabilities during a hypothetical bailout in Scotland, versus £30,000 GBP as part of the UK.
Economists including Andrew Hughes Hallett, Professor of Economics at St Andrews University, have rejected the idea that Scotland would have to underwrite these liabilities alone. He observed that banks operating in more than one country can be given a joint bailout by multiple governments. In this manner, Fortis Bank and the Dexia Bank were bailed out collectively by France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The US federal reserve, in co-operation with the UK Government, made emergency loans to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland on this basis.
The Scottish Government currently advocates a £2.5 billion annual military budget in an independent Scotland. The SNP have argued that there has been a defence underspend in Scotland in the last decade and that independence would allow the Scottish Government to correct this, claiming that the total underspend was "at least £7.4 billion" between 2002 and 2012. The UK Government confirmed that seven Territorial Army bases in Scotland would be closed, the SNP stated that Scotland was suffering "disproportionate defence cuts." The SNP's plans for a separate Scottish military include 15,000 personnel and the restoration of historic Scottish regiments.
The House of Commons Defence Select Committee was critical of the SNP's proposals and argued that the £2.5bn budget was too low. On the air defence plans it stated: "In view of the costs associated with acquiring different air defence aircraft from those the UK currently operates, we do not currently understand how the Scottish Government expects, within the available budget, to mount a credible air defence - let alone provide the additional transport, rotary wing and other support aircraft an air force would need." It also warned of the impact on the Scottish defence industry: "In the event of independence, we consider that the defence industry in Scotland would face a difficult future. This impact would be felt most immediately by those companies engaged in shipbuilding, maintenance, and high end technology. The requirements of a Scottish defence force would not generate sufficient domestic demand to compensate for the loss of lucrative contracts from the UK MoD, and additional security and bureaucracy hurdles would be likely to reduce competitiveness with rUK based companies."
The Royal United Services Institute suggested in October 2012 that an independent Scotland could set up a Scottish Defence Force, comparable in size and strength to those of other small European states like Denmark, Norway and Ireland, at a cost of £1.8 billion per annum, "markedly lower" than the £3.3 billion contributed by Scottish taxpayers to the UK defence budget in the 2010/11 fiscal year. This figure was based on the assumption that such a force "would be predominantly used for domestic defence duties with the capability to contribute to coalition and alliance operations under the aegis of whatever organisations Scotland became a member of" and that therefore it "would not be equipped with expensive and state-of-the-art hardware across the board". The authors argued that an independent Scotland would "need to come to some arrangement with the rest of the UK" on intelligence-gathering, cyber-warfare and cyber-defence, that the future cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment of its forces might be higher due to smaller orders, and that recruitment and training "may prove problematic" in the early years.
In 2013, a report from a think tank called the Scotland Institute suggested a future Scottish Government could be convinced to lease the Faslane nuclear base to the rest of the United Kingdom to maintain good diplomatic relations and expedite NATO entry negotiations. The report also criticised the SNP's proposed defence policy as underestimating the cost and effort involved in developing inherited British military assets into a Scottish military, and containing oversights: for instance, the report argued that the Scottish Government should base its joint forces naval base on the east coast to protect North Sea oil rigs, rather than at Faslane.
Dorcha Lee, a former colonel in the Irish Army, has suggested that Scotland could eschew forming an army based on inherited resources from the British Army and instead form a limited self-defence force "based on the Irish model", with: a "ceiling in the region of 1,100 personnel, to include a mechanised battalion and other combat service support army elements"; a navy that has the "capacity to contribute to [international peacekeeping missions]"; and an air force with "troop-carrying helicopters" and "a logistics aircraft, such as the C130 Hercules". Professor Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute has argued that such a small force would be incompatible with the requirements of NATO membership. "Scotland could focus on the risks that threaten its territory directly, make it clear that it was not interested in keeping major war-fighting assets, and cut its defence budget to Irish levels. This option, however, would be difficult to sell to Scotland's NATO neighbours - including the UK - who would see it as an attempt to free-ride on their protection."
The Trident nuclear missile system is based at Coulport weapons depot and naval base of Faslane in the Firth of Clyde area. The SNP objects to having nuclear weapons on Scottish territory. Alex Salmond has stated that "it is inconceivable that an independent nation of 5,250,000 people would tolerate the continued presence of weapons of mass destruction on its soil." British military leaders have claimed that there is no alternative site for the missiles. A seminar hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace stated that the Royal Navy would have to consider a range of alternatives, including disarmament. British MP Ian Davidson cited a UK report published by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament that suggested that the warheads could be deactivated within days and safely removed in 24 months.
At their annual conference in October 2012, SNP delegates voted to drop a long-standing policy of opposition in principle to Nato membership. The Scottish Green Party and Scottish Socialist Party, which participate in the Yes Scotland campaign for independence, remain opposed to continued membership of Nato.
The Scottish Government's position that Trident nuclear weapons should be removed from Scotland but Nato membership should continue has been branded as a contradiction by figures including Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party.
MSPs John Finnie and Jean Urquhart resigned from the SNP over the policy change. Finnie said that "there is an overwhelming desire to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons and that commitment can't be made with membership of a first strike nuclear alliance", and challenged Salmond to explain "how the aim of being a member of Nato and ridding Scotland of nuclear weapons could take place".
Lord Robertson, a former Nato Secretary General, said Nato has a "central nuclear role" and that the SNP should either accept it or keep Scotland out of the alliance. In 2013, Professor Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute claimed that "pragmatists" in the SNP accepted that Nato membership would be likely to involve a long-term basing deal enabling the UK to keep Trident on the Clyde.
However, First Minister Alex Salmond has said it would be "perfectly feasible" to join Nato while maintaining an anti-nuclear stance, and that Scotland would only pursue continued Nato membership "subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and Nato continues to respect the right of members to only take part in UN sanctioned operations".
In 2013, Allan Burnett, former head of intelligence with Strathclyde Police and Scotland's counter-terrorism co-ordinator until 2010, told the Sunday Herald that "an independent Scotland would face less of a threat, intelligence institutions will be readily created, and allies will remain allies". Peter Jackson, Canadian-born professor of security at the University of Glasgow, agreed that Special Branch could form a "suitable nucleus" of a Scottish equivalent of MI5, and that Scotland could forego creating an equivalent of MI6, instead "relying on pooled intelligence or diplomatic open sources" like Canada or the Nordic countries. Baroness Ramsay, a Labour peer and former Case Officer with MI6, said that the Scottish Government's standpoint on intelligence was "extremely naïve" and that it was "not going to be as simple as they think".
Status of an independent Scotland in the European Union
The SNP advocates for a similar relationship between an independent Scotland and the European Union as between the UK and the EU today. This means full membership with some exemptions, such as not having to adopt the euro. There is debate over whether Scotland would be required to re-apply for membership, and if it could retain the UK's opt-outs.
It has been reported that Spain may block Scottish membership of the EU, amid fears of repercussion within its own Catalonia and Basque country, although this was denied by the Spanish government. In October 2012 the Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo said that Scotland would have to apply to join as a new member. "In the hypothetical case of independence, Scotland would have to join the queue and ask to be admitted, needing the unanimous approval of all member states to obtain the status of a candidate country … and to sign the final treaty [of accession]," García-Margallo said.
José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, has suggested that an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership, but the rest of the UK would continue to be a member. In a response to a question from the House of Lords economic committee, Barroso stated: "If part of the territory of a Member State would cease to be part of that state because it were to become a new independent state, the Treaties would no longer apply to that territory. In other words, a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU and the Treaties would no longer apply on its territory." In a BBC interview he further stated: "We are a union of states, so if there is a new state, of course, that state has to apply for membership and negotiate the conditions with other member states. For European Union purposes, from a legal point of view, it is certainly a new state. If a country becomes independent it is a new state and has to negotiate with the EU."
The European Commission offered to provide an opinion to an existing member state on the matter, but the British government confirmed it would not seek this advice on the ground that it did not want to negotiate the terms of independence ahead of the referendum.
Professor Sir David Edward, a former European Court judge, has argued that the EU institutions and member states "would be obliged to enter into negotiations, before separation took effect, to determine the future relationship within the EU of the separate parts of the former UK and the other Member States. The outcome of such negotiations, unless they failed utterly, would be agreed amendment of the existing Treaties, not a new Accession Treaty." 
Former Taoiseach John Bruton has said that he believes Scottish membership would require a new treaty of accession ratified by all 28 member states. "If an area were to secede from an existing EU member, that area would thereby cease to be a member of the EU. It would have to apply anew to become an EU member state, as if it had never been a member of the EU, and was applying for the first time."
In January 2013, the Republic of Ireland's Minister of European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton, stated in an interview with BBC News that "if Scotland were to become independent, Scotland would have to apply for membership and that can be a lengthy process". Creighton later wrote to Nicola Sturgeon to clarify that she understood her view was "largely in line with that of the Scottish Government", and that she "certainly did not at any stage suggest that Scotland could, should or would be thrown out of the EU". She said: "I think it is clear that a newly independent state would have to (and would have the right to and indeed should) negotiate the terms of membership, as they would undoubtedly be somewhat different to the existing terms. I did say that this would take some time, which I expect it would." Creighton also agreed with comments by the SNP's Angus Robertson, who said that "the EU would adopt a simplified procedure for the negotiations, not the traditional procedure followed for the accession of non-member countries" and that negotiations could be completed in the two-year period between the referendum in 2014 and planned independence in 2016. Scottish Labour's Johann Lamont later accused the Scottish Government of "bombard[ing Creighton] with abuse" over her original comments.
In May 2013, Roland Vaubel, an Alternative für Deutschland politician, published a paper titled The Political Economy of Secession in the European Union, which argued that Scotland would remain a member of the EU upon independence, and suggested there would need to be negotiations between the British and Scottish Governments on "how they wished to share the rights and obligations of the predecessor state". Vaubel also claimed that Barosso's comments on the status of Scotland after independence had "no basis in the European treaties".
In July 2013, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, a member of the Danish Parliament's European Affairs Committee, and opposition party Venstre's spokesperson on European Affairs, said it would "only be natural for Denmark to acknowledge [Scotland's] independence and to welcome Scotland in both the EU in accordance with the Copenhagen Criteria and also in NATO". Lars Bo Kaspersen, Head of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, added that he believed independence "could be a fairly quick transition". He continued: "I'm sure that the European Union in general would strongly support Scottish membership and the same goes for NATO. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn't think it was a good idea."
In September 2013, the European Commission's Spanish vice-president, Joaquin Almunia, stated "if one part of a territory of a member state decides to separate, the separated part isn't a member of the European Union" in a comment made regarding Catalonia. In response to further questioning from the Spanish media, a European Commission spokesperson confirmed: "Scenarios such as the separation of one part of a member state or the creation of a new state, as we have recall[ed] on numerous occasions, would not be neutral as regards to the EU treaties ... So in other words, an independent state, because of this independence, would become a third country vis a vis the EU and as of the day of the independence the EU treaties will no longer apply".
In November 2013, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in an interview: "I would like that the consequences of that secession be presented with realism to Scots. I know for sure that a region that would separate from a member state of the European Union would remain outside the European Union and that should be known by the Scots and the rest of the European citizens." He also stated that an independent Scotland would become a "third country" outside the EU and would require the consent of all 28 EU states to rejoin the EU, but that he would not seek to block an independent Scotland's entry.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said Rajoy's comments had "blown Alex Salmond's case for EU entry out of the water" and that "we need to know what advice the SNP received before they laid out their threadbare case in the White Paper", while Alistair Darling said: "This is another blow to Alex Salmond's claims that nothing would change if we vote to go it alone. The Spanish Prime Minister has just made it clear that everything would change." A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon responded to the Spanish PM's comments by saying "Scotland is already an integral part of the EU, and there is nothing in the entire body of EU treaties which provides for the expulsion of an existing territory or the removal of its inhabitants’ rights as EU citizens". Alex Salmond cited a letter from Mario Tenreiro of the European Commission's secretariat general that said "It would, of course, be legally possible to renegotiate the situation of the UK and Scotland within the EU. Of course, this would imply a change of the treaties which could only be done by unanimity of all member states."
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major suggested in November 2013 that Scotland would need to re-apply for EU membership, but that this would mean overcoming opposition to separatists among "many" of the existing member states, particularly Spain. "Spain uses uncertainty over EU membership to deter Catalonia from even holding a referendum on independence," he warned. "It is hardly likely she would happily wave in Scotland. Spain will not be alone in being wary of separatist tendencies."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in December 2013 that Scotland would have to re-apply for EU membership. "It is very important to understand that if Scotland left the United Kingdom, it would also be leaving the organisations the United Kingdom is a member of, including the European Union." 
Future status of the United Kingdom in the European Union
In January 2013, the British Prime Minister David Cameron committed the Conservative Party to a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union in 2017 if they win the 2015 general election, seen largely as an appeal to the increasing number of UKIP supporters in England. Legislation for this referendum has already been approved by the House of Commons.
Yes Scotland claimed this has caused "economic uncertainty" for Scotland. SNP MSP Christina McKelvie added that this showed "the hypocrisy at the heart of the anti-independence campaign [...] This legislation passing through Westminster opens up the very real prospect of Scotland being dragged out of the EU against our wishes if there is a No vote next year. That would be a disaster for Scotland and shows quite clearly why Scotland needs responsibility for our own relationship with our European neighbours".
Studies have shown some divergence in attitudes to the EU in Scotland and the rest of the UK in recent years. In 2007, a Scottish Government review based on survey data from between 1999 and 2005 found that people in Scotland reported "broadly similar Eurosceptic views as people in Britain as a whole". In February 2013, however, Ipsos MORI noted that voters in Scotland said they would choose to remain in the EU in a referendum, "in contrast to [...] data on attitudes in England" where there was a majority for withdrawal. Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University has said recent opinion polling suggests people in Scotland are less Eurosceptic than in England.
A Panelbase poll conducted in May 2013 found that when asked "how would you be likely to vote in next year's Scottish independence referendum if Britain was looking likely to vote to withdraw from the EU?", 44% of respondents were likely to vote Yes, on par with 44% of respondents who were likely to vote No. 36% of respondents said they were planning to vote Yes as things currently stand.
In June 2013, The Guardian reported that the Labour Party was considering backing calls for a referendum on membership of the European Union before the next British general election. In response, the SNP reiterated its belief that "[the] biggest source of uncertainty on Scotland's future is clearly coming from Westminster parties who are more interested in their own political games than responding to what people in Scotland want".
Relationship between a Scotland within the EU and a UK outwith
Some commentators have suggested that the UK leaving the EU would undermine the case for Scottish independence, since free trade, freedom of movement and the absence of border controls with the UK could no longer be assumed. Brian Ashcroft, economics professor at Strathclyde University, has criticised the SNP's assumption that Scotland should remain in the EU if the UK voted to leave. "Scottish exports to rest of UK are four times bigger than exports to the EU (ex UK). Moreover, the importance of rest of UK exports to Scotland is rising while the share of exports to the EU has fallen...Given these data, it would appear to be exceptionally foolhardy of any Scottish government to risk trade, investment and migration links to the rest of UK by staying in the EU if the UK left."
Dr Fabian Zuleeg of the European Policy Centre has written that "Scotland would face a stark choice if the UK chooses to leave the EU. The fundamental (and yet untested) question is whether a country can be part of a currency union (with binding fiscal commitments) with a currency outside the EU and simultaneously be part of European Economic and Monetary Union (with a strengthened fiscal/economic governance framework), even if the country in question is outside the Euro for the time being. It is difficult to envisage such an arrangement, as a clash between two sets of rules could occur, creating legal uncertainty. With a UK facing restrictions in entering the Single Market, Scotland would also be required to implement them on English goods and services, potentially imposing very substantial costs on the Scottish economy.
Writing in The Guardian, Angus Roxburgh said: "Until now, the working assumption has been that an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK would both remain in the EU [...] Instead of the cosy arrangement with England that most independence supporters envisage (Queen, currency, open borders, "social union"), there could be passport controls and bureaux de change along the Tweed. Scotland might have to have its own currency, or adopt the euro. The prospect of a Scotland cut adrift from England and dangling on a very long European anchor might worry even diehard bravehearts."
Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, suggested that independence would mean Scottish universities losing £210m in research funding. Rennie argued that "we could not do all of this exciting new research without the extra bonus funding that we receive from across the border". The Scottish Government's Education Secretary Michael Russell responded by insisting Scotland's universities have a "global reputation" that would continue to attract investment after independence: "This year alone, we are investing £289m in research and knowledge exchange through the Scottish Funding Council. This is expected to lever in an additional £500m from Research Councils, Europe, charities and business."
In 2009–10, Scottish universities won 14.7% of UK research council money, according to the Higher Education Policy Institute. Dr Alan Trench of University College London said this level of funding from Research Councils UK was "hugely disproportionate", and would no longer be accessed by Scottish institutions following independence. A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said “Scotland has an unrivalled record of success in attracting funding, reflecting the excellence and global reputation of our universities, and that will continue with independence.".
In September 2013, the principal of the University of Aberdeen said that Scottish universities could continue to access UK research funding through a "single research area" that crossed both nations' boundaries. He said: "There's no question – if that was what was wanted. I can't see it's in the interests of anyone in the rest of the UK to want to exclude Scotland, nor is it in the interest of Scotland to be excluded from collaboration. You need to freely and easily be able to collaborate across the UK. Knowledge does not know state boundaries. It seems to me it could be done fairly straightforwardly."
Professor David Bell, professor of economics at the University of Stirling, said that cross-border collaboration might continue, but Scottish universities could still lose their financial advantage.
The Institute of Physics (IoP) in Scotland warned that access to internationally renowned facilities such as the CERN Large Hadron Collider, the European Space Agency, and European Southern Observatory could require renegotiation by the Scottish Government. It also said an independent Scotland would need to consider how funding from influential UK charities such as the Wellcome Trust and the Leverhulme Trust would be maintained, and there are "major uncertainties" about how international companies with bases in Scotland would view independence.
There have also been suggestion that the 2014 Commonwealth Games, taking place two months before the election, in Glasgow could be used to showcase Scotland; though the SNP denied and criticised any links between the Games and the referendum, Scott Stevenson, the director of sport at Commonwealth Games Canada, related the Canadian experience with Quebecois nationalism and said:
"I'm pretty optimistic there'll be greater interest in Glasgow than some recent Games. I've asked in meetings how we can expect the political issues to play out and that politics won't be put into the Games. Athletes want to come in and compete, unencumbered by politics."
This also came in light of the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the last time Scotland hosted the Games, which was boycotted by a majority of countries due to British support for South Africa amidst a backdrop of the sporting boycott of South Africa. The timing parallel with using the Games and the referendum was also made by The Guardian.
Similarly, during the 2012 Summer Olympics, Salmond said that this would be Scotland's last appearance as part of Great Britain at the Olympics before it competes as an independent Scotland in the 2016 Summer Olympics. International Olympic Committee representative Craig Reedie suggested that Scots would have to continue to represent Great Britain in 2016, as international recognition of an independent Scotland would not be immediately conferred after the referendum. He also questioned whether an independent Scotland could support its athletes to the same extent as Great Britain. Scotsman and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pointed to the medal count for Great Britain, saying that it showed the success of a union that included the two nations.
Sir Chris Hoy suggested in May 2013 that it could "take time" for Scottish athletes to "establish themselves in a new training environment", indicating that the good performance of Scottish athletes as part of Team GB in the Olympics would not automatically translate into a leading Scottish Olympic team. He commented that he had to make use of facilities in Manchester because there was no Scottish equivalent, and that lack of facilities and coaching infrastructure would have to be addressed in an independent Scotland.
Status of the Western, Shetland and Orkney Isles
The prospect of an independent Scotland has raised questions about the future of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. In 2012, a spokesperson for the SNP said that in the event of Scottish independence, Orkney and Shetland could remain in the United Kingdom if their "drive for self-determination" was strong enough.
Politicians in the aforementioned islands have referred to the referendum as the most important event in their political history "since the inception of the island councils in 1975". Angus Campbell, leader of the Western Isles, said that the ongoing constitutional debate "offers the opportunity for the three island councils to secure increased powers for our communities to take decisions which will benefit the economies and the lives of those who live in the islands". In a meeting of the island councils in March 2013, leaders of the three territories discussed their future in the event of Scottish independence, including whether the islands could demand and achieve autonomous status within either Scotland or the rest of the UK. Among the scenarios proposed were achieving either Crown Dependency status or self-government modelled after the Faroe Islands, in association with either Scotland or the UK.
Steven Heddle, Orkney's council leader, described pursuing Crown Dependency status as the least likely option, as it would threaten funding from the European Union, which is essential for local farmers.
Early in 2013, an opinion poll commissioned by the Press and Journal found only 8% of people in Shetland and Orkney supported the islands themselves becoming independent countries, while a further 10% did not know.
In November 2013, the Scottish Government made a commitment during a meeting with council leaders to devolve further powers to the Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles in the event of independence. Steven Heddle, convenor of Orkney Islands Council, called for legislation to that effect to be introduced regardless of the referendum result.
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said independence could have a positive impact on the isles, as "crofters and farmers could expect a substantial uplift in agricultural and rural development funding via the Common Agricultural Policy if Scotland were an independent member state of the EU".
Canon Kenyon Wright, who led the Scottish Constitutional Convention campaigning for a devolved parliament, said that the terms of the election should be governed by Holyrood and not dictated by Westminster.
Mary Lockhart, chair of the Scottish Co-operative Party and long-time member of the Scottish Labour Party, wrote in The Scotsman that she would be voting for independence in 2014 from a belief that independence would "deliver the chance for socialists to help shape a Scotland which reflects the identity of its people".
SNP MSP and Minister for External Affairs and International Development Humza Yousaf wrote exactly one year before the referendum highlighting why an independent Scotland would be good, particularly in international affairs.
Former Scottish Green co-convenor and MSP Robin Harper, who was the first elected Green parliamentarian in the UK, announced in December 2013 that he would "absolutely vote No" in the referendum and offered his backing to the Better Together campaign. He quipped: "If I really wanted independence, I would have joined the SNP". This puts him at odds with official Scottish Green Party policy and its present leadership.
Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood expressed support for the Yes Scotland campaign. She also added that British history was at "a hinge point" and that Wales would follow with independence within a generation but continue to be a part of a "neighbourhood of nations". She further said that England is a sister nation with which all three nations have a "common Britishness".
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in Northern Ireland have spoken out against Scottish independence. The DUP leader and Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson said he had "a massive interest in what happens and what decision the people of Scotland will take", and that: "I don't think we can sit idly by and simply indicate that it’s a matter for Scotland – it will have implications for us all". Former UUP leader and peer Lord Taylor of Kilclooney wrote that the regions of Scotland with large populations of resettled Scots-Irish should "repartition" if independence were achieved. UTV Former DUP leader Iain Paisley opined that the people of Scotland "probably would greatly appreciate it if we left them alone to make their own decision". Similarly, Sinn Féin leader and Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness commented to Stormont: "I think all of us should resist the temptation to be drawn into something that will be decided elsewhere. We have our own duties and responsibilities [...] What happens elsewhere has to be a matter primarily for the people concerned and my attitude to it is we would be best advised to stay clear of it."
Sir Tom Hunter, Jim McColl, and Sir Tom Farmer are among entrepreneurs and businessmen who have called for more clarity in the referendum debate to best make a decision. Later in the year, McColl chose to back the Yes side, describing a vote against independence as indicative of a "very sad future". He characterised the referendum debate as a "London vs rest of the UK issue" rather than a "Scotland-English issue", and promoted the democratic advantages of independence, claiming "we [in Scotland] don't have a real democracy just now because we have a government we didn't elect". In June 2013, McColl told an Edinburgh conference that Scottish independence would lead to "an independent Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom", arguing that the term "United Kingdom" pertains to the Union of the Crowns, which would be retained with an independent Scottish state. The statement has been likened to the SNP's attitude towards preserving a "social union" after independence because of "shared culture and institutions like the monarchy".
A business-oriented campaign for Scottish independence called Business for Scotland was formally launched in May 2013 with the support of Tony Banks. In July 2013, a survey of around 500 small and medium enterprises (SME) in the UK found that 52% of the Scottish SMEs thought independence would benefit them, compared to only a third who thought it would not.
The traditional association of trade unions in Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole with the Labour Party, which is campaigning against Scottish independence, did not result in an outright declaration of support for the Union from leading trade unions. In 2012, the Scottish Trades Union Congress refused an offer to join the Better Together campaign. The STUC instead published a report called A Just Scotland, which laid out "challenges for both sides of the debate", in particular calling on Better Together to "outline a practical vision of how social and economic justice can achieved within the union".
The Scottish Government's plan to convene a National Convention on Employment and Labour Relations in the event of independence was noted with interest by the general secretaries of Unite and STUC. Unite's Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty he hoped it "reflects a long-term desire for a more pluralistic approach to employment relations from the Scottish government".
Favouring a Yes vote
In April 2013, a branch of the Communications Workers Union covering Edinburgh, Lothians, Fife, Falkirk, and Stirling voted to back a motion describing independence as "the only way forward for workers in Scotland", and agreeing to "do all in our power to secure such an outcome".
There also exists a Labour for Independence movement made of supporters of the Scottish Labour Party, which has a historical affiliation with the labour movement. The group has been the source of some controversy owing to accusations by senior figures in Scottish Labour that it is an "SNP front", as well as reports that an SNP supporter bears office within the group. Some of these claims have been branded by detractors as a "smear campaign" alleged to include the deliberate cropping of photographs to mislead.
Favouring a No vote
During the première of the Pixar movie Brave, actress Emma Thompson, who lives half the year in Scotland, warned against dividing Great Britain "in an ever-shrinking world", despite recognising relations being strained at times between Scotland and England. Comedian Billy Connolly, who lives in New York City full-time but retains his home residence in Aberdeenshire, has expressed scepticism towards nationalism in the past but has since stated that he wished to remain neutral, saying "I don't like showbusiness people lecturing the public on how they should vote... I've always found that a kind of precocious state, and I've done it before you know, and when I look back at some of the things I've said I feel kind of stupid". Sean Connery, who has lived in the United States for many years, was present at the launch of the Yes Scotland campaign.
Simon Neil of Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro suggested "we may as well give Scottish independence a shot" in an interview with NME in January 2013. He added: "Scotland has really good oil money, we've got renewable energy, we have ways of moving forward and we're in a strong position to make it happen. [...] I don't know what we're getting from London apart from a lack of control over our own future. It doesn't mean we don't love England or Wales."
David Tennant the actor best known for his roles as the tenth incarnation of the Doctor in the British television series Doctor Who, the title role in the TV serial Casanova (2005) and as Barty Crouch, Jr., in the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005); is well known to be quite skeptical of Scottish Nationalism and Scottish Independence. Stating: "I had no great sense of nationalism when I was in Scotland, and I could never understand why the SNP were banging on about it. I was like, why do we want to become smaller?" 
Sir Alex Ferguson, the former player and the longest serving manager of Manchester United; serving for more than 26-and-a-half years, is a firm vocal supporter and funder of the all-party and non-party Better Together campaign. He has criticised the Scottish National Party, and its leader Alex Salmond, for their decision to exclude Scots who live outside Scotland but within the rest of the United Kingdom from voting in the referendum, stating "Scots living outside Scotland but inside the UK might not get a vote in the referendum, but we have a voice and we care deeply about our country. It is quite wrong of the man who is supposed to be leader of Scotland to try and silence people like this." Going on further to say "Eight-hundred-thousand Scots, like me, live and work in other parts of the United Kingdom. We don't live in a foreign country; we are just in another part of the family of the UK,".
The former Scotland player and manager, Alex McLeish has backed the No campaign in the Scottish independence referendum as he said he was “passionate about Scotland being part of the United Kingdom”. The former Scotland manager made the comments as he called for support for Labour candidate Willie Young in the Aberdeen Donside by-election in 2013. McLeish said: “I am a proud Scot but also passionate about Scotland being part of the United Kingdom. Willie is the candidate who can send a message that we’re better together as part of the UK.” 
Gavin Hastings the former Scotland Rugby Union and British and Irish Lions player, is strongly against Scottish Independence; stating "I am totally against independence and I’ve already been quoted on that. No, I think that would be the worst possible thing for us. But you understand where I’m coming from, because it’s all about exposure to the bigger picture, and Scotland is not the bigger picture. It never will be." 
National poet Liz Lochhead read a poem at the launch of Yes Scotland dealing with the English-Scottish rivalry during the 16th century. Author Harry Reid suggested a rejection of independence would depend on the ability of Labour to revive its traditional popularity in Scotland.
In an article published by Bella Caledonia, Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, said Scottish independence would "promote the cultural unity that the UK state is constantly undermining", suggesting that strained political relationships between Scotland and England were causing tension and harming the two nations' ability to amicably co-exist. He pointed to the example of Scandinavia, saying that "Swedes, Norwegians and Danes remain on amicable terms; they trade, co-operate and visit each other socially any time they like", despite the lack of a single Scandinavian state.
Award-winning Scottish playwright Alan Bissett joined National Collective, an organisation campaigning for Scottish independence, in 2012 and is counted among its "Cultural Ambassadors". Bissett described National Collective as "a great place for artists to come together and talk about the benefits [...] of independence".
Glasgow-born film producer Iain Smith suggested in May 2013 that independence could make Scotland "more competitive on the world stage", and better place it to "promote its talent, crafts and services internationally for the economic and cultural benefit of the country".
Opinion polling has asked for attitudes in various hypothetical situations, such as a likely Conservative victory in the next United Kingdom general election, a likely exit of the UK from the European Union, and people in Scotland being £500 better or worse off per year.
Professor John Curtice stated in January 2012 that polling showed support for independence at between 32% and 38% of the Scottish population, a slight decline from 2007, when the SNP first formed the Scottish Government. To date there has been no poll evidence of majority support for independence, although the share opposed to independence has declined, and there is a significant number of undecided voters. This has been a factor in the SNP's ability to win Scottish Parliament elections.
Polling has indicated high support for independence among voters between the ages of 18 and 24 and voters from economically deprived areas, compared to high support for the Union among voters over the age of 55 and voters living in affluent areas. A survey conducted by Panelbase in March 2013 found significantly more support for independence amongst male voters.
A YouGov poll commissioned by the SNP in June 2013 suggested that 47% of voters would support independence if Yes Scotland could convince them "An independent Scotland would be fairer and wealthier compared to the UK" with 45% saying they would vote no regardless.
In June 2013, a poll of over 1,000 14–17 year olds conducted by the University of Edinburgh found that 20.9% supported independence, 60.3% supported the Union, and 18.8% were undecided. Only 17% of the teenagers' households said they would vote yes, suggesting that the results were not demographically weighted.
Later in the month, private research conducted on behalf of Yes Scotland reportedly showed "evidence of growing support for independence" among women and young people, based on "a sample several times the size of a conventional poll" and "a well-designed series of questions building on a rolling monthly basis going back to last January". Better Together later put pressure on Yes Scotland to release a full report from its research in line with British Polling Council regulations; Yes Scotland stated, in response, that private research is not covered by those regulations.
The Scottish National Party researched voting intention for the referendum while canvassing in Aberdeen Donside for the 2013 by-election and found a narrow plurality in favour of independence. Their survey showed 34% of people intending to vote for independence, and only 29% of people intending to vote for the Union – the other 37% was undecided.
In July 2013, polling commissioned by Yes Scotland suggested that 75% of voters were "very likely to vote" and an additional 12% of voters were "quite likely to vote".
Professor John Curtice has observed that polls conducted so far "do not all agree with each other", with Panelbase having "persistently painted a brighter picture for the Yes side than everyone else". He has drawn attention to "consistent differences between pollsters", with Panelbase tending to "show a relatively tight race", but Ipsos MORI and TNS BMRB showing "a much bigger lead for the No campaign".
In August 2013, a Panelbase poll commissioned by pro-independence blog Wings Over Scotland asked voters various questions, such as whether they would vote to join the Union in the hypothetical scenario that Scotland was already an independent country. Only 18% of voters said they would join the Union, whereas 55% of voters said they'd choose for Scotland to remain independent.
The same poll also asked voters about their voting intention in relation to the position of the party they supported in the United Kingdom general election, 2010. Collated results from that question indicated that 34% planned to vote Yes, 36% planned to vote No, and 30% were unsure how they would vote. The phrasing of the question has come under criticism from figures including psephologist Professor John Curtice, who noted that "there was no option that allowed the 36% of Scots that stayed home in May 2010 to say how they proposed to vote" and that this limitation meant commentators "simply cannot be sure that those who felt able to say Yes or No are representative of the views of all Scots".
School and university surveys
Students at some schools and universities in Scotland have conducted mock referenda or surveys:
- In February 2013, a University of Glasgow poll returned 62% against independence with 2,518 votes cast
- In April 2013, an Edinburgh Napier University survey returned 70% against independence with 569 respondents
- In September 2013, a survey of over 11,000 Aberdeenshire schoolchildren eligible to vote in the referendum returned 75.5% against independence
- On 22 November 2013, a mock referendum at Nairn Academy returned 71% against independence with 491 respondents
Polls have been conducted in two main formats, either asking a straight yes or no question on independence, or including some form of increased devolution as a third option. The wording of the question has also differed; some polls, attempting to track changing trends, have asked for the past few years the wording originally put forward by the SNP in 2007. TNS BMRB, for instance, continued for some time to ask: "Should the Scottish Government negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state?". This stands in contrast with the current wording of the question, which is: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" The first poll to use that formulation was the Angus Reid survey published on 3 February 2013.
Since the Edinburgh Agreement, agencies have adopted the following preamble and question when polling for voting intention:
- TNS BMRB asks: "There will be a referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014. If this referendum were to be held tomorrow, how would you vote in response to the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?" or "There will be a referendum on Scottish independence on the 18 September 2014. How do you intend to vote in response to the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?"
- Angus Reid asks: "As you may know, a referendum will take place in Scotland in the autumn of 2014. The referendum question proposed by the Scottish Government reads as follows: 'Should Scotland be an independent country?' If this referendum were held today, how would you vote?"
- YouGov asks: "If there was a referendum tomorrow on Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and becoming an Independent Country and this was the question, how would you vote? 'Should Scotland be an independent country?'" or "'If there was a referendum tomorrow on Scotland's future and this was the question, how would you vote? Should Scotland be an independent country?'"
- Panelbase asks: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" or "There will be a referendum on an independent Scotland on the 18th of September 2014. How do you intend to vote in response to the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?"
- Ipsos MORI asks: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" (after asking respondents how they would vote if the referendum was held today)
- Progressive Scottish Opinion are not members of the British Polling Council, and so do not publish detailed tables of questions asked to respondents or methodology used to weigh results
Panelbase and Ipsos MORI weigh their headline figures by respondents who are very likely to vote.
Two option polling
|Polling organisation/client||Sample size||Yes||No||Undecided||Lead|
|29 Nov–5 Dec||Ipsos MORI/STV News||1,006||31%||55%||14%||24%|
|27–28 Nov||Progressive Scottish Opinion/Mail on Sunday||1,134||27%||56%||17%||29%|
|20–27 Nov||TNS BMRB||1,004||26%||42%||32%||16%|
|26 Nov||Launch of Scotland's Future|
|23–30 Oct||TNS BMRB||1,010||25%||43%||32%||18%|
|17–24 Oct||Panelbase/Wings Over Scotland||1,008||35%||43%||22%||8%|
|25 Sep – 2 Oct||TNS BMRB||1,004||25%||44%||31%||19%|
|9–15 Sep||Ipsos MORI/STV News||1,000||30%||57%||14%||27%|
|10–13 Sep||ICM/Scotland on Sunday||1,002||32%||49%||19%||17%|
|30 Aug – 5 Sep||Panelbase/Sunday Times||1,002||37%||47%||16%||10%|
|23–28 Aug||Panelbase/Scottish National Party||1,043||44%||43%||13%||1%|
|21–27 Aug||TNS BMRB||1,067||25%||47%||28%||22%|
|19–22 Aug||YouGov/Devo Plus||1,171||29%||59%||10%||30%|
|16 Aug||Angus Reid/Daily Express||549||34%||47%||19%||13%|
|17–24 July||Panelbase/Sunday Times||1,001||37%||46%||17%||9%|
|10–16 May||Panelbase/Sunday Times||1,004||36%||44%||20%||8%|
|29 Apr – 5 May||Ipsos MORI/The Times||1,001||31%||59%||10%||28%|
|20 Mar – 2 Apr||TNS BMRB||1,002||30%||51%||19%||21%|
|18–22 Mar||Panelbase/Sunday Times||885||36%||46%||18%||10%|
|20–28 Feb||TNS BMRB/Scottish CND||1,001||33%||52%||15%||19%|
|4–9 Feb||Ipsos MORI/The Times||1,003||34%||55%||11%||21%|
|30 Jan – 1 Feb||Angus Reid||1,003||32%||47%||20%||15%|
|11–21 Jan||Panelbase/Sunday Times||1,004||34%||47%||19%||13%|
|3–9 Jan||TNS BMRB||1,012||28%||48%||24%||20%|
|3–4 Jan||Angus Reid||573||32%||50%||16%||18%|
|Polling organisation/client||Sample size||Yes||No||Undecided||Lead|
|22–24 Oct||YouGov/DC Thompson||1,004||29%||55%||14%||26%|
|9–19 Oct||Panelbase/Sunday Times||972||37%||45%||17%||8%|
|15 Oct||Edinburgh Agreement (2012)|
|8–15 Oct||Ipsos MORI/The Times||1,003||30%||58%||12%||28%|
|26 Sep – 4 Oct||TNS BMRB||995||28%||53%||19%||25%|
|17–20 Jun||YouGov/Fabian Society||1,029||30%||54%||16%||24%|
|7–14 Jun||Ipsos MORI/The Times/The Sun||1,005||35%||55%||11%||20%|
|27–29 Jan||Ipsos MORI/The Times/The Sun||1,005||39%||50%||11%||11%|
|9–11 Jan||YouGov/The Sun||1,002||33%||53%||14%||20%|
|Polling organisation/client||Sample size||Yes||No||Undecided||Lead|
|24–31 Aug||TNS BMRB/The Herald||1,007||39%||38%||23%||1%|
|5 May||Scottish Parliament general election, 2011|
Three option polling
|Polling organisation/client||Independence||Devolution Max||Status Quo||Undecided||Source|
|26 October 2012||YouGov||23%||41%||25%||11%|||
|14 June 2012||Ipsos MORI||27%||41%||29%||4%|||
|13 January 2012||ICM||26%||26%||33%||10%|||
|1 November 2011||TNS BMRB||28%||33%||29%||10%|||
Irvine Welsh suggested that Scottish independence could further the Northern Ireland peace process. On the Bella Caledonia website, he wrote: "If we rid ourselves of the political imperialist baggage of the UK state, new possibilities emerge. For example, it would become feasible for Ireland, as an established sovereign nation, to see itself as part of a shared geographical and cultural entity. This, in turn, brings potential opportunities for the continued development of the peace process in Northern Ireland".
Scottish Socialist Party politicians have spoken at length about the impact of independence. Alan McCombes wrote that "the dismantling of the 300-year-old British state would [be] a traumatic psychological blow for the forces of capitalism and conservatism in Britain, Europe and the USA", and that it would be "almost as potent in its symbolism as the unravelling of the Soviet Union at the start of the 1990s". He also claimed that while the break-up of the United Kingdom would not result in "instant socialism", it would cause "a decisive shift in the balance of ideological and class forces".
In May 2013, Colin Fox agreed a vote for independence is a "significant defeat for the British state and its stranglehold over our economy, society, culture and politics", as well as an opportunity to "[repudiate] neo-liberalism, corporatism, the financialisation of our economy and existing class relations".
UK cabinet ministers reportedly believe a Yes vote would favour the Labour Party in the next general election.
- Constitution of the United Kingdom
- Devo Plus
- History of Scottish devolution
- History of the Scottish National Party
- Politics of the United Kingdom
- Catalan independence referendum, 2014
- Irish Free State#Currrency
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|Wikinews has related news: Scotland sets date for referendum|
- Scottish Government
- Scottish Government Referendum 2014 site
- Scottish Independence Referendum Bill
- BBC Q&A