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10 March 2012

Submission for the Scotland Office referendum consultation

Sent this 9th March.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: submission for the referendum consultation
Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2012 08:11:41 +0000
From: Craig Cockburn <craig@siliconglen.com>
Organisation: Siliconglen.com Ltd
To: reply@scotlandoffice.gsi.gov.uk


My submission for the consultation is as follows

1. Age of voters?
The age of people who can vote should be 16 and over. This is consistent with the age we treat people as adults for the purposes of marriage, leaving school and fighting for their country. There is also a history of the voting age being reduced, previously it was 21 in many countries, and progressively it was reduced to 18. Many countries are now going further and Austria and the Isle of Man have reduced the age from 18 to 16. A Liberal Democrat motion to do the same in the UK was only narrowly defeated in a free vote in November 2005. For something as long term as independence, it is an ideal opportunity to lower the voting age as the 16 and 17 year olds will be living with the consequences either way for decades to come.

2. Who can vote?
 This should be people on the Scottish electoral roll. I would also like to see it extended as a postal ballot to Scots living elsewhere in the UK, with either a birth certificate or passport being sufficient proof to register as having been born in Scotland. The rationale here is that if Scotland were already independent and considering joining the UK (ie going the other way) then Scots outside Scotland would have the right to vote. It seems only reasonable that it should be the same both ways - if they could have a say in an independent Scotland joining the UK then they should have a say in Scotland leaving the UK. Certainly if expat Scots living temporarily in Ireland or the US should get the vote then the same situation should apply to Scots living in England.  Only Scots residents or Scots born should have a vote, there should be no vote on the matter for instance for the general population in the rest of the UK. I am Scots born and own a company registered in Scotland and have a house and family in Scotland. Why should I be excluded from this vote because I moved to England two years ago?

3. Language used?
The ballot paper should also be printed in Gaelic as well as English. There is no reason for it not to be. This does not require separate papers, it simply requires a Gaelic translation of the question to appear alongside the English version. We print census forms in Gaelic, the same should be true of ballot papers. The cost to do so would be trivial.

4. Number of questions?
There should be two questions, one on independence and one on the so called devo max. However this is conditional on the devo max position being clearly articulated and signed up to so that if Scots vote for this option they know exactly what they are getting. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to offer Scots more powers if they do not vote for independence but without exactly knowing what this represents and having a binding commitment to enact it, this is the proverbial pig in a poke which is of no use to anyone.

5. Wording of questions?
I am happy with the wording already put forward for the question on Independence, however for the "Devo Max" option, no wording has yet been suggested and this would need to be agreed.

6. Date?
I am happy with the referendum in Autumn 2014 and would not want to see it before this. This is a hugely significant issue and to rush it would be foolish. More practically, if changes to the voting age were necessary the timetable allows a proper time-scale for this to happen including any enabling legislation.

Finally I acknowledge the Claim of Right 1989 which is a non political statement signed up to by many Labour and Liberal MPs as well as a cross section of society


"We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount."

The same is true in 2012 and 2014 as it was in 1989.

The Claim of Right was also put before the Scottish parliament on 26 January 2012 and the motion passed by 102 to 14.

Craig Cockburn, London
--  Craig Cockburn ("coburn"). Director, Siliconglen.com Ltd Web project and programme manager. M.Sc., CITP, C.Eng http://www.CraigCockburn.com 
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