Let me ask you a question – how difficult is it to form words into a sentence to make a question?
You might think I’m going mad but I have always taken for granted being able to ask questions. Some serious, some light-hearted and even some angled to give me the answer I wanted. Over the years, I think I’ve mastered the art and become pretty good at it.
Now there are many important questions in life:
“Will you marry me?”
“What would you like to drink?”
“What team do you support?”
Ok, so my tongue is firmly in my cheek for two of those but for the last 12 weeks the Electoral Commission has been researching one question that will help decide the fate of Scotland and the UK as a whole.
It’s the one that us Scots will be asked in 2014 – Do we want independence?
Much has been written about this question and no doubt there will be plenty of views espoused in the media over the coming days and weeks. And we’ve still got over a year to go before we go to the polls…
So what do I, as a seasoned questioner, think?
To me, it’s always been straightforward. Ask if people want Scotland to be an independent country. Tick ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Job done.
But no, apparently it’s not that easy. The Commission actually researched variations of the question proposed by the Scottish Government and asked for feedback on each. Not just on the overall question but also on the words contained within each one.
So, the recommendation is in and the original question – ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?’ – has been rejected. And the reason? ‘Do you agree?’ was felt to be leading and could encourage a ‘Yes’ vote. Call me cynical, but wasn’t that, perhaps, the aim?
People also felt “independent country” was unclear and there were a number of unanswered questions about what this meant. While everyone knows it means independent or separate from the UK, what is missing is the explanation of how the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ decision will impact on Scotland. Clearly this is a matter for the ‘Yes’ and’ No’ campaigns to address.
The rest of the words were fine, with the exception of a few people splitting hairs over ‘become’ and ‘be’.
So, what’s the final question? The recommendation from the Electoral Commission is – ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
So there you have it. Asking a question isn’t quite so easy when it comes to deciding a nation’s fate. Or is it …. ?