Do you agree that this question could have been worded better from the start? (8 May 2012)

“Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

As most people know this is the proposed question to be set to the Scottish people in the referendum of 2014.  Today a report, Do You Agree This Is A Biased Question? was released by the Scottish Affairs Committee which concluded that the wording of the question is biased.

The conclusion of the Scottish Affairs Committee is not a surprise to me because I have thought that, while the question is not necessarily very biased, it is leading.

The wording of the question seems to suggest that you should agree that Scotland should be an independent country, as if it is incomprehensible that there would be any other answer than yes, but there is another answer;

No.

As noted in the report, the question should be easy to understand and it should not lead the voter in one direction or another.  The proposed question as it stands is certainly leading and requires changing.  

It’s not a difficult thing to do, to write a question that people can understand but doesn’t sway them.

Perhaps something simple like; Should Scotland become an independent country? A straight question with a yes or no answer.  

It’s quite tedious that this question should ever have been worded in the way that the proposed one was.  It’s a question that should never have been proposed in this way.

Let’s face it, many people do think that Scotland could be an independent country and may even agree that it should be, and therefore if someone asked them that question in the street they would answer yes, but may not vote yes in the referendum because they don’t think the time is right or that the SNP are answering important questions adequately on the future of an independent Scotland.  

I kind of have to wonder why this question was even proposed in the first place.  Surely any thinking person, even those who want independence, would have looked at the question and thought, “well, I don’t think we’ll get away with that, maybe we should reword it before popping it in the consultation”.

There’s a lot of ambiguity in the proposed question and it requires changing.

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