Unionists criticise independence question again

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A group of Westminster Unionist MPs, headed by controversial Labour MP Ian Davidson, have questioned the proposed referendum question.

The Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster has said the wording suggested by the Scottish government is “biased”.

The attack is a repeat of similar attacks launched by the Westminster Committee which was mired in controversy last year after Mr Davidson was alleged to have threatened the sole female SNP member with “a doing” if she spoke to the press, Dr Eildih Whiteford MP refused to participate further under his chairmanship.

The Scottish government has proposed that the question to be put to voters in 2014 will be: “Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?”

The committee claimed that its research showed that adding the phrase “or disagree” reduced the number of voters giving a positive response.

Mr Davidson said: “We cannot have a contest in which separatists are both player and referee.” The Labour MP has likened the SNP to Fascists.

A spokesman for Scottish government minister Bruce Crawford said: “This exercise is devoid of credibility.”

He added: “The Scottish government’s proposed referendum question is straightforward and fair – as acknowledged by Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson – and the ‘agree’ formulation was also used in Labour’s 1997 devolution referendum, and is the same wording used by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition for local referendums in England.

“As set out in the consultation document, the ballot paper will be subject to testing during autumn and winter this year, and we will be delighted to receive advice from the Electoral Commission and other electoral professionals.”