LOCAL politicians have clashed in the debate over Scotland’s independence referendum.
The Scottish Government announced last week that it intends to ask the people whether we should go it alone in the autumn of 2014.
This was just after the UK government announced it would bring in legislation allowing Holyrood to hold the poll.
However, Prime Minister David Cameron was accused of trying to ‘dictate terms’ to Scotland after he said the vote should be held sooner, that there should be a straight ‘yes-or-no’ question with no so-called ‘devo-max’ option, which could secure further power for Holyrood, and that 16 and 17 year olds would be barred from taking part, contrary to the SNP Government’s plans.
The Tory PM has been backed by the UK leaderships of the LibDems and the Labour Party.
Bearsden Nationalist MSP Fiona McLeod said: “The people of Bearsden will have the exciting opportunity to vote in a referendum on Scotland’s future in 2014.
“This is a major opportunity to ensure that the decisions about Scotland are taken by the people of Scotland and I hope everyone will take part.
“We have had the Tories, the LibDems and Labour all trying to muscle in on the referendum, so I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to a referendum made in Scotland by the Scottish people and Scottish Parliament.
“It is also right that 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote in the referendum. The SNP has long believed that people who are entitled by law to work full time, get married and pay taxes should have a say in how their country is run and in the future of that country.
“It is absolutely vital therefore that our 16 and 17 year olds have a say in the biggest single decision Scotland will have taken in 300 years. Our young people are our future, they have a right to express their view at the ballot box. Sadly, representatives of both Labour and the LibDem’s have gone back on previous commitments to support this.
“Above all, this is a matter for Scotland. The people gave the SNP a mandate to run this referendum. The Tories, LibDems and Labour would do well to come to terms with that fact and respect the people’s decision.”
However, East Dunbartsonshire MP Jo Swinson has called on the SNP to adhere to its own manifesto and hold a referendum with a simple yes-no question to decide Scotland’s future in the union.
She said: “The Coalition Government is doing all it can to make sure the referendum is legal so that the voice of the Scottish people can be heard.
“No one wants a long drawn out court battle. Instead we need a clear, conclusive result that will allow Scotland to move forward.”