As one of Scotland leading entrepreneurs and philanthropists Sir Tom Hunter's recent article in the Sunday Times is a very welcome contibution to the debate over the timetabling of the independence referendum. Sir Tom makes an eloquent case for a full and proper debate on the question of independence - and backs autumn 2014 as the right time for the poll.
The case for autumn 2014 is succinctly and powerfully put in the Scottish Government consultation ‘Your Scotland, Your Referendum’: “simple good sense, and a respect for due process, all point to the autumn of 2014 as being the right time for the referendum”.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Sir Tom notes: “Many now seem to be arguing that we need the vote before 2014. Why? We have only lightly touched the edges of the debates we need for our country’s future; do they really want to compress that debate for political expediency. A speedy referendum might suit some, but it certainly does not suit democracy”.
There is in fact a hatful of other arguments in favour of the autumn 2014 date:
- it allows for proper consideration of more than 20,000 responses to the referendum consultation;
- it gives time for proper testing of the proposed question;
- it allows full and thorough consideration of the Referendum Bill by the Scottish Parliament;
- and, it avoids a clash with major events in 2014 including the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.
These are all good arguments. But the most powerful is, as Sir Tom explains, quite simply the fact that this is a hugely important debate – “a vote that will determine the future of our great nation”.