New book gives facts and impartial expert opinion to help voters make their decision in the independence referendum

Press Release
3 August 2014 01:00–4 August 2014 00:59

“Scotland’s Decision: 16 Questions to think about for the referendum on 18 September,” to be published as an e-book on 31 July, brings together leading academic experts who have been researching aspects of the independence issue.

It has been produced by the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland programme, the David Hume Institute and the Hunter Foundation.

Sir Tom Hunter said: “Scotland’s biggest decision in over 300 years is almost upon us; that decision will be irreversible. Like many voters, I am genuinely undecided, but I don't feel that the campaigns so far have given me the facts and unbiased assessment to make a properly informed decision. I know I am not alone in thinking this way.

“A recent poll commissioned by the Hunter Foundation and published in early July showed 56% of undecided voters simply don’t feel they have enough impartial information to make a decision. And 45% of all voters claim they don’t trust either the UK or the Scottish Government’s predictions. This is deeply worrying and also a sad indictment on the debate to date. This series of papers we hope will bring some light upon the critical issues voters may wish to consider in making up their minds when they put a cross on the ballot paper on September 18.”

“This is too important to leave to politicians to inform us…” He added. 

Professor Charlie Jeffery, of the University of Edinburgh, who directs the ESRC research programme on the referendum, commented: “Many voters know more or less by instinct how they will vote, but there are more still – probably the biggest single group – who don’t have such conviction either way and are puzzling their way through what voting Yes or No might mean for them and their families.

“This book is for them. We have taken sixteen questions, which seem to us to be central to the referendum debate, and asked impartial experts to look at them. We do not aim to provide definitive answers – and we certainly do not intend to tell anyone how to vote – but rather to enable readers to better judge the claims that are made by either side.”

Ray Perman, Director of the David Hume Institute added: “The answers to so many important questions about how an independent Scotland would fare are unknown – and in some cases, unknowable – in advance. That makes it very hard for undecided voters to reach a conclusion. We have asked experts to sum up the arguments on both sides and use their research knowledge and judgement to assess where the balance might lie.

“Academics are, of course, entitled to their own political views, but we have excluded any who have declared for one side or the other and asked the selected authors to use their academic training to be as objective as possible. We hope this will be useful to electors. We have deliberately kept the price of the book as low as possible to make it widely available.”

“Scotland’s Decision: 16 Questions to think about for the referendum on 18 September” will be published by Birlinn as an e-book ,and will be available for download from Birlinn, Amazon and other sites from 31 July.

It is also available as a free download through The Future of the UK and Scotland website.