“You can say ‘do you ‘want’ a new designer handbag?’ Yes. Should you buy it? No.” (Ipsos MORI research respondent)
Hello again Scottish referendum question lovers.
The Scottish referendum question issue has all been ticking along quietly in the background without us, and on 30th January a paper commissioned by the Electoral Commission was published, outlining findings from research amongst the Scottish public into how the referendum should proceed. It is an interesting report and methodology. Ipsos MORI conducted 203 depth interviews and 10 focus groups using dummy ballot papers and cognitive testing to explore perceptions and understanding of several potential questions. Research on research – love it. All sorts of matters arose including the meaning of ‘independence’, neutrality, tone, and use of the word ‘should’. In conclusion, Ipsos MORI recommended that the question wording ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ would be the best way forward (out of the questions they tested) for the referendum.
The main problem with the proposed question was that it was widely perceived to be biased – by those who supported independence as well as those who opposed it – because it was felt that the phrase ‘Do you agree…’ might lead people towards a ‘Yes’ vote. […] In light of this issue, we recommend that version 2, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, be used in the referendum. As was the case with the proposed question, it was found to be easy to understand, clear, simple, concise and participants were able to answer it in a way that matched their intentions. It excludes the problematic phrase ‘Do you agree…’ and, as a result, it was widely perceived to be more neutral than the proposed question. (From the Ipsos MORI report)
The Electoral Commission have taken this on board and are also recommending that the question is worded this way.
Good, that’s better than the initial question (in my opinion) and the press is indicating that the Scottish Parliament will be happy to accept this. So… progress… could be worse.