Scottish independence: Councils bar ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns from schools

Aug 24, 2014 by

The official referendum campaigns are being barred from the majority of schools in Scotland ahead of polling day, BBC research has found.

Twenty-six of the country’s 32 councils will restrict access to Yes Scotland and Better Together.

However, most councils said pupils would be able to talk about the referendum in school.

For the first time in the UK, 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland – the majority of whom attend high school – can vote.

The findings come on the first day of “purdah” which curbs what public bodies can do during election periods.

In the lead up to the referendum on 18 September, governments and local authorities are restricted on what new projects they can announce and legislate on, for fear of influencing the way people vote.

Many councils north of the border are applying those “purdah” rules to referendum debate activities in schools.

What are the policies of Scottish councils?

Authority name Have campaign groups been barred?
SOURCE: Scottish councils
Aberdeen Yes
Aberdeenshire No
Dumfries and Galloway Yes
Dundee Yes
Glasgow Yes
Midlothian Yes
Scottish Borders Yes

BBC Research: Full breakdown on what Scottish councils said.

In four weeks time, Scotland’s electorate will be asked the “Yes/No” question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The BBC Scotland research found the majority of local authorities had chosen to limit access to campaign groups in the coming weeks, and were strictly adhering to guidelines outlined in the Referendum Act.

Six councils – Aberdeenshire, East Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Orkney, Shetland Islands, and Western Isles – said they would allow the Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns access to their students during this 28-day period.

Public bodies

Electoral Commission guidelines stipulate what materials may not be published by public bodies, but they do not specifically address whether campaigns can visit schools and interact with pupils ahead of polling day.

A commission spokesman told BBC Scotland it was up to each local authority to decide how to approach the pre-referendum period.

Orkney Council, which has not barred Yes Scotland and Better Together, stressed that any activity on school premises would need to be balanced in the countdown to polling day.

A statement said: “In the interests of even-handedness, both sides of the debate would have to be involved in any such visit.

“This would also have to take place outside class time and would have to be short.”

BBC News – Scottish independence: Councils bar ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns from schools.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.