RESPONSE TO STUART MCMILLAN SNP MSP WEST OF SCOTLAND REFERENDUM DEBATE
01 August 2014
Mr Stuart McMillan MSP
West of Scotland
4 Argyle Street
Thank you for your letter requesting a debate which I received on Thursday 31st July.
I share your recognition of the need to engage with genuine undecided voters. I believe it is in all of our intereststhat people have the information necessary, which in turn would increase turnout and bring about a conclusive result.
Indeed, it has been a rewarding experience over the last few months speaking with undecided voters on the doorsteps and at our locally organised events, answering their questions, listening to their concerns and discussing the implications of Independence. Personally, I think this is one of the best ways to engage with the public.
This is in contrast with the adversarial politics which have unfortunately been evident at some local public events, which sadly have not engaged with undecided voters but which were dominated by people who have already made up their minds.
While I welcome the opportunity to debate with you and others as to the merits of devolution versus Independence, I cannot accept your suggestion that you should be the sole facilitator of this event. I believe strongly that in the interests of fairness that we have an independent facilitator for the debate.
In order to be of assistance I have approached local radio presenter Willie Stewart who we both know and trust. I am sure you would agree Willie would make a good facilitator and convenor of such an event. Willie is well known in the community and has a wide knowledge and has attended many various local events on the referendum debate across Inverclyde. I think we could be confident he could do this job in a fair and impartial manner.
I believe the radio would be an excellent medium, to cover a one to one debate, as you have suggested, and would have the great advantage of reaching people in their homes right across Inverclyde.
Willie has confirmed his interest in convening and broadcasting the debate on local radio. May I suggest we both nominate a colleague to discuss the necessary rules of engagement on our behalf to bring about a debate which we both believe would be considered to be fair and informative with the focus on genuine undecided voters that we both agree we need to engage with.
Duncan McNeil MSP