Leading article: A vote that must not be marred by age-old grievances

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The Independent Online

In a move quite as historic as the opening of Scotland's Parliament almost 13 years ago, the First Minister, Alex Salmond, chose the birthday of Robert Burns to reveal the question he intends to ask voters in the promised referendum. It is, as he said, short, straightforward and clear: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"

Much can happen between now and 2014, when the referendum is to be held. The vote and the question must be approved by Westminster. Mr Salmond has not ruled out a third option, offering something just short of independence. The coming months will provide many opportunities to revive Anglo-Scottish grievances. But this unprecedented vote must be approached by all sides in a spirit of generosity and strict legality. Any change in Scotland's status must be born in reason, not resentment. And if Scots vote to remain in the UK, that decision should be welcomed, too.