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Scotland Decides On Independence This Time Next Year

It's like the X Factor, but instead of a Christmas single from a boyband you get Alex Salmond singing 'Flower of Scotland'. You decide!

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I should explain. Scotland goes to the polls this time next year. The question people will be asked is a simple one: 'Should Scotland be an independent country?'

The wording has been more contentious than you may think, though: initially David Cameron, the U.K. Prime Minister and Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, offered different versions of the text.

Whether the average Scot ends up richer or poorer is swaying people's vote.

ICM/Scotsman poll

Potential voters were asked whether they’d support, oppose or were uncertain about independence if they were £500 better off, £500 worse off, or there’d be no change in their finances.

People were supportive by a rise of 10% if they were to gain extra money, but much less supportive (18% against 66%) if they would lose out from independence.

The Economist produced this (rather brilliant) cover last year.

The newspaper was measured in its assessment. Scotland would be about as well off in the union as it would be off at first, but it would be at risk of losing out in the long run.

As well as economic stability, there are questions about immigration (such as whether you'll be able to cross the land border easily), education (Scotland's university students study for free), and health (Scots don't pay for prescriptions at present). All those could - or could not - change if the country votes to split from the U.K.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), the ruling party in Scotland's government, says it could "more than afford" independence.

Alex Salmond holds up the Scottish flag behind David Cameron at the Wimbledon finals over the summer. He was largely criticised for politicising the sporting event.

David Cameron, and a cross-party consensus of Westminster MPs, disagree.

The coalition government's Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, told the BBC that "I firmly believe that Scotland will be stronger, more secure and more prosperous if we remain as part of the U.K."