This was first posted on Facebook on 27th February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
The Scottish Parliament has been in existence since 1999: Nicola Sturgeon is the present First Minister, and there are five previous First Ministers, four living, as Donald Dewar died within the first 12 months. The other four are Henry McLeish (now 72), Labour: Jim Wallace (now 66), LibDem – who was Acting First Minister on two separate occasions: Jack McConnell (now 60), Labour – and Alex Salmond (now 66), SNP. Jim Wallace and Jack McConnell accepted life peerages when they ceased to be MSPs: Henry McLeish did not, and after 2016 declared he’d support an independent Scotland if Westminster enacted Brexit against Scotland’s will.
Prior to 2010, if a First Minister – or any minister in the Scottish Government – had sexually pestered a subordinate, the Scottish Government had no policy of how to deal with this. In 2010, a policy was developed: we know that none of the women Salmond pestered made use of it – and no previous First Minister could have been affected by it.
Would I vote for independence? I don’t know. (Fortunately, I don’t have to make up my mind till autumn 2014.) Whichever way the vote goes then – for independence or for the status quo, devolution within the UK – the future is clear.
The Scottish Parliament was based on the work done by the Scottish Constitutional Convention, and two years of solid legislative work in Westminster by Donald Dewar and other Scottish Labour MPs. Though Tony Blair was apt to pat himself on the back for it, his main contribution appears to have been a rather grubby deal carving up what would be Scotland’s territorial waters to give a claim on the oil to the rest of the UK, and removing Scotland’s right to space travel. (Dammit.)
I don’t think there should be a devomax option in the independence ballot for two reasons.
On Calton Hill, near the old Royal High, you’ll find an odd monument – a cairn with a brazier on top. It commemorates the Vigil for a Scottish Parliament, which was held for 1980 days – from 1992 to 1997. One of the 26 Objects at the National Museum of Scotland exhibition was the tent for the traveling vigil, drumming up signatures for the Scottish Parliament. The vigil ended the day that Scotland voted Yes in the 1997 referendum: which had been part of the Labour manifesto.
All of this feels like recent events to me. I have to think to realise that that there are people who were old enough to vote in May 2010 who would have just started primary school on 11th September 1997 – for whom the Claim of Right for Scotland and the Scottish Constitutional Convention, if they remember them at all, are events from before they were born.
Here is the Claim of Right for Scotland, signed on 30th March 1989 at the General Assembly Hall in Edinburgh, where 10 years later the Scottish Parliament sat for the first time:
We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.