Friday, 8 May 2015

History of Scotland Independence Voting - Lukewarm to say the least!

I can remember the Scottish Assembly referendum in 1979 under James Callaghan's Labour government. I was still at school but I can remember we had an SNP sticker on our car !
To win the vote for a Scottish Assembly  :
  • 50% of votes cast had to vote in favour AND at least 40% of the electorate had to vote in favour. 
Although 51.6% voted in favour, this was only 32.9% of the electorate (due to a low turnout) so the Scottish Assembly was not brought into being.
SNP MPs then put down a motion of no confidence. And then with Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher and LibDems supporting, an Opposition motion was put down and the debate was scheduled for Wednesday, 28 March 1979.  The motion moved by Margaret Thatcher MP was :
  • "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government".
Callaghan critisised the SNP, who supported independence for Scotland, for voting with the Conservative Party who opposed devolution. The Scottish National Party were to lose all but two of their seats in the election following the no confidence vote and the predominantly anti-devolution Conservative Party won the 1979 United Kingdom general election.:The following is a quote from James Callaghan :
"We can truly say that once the Leader of the Opposition discovered what the Liberals and the SNP would do, she found the courage of their convictions. So, tonight, the Conservative Party, which wants the Act repealed and opposes even devolution, will march through the Lobby with the SNP, which wants independence for Scotland, and with the Liberals, who want to keep the Act. What a massive display of unsullied principle! The minority parties have walked into a trap. If they win, there will be a general election. I am told that the current joke going around the House is that it is the first time in recorded history that turkeys have been known to vote for an early Christmas."
The Campaign for a Scottish Assembly was formed afterwards to continue the campaign.

There was then the following vote, on September 11th 1997 and I was living in Perth and can remember voting at the local school. I remember voting for the Parliament but against the tax varying powers. (from the results it looks like about 200,000 agreed with me (astute people !!) :
The result was as follows :

I agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament.              1,775,045 74.3%
I do not agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament.            614,400 25.7%

I agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers. ,512,889 63.5%
I do not agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers. 870,263 36.5%

So a more resounding result but again it was only based on a 60.43 % turnout so not great for such an important issue.

In 1999 the Scottish Parliament was formed and Donald Dewar (The new Scottish Parliament building finally opened in 2004)
of the Labour party was our first First Minster. It was a proud moment for Scotland as they marched up the Royal Mile from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the Court of Session building. (Ref:

And then in 2014 we had the important Scottish Independence Referendum, agreed to by David Cameron.
This was a large turnout of 84.6 % and a very close result.
  • Yes   1,617,989    No  2,001,926
Now some people afterwards claimed that "The Vow" - an assurance made by a group of Labour LibDem and Conservative MPs assuring more powers to Scotland was what swayed the vote to a NO at the last minute. But surveys since have shown that was only the reason for a very small percentage (3.4%) of the voters. (Ref:

So....what I want to know is why do we now seem to heading towards Independence ?  There has never been a vote in favour. The first vote was 32.9% of the electorate in 1979 and in 2014 we had 45% of the electorate.

Yet now in the 2015 General Election, David Cameron has used scaremongering tactics and politics of fear tactics to frame the SNP as something to fear. And this tactic has led to him being elected to "protect" the English electorate in some way.  And we could well see a beginning of very extremist/ divisive politics that is not wanted by at least 50% of those in Scotland. At this 2015 election it was again 50/50.

So where do we go from here. Half the electorate in Scotland are consumed by a feverish evangelical vision of the future while the other half do not necessarily share this vision - perhaps having analysed the figures and maybe raising some questions e.g. why are college places cutback etc.  But these people dare not admit their view as they will be "shouted down" by family members/work colleagues/friends. Some retain a quiet British-ness. Not the triumphalist flag waving or flag-wearing type. But the quiet type where you might not even admit it to yourself but just accept that this is how we have lived together and shared a history for the last 200 years - and its not been too bad really......

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