September 19, 2004
TO BE IN SCOTLAND:
The problem with Holyrood: ‘Basically, in Scotland we have a parliament that is too weak, and a press that is too strong’ (Sir Sean Connery, 9/19/04, Sunday Herald)
Seven years ago, in the final hours of the referendum campaign for our Scottish parliament, I stood shoulder to shoulder with Alex Salmond and Donald Dewar on top of Edinburgh’s Old Royal High School.
Helping to win a Scots parliament is one of my proudest moments. As a living nation, Scotland needs a living parliament to manage the country’s affairs. That was true then and it’s even more true now. Of course, I believe that Scotland needs to be fully independent, so I’m pleased to see the new debate that’s raging about the case for more financial clout for Holyrood.
But in 1997 the nation came together – nationalists, devolutionists, even some renegade Tories – and agreed at least to take the first step.
It was a special time for Scotland. After all the years of disappointment, doubt and division, we finally got our act together and voted in a new era of democracy for Scotland.
Scotland registered on the international stage. Everywhere I went, people came up to congratulate me on the result. Some folk thought that we had voted for independence, including a few in Scotland!
By a quirk of fate, our referendum took place on September 11, 1997, and we should never forget the important lesson in world terms of a nation achieving significant political change in a totally peaceful and constitutional fashion.
So what went wrong? Well, in one sense, nothing. The Scottish parliament is now established as the nation’s premier political institution, and is getting on with the day-to-day business of governing. [...]
The bottom line is that polls show only a tiny percentage of Scots want to step back to the old ways and abolish the parliament, or transfer any control back to Westminster. Over two-thirds want more powers to shift from London to Scotland.
And that’s because people want democratic accountability for what goes on in Scotland to be in Scotland.
The future of a viable Europe looks much more like the devolution involved in Scottish autonomy than like centralization under the EU. Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2004 12:04 PM