Third Time’s a Charm…

In 1979, 51.6% of voters chose to change the way Scotland was governed, to pull back some powers to Scotland itself. But it didn’t happen because of an amendment by George Cunningham – a Labour MP representing a constituency not even in Scotland – which required that that majority had to be above 40% of the total electorate.

Some chose apathy – they won.

In 1979, the then UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said of even a No vote: “It will open a way for all parties to explore together a lasting alternative arrangement…”.


The Herald, 28th February '79

The Tories actively campaigned for a No vote, claiming devolution would be too expensive, too bureaucratic, too bothersome…

Despite the pro-assembly side actually securing a majority, Cunningham’s amendment meant it was defeated, and Thatcher slammed the door shut on that ‘open’ ‘way’ as soon as the results were in. 

EIGHTEEN YEARS later, a change of government sees New Labour elected, and the promise of a new referendum.

The Tories again campaign en masse for a No vote, only this time they really lose. But they’re happy enough to take seats at Holyrood, of course… and they say “oh, it’s not all that bad after all!”.

In 2011, Scottish Tory leadership hopeful, Ruth Davidson, says that the current devolution arrangements are a “line in the sand”. She won’t support further devolution if her party pick her to lead them. They picked her.

In 2012, Cameron says that further tax powers cannot be devolved to Holyrood.

It’s 2013 now, and both Cameron and Davidson have changed their tune. A full 180 degrees in 1-2 years. Now they’re ‘looking into’ further devolved powers for Holyrood, knowing full well that the overwhelming majority of Scots do want at least increased responsibility at Holyrood. Cameron doesn’t seem to know if he’s in the debate or not, and Davidson’s ‘line in the sand’ is all at sea.

So it’s “Never!”… a quick glance at the polls… a ‘promise’.

Just like in 1979.
Just like in 1999.

Third time lucky?

Or how about three strikes and you’re out?


2 thoughts on “Third Time’s a Charm…

  1. What’s your feel on the turnout?

    In the 2010 UK general election the turnout in Scotland was 63.8%.
    In the 2011 Holyrood Parliament election the turnout was 50%.
    The 1997 devolution referendum had a turnout of 60.4%.

    Incidentally, in 1997 44.9% of the electorate voted in favour of devolution, easily beating the 40% threshold set in 1979 – but the turnout in 1997 was actually lower than in 1979.

    • The actual turnout shouldn’t matter – it’s the majority of people who bother to vote who win, as is the case the rest of the time.

      To take an extreme example, if only 100 people were motivated enough to vote, and 51 voted for one side, that should stand.

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