MARGARET Thatcher wanted to prevent the creation of a Scottish assembly by amending Labour legislation to allow the English to vote in the 1979 referendum on devolution, The Scotsman can reveal.
The then leader of the opposition was urged by the Tory peer Lord Boyd-Carpenter to amend the Scotland Bill to enable all voters in the United Kingdom to have a say on devolution for Scotland. Mrs. Thatcher supported the idea and consulted colleagues.
Cue squeals of outrage from the Cybernats in The Scotsman’s comments section.
But actually, what Mrs. Thatcher was suggesting contained a great deal more logic and fairness than what Labour finally delivered in the late 1990s.
Has devolution for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales occurred in a vacuum, with no financial or political effect on the English? Quite clearly not and the rules of democracy dictate then that the English voter should have had the right to vote in such a referendum. I’ll go further and utter what may be a heresy for a Unionist- the English should also have had the right to vote on whether or not to have their own parliament.
That’s not to say that I agree with the concept of devolution in the United Kingdom; regular readers here will know that, for a number of reasons, I believe it has been a disaster for our nation. But its inherent weaknesses have been intensified by the inefficient, unfair and blatantly partisan way Labour introduced and has operated it. I’m confident that once the implications of an, to all intents and purposes, federal governmental system had sunk in after a truly nationwide debate, the following referendum on this question would have delivered different results to what we finally got in Scotland and Wales. I also believe that the rest of the UK electorate, like their counterparts in the Republic, should have been given the right to vote on the Belfast Agreement and the subsequent devolution of powers to Stormont...but that's, perhaps, another argument for another day.