Monday, 20 February 2012

Scottish Political Legend Warns Against Being Cheated Again


An iconic figure of Scottish politics has told of how history lessons can guide the people of Scotland to trust to themselves and not to be fooled by Westminster’s empty promises of more devolved powers.

Winnie Ewing came to prominence in 1967 when she won the watershed Hamilton by-election for the SNP. She went on to represent Moray and Nairn at the UK Parliament in the 1970s and then The Highlands and Islands at the European Parliament for 20 years.

Ms Ewing, now 83, is now looking forward to the referendum in 2014 but warned against empty Tory promises.

She said:

"When I heard David Cameron say last week that if people voted No to independence in the referendum, then he would deliver more powers for Scotland, my mind went back immediately to the scandal of 1979 when Scotland was cheated out of a parliament.

"In February 1979, just days before the devolution referendum, former Conservative Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home told Scots that if they voted against the assembly then on offer, a future Tory Government would deliver a better scheme. And we know fine what happened.

“Scotland actually did vote Yes - though not in sufficient numbers because of the infamous 40 per cent rule - but we didn't get a parliament. Instead, we got Margaret Thatcher - and 18 long years of a Tory government Scotland didn't vote for.

"I was a very good friend of Alec Douglas-Home. I would meet him when we were both MPs, on the Terrace of the House of Commons in the morning, where we would both draft our speeches to be made later in the day. We would often exchange jokes that we would include in Burns Supper speeches.

"It was on one of these informal occasions that he once said to me: 'Winnie, I am a nationalist in my heart but not my head'. I remember that I replied to him quoting Burns: 'The herts aye the pert that aye maks us richt or wrang'. So we got on very well. And, therefore, I am sure that he himself was sincere at the time when he made this promise to Scotland, to deliver a better Bill. But of course the promise was never fulfilled by the Tories, and unfortunately Alec's name will forever be associated with this breach of faith by his party.

"So let's not have a repeat of history, and not be gulled by empty promises from David Cameron.

"When Alex Salmond comes forward with the referendum in autumn 2014, grab with both hands the opportunity for Scotland to become an equal and independent nation. Alec Douglas-Home offered Scotland "jam tomorrow" in 1979 - and we got 18 wasted years.

"Scotland has another opportunity to take a step forward - and I'd advise the people of Scotland to trust themselves, not Mr Cameron."
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