Throughout the debate over Scotland’s independence, one question continues to crop up: Why now?
What has brought Scotland to the brink of independence and the dissolution of the political union which we have been part of for 300 years?
The truth of the matter is, this isn’t a question of sovereignty now. The idea of sovereignty and independence for Scotland has been on the political landscape a lot longer than I have walked these Scottish streets. The steps Scotland have taken have been small, and often it’s been a case of one step forward, two steps back; but the journey has always had the end destination of independence as its focus…
On March 1st 1979, Scots took to the polling stations to cast their vote on whether there should be devolution for Scotland in the way of a Scottish Assembly (parliament).
One question: “Do you want the provisions of the Scotland Act 1978 to be put into effect?”, followed by a simple yes or no option appeared on the ballot papers.
A narrow majority (51.6%) voted yes to the proposals of devolution set out in the Scotland Act, which would see matters such as education, health, social services, legal matters etc, which were at the time wholly reserved to the UK Government, devolved to a new democratically elected Scottish Government.
However, due to an amendment to the 1978 Scotland Act, made by the Labour MP George Cunningham, which called for an overall yes majority to be voted upon by at least 40% of the registered electorate meant that even though a majority (although marginal) had voted in favour of devolution, Scotland would not see the devolution she had voted for because only 32.9% of the total registered electorate had voted yes.