Tuesday 25 January 2011
The Scottish independence movement gets organised. John MacCormick, a law student, launches the National Party for Scotland to publicly promote independence. After some organisational changes, it morphs into the Scottish National Party (SNP) six years later.
Four nationalist students steal the "Stone of Scone", originally used in Scottish coronation ceremonies, from Westminster Abbey, where the English King Edward I, "the Hammer of the Scots", had taken it in 1296 to install in his throne. The stone is eventually found abandoned on the altar at Arbroath Abbey and returned to London. It remains there until being repatriated to Edinburgh Castle in 1996.
With the cry, "Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on", Winnie Ewing wins the Hamilton by-election and devolution tops the political agenda. Although not the first SNP MP (Robert McIntyre briefly represented Motherwell in 1945), Ewing was the first to make a significant impression at Westminster.
Scots vote on devolution for the first time and say ... maybe. Fifty-one per cent vote "yes" but only 63 per cent of eligible voters turn out – too few to trigger the creation of a Scottish Assembly. The SNP tables a motion of no confidence in the Labour Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan. It wins by one vote and an election is called.
With Margaret Thatcher's government unreceptive to calls for Scottish devolution, nationalists take things into their own hands and set up their own constitutional convention. Chaired by Professor Sir Robert Grieve and a former Scottish Office civil servant, Jim Ross, it publishes plans for a Scottish Parliament later in the year.
Nationalists finally get their parliament. The Queen opens the building in Edinburgh and Donald Dewar, a former Scottish Secretary in the Labour Government, becomes the First Minister of the Scottish Executive.
Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader, Alex Salmond, says he will bring forward a referendum on independence. Claiming devolution has become a "glass ceiling", he calls for Scottish independence within the year. His plans, however, fall foul of three unionist parties and the Bill falls.
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