LETTER: Most Scots want devolution

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The Independent Online
SIMON PARTRIDGE (Letters, 10 December) is in error. The 1979 referendum on devolution resulted in a majority in favour of the measure. The reason this majority did not prevail was due to a maverick Labour MP's amendment to the Devolution Bill to the effect that there had to be a 40 per cent majority, not of those who actually voted, but of all on the electoral register. This meant that every non-voter was automatically counted as a No vote. Has any party achieved such a majority under such terms in recent times?

His reference to opinion polls is also misleading. If voters are presented with a list of priorities many will plump for matters of immediate concern such as jobs and health. Mr Partridge carefully avoided mention of opinion polls canvassing opinions on the constitutional position in Scotland. Every such poll taken recently has shown that at least 75 per cent of the population is in favour of some form of self-determination for Scotland.

Mr Partridge is also in error in saying the Scots have been content to be part of a unified parliamentary state. At the time of the Act of Union there was not democracy in either Scotland or England, but there were clear demonstrations in Scotland that the Act was not welcomed by most ordinary Scots. The decision was made by an unrepresentative Parliament, largely for the pecuniary betterment of those making the decision and their friends. The unrest at the time, and the simmering discontent which erupts from time to time into more active discontent, has existed ever since.

Barbara Simon