Letter: Tory 'obduracy' towards a Scottish parliament

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Sir: The debate led by Ian Lang on Scotland, devolution and the Union, should be judged, not against England's crude self-interest in the retention of Scotland, but by whether it presents a fair factual basis for discussion, an acceptable attitude to another nation's democratic rights, and a sensible recognition that a 300- year-old Treaty of Union might need renegotiation.

Will Mr Lang dare relate any admission that 'Scotland is a nation' to the UN Charter which asserts the right of all peoples to self-determination and admits a wide range of relationships with other states that a people might freely choose? So far he has insisted on polarising the debate into 'status quo or independence, nothing else'. If he continues thus, it will be this Conservative government that goes down in history as responsible for the break-up of the UK.

Will Mr Lang admit these crucial statistics: that 75 per cent of Scots voted for parties that included a Scottish parliament as a key feature of their manifestos, and since the election opinion polls have consistently shown about 80 per cent in favour. Since the 1707 Union of the Parliaments, there have been at least 35 attempts to restore a Scottish legislature. For more than a century, these have been peaceful attempts to use the UK's so-called democratic processes; time and again they have been 'talked out' or manipulated, voted down by English MPs or just not implemented. It is wrong to resist the clearly expressed and peacefully demonstrated democratic will of the Scottish nation.

If the English applauded Peter Lilley when he said, 'What we want is freedom to govern ourselves according to our own laws; freedom to be at peace with our neighbours but not subordinated to them', why should the Scots not feel the same? The UK is in greater danger from Conservative obduracy than from a Scottish parliament, from which many here believe it has much to gain.

Yours sincerely, MARION RALLS Secretary, Campaign for a Scottish Parliament Edinburgh 12 October