LETTER:Transparent tactics

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The Independent Online
From Mr Norman Hogg, MP

Sir: The Prime Minister has from time to time demonstrated a capacity to surprise his opponents inside and outside the Tory Party. His announcement, exclusive to the Independent, that he intends to make a statement "within a very few weeks" on constitutional change in Scotland is a surprise. The content is likely to be less surprising and add up to something less than constitutional reform.

The Labour and Liberal Democrat proposal for a Scottish Parliament is the product of consensus worked out in the Scottish Constitutional Convention which includes Labour's 49 MPs, the Liberal Democrats who are Scotland's second-largest opposition party, most Scottish local authorities, the churches, STUC and a range of other organisations. Its popularity among Scottish voters is founded on that consent.

Mr Major and his Tories abandoned consensus on the constitutional question when Baroness Thatcher won power in 1979. The Scots abandoned the Tories soon after. The Prime Minister and his Scottish Secretary have little prospect of regaining the ground with a tarted up Scottish Grand Committee that leaves the final say exactly where it always has been - with the Government of the day. The Scots are not so easily duped.

Yours faithfully,

Norman Hogg

MP for Cumbernauld and

Kilsyth (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

17 November