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Brown must recognise England's claim of right

Gareth Young
31 August 2008

Gareth Young (Lewes, CEP): The Scottish Claim of Right of 1988 was signed by all the Scottish Labour MPs, with the exception of Tam Dalyell.  In 1997, with the advent of the Labour Government of the UK, one third of that initial cabinet (8 out of 24) had signed that claim and were thus pivotal in influencing the Labour UK Government, which issued the white paper, the Scotland Devolution Bill 1998.

The Scottish Claim of Right acknowledged that the Scottish people have the sovereign right to decide the form of government best suited to their needs.  That 'form of government' must include independence as well as devolution, yet those cabinet members do not seem in any great hurry to hold a referendum on independence. When they signed the Claim quite possibly it never occurred to them that the Scottish people might decide to get rid of them altogether. They should be reminded of it at every opportunity.  Rather than display a willingness to hold a referendum on independence, apart from Wendy Alexander's short-lived "Bring it on!", the Unionists claim instead that because there is a Unionist majority in the Scottish Parliament, the people of Scotland have "voted for the Union". It is just possible that the SNP may gain a majority of the Scottish Westminister seats at the next General Election, and if so that will mean, according to Unionist logic, that the people of Scotland have voted for independence. I'm sure they will try wriggle out of that.

The Scottish Claim of Right was a principled recognition of the sovereign right of the people.  It is hypocritical of Gordon Brown, and others who signed that Claim of Right, to now deny that same sovereign right to the people of England, especially as recognition of the Scottish sovereign right has moved power away from Westminster in a way that has damaged English voters.

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