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Speech in Edinburgh - Scottish Parliament
#1
What does it mean to be Scottish? In this constitutional oddity of a country known as the United Kingdom, how should we feel about being born in this particular section of it? One of my favorite authors, Edinburgh’s own Robert Louis Stevenson, said that “The mark of a Scot of all classes [is that they] ... remembers and cherishes the memory of his forebears, good or bad; and there burns alive in [them] a sense of identity with the dead even to the twentieth generation.”

That sense of identity is what I love so much about being a Scot. We are a proud people, with a great history, from the crowning of Robert the Bruce to our economic dominance in the 18th century. And, what’s more, even I, an Episcopalian, think the Scots Confession is pretty solid. We are more than kilts, Irn-Bru, and haggis. But it seems like some have forgotten that.

The Prime Minister made a recent jaunt up here to tell us about his great plans for a Scottish Parliament  - but his wouldn’t be Scottish or a Parliament. When Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan proposed the devolution deals, it was clear what we were getting - a Scottish Assembly based here, in Edinburgh, with directly elected representatives with the power to legislate on a number of devolved issues. Our fandan of a Prime Minister wants to placate us with our MPs as a “Parliament” working overtime, led by someone who will be in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet! Would they be appointed by him too and we’d have to be all “yes sir, thank you sir, may we have actual powers, sir?”

In 1987, the people of Scotland elected 72 people to the Commons - 50 of them were members of the Labour Party and only 10 were Tories. That is not a Scottish Parliament - when the leader is accountable to and reliant on the Prime Minister for leadership! Beyond all that, this proposal doubles the workload of our Scottish MPs, condemning this nation to having the worst constituent services in the UK as we have to deal with serving in two bodies at the same time. And we must not forget that the PM’s party were the ones who ensured that that referendum failed on their bogus terms in 1979 and why we have to have this conversation again now!

I’m here to offer a better deal. A fair deal. An authentically Scottish deal. The Labour Party will, if elected to govern this whole nation, establish a Scottish Parliament. It will be based here, in Edinburgh, in Scotland, and be composed of directly elected representatives who don’t also serve in the Commons. There will be a First Minister leading a Government that holds the confidence of the Parliament and a Cabinet of Ministers to serve alongside them, with the support of a Lord High Commissioner and Lord Chancellor of Scotland, restoring those historical posts.

A few days ago, the Environment Secretary made a speech in Devon, where she concluded by noting that “we are all the inheritors of England.” Yes, I, a 52 year old from Glasgow, am an inheritor of England. I surely believe that. Protecting the environment is great, but the Secretary  forgot that she is not only called to protect England’s environment - she is to do the same for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. If the Tories and friends didn’t table that amendment in the 70s, I wouldn’t be complaining about this, because the environment would be devolved to a Scottish Assembly. This government has ignored us too often to let their half-baked bridie of a plan sway us into forgetting how they’ve treated us.

The poet, economist, and polymath Sir Alexander Gray wrote, in his poem Scotland:

This is my country,
The land that begat me.
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And those who toil here
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh,
And bone of my bone.

Let us fight for the right to be represented as the unique country we are - the unique country that I love. Scotland deserves better than the cobbled-together plan of a jumped-up Oxford boy - it deserves a plan that is authentic to the history and experience of this nation, and only Labour can provide that.
James McCrimmon
Leader of the Labour Party (1990-Present)
Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (1990-Present)

Member of Parliament for Glasgow Pollok (1970-Present)
Traits: Campaigning Guru, 2XP

Formerly Shadow Solicitor General (1972-1974), Attorney General (1974-1979), Shadow Attorney General (1979-1980), Shadow Health Sec (1981-1983), Shadow Environment Sec (1984-1987), Shadow Employment Sec (1987-1989), Shadow Social Security Sec (1989-1990)
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#2
The quiet man is turning up the volume, and doing it in front of a home crowd as well.

McCrimmon does a good job at picking at some of the exposed stitching on Macmillan's plan, especially when it comes to the inherent anchoring to Westminster involved in the Tory plan. The concept of a First Minister of Scotland having to answer cap in hand to the Prime Minister is one that attracts anywhere from discomfort to outright disgust in the majority of devolution-supporting Scots, and McCrimmon is wise to capitalise on that fact.

That being said, those who listened to the speech more carefully will notice that the Labour devolution plan is lacking in detail in comparison to the Tory one. Specifically, there was no mention of what issues were going to be devolved, in contrast to Macmillan setting out clearly what the remit of this new Parliament would be. It's not the end of the world, but I felt it was something that was lacking.

Extra points for the fantastic use of the word "fandan"

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