Highlights of Annabel Goldie’s contribution to Holyrood debate on ten years of Scottish devolution and why Scottish Tories are joining with the LibDems to back a new Labour-inspired Constitutional Commission. The Commission’s website sets out four main aims:
- To ensure that any proposals for constitutional developments that affect Scotland are fully debated and decided in Scotland.
- To examine how the proposals of the Power Inquiry for more participative governance could be implemented in Scotland.
- To clarify the constitutional implications of various forms of relationship with other countries of the UK.
- To prepare the broad outline of a draft Constitution for Scotland.
There are two approaches to Scotland’s
constitutional status: "The minority Administration, comprising the
Scottish National Party as the Scottish Government, seeks independence;
the majority presence in the Parliament, comprising the Labour Party,
the Scottish Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, supports our
continuing partnership with the United Kingdom. The minority view—the
SNP view and the nationalist conversation—is all about tearing up our
constitution and ripping Britain apart. My desire—our desire and the
majority desire—is to build on what we have and take it forward."
Devolution is good for Scotland, independence would be harmful: "During the
Scottish Parliament elections, I argued that being part of the United
Kingdom opens doors for Scotland, that it gives us influence in world
affairs and that that influence, if wisely exercised, gives us
authority in world affairs. At the same time, devolution has responded
to our country’s desire for a greater say over its domestic issues. As
a Scottish Conservative, I am driven by an overarching goal of creating
a strong and prosperous Scotland within a strong and prosperous United
Kingdom. I am driven by what unites us in these isles, but the
nationalists are driven by a desire to divide the nations of the United
Kingdom. Rejecting independence is not anti-Scottish
or unpatriotic; it is quite simply wanting the best for our country. I
say clearly to Alex Salmond—wherever he is—that the Scottish National
Party does not have the monopoly on Scottish patriotism. It is a proud
and deep emotion, shared by millions of people outwith the Scottish
National Party. Our saltire and the lion rampant are the symbols of our
nation, not the badges of nationalism."
On working with Scottish Labour and the Scottish LibDems to defend majority support for the Union: "This tripartite agreement is
significant. Strengthening devolution while continuing to secure the
position of Scotland within the United Kingdom is not just an
honourable but a highly important commitment. It is bigger than any one
political party, because it dwarfs party politics. We are talking about
shaping the constitutional direction of travel of our nation for the
future, not just because it is sensible and pragmatic to do that eight
years on, but because it overwhelmingly reflects what Scotland wants to
happen. Today’s debate gives Scottish parliamentary
breath to that overwhelming public aspiration. I thank Jack McConnell
for his initial support of the process and I thank my counterparts,
Wendy Alexander and Nicol Stephen, for the constructive discussions
that have brought us to the stage of agreeing the need for an
independently chaired commission to review devolution in Scotland."