20 Years of Devolution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:13 pm on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Consumer Affairs) 2:13 pm, 11th July 2019

I will not.

In Scotland, we think about politics differently. We do not consider this Parliament sovereign. We do not consider the Scottish Parliament sovereign. In Scotland, the people are sovereign. It is the duty of the Scottish Parliament and all who seek to serve Scotland in the political sphere to continue to work to improve the lives of the people of Scotland, and the voice of Scotland’s people must be heard.

Stephen Kerr lamented the lack of English MPs in the debate, but I put it to him that that might well be down to the fact that UK Governments of all colours have come to regard devolution as an inconvenient irritation. We know that not every political party in Scotland shares the SNP Government’s view of Scottish independence, but the Scottish Government stand ready to work across the political spectrum to continue to deliver improvements to the lives of the people of Scotland, despite the fact that some Tories have never really reconciled themselves to the existence of the Scottish Parliament. All we have to do is remember the words of former Tory Prime Minister John Major, Michael Gove and, of course, the former Tory leader and Member for Richmond (Yorks). I will not even talk about the behaviour of the elusive current leader of the Tories in Scotland. The Scottish Tories in this place love devolution so much that some of them could not wait to get out of the Scottish Parliament to come and sit in this Parliament.

The first 20 years of the Scottish Parliament has had a materially positive influence on the lives of the people of Scotland, and I am sure we will continue to see such improvements in the next 20 years. We were told by the once high-profile Labour MP Baron Robertson that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead. As he sits in the other place wrapped in ermine, he must surely at times reflect on his underestimating and misunderstanding of his fellow Scots. The fact is that Scotland is making more and more decisions for herself, and she likes it. There is no going back.

The process of devolution will one day, I am sure, lead Scots to demand their full independence, when we can complete our journey to a more prosperous, more just and more equal society. To complete that journey and to continue to improve the lives of the people of Scotland, we need all the levers of taxation and spending powers, and that day will come. The first 20 years have brought so much improvement, and as we embark on a new constitutional journey over the next 20 years, things can be—and, I believe, will be—even better. I pray that I am alive to bear witness to that, and that I will live to be part of a flourishing, just, equal, independent Scotland.