Canon Kenyon Wright: ‘Insulting’ for Westminster to ‘dictate’ referendum terms


By a Newsnet reporter

Canon Kenyon Wright, the highly respected architect of Scottish Devolution and leading light in the Scottish Constitutional Convention which asserted the sovereignty of the Scottish people, has called attempts by the Westminster parliament to dictate the terms of the independence referendum “insulting”.  

Canon Wright insisted that Scottish sovereignty is “non-negotiable”, and has questioned the actions of the Lib Dems and Labour for reaffirming their commitment to the Scottish Claim of Right, whilst at the same time demanding that Westminster take the lead in determining the questions and timing of the independence referendum.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday, Canon Wright said:

“But there seems, to me, to be something which is actually, in the long run, non-negotiable and that is the idea that the Scottish Government has somehow to go cap-in-hand to London for permission to consult the Scottish people, and that seems to me to be totally unacceptable.

“And what’s even more unacceptable is that London can dictate what question, or questions and how many questions should be asked – that’s particularly insulting. So it seems, to me, that that is actually non-negotiable, and the reason why it’s non-negotiable is the Claim of Right for Scotland.

“Just a few days ago the Scottish Parliament, by a huge majority with only the Tories against, accepted – and I quote – ‘the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine their form of government’ – end quote.  Now you can’t say that and then go on to leave these crucial questions somehow to Westminster.”

Canon Wright added:  “Michael Moore’s party, like the Labour Party … signed up to the Claim of Right for Scotland, so they cannot in good conscience logically and rationally deny the sovereignty of the Scottish people and the right, therefore, for these crucial decisions about how the referendum is held, what the questions should be, to be asked in Scotland.”

The respected cleric is one of the figures at the helm of the Civic Scotland campaign calling for the third option of devo-max to be included on the referendum ballot alongside independence and the status-quo.  He has been joined by former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish along with Unions, third sector bodies and independent think tank Reform Scotland.

The Scottish Government are currently undertaking a consultation process on the referendum and have refused to rule out adding the option to the ballot.  However Unionist parties, led by Tory PM David Cameron, are demanding that the option be disallowed from the ballot and are instead calling for one clear question.

SNP MSP and convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Scotland Bill Committee, Linda Fabiani, commented on Canon Kenyon Wright’s remarks saying:

“These are welcome comments from Canon Kenyon Wright and a stark warning to the Westminster government and the anti-independence parties about their behaviour.

“The UK Government, and in particular LibDem Ministers, should listen to Canon Kenyon Wright’s warnings that Westminster must not attempt to dictate the terms of the referendum or the options to be offered.  He is correct when he says people who take a middle view should not be disenfranchised.

“The SNP will deliver the referendum in the autumn of 2014 and campaign for independence.  If opposition parties have any sense they will listen to the advice from people like Canon Kenyon Wright, take the debate seriously, and put forward a positive vision for the people of Scotland.

“With support for independence now neck-and-neck with opposition in two polls already this year, it is abundantly clear that the positive approach towards Scotland’s future is winning over the negative approach from the anti-independence parties.”