Kenyon Wright: Referendum must be made in Scotland

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By a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP and convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Scotland Bill Committee, Linda Fabiani, has welcomed Canon Kenyon Wright’s contribution to the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future where he appeals for people across the political spectrum to embrace the chance to determine their own future.

Canon Wright – a leading architect of devolution and former Lib Dem candidate – says that the Claim of Right for Scotland which was the founding principle of the Constitutional Convention and must be maintained.

Writing in the Scottish Review, Canon Wright said that all parties who signed the Claim of Right for Scotland must support the right of the Scottish Parliament to determine the question and timing of the independence referendum.  

His statement is a veiled challenge to the Labour party and the Conservatives’ coalition partners the Lib Dems to back down from their position that Westminster has the sole right to decide the terms and conditions of Scotland’s referendum.

Canon Wright said:  “The referendum must be planned, shaped, and implemented in Scotland, including what question or questions should be asked.  Our government should indeed listen carefully and with genuine respect to all voices, including those of Westminster, but in the last analysis the decision is ours, not theirs.  We should expect every party that endorsed the Claim of Right to support that fully.”

He added:  “The point is – and this is what David Cameron does not seem to get – that Scotland’s parliament was not a gift of Westminster.  Home rule was homemade.  It must stay that way.”

The respected clergyman also strongly supported an additional question on the ballot paper on increased powers for Holyrood within the UK.  He called for clarification of what proposals for additional powers would mean, and rejected the stance of the anti-independence parties that this was a matter which could only be discussed after independence was off the table

Alluding to the infamous ‘promise’ of Sir Alec Douglas Home in the campaign for referendum on Home Rule in 1979, Canon Wright said: “Whatever your views, you surely recognise that there are many in Scotland, like me, who will face a real dilemma if we have to say simply yes or no to independence, with the cold comfort of a condescending ‘offer’, ‘say no and we will give you something better’.  Where have we heard that before?”

He added:  “We should, I believe, in the consultation process up to May, strongly support the proposal to have two questions on alternative detailed proposals, both to be fully developed in Scotland over the next year or so.  One will of course be independence. The second should be full autonomy or home rule for Scotland within what would have to be a reformed union.”

Ms Fabiani welcomed Canon Wright’s contribution to the debate, saying:  “These are welcome comments from Canon Kenyon Wright, the people Scotland have a unique opportunity to vote for a better future for themselves and future generations.  It is imperative that the referendum is not dictated from London, or anywhere else.  The inspiration and the will has come from the people of Scotland and this is where the referendum debate shall grow and thrive, right up to its culmination at the polling booths in the Autumn of 2014.

“The UK Government must listen to Canon Wright’s advice that Westminster must not attempt to dictate the terms of the referendum or the options to be offered.

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