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New Left Review I/191, January-February 1992


Isobel Lindsay

The Autonomy of Scottish Politics

The Scottish Assembly referendum in 1979 took place in the context of intense political divisions. All sections of the labour movement were divided on the issue, and particularly in local government where many local councillors supported the ‘No’ campaign. The Scottish National Party was divided: although official policy was to support the Scotland Act, many of those in the more fundamentalist wing saw this as an unacceptable compromise. The Liberals gave support, but of a highly qualified nature because of the absence of electoral reform. The Conservative Party opposed an Assembly but with a number of prominent rebels in favour. Even those who supported the Act had great difficulty working together. In particular, the Labour Party resisted cooperation with other groups. The referendum result showed a small majority for the proposed Assembly and a respectable turnout, but it fell short of the requirement to gain more than 40 per cent of the total registered electorate.

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