We all know the well repeated story about how the people of Scotland were ‘Too Feart’ in 1979 to vote for Devolution. We have heard many versions of why the people of Scotland turned their back on the chance of ‘Home Rule’ in favour of remaining part of the United Kingdom. It is not until we actually separate the facts from the myths that we begin to see a very different story.
In 1979 the people of Scotland were offered the opportunity to vote in a referendum to decide whether we wanted more say in our own governance or whether we wanted to opt for the ‘Status Quo’. The nationalists claimed that Scotland would be better off going it alone and insisted the vast ‘North Sea Revenue’ would help us on our way to a strong and wealthy future. The Unionist Westminster Government and the wider Unionist Establishment rubbished these claims and insisted the revenue from the North Sea was exaggerated and too volatile for the people of Scotland to base any plans of ‘Home Rule’ on. Of course the people of Scotland, unlike the Westminster Government, were not privy to the contents of the ‘McCrone Report’. A leading Professor of Economics and a Conservative, Gavin McCrone, was commissioned by Edward Heaths Conservative Government in 1974 to explore the ramifications of North Sea Oil Revenue on an independent Scotland and the wider United Kingdom as a whole. Gavin McCrone concluded that North Sea Oil Revenue would provide so much wealth to the Scottish economy that it would be embarrassing and that economy would be so strong that we would be lending money to ‘England’ and presumably the rest of the United Kingdom for a very long time. The contents of this report were considered so dangerous to the Unionist Westminster Government that they hid it under the ‘Official Secrets Act’ for fear that the Nationalists would find out and convince the people of Scotland to vote for ‘Independence’ never mind settling for Devolution. In the run up to the 1979 Devolution Referendum the then ‘Labour Government’ in Westminster was also aware of the ‘McCrone Report’ and also decided to keep that ‘Explosive’ information hidden from the population of Scotland as they also feared the consequences for the United Kingdom or the preservation of the ‘Status Quo’.
Many people in Scotland and further afield actually believe that the people of Scotland voted No in that referendum but that is not the case. The majority of people actually voted ‘Yes’ but the referendum was rigged at the last minute by a nervous Labour Government in Westminster who were not confident of winning. The Westminster Government decided to introduce the ‘40% Threshold’ which meant that at least 40% of all Scots eligible to vote had to vote Yes instead of the normal electoral system for Westminster General Elections. What that meant was that all those who decided not to vote in the referendum would be counted against the ‘Yes’ vote or, effectively, as a ‘No’ vote. It sounds confusing but put in simpler terms it means that out of 100 people entitled to vote then at least 40 would have to vote yes and all hundred voters would be counted in the result. However, if only 63 people decided to take part then achieving that ‘40% Threshold’ would be more difficult. In actual fact the turn out for the 1979 Devolution Referendum was 63.8% of all those Scots eligible to vote. Which meant that of all those taking part in the referendum at least 65% would need to have voted Yes under the ‘40% Threshold’ rule. The actual result was that 51.6% of those voting voted Yes to Devolution and 48.4% of those voting voted No to Devolution. In any Westminster General Election that 51.6% would have been enough for any Political Party to form a Westminster Government.
|1979 REFERENDUM TURNOUT 63.8%|
|VOTER||RESULT||% OF VOTE||% OF ENTIRE ELECTORATE|
|YES||1,230,937||51.6%||51.6 X 63.8 / 100 = 32.9%|
|NO||1,153,500||48.4%||48.4 x 63.8 / 100 = 30.8%|
|DIFFERENCE = 77,437 VOTERS IN FAVOUR OF YES VOTE|
|% OF SCOTTISH ELECTORATE VOTING YES||32.9%|
|% OF SCOTTISH ELECTORATE VOTING NO||30.8%|
|% OF SCOTTISH ELECTORATE NOT VOTING||36.2%|
The above table illustrates how extremely difficult it would have been for a Yes vote to secure more than 40% of all those eligible to vote. Perhaps many in the Unionist Westminster Government would argue that more people did not bother to vote than vote Yes but it could also be argued that more people did not bother to vote than voted No. There are those who would see that as an indication that the majority of people were not in favour of Devolution but considering no general election ever achieves 100% turnout the same could be argued for every result. Since 1979 the highest turnout for any Westminster General Election has been 77.7% and no Westminster Government in that time has ever managed to achieve more than 32% of the ‘Entire Electorate’ support. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher stormed to power with a landslide majority yet she achieved that massive majority with 43.9% of all those who voted in that Westminster General Election and only 32.6% of all those who were eligible to vote. That means that 56.1% of all those who cast their vote voted against Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Government in 1979. It also means that of all those voters eligible to vote in that General Election an overwhelming 67.4% did not elect the Conservatives or their leader.
|WESTMINSTER GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS SINCE 1979|
|YEAR||WINNER||% OF VOTE||TURNOUT||% OF ENTIRE ELECTORATE|
|1979||Conservative||43.9%||76.0%||43.9 X 76.0 / 100 = 32.6%|
|1983||Conservative||42.4%||72.7%||43.4 x 72.7 / 100 = 30.8%|
|1987||Conservative||42.2%||75.3%||42.2 x 75.3 / 100 = 31.7%|
|1992||Conservative||42.3%||77.7%||42.3 x 77.7 / 100 = 32.8%|
|1997||Labour||43.2%||71.4%||43.2 X 71.4 / 100 = 30.8%|
|2001||Labour||40.7%||59.4%||40.7 x 59.4 / 100 = 24.1%|
|2005||Labour||35.2%||61.4%||35.2 x 61.4 / 100 = 21.6%|
|2010||Conservative||36.1%||65.1%||36.1 x 65.1 / 100 = 23.5%|
In conclusion it is clearly evident that no Westminster Government since 1979 has been able to command a majority of the votes cast and nowhere near a majority of the votes that were eligible to be cast. The people of Scotland have been subjected to five Conservative Governments it did not elect in the last three decades. However, the evidence is irrefutable that the people of the United Kingdom have repeatedly been subjected to ‘Minority Governments’ in every single election over the last 33 years. Had the ‘40% Threshold’ been applied to the subsequent Westminster elections as it was applied in the Devolution Referendum in 1979 then neither Labour, the Conservatives or, dare I say it, the Liberals would have been able to form a Government and the people of the United Kingdom would have been subjected to perpetual ‘Coalition Government’ or worst still, numerous votes of ‘No Confidence’ and numerous elections as a result.
In 2014 the people of Scotland will have the opportunity to end that perpetual cycle of unrepresentative ‘Minority Westminster Government’ for good. On this occasion the Westminster Unionists are not able to hide the truth about our vast resources despite the desperate efforts to do so. They will also not be able to impose that disgraceful and undemocratic ‘40% Threshold’ on the people of Scotland as they did back in 1979. We will not be fooled by lies and deceit as we were back then and it is extremely possible that we will grasp this opportunity with both hands and secure a better, fairer and more representative way for the future of Scotland and its people.