Another gem from Labour Hame, this time from Richard Olszewski...
"Devolution was described, memorably, by John Smith as the “settled will of the Scottish people”. Well maybe, but it certainly hasn’t been the settled will of all the Scottish people.
Labour’s 1997 White Paper on devolution stated clearly that the aim of devolution was “a fair and just settlement for Scotland within the framework of the United Kingdom.” It also said that “Scotland will remain firmly part of the United Kingdom.”
These were the underlying principles on which devolution was based and put to the Scottish people in the referendum of 1997 – held just 133 days after Labour took power, nationalists please note. More than 74 per cent of the Scottish people voted for devolution on this basis. This could hardly have been a more emphatic expression of Scotland’s “settled will”.
But the nationalists never truly accepted that..."
Perhaps I could try to drag Richard back to something approximating to reality at this point. Let's start with this - if there had been a multi-option referendum on the constitution in 1997 with all the three main options (independence, devolution and the status quo) on the ballot paper, we all know that devolution would not have received the backing of anything like 74%. Quite possibly, it wouldn't even have made it to 50%. The opinion polls from the period suggest that an outcome along the following lines would have been fairly likely -
Status Quo 25%
So when Richard says that self-government firmly within the United Kingdom hasn't been the settled will of "all" the Scottish people, that's something of an understatement. If John Smith really intended the phrase to be taken in that way, he must have known it was always a rhetorical sleight of hand - there was indisputably a settled will in favour of a Scottish Parliament of some kind, but a deep split on whether that parliament should be devolved or independent. The sleight of hand became considerably more brazen when Labour held a referendum that didn't allow supporters of the parliament to indicate whether they wanted it to be independent or not. So, as Richard knows perfectly well, the vast majority of independence supporters made the best of a bad job by voting Yes to the only Scottish Parliament that was on offer. Or to put it another way, virtually everyone who would have liked to vote "No to the United Kingdom" in fact voted Yes in the 1997 referendum, as the closest approximation of their views. By contrast, virtually everyone who voted No was emphatically in favour of Scotland remaining within the UK.
Curious, then, that Richard - just like Roy Hattersley and others before him - somehow feels he can claim the 74% Yes vote as a vote in favour of the United Kingdom. I can only assume that he believes an enormous chunk of the electorate were behaving entirely irrationally. That being the case, perhaps he could just clear up one little thing, if he has the time. Given that supporters of independence were (unwittingly or perversely) voting in favour of the United Kingdom by voting Yes in 1997, how exactly should they have gone about expressing their opposition to the United Kingdom? By staying at home? By spoiling their ballot paper? By voting No and thus preserving remote control rule from London?