Scotlands History

Devolution and the Scottish Parliament

The UK’s decline as an international power after World War II coincided with a growth of Scottish nationalism. The need for decentralisation at home, or local autonomy, not only of government but of industrial and commercial structures became clearer after 1945.

In Scotland the Scottish National Party (SNP) began to receive a higher profile, briefly winning a by-election in 1945, but not breaking through properly till the 1970s.

The controversial devolution referendum of 1979 fanned a small fire. The two main Westminster parties appeared at worst in denial and at best ambivalent about devolution. But finally, in the words of John Smith, MP for North Lanarkshire and Labour’s UK leader, ‘the settled will of the Scottish people’ for a reconvened Scottish Parliament was recognised. Labour’s solid victory at the 1997 UK election and the decimation of the Conservative vote in Scotland led in turn to the second devolution referendum and its decisive Yes-Yes vote.

The first meeting of the reconvened Scottish Parliament took place on 12 May 1999. It was officially opened on July 1st.

Almost three centuries after the 1707 Treaty of Union, 1 July 1999 saw Scotland celebrate the opening of its Parliament once again. The historic visit of Her Majesty The Queen to conduct the official ceremony marked the birth of devolution. A bold new chapter in Scotland’s story had begun.

The Opening of Holyrood Commemorative Programme, 2004

On Saturday 9 October 2004 the new Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood in Edinburgh was formally opened.

Singer Eddi Reader, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Seinneadairean-shalm Leòdhais (Lewis Psalm-Singers), the National Youth Choir of Scotland and violinist Nicola Benedetti all performed at the opening ceremony. Poet and playwright Liz Lochhead read ‘Open the doors!’ - a poem written especially for the opening of the Scottish Parliament by Scotland’s Makar (Poet Laureate) Edwin Morgan.

  • Photograph of the Scottish Parliament Building
  • Aerial view of Scottish Parliament
  • photograph of the pavement outside the Scottish Parliament
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