The document under study here is extracted from Dancing with Dogma. Britain under Thatcherism, a book by Ian Gilmour, a Scottish leading figure on the liberal, or "wet", left-wing of the Conservative party, essentially under the governments of Heath and Thatcher. The piece of writing concentrates on the debate over devolution -that is to say, the delegation of power from a superior organ to an inferior one, in our perspective, from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament- as it took place under Thatcherism. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the emergence of still greater pro-devolution movements in Scotland, with the 1988 Claim of Rights for Scotland and the creation of a Constitutional Convention, which gathered for the first time in March 1989, in response to Margaret Thatcher's lack of concern for devolution.
[...] This issue was first raised in the 1970s by the West Lothian Labour MP, Tam Dalyell, and had to do with the choice, endorsed by the government, of keeping Scottish MPs in Westminster, while establishing a Parliament in Scotland in charge of the devolved matters. This means that Scottish MPs would be able to vote in Westminster on matters which only concern the English population, whereas on the other hand, English MPs could not vote on the same issues for Scotland, since the Holyrood Parliament would be in charge of them. [...]
[...] Often accused of being “left-leaning” and by Margaret Thatcher, Gilmour proves to be rational, moderate, and to be working for the benefit of Scotland, England and the Union. His proposals are witty, clever and balanced –even if he seems to forget, as regards Europe, that the Scottish National Party saw the EU as a mere means to reject any separatist charge, while umpiring the “Independence in Europe” motto. Under those perspectives, Gilmour reveals his pro-devolution outlook epitomizes, to some extent, a minority within his own party–, showing at the same time that the arguments of the right-wing faction of the Conservative party are erroneous and too chopped-off to be efficient. [...]
[...] It is worth mentioning that Mrs Thatcher has never been in friendly terms with Ian Gilmour –this is an overstatement. Indeed, he was one of those who actively supported Heath's declared approval of devolution, together with Malcolm Rifkind, George Younger or Alick Buchanan-Smith. It is not surprising then that Gilmour's tone should be so mordant as regards the Prime Minister and her Thatcherites. Actually, while holding the Cabinet-level post of deputy foreign secretary, Gilmour was fired by Thatcher in 1981 after he warned her hard-line tactics would lose voters' support. [...]
[...] His moderate as they were called– views ran counter to him under Thatcher, since he was relieved from his duties in 1981. Thatcher disliked such “left-leaning” people, instinctive Unionist as she was. The tension subsequently the clash, if we may between the two factions of the Conservative party is palpable in the text, Gilmour taking great care in dismantling the right wing's rationale against devolution. Indeed, the text contrasts the pro-devolution leadership of the Scottish Conservatives with the unionist grass-roots of the party. [...]
[...] Definitely, Gilmour regards anti-devolutionists as anti- Europeans, as the last sentence of the document is eloquent about: “that surely would be the ultimate in ‘little Englandism'” (lines 50-51) –that is to say, the contradiction in the anti-devolution argument is at its apex here, Scotland being in the EU and England out of it, this aspect coinciding with the idea of the so-called ‘little Englanders' of not expanding the British Empire: ironically here, just the opposite is done, the Empire being amputated. [...]
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