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36 years of discontent

Posted on January 21, 2015 by

We’ve spoken before of Scottish Labour’s most revered ancient totem of faith, the 1979 “stab in the back” myth by which they accuse the SNP of sole responsibility for the 18-year rule of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party.

More than three-and-a-half decades later, Labour still cling to it as their trump card in any argument against the SNP, pulling it out when all else fails and relying on the fact that hardly anyone was there to contradict their version of events.

discontent

It’s an accusation that’s complete cobblers from top to bottom, but then again you’d expect us to say that. So instead let’s get the view of someone who was there.

James Callaghan was the Labour Prime Minister in 1979. His political memoir, “Time & Chance”, ends with his defeat in the election of May that year by over two million votes, after a vote of no confidence triggered by Labour’s repeal of the Devolution Act brought down his government in late March.

His account of events and the aftermath is fascinating and revealing. The extracts below come from the book’s final chapter.

(We’ve omitted only passages that aren’t relevant to the progression of the story, marked with […]. You can see the full pages here if you don’t trust our edits.)

“It was the adverse effect of the two Devolution referenda in Scotland and Wales that finally ended the Government’s life. Both were held on 1 March 1979, St David’s Day, for John Morris, the Secretary of State for Wales, had hoped that the compliment would strike a patriotic chord in Welsh hearts. But the valleys were deaf to the sound of our music, and rejected the blandishments by a huge majority of four to one. 

The Scottish result was better, with a slim majority voting in favour, but this counted as a defeat as the Devolution Act had provided (against the Government’s will), that 40 per cent of the total electorate must vote in favour*, so with those who abstained added in, the total fell well below the required figure.

On the surface this was a surprising result, and I concluded that in the back of people’s minds, the merits of the case had become entangled with a vote on the Government’s popularity, which was not high even in Scotland because of the recent industrial disputes.

Michael Foot telephoned me at home on Sunday 4 March to discuss the results. He was deeply disappointed for he had made Devoution his cause, and had overcome every obstacle to get the Bills through Parliament. These results required the Government, in accordance with the two Acts, to now lay an Order before Parliament for their total repeal.

Michael is a fighter and he still thought the day could be saved. Why not, he said, lay the Repeal Order before Parliament, but invite the House to reject it? This would leave the Scottish Act on the statute book in accordance with the wish of the majority of those who had voted. But it would not come into force until a second Order, known as a Commencement Order, was laid, and this should be postponed until after a general election.

It was an imaginative proposal, but from the start I did not approach it with an open mind.

[…]

Michael Cocks, the Chief Whip, had spoken with some of Labour’s Devolution rebels. In his view the difficulty within the Party was much greater than any from the Scottish National Party and the Whips’ judgement was that the Government could not rely on the votes of Labour Members from Merseyside or the North if we moved to reject the Repeal Order.

[…]

For three years we had believed in ourselves and in our capacity to govern and to win, despite all the odds against us. Now I sensed this was no longer true. Nearly thirty years earlier, as a junior Minister in the Attlee Government, I had watched demoralisation set in and a thick pall of self-doubt begin to envelop Ministers as they and the increasingly paralysed Government Departments and Civil Servants waited for the inevitable election.

In 1979 seven months of life still lay ahead before a general election need be called, but I did not wish my administration to drag out the next few months, surviving only by wheeling and dealing. From the moment I knew we could not win a vote of no confidence I preferred to put the issue to the test of a general election.

[…]

Even if the vote had gone in our favour I did not expect the election to be long delayed. Since Christmas the Government had suffered severe set-backs on incomes policy and on Devolution, and we could command a majority in the House of Commons for neither.

[…]

Contrary to the myths which have sprung up since 1979, Labour did not lose support in the general election – our national vote was in fact slightly higher than it had been nearly five years earlier in October 1974, when we had won more seats than the Tories. It demonstrated how much steady understanding and support existed for what we had tried to do.

But, tempted by promises of lower taxation and with memories of the winter, the abstaining Tories of 1974 had flocked back to their Party’s colours and this gave Mrs Thatcher a large majority of seats. It was a miracle that we had governed as long and effectively as we had.”

discontent2

In summary, then:

1. The Labour government, which had no majority, was unpopular as a result of a winter of ruinous industrial disputes as it tried to keep public-sector pay low.

2. Scotland voted for devolution, but a rule imposed by a rebel Labour MP in conjunction with the Tories and 33 Labour colleagues ensured that any Yes result would be overturned, by including non-voters and the dead as No votes.

(That is to say, people who’d passed away but who hadn’t yet been removed from the electoral register were effectively counted for No.)

3. Callaghan and Michael Foot wanted leave the devolution act on the statute books with a view to reviving it after the election, given the Yes vote, but English Labour MPs vowed to block the plan, leading to the vote of no confidence.

4. By this point Callaghan had accepted the game was up and resigned himself to an early election, even if he had won the vote of no confidence. The idea that losing the vote hastened the election significantly, thereby preventing Labour from recovering public support in its remaining few months is – by Callaghan’s own admission – completely false. (See paragraphs 8 and 9 above.)

5. Callaghan blamed the election defeat not on the Nats but on Labour’s own fatal hangover from the Winter Of Discontent. He attributes the Conservatives’ success to that and to their promises of tax cuts. (Which the Tories delivered, helping them to win three subsequent elections.)

discontent3

Calmly and matter-of-factly, Callaghan lays the blame at Labour’s own door every step of the way. Labour caused the pay disputes and strikes, a Labour MP sabotaged the devolution bill, more Labour MPs blocked the plan to keep devolution alive.

Callaghan himself actively sought the election – and would have done so either way – at which Scots punished the SNP and voted Labour, but at which millions of English voters ensured a Conservative victory for reasons which were nothing to do with Scotland and would not have been affected had the vote of confidence been won.

We don’t expect for a moment that this will stop brainless Labour politicians and idiot young activists who weren’t even alive in 1979 from trotting out the same tired old “ushering in Thatcher” hogwash over and over and over again in the next few months in the hope that a few gullible voters might swallow it.

But such people who’d huffily dismiss our undeniably partisan analysis could do a lot worse than listen to the man who lived in 10 Downing Street at the time, and who agrees with every word we’ve said about it, because he said it first.

.

———————————————————————————————————-

APPENDIX

*These are Callaghan’s comments on the 40% rule:

“[The rule] was instigated by another Labour sceptic, George Cunninghame [sic], with the support of Labour and Conservative opponents. He proposed that if the consultative referendum contained in the bill resulted in less than 40 per cent of the total electorate voting in favour of Devolution, then the Secretary of State for Scotland would be required to lay an Order before Parliament, wiping out the whole Act.

This provision was carried by a majority of fifteen, with as many as thirty-four Labour Members voting against the Government. On the other hand a small number of Conservatives and the Liberal Party supported us.

I have since wondered whether those thirty-four Labour Members would have voted as they did if they had been able to foresee that their votes on that evening would precipitate a General Election in 1979, at the least favourable time for their Government.”

That’s 34 Labour MPs [EDIT: list below] voting with the Tories in order to cheat the people of Scotland by setting an impossible target for a Yes vote – more than three times as many as the 11 SNP MPs who voted against the government in the vote of no confidence. You don’t hear so much about those 34, do you?

Fun trivia fact: if the 40% rule had been in place for the independence referendum, and ABSOLUTELY NOBODY in Scotland had voted No, the Yes vote of 1.62 million still wouldn’t have been enough to win under Cunningham’s rule, representing as it did just 38% of the entire registered electorate. That’s how crooked it was.

Labour Ayes for 40% rule amendment (bold: Scottish constituencies)

Leo Abse (Pontypool)
Sydney Bidwell (Southall)
Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich)
Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)
Maureen Colquhoun (Northampton North)
George Cunningham (Islington South)
Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
Joseph Dean (Leeds West)
Peter Doig (Dundee West)
Bruce Douglas-Mann (Mitcham and Morden)
Ioan Evans (Aberdare)
Martin Flannery (Sheffield Hillsborough)
Ted Fletcher (Darlington)
Ted Garrett (Wallsend)
Helene Hayman (Welwyn and Hatfield)
Eric Heffer (Liverpool Walton)
Robert Hughes (Aberdeen North)
Adam Hunter (Dunfermline)
Alexander Lyon (York)
Joan Maynard (Sheffield Brightside)
John Mendelson (Penistone)
Eric Moonman (Basildon)
Stanley Newens (Harlow)
Eric Ogden (Liverpool West Derby)
Arthur Palmer (Bristol North East)
John Parker (Barking Dagenham)
Josephine Richardson (Barking)
Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North West)
George Rodgers (Chorley)
Renee Short (Wolverhampton North East)
Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Leslie Spriggs (St Helens)
Ronald Thomas (Bristol North West)
Audrey Wise (Coventry South West)

Amendment carried, 166 votes to 151

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    36 years of discontent | Politics Scotland | S...

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132 to “36 years of discontent”

  1. muttley79 says:

    Even for SLAB’s standards, the stabbed in the back myth of 1979 is a load of old bollocks. It is unsurprising that they continue to peddle this pish, as they are a zombie party with no ideas whatsoever.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Yeah-but-no-but-yeah-but no…

    All those who voted No to regaining true self-government voted for lies and corruption and did so with their eyes wide open. Delusion is preferred to reality. Who can live with the truth?

  3. The Man in the Jar says:

    “Yooz let the Tories in, in 79” If I heard that once during the build up to the referendum I heard it a thousand times. The war cry of the bitter old Labour supporter.

    Those photos bring back some memories. “Bitter old Labour supporters” probably regard them as the good old days. 🙁

  4. Doug Daniel says:

    Yeah but Stu, you’re forgetting something pretty fundamental – SNP BAD.

    “The Labour government, which had no majority, was unpopular as a result of a winter of industrial disputes as it tried to keep public-sector pay low.”

    Austerity? From Labour? Surely not…

  5. Flower of Scotland says:

    Thanks Rev. Another fantastic article. One again which I can bookmark and keep for further ammunition for “debates” with some Labour members of the family.

    My observations are that Labour just doesn’t change. They always seem to be working AGAINST the people of Scotland.

  6. Campbell: “We don’t expect for a moment that this will stop brainless Labour politicians and idiot young activists who weren’t even alive in 1979 from trotting out the same tired old “ushering in Thatcher” hogwash

    Still, you provide a definitive cut’n’paste riposte. (repeated below so I can google it using my name and “40%” when all else is forgotten)

    1. The Labour government, which had no majority, was unpopular as a result of a winter of industrial disputes as it tried to keep public-sector pay low.

    2. Scotland voted for devolution, but a rule imposed by a rebel Labour MP in conjunction with the Conservatives and backed by 33 other Labour MPs overturned the result, by including non-voters and the dead as No votes.

    (People who had passed away but not yet been removed from the electoral register were effectively counted for No.)

    3. Callaghan and Michael Foot wanted leave the devolution act on the statute books with a view to reviving it after the election, but English Labour MPs vowed to block the plan, leading to the vote of no confidence.

    4. At this point Callaghan accepted that the game was up and resigned himself to a early election, even if he had won the vote of no confidence. The idea that losing the vote hastened the election significantly, thereby preventing Labour from recovering public support in its remaining few months is – by Callaghan’s own admission – completely false. (See paragraphs 8 and 9 above.)

    5. Callaghan blamed the election defeat not on the SNP but on Labour’s own weaknesses over the Winter Of Discontent and the self-sabotaged devolution bill. He graciously attributes the Conservatives’ success to the former issue, and also their promises of tax cuts. (Which the Tories delivered, helping them to win three subsequent elections.)

  7. RogueCoder says:

    My parents still talk about this with great bitterness (I was 6 years old at the time). In the run up to the referendum, my mother recounted how, after the 79 result came in, activists were despondent that they’d “lost”. She was indignant. By the rules of every other election held in the UK before or since, we had won – but the vote had been deliberately rigged for failure by Labour. The very people Scots put their trust in had stabbed us in the back.

    Who knows how different things might be now if that 40% rule had not been allowed to steal the election. The new found confidence that Scots have in our country and our abilities is a direct result of the establishment of the Scottish parliament (and latterly, the election of an SNP administration). If that had happened in ’79 instead, we might be living in a very different (and one presumes, prosperous and nuclear free) country right now.

    The Tories aren’t the enemy. They are just greedy bastards. The true enemy is Labour, whom have betrayed Scotland decade after decade, deliberately keeping us poor and disenfranchised in order to keep themselves in power.

  8. Capella says:

    More excellent investigative journalism!
    So who were the 34 I wonder?

  9. 1971Thistle says:

    I recommend Dominic Sandbrook’s account of same in his book “Seasons in the Sun”. Comes to pretty much identical conclusions

  10. 1AlanM says:

    This is a line my old man (a dyed in the wool Labour and Union man) trots out whenever I bring up politics. I doubt I will ever be able to budge him on this and although he concedes that the Labour Party is no longer the same party he espouses the values of he still insists on voting for them in a sense of misplaced loyalty. He fails to recognise that the Labour Party are no longer the champions of the Labour Movement and either can not or will not separate the two.

  11. Helena Brown says:

    I had to explain to one young chap at the meeting in Dunfermline for the new members what happened in 1979, this is a timely piece so many do not actually know and Labour tell lies, just in case people do not know that. They were instrumental in their own demise. They definitely would have lost the election even had they gone to full term.
    I always thought had they just paid the increase and not tried being the Tories then they might have not been in the position they were, but then we now know they are Tories to almost a man/woman.

  12. Brotyboy says:

    Mention of Michael Foot here triggers memories of a committed and principled CND campaigner.

    Who can doubt that as a Labour leader he would have sympathised with Yes and may even have supported that position solely on the basis that it could have led to UK disarmament.

    At the very least, I find it hard to believe that he would have contemplated getting into bed with the Tories at all, ever.

  13. muttley79 says:

    @Doug Daniel

    Labour began the monetarism policy that Thatcher made her own in the 1980s, due to the spending cuts forced by the IMF. Callaghan declared that social democracy in the UK was over. You will hear none of these things from Labour drones.

  14. Gary says:

    Of course many young voters don’t even remember Thatcher never mind the 79 election. This allows certain MPs, party leaders and campaign ‘advisors’ to ‘misremember’ rewrite and disinform the public with their new history. The parallels to 1984 are frightening.

  15. mogabee says:

    This article is going right onto my desktop to be produced for the next eejit. And they will try!

  16. Marcia says:

    The usual, “I see no ships” Labour mentality.

    I find that those born after 1990 don’t relate to Thatcher as we do that were. To them it is something in history. To many Labour members they don’t seem to think that the voters at the General Election in 1979 brought in Thatcher. That is what ended the Labour Government.

    It was a matter of timing in 1979 as the Labour Government was doomed because of the events of the previous winter to early spring in England. I remember visiting London in March 1979 to find all the street piled up high with rotting rubbish as there had been no bin collection during this period called , ‘the Winter of Discontent’.

    If the Labour Party MP’s had not done a wrecking job on the rather weak Devolution proposals in 1976 and 1977 who knows how history would have been recorded now. The seeds of Labour’s downfall in 1979 was closer at home and by the action of the Labour Government and MPs.

  17. MajorBloodnok says:

    I enjoyed the winter of discontent. Not going to school and playing cards by the light of a hurricane lantern is still a far better evening’s entertainment than having to watch Strictly and Reporting Scotland.

  18. manandboy says:

    Thanks so much Stu.

    With this piece, you have done us all a great service by providing us with the facts we need to destroy the Labour ‘Thatcher’ argument.

    As always, you are doing a brilliant job. Well done.

  19. Morag says:

    I remember that election. I don’t remember who I voted for, which is odd.

    I do remember that it’s the only time in my adult life when I went to bed rather than sitting up to see the results come in. I was a PhD student at the time and research must go on. I remember getting up on the Friday morning and my mother greeting me with, “Well, she got in.”

    I was ambivalent. I didn’t like the Tories one little bit, but the preceding year or so had been pretty grim. I don’t remember the Glasgow streets being quite as bad as the London ones in the photos, but I do remember every back alley was crammed with rubbish bags. The country had become chaotic, and at least Thatcher was making the right noises about taking charge and sorting the mess out. I thought a term of Conservative government might not be an entirely bad thing round about then.

    I don’t think anyone could have anticipated what she was actually going to do. That she’d take our oil money and use it to fund the deindustrialisation of Scotland. That we’d see poverty-stricken Norway become the richest nation on the planet on the back of the same windfall we had, while we became poorer.

    I also remember reading something about an English MP, possibly a Liberal, who was bribed to miss a train and not be there for the vote of confidence. Which Callaghan lost by one vote. There was a lot more going on than the SNP. Who behaved entirely properly anyway. And nobody could have known what Thatcher was going to turn out to be.

  20. Luigi says:

    Who let the blue tories back in 2010? After bottling a reasonable chance to win in 2009, wrecking the economy and squandering all the money, and, finally, refusing to work with the SNP and others to form a coalition in 2010?

  21. Capella says:

    Besides the dead casting their NO vote, anyone who had become a student was registered (unknown to them) in the University town so had at least one NO vote as they would be registered in their home town. Some Tory students were prosecuted for registering students in St Andrews.

  22. Fearchar says:

    As I well remember, I voted in favour but that was effectively cancelled out by my alter ego(!), voting in absentia on the other electoral roll: as a student, I was registered on two.

    There was a strong suspicion at the time that multiple registrations had been made by opponents of devolution, although, as far as I am aware, no-one was ever prosecuted for it.

    The electoral roll was never designed to estimate an overall tally. The recent referendum apparently had a 97% voter registration but only 85% or so voted, which must say something about the (lack of) robustness of the electoral roll.

  23. Marcia says:

    – must get a proof reader 🙁

    – 2nd para should have read –

    I find that those born after 1990 don’t relate to Thatcher as we do that were not.

  24. G H Graham says:

    A myth only perpetuated by a media determined to assist the British Establishment with maintaining the status quo.

    Thus, any political party or movement that seriously questions the motives & behaviour of London’s old boy’s club is labelled as “subversive” or a “loony fringe”.

    The significant rise in support for the SNP, Plaid Cymru & the Greens is unsettling so Labour, on behalf of the Establishment, use any & every opportunity to undermine the non traditional parties.

    Even if it means talking complete shite.

  25. Morag says:

    I remember a Radio 4 programme in a “What If” series back in the 1990s, discussing what if the 40% rule hadn’t been proposed for the 1979 referendum. The conclusion was that Scotland would have got some sort of parliament/assembly in the early 1980s, and would therefore have had a mechanism to stand up to Thatcher.

    The conclusion, in fact, was that Scotland would have been independent by the mid-1990s. The assembly would have been the solid ground to stand on, to save Scotland from the Witch, and independence would have been the inevitable outcome.

  26. frazer allan whyte says:

    There was no back-stabbing then at all – Scotland was knifed openly and consciously from the front.

  27. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    The dead were unburied in Liverpool.

  28. Lollysmum says:

    Stu
    I remember it well. As a police officer in the midlands at the time, we covered mortuary duties-taking bodies to morgue, weighing & tagging them & putting them in the fridges (morticians were on strike & this was my first experience of handling dead bodies), escorted Green Goddesses (driven by the Army) to fires (firemen also on strike).Dustmen on strike.

    Oil/petrol distribution was affected so the govt issued petrol vouchers to essential users (as a motorcycle user I was entitled to one per week).Our panda cars were restricted to 16 miles per shift. In the shops, candles were the biggest seller of all due to the electricity blackouts.

    Strangely enough though I cannot for the life of me remember any crimes being committed at the time and I have a prodigious memory.

    We all worked double shifts for weeks on end just dealing with the problems in that Winter of Discontent. We knew the govt would collapse at any time because it was under attack by all the unions.

    We didn’t know anything about the Devolution of Scotland or Wales until very much later but I have to say that I’m not at all surprised by this post & that it was all due to Labour. They were seen as being completely intransigent by the UK populace & none of us wanted to go through another winter like that again.

    Maggie unfortunately represented a break from the past & Labour’s constant infighting so when the election was called, it was inevitable that she would win. We’ve had cause to regret that election ever since because she & her govt turned out to be much worse than Labour after the initial successes she scored with sales of council houses etc.

    Labour were lying then & are still lying today. That was the trigger for my disaffection with UK politics!

  29. donald anderson says:

    The same Labourites with twisted memories no nuzzing of Labour Freezes and having to send the Troops IN to Glasgow to scab on the workers, who were defying their Tame Union bosses. The troops were deployed emptying bins, driving bin lorries, fire engines and ambulances. Why is this never mentioned, like sending Labour Troops IN to Ireland in 1969?

  30. boris says:

    Brilliant article very apt just at the start of the GE campaign. As I remember it infaltion was running at around 20% at the time. Interms of the rubbish in the streets the main problem for the children was the rats.

  31. chalks says:

    I find it more staggering that people still seem to think it was Devo-Max that was on offer in 1979, it wasn’t, it was even less than that with no control over taxation etc, it’s why some would be yessers, didn’t vote for it, as it was worthless.

  32. Macart says:

    They did what they always do and project their failure and duplicity onto others.

    Labour.

    Enough said.

  33. jim mitchell says:

    My abiding memory of that referendum, I was a very wet behind the ears SNP activist, we only had one car during the early part of the day, so me and it’s owner went to a local sheltered housing area where we knew that although it was early there would be old folk wanting a lift to the polling stations, we believed though that as in the main they were Labour supporters they would have been picked up by Labour, they usually were and would probably be back home by that time. What we found was , all of them waiting, coats at the ready, wondering what had happened to their ‘usual’ lifts. We knew, we knew that anyone on the electoral register who couldn’t vote would be counted as a NO, Labour had abandoned their own long term supporters to help increase their chance of victory! I wasn’t wet behind the ears much longer, the community was much smaller in those days, these folk were the folk who had built it up, I knew many of them from childhood, they had been deserted, as have many more since, and there are still some who wonder at the depth of our distaste for the party of the people!

  34. I voted for the Assembly in 1979. Erroneously believed at the time that the 40% sabotage was entirely the work of a lone treacherous dog, so didn’t blame the Labour Party and certainly didn’t blame the SNP.

    I voted Labour in the subsequent general election (to keep the Tories out, you understand, not to punish the SNP). General view among my cohort was that the election was too important to indulge one’s self by voting Nationalist – we had no illusions about Thatcher even then.

    The old guard Tories (Whitelaw et al) you kinda knew still believed in the cross-party consensus view of social compact and the mixed economy, but if she ever got in, it’d be opening a whole different can of worms. Turned out much worse than anyone I knew could even imagine.

    Going into the polling station I asked an SNP leafleter the name of the Labour candidate (new boy). She was frustrated by the request but gave me it anyway. I told her “next time!” (it’ll be SNP).

  35. heedtracker says:

    Their 2014 THE VOW fraud matches their 1979 40% or its NO Scotland, but we still have Holyrood and all kinds of English/UKIP/EVEL/EU rule Britannia nationalist constitutional chaos going down for the next 5 years at least. Crash Gordon and his vote NO for Devo Max saved England’s control of Scotland and maybe you can keep defrauding our country. The May GE should be an interesting time for red Tory Murphy’s Slab/BBC Scotland liggers though. Not long now:D

  36. Morag says:

    I was a student at the time but I lived with my parents and travelled to the university every day, so I was only registered once. I remember a friend of mine who had chosen to live in Glasgow at the same time, ranting bitterly about having voted Yes in Glasgow, which was cancelled out by her automatic No vote in Wishaw.

    I said (or at least thought) that if I’d been in that position I’d bloody well have gone to both polling stations and voted twice and tried to turn it into a big moral cause if I’d been prosecuted for it. I mean, it was half an hour on the train. Easily doable.

  37. No no no...Yes says:

    Truly excellent. This is the best article this year and will help to neutralise the tired old Labour Party in Scotland mantra.

    O/T The Iraq Inquiry delay. Whilst many are raging at the latest delay, there is an upside:
    Labour in Scotland are inept and although we have plenty of useful material already, they will give much more before GE2015. Having the Iran Inquiry Report delayed for use in Holyrood 2016 campaign is great because Murphy will be inextricably linked to Blair’s actions/inactions and that WILL be another vote loser for him.

  38. Brian Fleming says:

    As Stalin was reputed to have said: “He who controls the past controls the future.” Keep up the good fight, Stu.

  39. Morag says:

    Winter of discontent. It was tedious. Strikes and power cuts and candles and so on. But we got by, really.

    I’d rather be there than here, in a way. I’d rather have an intact social security system and an NHS committed to providing for everyone through a publicly-funded service, than people being sanctioned and benefits stopped and having to go to food banks, and American venture capitalists poised to rape our NHS.

    The sickening thing is, it should never have been either. It’s perfectly possible to run the country and retain decent socialist values, while ensuring that basic services are maintained.

  40. Cadogan Enright says:

    Good stuff on page 2 and 3 of National today – lets hope this scandal is properly aired and Treasury officials and other leading civil servants are forced to resign

    Also page 4 and 5 has Osborne demanding that Labour rule out any alliance with SNP

    Perhaps the appropriate response is to highlight the ongoing relationship between the Torys and the appallingly sectarian DUP in NI.

    The Torys have been backing the DUP in undermining the British/Irish 1998 peace agreement for 4 years and blocking deliverables under the peace agreement in exchange for the understanding that possibly 9 DUP MP’s would back the Torys at Westminster if the Torys were short of votes

  41. Fred says:

    “Jim fixed it, for us all”.

  42. Murray McCallum says:

    Excellent piece Rev Stu. A good record to have at hand.

  43. r baxter says:

    who likes being lied to by politicians not many, but they still fecking vote for them.

  44. david agnew says:

    this is labour fighting a political campaign that is rooted in the past – almost 40 years in the past. It is exactly what got them into so much hot water in 2011. Fighting the wrong campaign from a past election.

    The SNP paid for the “stab in the back” big time. Even thatcher was said to have remarked “Their vote will melt like snow in the spring sunshine”.

    So here comes gormless Scottish labour, hoping they can unleash that fury a second time. All they need is to somehow show the SNP as being in bed with the tories. Problem is, this time round – labour are in bed with the tories, and the tories are going to take great pleasure in reminding folk of that.

    Scotland’s back is getting stabbed this time round for real, but its Labour that are holding the knife.

  45. Brian Fleming says: As Stalin was reputed to have said: “He who controls the past controls the future.”

    It’s from 1984 if memory serves, but doubleplusgood for remembering it at all (I’d entirely forgotten – not an uncommon occurrence these days)

  46. pa_broon74 says:

    You know what though…

    If the shoe was on the other foot and labour was in the position the SNP was at that time – they would’ve abstained from vote of no confidence.

    I’m not sure if this is a good definition of irony.

  47. steveasaneilean says:

    This is a fantastic article Stu – one of the best I have seen on Wings. Any objection to me “cutting and pasting” it as required?

    As someone who was in my mid-teens during this time I remember it well. I have never read Jim Callaghan’s memoirs but event he wee piece you have quoted has increased my respect for the man – clealry saying that the blame lies with the party of which he was leader and, therefore by default, with himself.

  48. fred blogger says:

    yep, keep reminding us of history, that’s what the tories, libdems, and labour don’t want to hear.
    don’t let them build new indyscotref ‘realities’.
    labour, even had to be dragged kicking and screaming to set up scottish parliament.
    http://www.electricscotland.com/independence/story.pdf

  49. msean says:

    Nailed that myth then,it was Unionists who brought down the then Government and introduced the Thatcher era. The PM at the time thought so and put it in print.

  50. Barontorc says:

    What’s the scam gonna be this coming GE?

    The electoral roll is already being depopulated to be rid of the referendum ‘first time ever’ voters and I’m not talking 16 year olds. That should also fit the unionist agenda for the 2016 SE less YES support.

    Like McPherson of the Treasury – ‘Rules? What rules? We’ll make them up as suits the situation.’

    Good old Auntie BBC was also preening herself yesterday with the fact that somehow (God only knows how) the UK was nominated #1 in the world for democratic fastness. Would you believe it?

    And we Scots cannot get any outside agency to listen to our complaints of electoral/democratic fraud, in-your-face propaganda by the self-same preening BBC, or government transparency because of the Secrets Act imposed as it likes by our ever-so democratic UK Gov. And why so?

    Because it must be the same UK Gov that asks these outside agencies to intervene. Robert Heller – eat your heart out – here is Catch22 writ large and kicking.

  51. Bigdrone says:

    Historically Labour referred the SNP as the ‘Tartan Tories’ after “they voted in Maggie Thatcher!” – frequently quoted to me during the referendum campaign.

    However, when you refer to them as the ‘Red Tories’ and their Blairite swerve away for traditional Labour values and principals a ‘red’ mist seems to descend around them.

    They don’t like it up them!

  52. JayR says:

    The Liberal Party, then led by David Steel, also voted against Labour in the 1979 motion of no confidence.

    Funny how you never ever hear any Labourists bleating on about how Steel or the Liberals/Liberal Democrats brought Thatcher to power.

    I guess Labour just hate the SNP and the idea of Scottish independence more than they hate Thatcher, Thatcherism and the Tories. Says a lot about them.

  53. Macart says:

    @ JayR

    I’d say more likely they didn’t wish to accept their share of the responsibility for both the devolution betrayal and bringing down their own government.

    Someone had to become a scapegoat and the SNP fitted their needs nicely.

  54. Colin Dunn says:

    1AlanM says:
    “This is a line my old man (a dyed in the wool Labour and Union man) trots out whenever I bring up politics. I doubt I will ever be able to budge him on this . . ”

    How does he feel about Labour refusing to combine with the SNP in 2010 to keep the Tories out? Surely that was an even bigger ‘betrayal’ in his book? It’s resulted in £100Bn to be spent on Trident, welfare caps, workers rights stripped, bedroom tax and an explosion of foodbanks.

  55. Luigi says:

    If Thatcher was so evil, then why did the last three Red Tory leaders line up to heap praises on her?

    (the answer lies in the question)!

  56. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “More excellent investigative journalism!
    So who were the 34 I wonder?”

    I’m just trying to find out.

  57. Luigi says:

    Never mind who let Margaret Thatcher into Downing Street.

    Who let her into the Labour party?

  58. charles mc says:

    Thank you. Really could have done with this info last year. Now looking forward to pointing this out before May onwards and upwards.

  59. Although this is Callaghan’s clear admission to what was really going on at that time, how many times have I heard him quoted as having said: ‘It’s the first time turkeys have voted for Xmas’, upon which the whole myth of ‘bad SNP gave us Thatcher’ seems to have been predicated?

  60. HandandShrimp says:

    The stab in the back came from the Labour rebels like George Cunningham. The response from the SNP was a kick in the nuts not a stab in the back. It was a response that Callaghan had warned the rebels was the likely outcome. However, it subsequently transpired that Cunningham was far from finished and left Labour to help form the SDP which so split the anti-Thatcher vote that 83 was a walk over for Thatcher despite 3+ million unemployed.

  61. yesindyref2 says:

    Thanks Rev, that fills a few holes. Another piece of info is that it was Brian Wilson then MP who was Chairman of the rebel move in Scotland to introduce the 40% rule, sorry I can’t remember the actual name of the group.

  62. Tony Little says:

    @Christian Wright 11:31am

    Brian Fleming says: As Stalin was reputed to have said: “He who controls the past controls the future.”

    It’s from 1984 if memory serves, but doubleplusgood for remembering it at all (I’d entirely forgotten – not an uncommon occurrence these days)

    Wasn’t it Stalin who said, “It’s not the votes that count, but who counts the votes?”

  63. arthur thomson says:

    A great piece as has been said. To pick up on what Lollysmum commented, I think: ‘Labour were lying then and are lying today’ is a good starting response to anyone claiming that the SNP supported the Tories. Reference Callaghan’s book/Wings. I would also endorse the final paragraph of RogueCoder’s comment.

  64. Helena Brown says:

    Well I voted for the Devolution Bill and continued to vote SNP through out the 80’s 90’s etc. I was in my thirty second year and I know what happened and it disgusted me. I could and would not ever vote Labour, and find it laughable that they should contact me thinking I would ever consider being part of a bunch of lying toads.
    Heard of Labour Broadcasting that some Charity or other is complaining of lack of action by the Scottish Government, should they not be asking Labour who have shown a lack of action, not of months but of over a Century.

  65. Roughian says:

    @Morag at 10.48am
    I seem to remember at that time a headline in the “Glasgow Herald” saying something like ” We must not use North Sea Oil money to fund unemployment”. Somebody had their head screwed on. Would be great if we could find a copy.

  66. Robert Peffers says:

    @Capella says: 21 January, 2015 at 10:33 am:

    “More excellent investigative journalism!
    So who were the 34 I wonder?

    O.k. Capella, if you really do wonder, and really need to know, you can find out by feeding the date of the Commons Vote into the Hansard database as their records go back to the UK Parliament’s year dot.

    However, the easiest search of Hansard records that I know about is : –

    https://www.mysociety.org/search-hansard/?gclid=CKKg6L2GpcMCFcSWtAod-FwA8A

    Hansard’s own records are a bit more difficult to surf through.

  67. Edulis says:

    We were done over like a kipper in 1979 and we were done over like a kipper in 2014. Plus ca Change.

    The revelations over the HM Treasury setting up an anti-separation unit and the shenanegins over the three unionists parties getting together to deny currency union with active involvement of Alistair Darling shows just how perfidious Albion is.

    With every dirty trick in the book deployed despite the Edinburgh Agreement it is difficult to conclude that we were ever going to win. So for me this remains a long game and all we can do is get all this information into the flesh and bones of the Scottish people so that next time we can re-play this in the full knowledge that the members of the HoC, the Labour members from Scotland in particular, have been totally found out to be anti-Scottish.

    Where’s your patriotism now Jim m’ lad?

  68. JPJ2 says:

    SLAB continue to deceive themselves-our task is to continue the process of preventing them and the BBC/MSM from deceiving others

  69. R-type Grunt says:

    Brilliant journalism Rev. Yet again. I have no doubt the BBC will be reporting this to the masses tonight.

    In other news – I see Andy Murray is once more a ‘Briton’.

  70. galamcennalath says:

    heedtracker says:
    “VOW fraud matches their 1979 40%”

    I think the Vow was much more underhand.

    The 40% was nasty, but it was all open for everyone to see. The 40% was in the legislation, and they followed through with it. Democratic fraud, yes, but they didn’t really deceive. The rules were heavily stacked against Yes1979, and everyone understood what it meant.

    The Vow was quite different. It was an offer, a promise which they didn’t follow through with. It was all underhand deceit. Clearly lots of voters took it at face value not expecting default.

    Anyway, the important thing to realise and pass on is that subverting democracy is nothing new!

  71. Devorgilla says:

    I campaigned for a Yes vote in 1979 and I was there, and I do remember. The Winter of Discontent was HUGE. Public opinion across the entire political spectrum was disgusted by the wave of wild cat strikes. I remember one particular strike – of grave-diggers – which meant bodies were piled up in morgues and folk who had lost loved ones couldn’t move on to complete their final journeys. At the same time as the morgues were overflowing piles of rubbish were piled up in the streets and rats crawled all over it because the binmen were on strike. It all made the Callaghan government hugely unpopular. Seasoned Labour voters thought about voting Tory because Thatcher said she would sort out the wild cat strikes. If the SNP hadn’t have brought this no confidence vote somebody else would have. Callaghan’s government was condemned by almost everyone as a failure. It has always astonished me that Labour think they could have turned their fortunes around if only they’d had a few more months.

  72. Robert Peffers says:

    @Gary says: 21 January, 2015 at 10:42 am:

    “Of course many young voters don’t even remember Thatcher never mind the 79 election. This allows certain MPs, party leaders and campaign ‘advisors’ to ‘misremember’ rewrite and disinform the public with their new history. The parallels to 1984 are frightening.”

    Some of us knew even before 1979 that Labour were lying chancers. However, we SNP folks back then were pretty much voices crying in the wilderness. If you imagine they are bad now just think what the Establishment were getting away with way back in 1979? Even later, April 6 1985, there was the death of Willie McRae. The true facts of Willie’s death have never been published by the authorities even although many of the officially claimed facts have been shown as obvious lies by evidence by such as a now retired policeman at the scene of the incident and a nurse present at Willie’s autopsy.

    It would be a simple matter for any official source to lay the claimed, “Conspiracy Theory”, to rest. The Northern Police Force Records must still be existing but there has been a point blank refusal to release them. Why the reluctance by everyone, from the Scottish Police to the Establishment in London, to make the records public if they have nothing to hide?

  73. Hoss Mackintosh says:

    Labour rebels like George Cunningham and that Weasel Brian Wilson were the instigators in the 40% rule.

    Any of the other 34 Labour rebels still about?

  74. Jack Caramac says:

    “People who had passed away but not yet been removed from the electoral register were effectively counted for No.”

    My grandfather died on 26th Feb 1979 and would have voted Yes.

    That’s how crooked it was.

  75. desimond says:

    I was unfortunate enough to see Kezia Dugdales 3/4 Page ( it isnt a column!) in this weeks Daily Record. Its no coincidence that the most re-occuring word is ‘SNP’.

    Seems Labourites that do not learn from history are destined to repeat and repeat and repeat it!

  76. big jock says:

    Desimond -I think the phrase for Kezia and Jenny Marra is:”Inventing bad news”. They don’t want to talk about how well the NHS has done under SNP just the 5% of people who complain about everything. Probably even invent illnesses and send in labour stooges to complain about the service.

  77. Devorgilla says:

    Thanks Lollismum for filling in much of the detail of how the morgues were overflowing. The country was in chaos. Labour as a party was in chaos. Callaghan had no control over his back benchers.

    I remember Derek Hatton in Liverpool sacking council workers because the city was broke and using taxis to hand deliver the redundancy notices because there was a postal strike. Militant Tendency had created a fifth column inside Labour.

    I too remember the army being called out to deal with fires using the Green Goddesses. The army were being deployed to do more and more.

    There were apparently four times in the twentieth century when the government considered declaring a state of emergency, but pulled back.

    Three of those times were in the 1970s.

  78. big jock says:

    Incidently my brother is fairly senior in the NHS. He says that 80% of staff think the Scottish governemnt is their friend and doing all they can in a cash strapped system. Do SLAB ever consult or just complain.

  79. Patrick Roden says:

    Luigi says:

    “Never mind who let Margaret Thatcher into Downing Street.

    Who let her into the Labour party?”

    Hey, I like that!

    🙂

  80. Devorgilla says:

    I have never forgotten the name of that ("Tractor" - Ed) George Cunningham or of the infamous ‘Cunningham Amendent’ which put off devolution for 18 years.

    I call it The Scunnerthem Amendment.

    They got this snuck in during December 1978 when the chamber was virtually empty.

    He was a Scot who sat for a London seat.

  81. Mike Dillon says:

    Excellent work, has anyone noticed the poster in the background of the picture Damien the Omen II. Lets hope this is a sign for* delete as applicable old/new/Scottish Labour.

  82. Edwin Cruden says:

    Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I’m just trying to find out.”

    CYBERNAT HARASSMENT!!! Or…looking at official documents and disseminating therein, for those of a non-Labour-Automouth disposition

  83. Graeme Purves says:

    As someone who was there, I find Callaghan’s account entirely accurate and fair. I thought then, and I still believe now, that there was a chance that a deal might have been done to avoid repeal of the Act if Callaghan had had the will to fight on. Clearly he did not.

  84. Robert Peffers says:

    @Morag says: 21 January, 2015 at 11:18 am:
    ” … The sickening thing is, it should never have been either. It’s perfectly possible to run the country and retain decent socialist values, while ensuring that basic services are maintained.”

    That is very true Morag. The idea that the United Kingdom is broke and in debt up to its ears is a totally mythical concept, (Well not the bit about up to the lugs in debt).

    The United Kingdom is awash with wealth but the sad fact is that the largest proportion of that wealth is in the few pockets, and locked away in the accounts, of the elite ruling classes, financiers. big international corporations and, of course, the mostly talentless batch of ‘Celebs, Celeb’s wives and ‘Celebs partners.

    Anyone with a TV set can prove this any day of the week. Just look at the daily programs on that TV. “Homes Under the Hammer”, the auctioning and refurbishment of homes that only the rich can afford; Programmes to relocate rich folks in choice country houses only very rich folks can afford; “The Great Interior Design Challenge”, more refurbishment of homes most cannot afford; “Bargain Hunt”, When there are people who cannot eat or heat this show is buying gee-gaws for profit, “Loose Women”, Talentless ‘Celebs blethering among themselves.

    If you view a programme showing anything remotely resembling poverty it is sure to be aimed at highlighting the minuscule percentage of miscreants who cheat the system and never the much larger deserving percentage of those in work who need to use food banks in order to survive.

    When you can enter an eatery in London and find that just to hang up your coat costs more than to feed a family for a day you know the high cost is designed to keep the likes of you out.

  85. HandandShrimp says:

    However, MP Mr Murphy said that voters in Scotland chose the SNP at the ballot box “in any number” they would “reduce the size of the Labour Party and increase the chances of David Cameron holding on to power”.

    He added: “You’ll end up with Labour and the SNP being on the same side, but the same side on the opposition benches of the House of Commons. If you want a Labour government, then vote Labour.”

    When 2 x 3 becomes 5?

    Whether a seat goes to Labour or the SNp the combined total remains the same. Voting SNP will not hand the seat to the Tories.

  86. jimnarlene says:

    The Labour mobsters, will say it though.

  87. dmw42 says:

    Worth noting that, many of those MPs supporting the 40% amendment, including Cunningham himself, were elected with the support of less than 40% of the electorate in their respective constituencies – as have subsequent UK governments.

  88. Ken500 says:

    It was only for six months anyway. A Thatcher Gov would have been elected in any case, because of Labour mismanagement. Thatcher secretly took the Oil revenues and cut every manufacturing facility in Scotland. ‘This must be kept secret’, written by her on the Scottish papers. Her Minister resigned. Unelected Rothschild introduced the Poll Tax. The McCrone Report kept secret for thirty years. If the truth had been known Scotland would have full fiscal autonomy/Independence years ago. Westminster secrecy and lies.

    Unelected civil servants campaigned against Independence. They should be sacked. Osbourne raised Oil tax revenues 11% (£2Billion) up to 80%+, in 2011 Budget. Westminster are hypocrites.They campaigned against Independence but want to cut Scottish voting rights in Westminster.

  89. Edulis says:

    Just seen the list of MPs. The first thing that strikes me is the lack of Scottish members apart from the usual nay sayers such as Tam Dalyell. Does that mean that the Scottish members of the LP voted against the repeal or abstained which is their usual fall back position?

  90. Papadox says:

    A George Cunningham: a truly nasty piece of work.

    Anybody who was around at the time remembers the 3rd world conditions we were living in the dead unburied. Check it out on the web.

    O/T Dim Jim on EBC 13:30 vote SLAB to keep the TORIES out. They have note changed their tune in 45 years. An endless tape of despare.

  91. Brus MacGallah says:

    Am I the only person who remembers Fermanagh Frank McGuire who turned up to “abstain in person” against Labour Party duplicity in the North of Ireland.
    Some other suspects here

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_vote_of_no_confidence_in_the_government_of_James_Callaghan

  92. Chitterinlicht says:

    feel ill

    thanks for analysis

    christ to think how different Scottish (and rUK) life /lives could have been?

  93. Leslie Ross says:

    A fair and timely reminder. In addition to the 4 labour scottish rebels, we should not forget the abstaining Scottish Labour MPs – is there a corresponding list of these?

    PS the 40% amendment was passed by 26.3% of the total no. of MPs entitled to vote – Oh the irony!

  94. David Wallace says:

    Devorgilla says:

    “I remember Derek Hatton in Liverpool sacking council workers because the city was broke and using taxis to hand deliver the redundancy notices because there was a postal strike. Militant Tendency had created a fifth column inside Labour”

    Not 1979, 1985… however, while we’re on the subject – sorry slightly O/T – the redundancy notices were clearly a terrible error in judgement, but thanks to similar MSM lies and London Labour betrayal that we had experienced ourselves, many people forget – or never really knew – that Liverpool City Council shone as a beacon during the darkest days of Thatcherism and achieved magnificent things for the poor and dispossessed that they represented:

    6,300 families rehoused from tenements, flats and maisonettes

    2, 873 tenement flats demolished

    1,315 walk-up flats demolished

    2,086 flats/maisonettes demolished

    4,800 houses and bungalows built

    7,400 houses and flats improved

    600 houses/bungalows created by ‘top-downing’ 1,315 walk-up flats

    25 new Housing Action Areas being developed

    6 new nursery classes built and open

    Decent people stood up and were taken down, not by the Tories, but by Kinnochio and the future New Labourites.

  95. Robert Roddick says:

    Readers of the Herald website will be familiar with some of the brainless idiots who regularly fall back on this lie and who are not so young!

  96. muttley79 says:

    Give Callaghan’s gracious acceptance that it was his own parties’ fault for the defeat in the 1979 election, I think it probably indicates that he was well aware of what the SNP were planning to do, when they voted against his government in the no confidence motion. I suspect he was warned in advance.

  97. Calgacus says:

    And yet they voted labour over and over again. Fools

  98. They counted the dead as no voters .

  99. Proud Cybernat says:

    Why let the facts get in the way of a load of bollox? They will use anything–ANTHING at all, however much a distortion of the actual truth it is, if it will allow thm to say “SNP bad”. That’s the SLAB way. They just hope that their supporters still live in blissful ignorance and will believe anything and everything they say. Some undoubtedly will. Many others, however, have woken up and realised SLAB have been taking them for suckers and pulling the wool over their eyes for far too long.

  100. Craig P says:

    I have always struggled to understand why the ‘Nats let in the Tories’ narrative have ever had traction. That the Conservatives were going to win in 1979 was inevitable, due not to 11 SNP MPs but to 50 million English voters electing the government they wanted – so what difference would postponing the election a couple of months have made?

  101. wull says:

    There were still other ways in which George Cunningham’s 40% rule worked against devloution in 1979.

    If you were registered to vote in Scotland, but temporarily residing in England (or anywhere else outside Scotland)for work or study or whatever purposes, your failure to vote was effectively treated as a vote against devolution. Yet the truth might simply be that you wanted to vote for devolution but could not do so because you had neither the money nor the free time to travel back home to Scotland to do so on the required date, the 1st of March. Travelling was a costly and time-consuming business, even more so then than now.

    I don’t know if postal voting was a possibility in those days, but expect it wasn’t. I certainly remember Scots in England who wanted to vote for devolution, but couldn’t. They were incandescent about George Cunningham’s grotesque rule, which turned them into anti-devolutionists against their will.

    There is a post above describing George Cunningham as a nasty piece of work. Anyone got anything more on him, in terms of his character, life and works? Was he by any chance a ‘London Scot’ representing an English Labour constituency?

  102. Devorgilla says:

    David Wallace – yes, it was 1985, thanks. My point though was that Labour was chaotic, there were some extreme left wing elements as well as right wing, and Callaghan couldn’t control his party. Which was partly why George Cunningham was able to do what he did.

  103. Clootie says:

    Old enough to remember 🙁

    However the real truth did not get reported and Labour in a world pre-internet could create a myth and have it sustained by their tame press.

    However a very handy summary and source to quote over the next few months.

    The more we learn of history, the more we learn of the true nature of Labour.

  104. terry says:

    @Morag

    wise words – I too would rather a safe NHS and decent jobs – dig a bit deeper and the crisis is much worse now than then. It’s like we have sleep walked into something much darker. And thank feck we have Wings to show us the light…

  105. Chic McGregor says:

    Let us not also forget the treachery of another short lived ‘Scottish’ Prime Minister, Alec Douglas-Home, who, wheeled out on willing castors, just like Brown, offered a false vow to the Scottish electorate. Vote no and the Conservatives will give you a much better devolution settlement, was the gist of it.

    Sadly, quite a few did not vote Yes on that promise.

    Of course, far from giving as promised ‘better’ devolution, Thatcher even ripped up Ted Heath’s Declaration of Perth as soon as she got in.

    She took our jobs, our oil and our dignity.
    The only thing she gave us was first dibs at the Poll Tax.

    Didn’t stop her claiming:

    “We English who are a marvellous people are really very generous to Scotland”

  106. Fiona says:

    http://www.redpepper.org.uk/the-myth-of-the-1970s/

    Lot of myths about that period. For the people born after the events they have become the truth, courtesy of the MSM. It is really depressing how effective that has been.

    As to any idea that nobody knew what Thatcher would be: I disagree. That too is part of the rewriting of history. What is true is that we had no idea what Labour would become. That took a little longer

  107. liz says:

    Great article Stu and will be extremely useful to discount the inevitable re-use of the Tartan Tory stories.

    I too voted Yes in 1979 and remember the 3 day working week.

    It’s weird but probably because I didn’t have any serious problems, like having a relative unburied, we just got on with it.

    Electricity went off early and we read by candle light, of course our parents had been through WW2 so were used to dealing with problems like that.

    I knew about the dead & the emigrants being counted no but didn’t realise if folk were registered in 2 places their votes were cancelled out or indeed if they voted No were doubled!

    Labour, despite good intentions from Foot etc, knew about the oil revenues at the time, so why the hell didn’t they speak out?

  108. scaredycat says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this. I have a colleague who goes on about this at every opportunity. I am too young to remember so my only argument has been to say that I don’t care about the past and that I am interested only in what is happening now. This helps a lot.

  109. Dr Ew says:

    I was a bit too young to take in the details of the ’79 referendum but when I joined Labour in early 1984, the calumny about the “Evil Tartan Tory SNP” ushering in Thatcher was repeated almost weekly.

    Disillusioned and disgusted with the People’s Party, I left in 1990 during the time I got to know some SNP activists during the Poll Tax and, you know, I was surprised to find some of them were quite human! Certainly many were more socialist than msot of the voting fodder / careerist twerps I’d met in Labour.

    After 30 years of activism in which I’ve read umpteen books on recent political history, the first time I heard an alternative version of the 1979 Labour machinations was when Dennis Canavan talked about his experience at a Yes meeting in 2013. Your article today was even more succinct and informative. Thank you.

    History isn’t just written by the winners – sore losers have their version too.

  110. ian says:

    Scotlands greatest enemy has always been those within in.History shows this to be the case time and time agian with Wallace and Bruce trying to keep various barons onside.More recently the labour party who many of us thought were looking after scotlands best interests have in actual fact been doing the exact opposite and are continuing to do so.

  111. yesindyref2 says:

    I don’t know why I’m reading this. It brings back the anger and frustration, the efforts to convince people that “yes, it might be a bad devolution settlement but it’s there, it’s now, we can improve it once we’ve got it, and we might never get another chance”.

    Well it took 18 wasted wasted years.

  112. EphemeralDeception says:

    A great article. I was aware of many bits an pieces but this puts the whole context together is a few paragraphs.

    The only thing it maybe lacks punch is that many people in Scotland are our worst enemy, not Labour per se. Thatcher was partly right. The English are a marvellous people. At least they are marvellous enough in self interest to take advantage of duplicitous Scots, time, after time, after time.

    Its funny though. In the past, the younger generation needed the sage advice of the older, more experienced generation. To make the right decisions and to see the wood from the trees. Now, in general, its the opposite way round.

  113. FraserP says:

    Well, that’s Dennis Skinner off the Christmas card list then…

  114. Achnababan says:

    AS I recall from this infamous episode, it was the SNP decision not to back Callaghan after it became known to him that his own rebels were going to vote with the Tories that seemed to stick in the craw of some labour MPs … so the blame should have lain with those Labour rebels, who in true labour tradition looked around for someone else to blame for their own despicable machinations.

  115. Mark says:

    Why didn’t the SNP hold their “independence” referendum in England, or at least demand a UK-wide vote?

  116. Rock says:

    “in the hope that a few gullible voters might swallow it.”

    A few? Around 25% will vote Labour in May.

  117. Natasha says:

    I was 11 in 1979. I was living in England and knew nothing about the Scottish referendum. But even I, a primary school child, could see that Margaret Thatcher was a VERY BAD WOMAN. And her speech on entering Downing Street made me want to throw up – the nerve of the woman, trying to hijack St Francis, who sold all his possessions and lived as one of the poor so that he could love and serve them to the best of his ability. She made my skin crawl even then.

  118. Rock says:

    Natasha,

    “I was 11 in 1979. I was living in England and knew nothing about the Scottish referendum. But even I, a primary school child, could see that Margaret Thatcher was a VERY BAD WOMAN. And her speech on entering Downing Street made me want to throw up – the nerve of the woman, trying to hijack St Francis, who sold all his possessions and lived as one of the poor so that he could love and serve them to the best of his ability. She made my skin crawl even then.”

    At the age of 11 all those were your own ideas?

  119. Tony Little: “Wasn’t it Stalin who said, “It’s not the votes that count, but who counts the votes?” No, pretty sure that was Blair Mcdougall reassuring Darling of the outcome of indyref on 18 Sept 2014.

    Stalin was a rodent and it would be unfair and inaccurate to compare him to Blair, for there are some things you just can’t get a rat to do.

  120. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Why didn’t the SNP hold their “independence” referendum in England, or at least demand a UK-wide vote?”

    Because it was none of the rest of the UK’s business? If your wife wants to divorce you, you don’t get a vote on the subject, you get divorced.

  121. fletch49er says:

    Smashing Article Stuart. Ta!

  122. Ellie Robot says:

    Might seek out a copy of Callaghan’s memoir for myself then. It’s way before my time!

    But, la plus ca change…here in Dundee West, we’ve got a pro-Union Red Tory who needs booted out. If only because he’s rather too comfy with his bench-warming status in WM.

  123. Natasha says:

    @Rock 12.31am

    Like any other child, I was of course massively influenced by my parents, who were decent left wing people who would never have voted Tory in their lives.

    However, my reaction to Margaret Thatcher in general and to that speech in particular was entirely my own; she really did make my skin crawl and I found that speech incredibly insulting and patronising. I knew perfectly well at the age of 11 who St Francis was and that she was misquoting his prayer. I learnt to read at a very early age and had free access to all the books in my parents’ bookshelves, from Enid Blyton to Dostoyevsky (both of whom I was reading at the age of 7).

  124. David says:

    People who spend too much time rewriting history or getting stupidly excited about some half baked version of a set of events long since passed are not fit to govern. People who believe crap like that without questioning it are not fit to vote but Labour is very reliant on truckloads of apathy, stupidity and naivety if it is to achieve any success in the general election in Scotland.

  125. tombee says:

    When you see them wearing those black arm bands. If they ever do. Then you will know that once again they are lying, and that they know, they are lying, and by wearing those absurd black arm bands in that way. They are identifying themselves as liars.

  126. Marie clark says:

    I’m old enough to have voted in the 1979 referendum, and still remember the disappointment at the results, caused by the shennanigans of Labour.

    I’ve said it for years, and on wings as well, it is my firm belief that Scotland will never do well until we cleanse ourselves of the scourge that is the Labour party in Scotland. They have held us back at every hands turn, have never looked after Joe public, only themselves and their party.

    They are, in my humble opinion, what has, and still is holding my country back.

    Roll on 7th May. Karma will be a bitch.

  127. Sunshine on Crieff says:

    What should be added to that is that many on the left of the Labour Party, and the labour movement, WANTED Callaghan out of office. They wanted to usher in Thatcherism because they thought it would be disastrous (it was in so many ways), and a grateful electorate would return a Labour government based upon a party that had, in the meantime, swung to the left. I know because I was there and was torn between the two strategies: moderation to prevent Thatcher at all costs, or militancy to create a socialist society.

  128. David Boycott says:

    “The Labour government, which had no majority, was unpopular as a result of a winter of industrial disputes as it tried to keep public-sector pay low.”

    It might have been trying to restrain the rate of increases in public sector pay, although its efforts were hardly conspicuous by their success. In no sense was it attempting “to keep public-sector pay low”.

  129. Hobbit says:

    @Simon
    What should be added to that is that many on the left of the Labour Party, and the labour movement, WANTED Callaghan out of office. They wanted to usher in Thatcherism because they thought it would be disastrous (it was in so many ways), and a grateful electorate would return a Labour government based upon a party that had, in the meantime, swung to the left. I know because I was there and was torn between the two strategies: moderation to prevent Thatcher at all costs, or militancy to create a socialist society.

    Interesting. Well, this seems an excellent example of, “Be careful what you wish for”.

  130. Hobbit says:

    Sorry – my last post was for “Sunshine on Crieff”. My bad.

  131. Tattie-bogle says:

    Number 3 The only Vow delivered by Westminster to date

  132. tamson says:

    A timely reminder. Oh, here’s a fun fact: if the Cunningham Amendment had applied to MPs, Dennis Skinner’s career would have ended in 2001.



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