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Chronology for Scots in the United Kingdom

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Scots in the United Kingdom, 2004, available at: [accessed 24 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Jan 1990 According to a poll, support for full independence in Scotland has reached 50%, the highest since polling began.
Mar 1990 According to several polls, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is losing support among Scotland's Tory constituency.
Mar 23, 1990 The Financial Times reports protests among Scottish lawyers over government proposals to reform the Scottish legal system.
Mar 27, 1990 A SNP spokesman claims that its campaign of non-payment of the British poll tax includes more than a million Scots. The Scottish opposition to the poll tax is based upon the fact that it was imposed in Scotland a year before England and Wales as well as because of the growing illegitimacy of the Conservative government which imposed the tax in Scotland. This opposition in ongoing and will not be further noted unless otherwise noteworthy.
May 1990 In local elections in Scotland the SNP wins 21% of the vote.
May 14, 1990 Gordon Wilson decides to step down as leader of the SNP at the party's annual conference next September sparking a competition for the leadership.
Jun 1990 Some SNP leaders go on a fast to protest British Steel's decision to close a mill in Scotland.
Jun 15 - Sep 15, 1990 The STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress) organizes "A Day for Scotland" that brings together many of Scotland's most popular singers in an explicitly political crusade before a largely youthful audience of about 35,000.
Jul 5, 1990 Senior Conservative backbenchers begin moves aimed at reducing Scottish representation in Parliament citing the fact that the Scots have a disproportionate number of representatives per capita.
Sep 23, 1990 The SNP elects Alex Salmond as its new leader.
Sep 28, 1990 The Scottish Constitutional Convention approves the final draft of its plan for a devolved Scottish parliament.
Nov 1990 Margaret Thatcher is removed as Prime Minister and is replaced by fellow Conservative John Major in a Conservative party coup.
Dec 1990 According to polls, only 14% of the Scottish electorate is against a Scottish parliament. About a third favor independence, 4% "don't know" and the rest favor home rule. However the salience of the issue is not high, ranking 6th and 7th in various polls.
Mar 1991 The SNP protests over the disproportionate number of Scottish troops sent to fight in the Gulf War.
Apr 14, 1991 A cabinet agreement is reached on the need for a separate version of local taxation to replace the poll tax in Scotland.
Apr 16, 1991 The Independent reports that according to a study, Conservative policies in Scotland, especially the poll tax, have fueled nationalist sentiment and destroyed for many Scots the feeling of legitimacy of the Westminster government.
Jul 31, 1991 Scottish steelworkers explode with anger at British Steel's annual general meeting, protesting against what they call the company's "instinctive hostility" against Scotland.
Aug 16, 1991 The SNP complains that Scottish businesses are forced to pay higher taxes than equivalent English companies.
Sep 1991 According to a poll, 69% of Scottish voters consider themselves "Scottish not British" or "more Scottish than British" and 21% consider themselves "equally Scottish and British."
Sep 19 - 23, 1991 At its annual conference, the SNP sets itself a target of achieving independence in Europe within 15 months. It also sets up a shadow cabinet for Scotland.
Nov 1991 According to polls, about 45% of Scots want devolution in the form of a Scottish parliament or assembly and another 30% want outright independence within the EC.
Jan 1992 According to a poll, support for Scottish independence has reached 50%. However most other polls show majority support for devolution and minority support (25%-30%) for independence.
Feb 22, 1992 The Economist reports that the SNP is calling for Scottish independence within the context of the European Community.
Apr 1992 According to a poll, 61% of Scottish voters consider themselves "Scottish not British" or "more Scottish than British" and 29% consider themselves "equally Scottish and British." 36% consider devolution the most important issue facing Scotland.
Apr 9, 1992 In national elections, the SNP wins 21.5% of the vote in Scotland (up from 14% in 1987) but gains no seats in parliament and keeps the 3 seats it previously held. Against all predictions, the Conservative party actually gains 2 seats in Scotland despite Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Major's overt Unionist policy.
Apr 11, 1992 Supporters of Scottish home rule begin a vigil outside a building that had been earmarked as the seat for Scotland's parliament.
Apr 12 - 13, 1992 Some Labour MPs call for a civil disobedience campaign over the issue of home rule.
Apr 13, 1992 The newly formed Scotland United holds a rally with 5,000 demonstrators against Conservative rule in Scotland. The aim of the group is to force the government to hold a referendum on Scotland's future.
Apr 17 - 22, 1992 The SNP and the STUC call for a referendum on Scotland's future. From this point on, the SNP periodically calls for a referendum on the issue of Scottish independence. Such calls will not be further noted unless otherwise noteworthy.
Apr 27, 1992 Despite heavy rain, about 2,500 attend a Scotland United rally.
May 7, 1992 In district elections, the SNP wins 25% of the vote.
Jun 20, 1992 The SNP and Scotland United launch preparations for an unofficial referendum on Scotland's future.
Jul 17, 1992 A group of Scottish Labour MPs stage a protest over government plans to privatize the Scottish water industry. The issue of the Conservative government's attempts to privatize the Scottish water industry becomes a hot issue with most Scots opposing the privatization. The debate surrounding this issue will not be further noted unless otherwise noteworthy.
Jul 21, 1992 Rebel Scottish Labour MPs defy the Labour establishment and join Scotland United's cross-party home rule campaign.
Sep 25 - 27, 1992 The SNP holds its annual conference.
Dec 12, 1992 25,000 Scots march against London rule when European leaders meet in Edinburgh for the EC summit.
Dec 18, 1992 More than a dozen Scottish MPs force parliament to adjourn a day early in protest of government plans allowing Scottish hospitals to opt out of Health Board control.
Jan 9, 1993 The SNP launches a campaign to recall the Scottish parliament which has been adjourned since the union with England in 1707.
Mar 1993 Only 18% of Scots consider devolution the most important issue facing Scotland (down from 36% a year ago). 74% place unemployment first.
Mar 5, 1993 The British cabinet agrees to a "beefed up" Scottish Grand Committee and further administrative devolution to the Scottish Office. Opponents call the changes cosmetic.
Mar 13, 1993 5,000 march against government plans to privatize the Scottish water industry.
Mar 29, 1993 A letter bomb is linked to Scottish protests over the privatization of the Scottish water industry.
Jul 9, 1993 The government is accused of gerrymandering local government boundaries in Scotland to engineer Conservative-controlled councils when it announces plans to create 28 local authorities to replace Scotland's current regional and district council structure. This issue remains contentious for the rest of the period covered in this chronology before the update covering 1995-9.
Oct 17, 1993 Settler Watch, a radical nationalist group, launches a campaign to "cleanse" Scotland of "English white settler exploitation."
Nov 1993 The SNP launches a campaign against a VAT (value-added tax) on heating fuel claiming that the Scots will pay disproportionately due to colder winters than other parts of Britain.
Feb 2, 1994 SNP MPs attempt to disrupt the government bill to reorganize the Scottish government.
Feb 21, 1994 Islanders in Orkney and Shetland call for a referendum on independence from the rest of Scotland. The islanders are worried that their culture and way of life will be damaged if Scotland gets home rule and many prefer to remain under British rule.
Mar 9, 1994 The Guardian notes that there is a permanent enclave of Democracy for Scotland protesters camped outside the Scottish Office in Edinburgh.
Mar 22, 1994 92.7% of Scottish voters vote against the move of water supplies and sewerage out of local control but the ruling Conservative party says that it will do so anyway.
Apr 1994 A previously unknown anti-English group called Flame sends threatening letters to the Conservative and Labour parties. The group claims growing support among the SNP.
Apr 8, 1994 Scottish nationalists celebrate the 60th anniversary of the SNP.
Apr 23, 1994 The SNP announces the Flame and Settler Watch are not splinter groups of the party and the SNP does not endorse their anti-English tactics.
May 6, 1994 In local elections, the SNP wins 27% of the vote. Labour takes 42% of the vote and Conservatives win only 14%. Issues of rising taxes, especially the heating fuel tax, and the privatization of Scotland's water industry are major issues.
Jun 14, 1994 In elections for the European parliament, the SNP wins 32.6% of the vote and 2 of the eight seats. Labour wins the other 6 seats.
Jun 30, 1994 In a by-election in the Monklands East district, the SNP wins 45% of the vote but loses to Labour.
Sep 18, 1994 SNP leader Alex Salmond challenges shadow Scottish secretary George Robertson to a debate over whether devolution of independence is the best way to acquire self rule for Scotland.
Sep 21, 1994 The SNP opens its first fund-raising office in the US.
Sep 21 - 24, 1994 The SNP holds its annual conference where it urges Prime Minister Major to call a referendum on Scotland's future. They also urge that Gaelic have equality with English in law, be promoted as a national language, and be taught to Scottish primary schoolchildren.
Oct 25, 1994 A study commissioned by the Scottish Constitutional Convention recommends that Scots should have their own assembly but still have seats in Britain's parliament.
Jan 8, 1995 A Scottish Labour MP breaks ranks and opposes the Party's stand in supporting devolution.
Jan 13, 1995 The SNP describes Labour's plans for devolution as inadequate but concedes that it would vote for the plan as a second best alternative. According to a poll, half of the voters in the UK are in favor of a Scottish parliament.
Jan 22, 1995 Labour announces that it plans to give its proposed Scottish parliament the automatic right to attend meetings of Europe's Council of Ministers.
Jan 30, 1995 The SNP softens its official stance on devolution and now calls it a stepping stone on the way to full independence.
Feb 9, 1995 According to a poll, 26% of Scots are "very much in favor" of independence and 21% are "slightly in favor."
Mar 18, 1995 The SNP wins an injunction against the extreme anti-English group Settler Watch to stop issuing pamphlets urging support for the SNP. Settler Watch campaigns against the growing number of English people settling in Scotland. The SNP has consistently distanced itself from it.
Apr 6, 1995 In local elections the SNP wins 27% of the vote, Labour gets 47% and the Conservatives get 11%.
May 12, 1995 Senior members of the Scottish Conservative party demand a referendum on devolution. According to polls, 40% of Scottish Conservatives favor some form of devolution.
May 25, 1995 The SNP wins a parliament seat in a traditionally Conservative stronghold in a by-election in Perth and Kinross. The SNP gained 40% of the vote, Labour got 23% and the Conservatives got 21%.
May 26, 1995 According to a nationwide poll, half the British public favored a devolved assembly with some tax and spending powers - the position of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats - while just a fifth supported the call of the Scottish Nationalists for Scotland to be independent. Less than a tenth wanted independence outside the EU and just 17 per cent believed there should be no change from the current system. (Times 5/26/95)
Jul 25, 1995 The ruling British Labour Party submitted draft proposals to the Scottish Constitutional Convention concerning a proposed Scottish parliament. The Labour government had promised to create a Scottish parliament within its first year in power. Scottish nationals and devolution proponents are concerned because the draft contains no guarantees that the Scottish proposals will not be overturned by the Westminster Parliament. (Times 7/30/95)
Jun 27, 1996 Two Members of Parliament resigned over the Labour Party's plan to hold a referendum on Scottish and Welsh independence shortly after the elections, if Labour won again. The Scottish question would ask whether voters in Scotland thought they should have a Scottish parliament, and whether it should be able to raise taxes. If a simple majority approved, Labour would introduce legislation in Parliament to create such a body. Labour had previously promised to devolve the government without a referendum, and the Scottish MP's resigned over this contradiction. (Agence France Presse 6/27/96)
Feb 20, 1997 John Major of the Tory Party argued against the creation of a Scottish parliament with taxing powers, in an effort to emphasize the difference between his party and Labour before the May 1 British elections. (Agence France Presse 2/20/97)
Apr 20, 1997 The British Ministry of Defense apologized for conducting military exercises simulating a Scottish rebellion. (Agence France Presse 4/20/97)
May 2, 1997 Labour won a resounding victory in British parliamentary elections, with 56 of the 72 districts of Scotland. The Scottish National Party won 6 of the remaining seats. (Agence France Presse 5/2/97)
Jun 25, 1997 Henry McLeish, the Scottish Office Minister in charge of devolution, promised that the independent Scottish parliament will have its own office in the European Union organization in Brussels. (Agence France Presse 6/27/97)
Sep 12, 1997 Scots voted 74.3% in favor of creating a regional Scottish parliament in Edinburgh during a referendum on the issue. Also, 63.5% approved of the parliament having the power to "vary" taxes within a percentage of British taxes. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/12/97)
Dec 18, 1997 Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar unveiled the details of the proposed Scottish parliament. It would not sit until 2000, with elections held in May 1999. It would have 129 members, including 73 directly elected and the remainder chosen by proportional representation. It would not have the power to declare Scotland independent from the rest of the United Kingdom. (Agence France Presse 12/18/97)
Jun 4, 1998 A survey published in The Scotsman newspaper indicated that 52% of Scottish people would vote for independence if a referendum were held, and only 41% would not. The poll also found that poll also shows that 59 percent of those in Scotland feel "more Scottish than British" or "Scottish not British". This represented an 11 percent increase from March 1997 when the same question was asked. (Agence France-Presse 6/4/98)
Sep 23 - 25, 1998 The Scottish National Party held its annual congress with the battle cry "Autonomy in eight months, independence as soon as possible." It declared the Scottish parliament was a first step in proving Scotland can govern itself, and that the party would hold a referendum on the issue within the first four-year term of the parliament. (Agence France Presse 9/23/98 and 9/25/98)
Jan 5, 1999 Britain's Labour government proposed legislation to reform the Scottish land-ownership system, which has allowed most of Scotland to be owned by 1,500 landowners, including many from England and abroad. Many do not live on their properties, which could cover up to 200 square miles (320 square kilometres). The proposal would be submitted to the Scottish parliament once elected, and was approved by the SNP, which was looking to create even stricter regulation of absentee landlords. The Scottish Landowner's Federation opposes the measure. (Agence France Presse 1/5/99)
Mar 4, 1999 A poll printed in The Scotsman revealed that 61 percent of Scots believe British Prime Minister Tony Blair should stay in England until the May 6 election, and 53 percent held that the ruling Labour Party would bring nothing new if it beat off a challenge from the pro- independence Scottish National Party (SNP). Blair had been campaigning in Scotland, warning them of economic chaos if they decided to leave Britain or give the independence-minded SNP control of the new parliament. (Agence France-Presse 3/4/99)
May 6, 1999 In elections for the new Scottish parliament, Labour won 56 of the 129 available seats in the Scottish parliament, but no clear majority. The SNP won 35, the Liberal Democrats 17, the Tories 13 and the Scottish Socialist Party and an independent candidate each won one seat. Less than 60% of those eligible to vote did. (Agence France Presse 5/6/99)
May 12, 1999 The Scottish parliament was sworn in, with some members choosing to take the oath in both English and Gaelic. Others, including members of the Scottish parties, swore allegiance to the British crown under protest, since they were required to do so as part of the oath of office, but felt it conflicted with their duties as representatives of the Scottish people. The Labour party is governing in coalition with the Liberal-Democrats. (Agence France Presse 5/12/99)
Jul 1, 1999 Queen Elizabeth II opened the Scottish parliament with a speech on Scotland's contribution to the United Kingdom. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 7/1/99)

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