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Dissent Within the Labour Party

Tam Dalyell is the only Scottish MP who has publicly stated his reservations about devolution. However, he has said that he will not vote against the second reading of any bill on devolution. It has been suggested that Mr Dalyell is likely to vote 'no, yes', on the grounds that he remains unconvinced of the advantages of a Scottish parliament - but if one is created then it must have tax-varying powers.

The main reason that there is so little dissent is that the Scottish Labour Party is actually fairly united on this issue. All Scottish Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs in the 1992-1997 parliament (including Tam Dalyell) had seats on the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which drafted the proposals for a Scottish parliament. Many Scottish Labour party members have been campaigning for this parliament for several years.

There are issues around the parliament which are still contentious; in particular the use of proportional representation in elections to the parliament and the precise definition of its powers . However, even those opposed to PR are likely to campaign for a 'yes, yes' vote, because they back the basic principle of devolution. During the passage of the last devolution bill it was Labour MPs from the north of England who were most vocal in their opposition. This time around the Labour majority is so large that, while there are MPs from the north-east who want an assembly for their region, they are unlikely to even try to cause any trouble.

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