Scotland politics

Cross-party Scottish home rule campaign launched

Campaign for Scottish home rule
Image caption The campaign has support from political parties, business and civic Scotland

A campaign for Scottish home rule has been launched in Edinburgh.

It brings together prominent figures from the five political parties with seats at Holyrood and others from business and civic society.

Among those backing the new organisation are former Labour first minister Henry McLeish and former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson.

Mr McLeish said the aim was to "inspire and enthuse" people about the prospect of political change.

The campaign's steering group also includes former Conservative MSP Derek Brownlee, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Dr Alison Elliot and former Olympic badminton player Susan Egelstaff.

The group has made a submission to the Smith Commission which is looking at further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

The campaign said it believed the "No" vote in the referendum on Scottish independence indicated that there was a desire among the people of Scotland to see meaningful home rule within the United Kingdom.

It has set out three underlying principles for giving Scotland more powers.

These are that both Holyrood and Westminster should raise the money they spend, that there should be mutual respect between these two parliaments and that there should be a presumption in favour of devolving power to Holyrood unless Westminster could make the case for retaining responsibility.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The campaign aims to maximise the powers being devolved to the Scottish parliament

Former Labour First Minister Mr McLeish said: "The Scottish Parliament has gained new powers in 1999, 2012 and is likely to have more powers in 2015.

"But this devolution of powers has to have a purpose and be part of a sustainable and progressive vision for Scotland not just another response to a political or constitutional crisis.

"Our home rule campaign should seek to inspire and enthuse and raise the level of political and constitutional debate."

Mr Wilson added: "The whole country needs to come together and secure the highest common denominator that will unify the vast majority of us that want progress and a much more responsible Parliament.

"The twin goals of economic prosperity and social fairness must be pursued with the same passion and vitality that drove the referendum.

"This is a journey without end. But we must move at a pace that builds deep and wide foundations of support. Now it is time to build a bridge between the '45' and the '55', not dig a trench."

'Proper responsibility'

Other members of the 12-person steering group are Prof Richard Kerley, Matthew Benson, John Dunsmore, Hamira Khan, James Mackenzie and Margaret Smith.

It is being chaired by Reform Scotland chairman Ben Thomson.

He said: "If I have learnt anything from 30 years in business it is that people generally work best if they have proper responsibility to get on with the job, are given the tools to do it and there is mutual respect.

"I see no reason why this should be any different in the public sector.

"If Holyrood is going to be effective and genuinely accountable to the Scottish people, then it should have proper responsibility for domestic matters in Scotland. This should enable the Scottish Parliament to be able to set policies that can deliver a better economy and society.

"To do this it should have the tools that match its responsibility, including welfare and fiscal powers."

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