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The Scottish Parliament

Sue MacGregor brings together those who campaigned for and secured a Scottish Parliament – the country's first in almost 300 years. But tragedy and resignations were to follow.

Sue MacGregor brings together those who campaigned for and then secured a Scottish Parliament – the first in the country for almost 300 years, since the Acts of Union in 1707.

It was the election of Tony Blair in 1997 that saw the UK Government publish a white paper on Scottish devolution, proposing the creation of a Parliament for Scotland.

On September 11th of that year, a referendum was put to the Scottish electorate and 74% voted yes.

A little under two years later, on May 6th 1999, voters elected 129 MSPs. No overall party won and so Scottish Labour led by First Minister Donald Dewar and the Scottish Lib Dems led by Jim Wallace entered tricky discussions on forming a coalition. The SNP became the official opposition.

The Scottish Parliament has gone on to have its fair share of tribulations with the death of Donald Dewar in October 2000, the resignation of his successor Henry McLeish just a year later, and escalating building costs of the Parliament’s new home at Holyrood.

Guests joining Sue to look back on the opening of the parliament include former First Minister of Scotland Henry McLeish, special adviser to Donald Dewar, Labour MSP Wendy Alexander, the leader of the Scottish Lib-Dems Jim Wallace, the SNP's Roseanna Cunningham and the Parliament's first Presiding Officer, David Steel.

Producer: Howard Shannon
Series Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

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42 minutes

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