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Donald Dewar Monday, 23 October, 2000, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
An extraordinary day for Scotland
Prince Charles arriving at Donald Dewar's funeral
Prince Charles met Mr Dewar's family
By BBC News Online political correspondent Nick Assinder

It was, by any measure, an extraordinary day for Scotland.

In mourning the death of Donald Dewar, an entire nation appeared to unite in grief for a lost member of the family.

Thousands of people - from royalty to workers - joined together to mark the passing of the man many have dubbed the father of the nation.


In days when people will often cross the street to avoid a politician, people would cross the street to meet Donald

Chancellor Gordon Brown
It is a title he was always eager to dismiss, but its constant use underlines the unique position he held in Scotland and the affection felt for him by people from all political parties and walks of life.

And, in expressing that affection and respect for the man who brought them devolution, the people of Scotland gave him what virtually amounted to a state funeral.

The Queen was represented by Prince Charles, and virtually the entire cabinet, all opposition leaders and senior figures from across the nation joined Mr Dewar's family inside Glasgow Cathedral to pay their last respects.

In a move which echoed the service's message of equality and social justice - central to Mr Dewar's beliefs - the great and good sat alongside his driver, scores of ordinary constituents and canteen ladies, Betty and Tricia - who used to serve him his breakfast bacon rolls.

Feeling of unity

Outside, thousands more stood in a bright but blustery day lining the streets around the cathedral and the route of the cortege.

As it wound its way through the city, slowing at places which held a particular place in Mr Dewar's life, hundreds stood in silence, and shops, cafes and bars came to a standstill to allow staff and customers to pay their respects.

Glasgow has probably never seen anything quite like it and the evidence from this sad event suggests Mr Dewar's death has helped cement the feeling of unity in Scotland.

It is a fair bet Mr Dewar would have been astonished, and probably not a little embarrassed, by it all.

His official spokesman and friend, Dave Whitton said it when he told the congregation: "Well, I wonder what Donald would have made of all this - I think I know."

He went on to deliver a reading of one of his former boss's favourite texts, "Equality" by socialist writer RH Tawney.

And it was the sentiment that ran through all the readings and tributes, from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to friend Ruth Wishart.

Celebration of a life

They praised an essentially modest man who had masterminded historic and irreversible changes for Scotland.

They spoke of his wit, intelligence and decency and his passionate belief in social justice and public service.

And they underlined his near-unique ability to inspire trust and loyalty in people.

His long-time friend Gordon Brown summed it up when he declared: "In days when people will often cross the street to avoid a politician, people would cross the street to meet Donald."

The service was billed as a celebration of Mr Dewar's life and it saw his friends and colleagues not only praising his great qualities but recounting anecdotes about his legendary and fearsome wit and his ferocious appetite.

And the entire service was overlaid with a sense that, while Scotland had lost a unique and irreplaceable figure, Mr Dewar's legacy would live for generations.

An entry in one of the books of condolences in his Anniesland constituency probably summed it up best.

"We will all miss you Donald, an honest man, a people's man, loved by all."

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