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1997: Scots say 'Yes' to home rule

VIDEO : Scotland votes in home rule

Scotland has voted decisively for home rule in a referendum on how they want the country to be governed.

Voters also backed plans for a Scottish Parliament to have tax-varying powers.

The result and turn-out exceeded the expectations of pro-devolution supporters, who feared they had lost momentum during a suspension of campaigning following the death of the Princess of Wales.

Almost two-thirds of the electorate voted, amounting to a total of 45% of the country who opted to be governed from Edinburgh.

All 32 local authority areas in the country voted 'Yes' to a Scottish Parliament and only two - Orkney and Dumfries and Galloway - decided against tax-varying powers.

The strongest backing came from the Labour strongholds of Glasgow and West Dumbartonshire.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair came to Edinburgh to meet his supporters after the result was confirmed.

He told Labour Party workers the era of "big, centralised government" was at an end.

Raymond Robertson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives who campaigned against devolution, said he would use the elections to the new parliament as a springboard for a fresh campaign.


"The people have spoken"

Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar

The mood in Scotland was muted rather than triumphant, but Scottish Nationalists' leader Alex Salmond said it was a "great victory" for the country.

Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar was presented with the final figures at a ceremony in Edinburgh.

"The people have spoken - John Smith's belief in the settled will of the Scottish people was truly justified last night," he said.

In Context
The bill bringing back a Scottish Parliament for the first time in 300 years became law in November 1998.

Legislative powers were transferred from Westminster to Edinburgh at the formal opening of the parliament on 1 July 1999.

Its inaugural First Minister was Donald Dewar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Garscadden who had long campaigned for Scottish devolution.

The man often styled the "Father of the Nation" underwent major heart surgery in May 2000.

He died suddenly in October 2000 when a fall outside his Edinburgh residence brought on a brain haemorrhage.


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