The SNP and 50 Years of Parliamentary Democracy, some dramatic moments.

November 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Winnie Ewing's election as the first SNP MP. Here is the late Arnold Kemp’s account of some of the history of the SNP in Parliament after that iconic moment. (Excerpted from "The Hollow Drum" and the anthology of his journalism “Confusion to our Enemies” )

The devolution years really began for me in 1967. It was after midnight and on the Scotsman we were holding the Glasgow edition for the result of the Hamilton by-election. Seconds after the declaration – a stunning victory for the SNP candidate Mrs Winifred Ewing over Labour – David Bradford, one of the political editors, came on the line and bawled out the intro which I took down in longhand and sent to the composing room. I can remember that it began with the phrase, ‘The rising tide of Scottish nationalism ...’ and it expressed the mood of excitement. Mrs Ewing, though she lost the seat later, launched the SNP into the stratosphere of concentrated London media attention and from her victory is often traced the party’s modern prominence.

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The Goschen Proportion/Barnett

The Herald 25 July 1992. This is an interesting piece from Arnold Kemp on the history of the Barnett formula. Jackie Kemp

WE start with a confession. The Herald has, these past few weeks, been mis-spelling the name of the formula by which Scotland's share of UK public expenditure is decided.

In our error we have at least been consistent, referring throughout to the Goshen/Barnett formula. This must have set up an irritation somewhere in my subconscious. No-one had complained or questioned us. But for no particular reason beyond a vague conviction that something was amiss, I looked it up.

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Decline of the Scottish Conservative Party

The Herald Jan 18-20, 1989, ran as a three-part series.

PUBLIC squalor and private affluence, Professor Galbraith's famous phrase, implies a polity where individual wealth and consumption are encouraged and public spending restrained.

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Devolition finance: The Barnett foumula

Derivation v Equalisation: A row over Scottish funding from the 1990s, Arnold Kemp, the Herald. It is interesting to note how the debate over funding has changed since then, I think. Jackie Kemp.

The long-standing principle of equalisation means that all revenues (except local government tax) are remitted to the centre. They are then allocated according to a formula that takes account of need, sparsity of population and so on. This system reflects the essential idea of the unitary state -- that all its citizens should have a similar expectation of services irrespective of the wealth of their region.

[Critics] assumes that a Scottish Assembly would be financed by a system of derivation rather than equalisation. Under this principle expenditure is related to revenue raised in a particular geographical area. 

Read more: Devolition finance: The Barnett foumula

In Ireland, on the introduction of the Euro

rom the Observer, 30 December 2001

The currency may change but life goes on. Ireland, as it prepared for the euro, fell about the Christmas feast as if it hadn't a care in the world. The free-range Wexford turkey was the least of it: the ancestral Irish festive board is not complete without a ham and a hunk of spiced beef as well.


Read more: In Ireland, on the introduction of the Euro