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Ahh, a touchy subject, but I'm going to thow in my $0.02.

Scotland is currently going through a bit of a change in the political scene (as if there was ever a period when it wasn't...). Ever since 1707 it has been part of Great Britain, along with England and Wales. For many years, however, there has been a separatist movement, principally spearheaded by the Scottish National Party. With the arrival of a new Labour government in May 1997, they were true to their manifesto and held a referendum on the subject of a devolved Scottish Parliament with limited powers. This was voted for by the majority of the Scottish people, and elections for Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) were duly held. The Labour Party won most seats, but not enough for a majority. So they formed alliance with the Liberal (we'll do anything to get a share of power) Democrats, a party formed from the Liberals and the Social Democrats, itself an offshoot of the Labour Party.

However, the Labour plan of offering a devolved parliament to Scotland in the hope of heading off full independance has backfired, with the SNP winning a large share of the vote. The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party are laughing up their sleeves at this, as they have said all along that a devolved parliament was but a step on the path to full independance.

The Labour Party in Scotland is a fairly left of centre party, more so than the British/English version. The SNP up to now have been little more than a one subject pressure group. Now that they are part of an actual parliament that may actually get to do something they're having to come up with actual policies and become a party of opposition. The Conservatives (aka Tories) are struggling to find a niche at the moment. The current British Labour party has moved far to the right of its normal stance, adopting several of the previous Tory governemnt policies, and has squeezed the Tories' position. Should they be even more to the right (pretty extreme), or adopt a reasonable set of policies which may very well end up being to the left of Labour (wild!)? There is also the Liberal Democrat Party, which is probably the most reasonable party of all. The Tories and Liberals have little support in Scotland at the moment, although at least the Liberals can claim to have some Members of Parliament, which is more than the Tories can claim.

This is really a very exciting time for Scotland, and I've only given a flavor of the whole picture. If you want to find out more then check out each of the parties' web-sites. Also read the Herald or The Times, electronic versions of the newspapers.

One aside on the SNP. They have made much in the past of their association with Sean Connery, the famous actor, and he features on their web-site. They tried to create a large stushie over whether he should, or should not, have received a knighthood (which he has now received). I would like to point out that he is most famous for being an actor, a job which he has been paid handsomely for, he doesn't even live in Scotland (he lives in Spain), and was paid to advertise Japanese whisky. With friends like that, who needs enemies...

(As an aside on the aside, I really object to the likes of actors and sportsmen receiving knighthoods for doing well the jobs for which they are paid (and paid fantastically well), especially when they live and work abroad. The real people who deserve the awards are those people who put effort into the community. Like the person I know in Fraserburgh who has run the cricket club, table tennis club and boys clubs; has been involved in the Football club and the setting up of the Football Supporters Club; has given time to committees on all sorts of subjects including the Community Centre, the Harbour Board and the Feuers Committee. All this whilst being one of the leading business men in town who is known to a large part of the population, and, although now officially retired, still offers accountancy and tax advice to a variety of clubs and societies and serves as a Justice of the Peace. That's the sort of person who deserves an award. Stand up my dad, George Deans!)