Former Deputy First Minister of Scotland and former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, has delivered the annual Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture in Glasgow.
The lecture is an annual event set up in memory of former First Minister of Scotland, Donald Dewar.
It has previously been delivered by figures from the world of politics including Jack McConnell and Alistair Darling.
Lord Wallace said:
“The most liberating election campaign which I ever fought was the first election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
“To a greater or lesser extent, all the general elections in which I’d been a candidate, had been fought against a backdrop of an ongoing constitutional debate about Scotland’s future.
“By 1999, we had a Parliament, endorsed overwhelmingly in the 1997 referendum; so now we could debate what the Parliament was going to do.
“With so many challenges today facing our NHS, our education system, our environment, transport links to islands and mainland destinations, in local government and not least in advancing Donald Dewar’s great passion for a more socially just Scotland, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to think that these would be the issues which should again dominate the Parliament’s agenda.
“In that speech on 1st July, almost a quarter of a century ago, Donald also said:
“We are fallible.
“We will make mistakes.
“But we will never lose sight of what brought us here: the striving to do right by the people of Scotland; to respect their priorities; to better their lot; and to contribute to the commonweal.
“It takes a special politician with great character to admit to fallibility and the possibility of mistakes.
“But at least they would be our mistakes.
“I can’t imagine him having the knee-jerk response always to blame Westminster.
“But compared to many countries with devolved powers, the competences of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Ministers are extensive – more extensive today than they were in 1999.
“So, wouldn’t a fitting tribute to the legacy of Donald Dewar be for today’s Scottish Parliamentarians to resolve again to focus on using these powers – to better the lot of the people of Scotland, and to contribute to the common weal.”