The Scottish Parliament in its Own Words

The Scottish Parliament in its Own Words

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An Oral History

Thomas A.W. Stewart

ISBN: paperback - 9781912147977; hardback - 9781913025328

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Back cover text:

As part of the Scottish Parliament Oral History Project, around 80 interviews were conducted with staff, MSPs and journalists, old and new, about their careers and experiences at the Scottish Parliament. This book compiles extracts from some of these interviews, detailing the institution’s rich history. This is the story of the Scottish Parliament so far, telling its story through those who know it best.

Through its comparatively short life, the Parliament has been tested. What was once an upstart institution, unsure of its place in the world, has now become an ingrained part of the nation’s political landscape. Now is an ideal moment to take stock of the Parliament’s 20-year history – to investigate its origins, its early days and how it has developed over the past two decades.

This was history. Substantial powers were being given to Scotland for the first time since 1707.  Henry McLeish, former First Minister

The Scottish Parliament has been utterly transformative. I don’t think our predecessors that voted for this Parliament in 1997 could have envisioned the difference it would make to Scottish public life.  Humza Yousaf, MSP

I think there was an element of mutual respect, that women were not patronised in the way that they were in Westminster, and that the issues that affected women were put up front right from the start.  Fiona Hyslop, MSP

Have a look inside!





Part 1 - A New Scottish Song 1997–2003

Part 2 - New Beginnings 2003–2011

Part 3 - The End of Consensus 2011–2018

Part 4 - Gàidhlig anns a’ Phàrlamaid / Gaelic in the Parliament

Part 5 - The Scottish Parliament at 20

Glossary of Terms

Contributor Biographies


It is hard to believe that it is nearly 20 years since we celebrated the opening of the Scottish Parliament in July 1999. Although that is not a long time in the history of a Parliament, a lot has happened: five general elections, landmark legislation passed, referendums on Scottish Independence and Brexit, and constitutional change. Just as significant in my view, the Parliament has become an established institution; part of every- day life in Scotland. Indeed, for anyone born after the turn of the century the Scottish Parliament has always been there – a simple fact of life. Sir Paul Grice - Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament

I remember how I felt on 6 May 1999 as vividly as if it was yesterday. My hopes, and those of my colleagues elected to our new Scottish Parliament, were boundless. It was such an honour to have been chosen by the people of Scotland to be their first representatives, and I think we all looked forward to making good on the faith we had been entrusted with. We aspired to transform this country, creating a completely new way of doing politics and building a better society. Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP - Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament

Watch the opening of the Parliament from 1999

Nicola Sturgeon reflects on 20 years in parliament in the Holyrood

Theresa May’s statement on the Scottish Parliament anniversary

Visit the Parliament website to find out more

Listen to some of the interviews below and follow the Scottish Parliament Oral History Project on SoundCloud to stay up to date as they continue the project.