Tuesday 9 July 2002

The new Scottish parliament building

This letter from David Black casts more light on the extraordinary saga of the construction of the new Scottish parliament building. Mr Black has written an excellent book about this sorry tale. As he points out in the letter:
The cost of the Prime Minister's decision to veto Calton Hill, in Edinburgh, which is what Holyrood has been all about....

It is not generally realised in England that almost everyone up here assumed that the Scottish parliament would be located in the former Royal High School building on Calton Hill which already contains a suitable debating chamber. Well before the first Scottish parliamentary elections were held, the Westminster cabinet decided that a new building would be constructed in Edinburgh. This was imposed on us because it was thought that the Calton Hill site was a "nationalist shibboleth" - there had been a twenty year vigil by Scottish Nationalists outside the Royal High School building since the failure of the first devolution referendum in 1979. So, Tony Blair in London has imposed a £300 million cost on Scottish taxpayers rather than let us use an existing and more centrally located building - all because he wrongly thought that Scots associated Calton Hill with a particular political party.