Documentary series. Neil Oliver looks at 20th-century Scotland, and how the country was driven to self-determination through a series of deep economic crises.
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'From the top of a hill on the Isle of Bute,
'in the early 1920s, Scots would have seen an incredible sight,
'and a clue to the great hidden catastrophe of 20th century Scotland.'
Down there, the Firth of Clyde would have been full of ships, coming and going across the world.
Made from Scottish steel, powered by Scottish coal,
these ships were the backbone of Scottish life.
What was so wrong with all of that?
That cargo was the most precious thing Scotland could produce - its own people.
Tens of thousands of them
abandoning their homeland for the promise of a better life across the sea.
Scotland was bleeding, the lifeblood of the nation draining away.
And as the ambitious, the talented, the optimistic and the restless departed, some of those left behind
began to ask what could be done to stop the human haemorrhage,
to save this failing nation.
Over 200 years earlier, Scotland had surrendered her
sovereignty to become a partner in Great Britain.
And through that Union, and the Empire that followed, Scots had earned rich rewards.
But, with Scotland in crisis, was it time to renegotiate that Union?
Was it time for Scotland to take back control of her own affairs?
The Scotland that entered the 20th century
boasted one of the strongest economies in all of Europe,
strength that was rooted almost entirely in heavy industry.
The 20th century was forged here,
in the ironworks of Lanarkshire.
These hand stoked furnaces turned iron ore into some of the
hardest, strongest metals the world had yet seen,
and transformed Central Scotland into the workshop of the British Empire
when the British Empire covered a quarter of the globe.
Girders, boilers, bridges, ships.
Scottish engineering became a guarantee of precision and quality, renowned across the world...
and Scotland's industrialists grew outrageously rich on the rewards.
Their success was fuelled by the iron ore and coal
locked inside the earth of Central Scotland.
Around towns like Motherwell.
One family firm of metal makers, the Colvilles, started smelting iron here in the 1870s.
They were just one of many small independent ironworks in the town but they were the most innovative.
And they quickly developed the technological know-how
to make the new metal that everyone wanted - steel.
Something which would transform their fortunes and allow them to take their place
among Scotland's other magnates of global industry.
The Colvilles were the sort of bosses
who kept wages low but gave workers time off on Sundays to go to church.
They were big on God, big on politics, and, of course, big on profit.
Archibald and David Colville -
the second generation of the family -
were in charge of the firm
as Britain and Germany prepared for war,
and demand for their Motherwell steel was sent rocketing.
The First World War was an opportunity for many Scottish industries,
and Colville's was no different.
This plant was flung into the war effort,
churning out orders for armour, for shell casings and for tanks.
As the war progressed, Colville's expanded to become the biggest steelworks in Scotland.
By 1917, this was the kind of munitions factory that the King visited.
BRASS BAND PLAYS
In the post-war years the firm kept expanding.
As the firm grew and grew, the whole town came to
identify itself with steel, with Colville's in particular.
The workers formed bands, sports clubs, educational institutes
and created a community out of an industry.
Across Central Scotland, similar communities rose up around coal seams,
iron foundries and steelworks.
Heavy industry wove Central Scotland together.
TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS
There was a catch.
A particularly Scottish catch.
Brought home every week on wages day.
The day when Scotland's skilled workers
received much less money than their counterparts in England for doing exactly the same job.
It made Scottish industry competitive, but it consigned many Scottish families to live in squalor
without running water or basic sanitation.
Overcrowding was six times higher than in England,
and infant mortality was among the very worst in Western Europe.
This was the contract.
The unspoken agreement that bound industrial Scotland together.
Acceptance of it was the secret ingredient locked inside every ton of coal, every ingot of iron,
and every penny of profit.
But still the workers came, drawn to the furnaces like moths to the flame.
Sucked in to the workshop of the Empire,
until by 1921 across Central Scotland
around 500,000 livelihoods depended on the health of heavy industry,
on steelworks and coal mines and shipbuilding.
On an incredible boom that couldn't last forever.
Scotland had become a house of cards.
When the collapse came, it came fast.
In peacetime, no-one needed shell casings or tanks.
No-one needed new ships.
So the workshop of the Empire grew quiet.
Industrial Scotland was plunged into crisis.
The fortunate ones merely had their wages slashed.
The unfortunate ones lost everything.
Around the steel town of Motherwell alone, unemployment
increased from under 2,000 to over 12,000.
Motherwell became one of the worst hit places in Scotland.
The unemployed, the able-bodied destitute poor as they were known,
flooded into the parish councils of Lanarkshire looking for poor relief.
And here, in Airbles Cemetery in Motherwell, they found the best that industrial Scotland had to offer -
one week in three, earning 11 pence a day, burying the dead.
Those that wanted something better than poor relief or the dole
started to leave their stricken communities,
to emigrate from Central Scotland like they'd never emigrated before.
In 1921 alone, Scotland lost 50,000 people.
A greater proportion that year than almost any other country in Europe.
This wasn't a clearance, but it was an exodus.
Scots left in droves, on one-way tickets to the New World.
And as ship after ship sailed out of the Clyde, away past Canada Hill, more and more Scots began to ask
just why their country was in such a mess.
What they wanted was a new world, right here in Scotland itself.
Scots weren't alone in seeking a new world, a new beginning.
Just a few years earlier, Russia had had its communist revolution.
And in the Balkans, a host of brand-new nations had emerged from the ashes
of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Much closer to home, Ireland was in the grip of assertive nationalism to free itself from Britain's grip.
Was it time for Scotland to take control of her own future, too?
Was it time for Home Rule?
Home Rule was hardly a new idea.
Earlier British governments had flirted with the notion,
seeing it as a way to strengthen the Empire rather than weaken it.
But with Scotland in crisis, calls for a new kind of Home Rule began to grow louder.
The most radical Scots called for complete independence.
For national liberation, as they saw it.
And in 1922, one of the strongest supporters of that idea
was to be found tucked away in the quiet seaside town of Montrose.
Christopher Murray Grieve was a journalist who lived here in Montrose.
His pen name was Hugh MacDiarmid.
And his house was just along this street.
'He made his home at 16 Links Avenue.
'And in 1922 the first number of a literary magazine was issued from that address.
'It was the beginning of a Scottish literary revival.
'And there was a new name among the contributors.'
To MacDiarmid, Scotland's journey to independence
had to start with poetry.
He thought that Scotland had lost itself.
Been swamped by its bigger neighbour. By England.
And he wanted to kick-start Scottish culture,
to create something modern and vital by drawing on something old and pure.
The language of the Medieval poets,
poets who wrote before the influence of England and English,
who expressed their ideas and their emotions in their own distinctive way.
In 1922, MacDiarmid launched his own magazine The Scottish Chapbook,
publishing modern poems written in a kind of ancient Scots.
A language that turned rainbows back into "watergaws".
Ae weet forenicht I' the yow-trummle
I saw yon antrin thing
A watergaw wi its chitterin licht
Ayont the onding
An I thocht o' the last wild leuk ye gied
Afore ye deed
There was nae reek I' the laverock's hoose that nicht
and nane I' mine
But I hae thocht o' that foolish licht
Even sin syne
An I think that mebbe at last I ken
What yer leuk meant then
MacDiarmid's poems seemed at once ancient and modern
and were rapturously received.
and his agenda, reached the ears of other writers and poets
and ignited the whole Scottish literary scene.
His house became a meeting place for all those drawn into his circle.
Here, great writers like Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Compton Mackenzie,
congregated to talk about Scotland.
They didn't all share MacDiarmid's conviction that Scotland needed to be liberated
from English influence,
and they didn't all write in Scots,
but they did agree that Scottish culture desperately needed to be revived.
Hugh MacDiarmid had got Scotland going.
He had succeeded in opening a door into the world of modern ideas and started a movement,
a movement that became known as a Scottish Renaissance.
Soon, the newspapers and the magazines were full of articles,
letters and reviews, all of them discussing the national condition
and asking just what it was that was wrong with this small, failing nation
and what could be done to make it better.
With Scottish culture invigorated, MacDiarmid wanted to go further.
He was already involved in local politics,
as a socialist councillor with nationalist sympathies.
But, in 1923, he took up the latest political movement sweeping Europe...
TRANSLATION: Fascist Italy is now a great country, great place
and so well organised...
Not long after Mussolini marched on Rome to seize power in Italy,
MacDiarmid published an article inciting Scottish fascism.
He even urged unemployed ex-servicemen to march on the highlands and islands
and reclaim the land for themselves.
"Is it not time for a Scottish fascism
"to oppose the anti-national forces which are robbing Scotland of the finest elements of its population
"and at one and the same time denying the Scottish people
"access to millions of acres of the finest scenery in Scotland
"and setting the sport of English plutocrats before the vital needs of the country?
"Is it not time to smash the laws which sanction and ensure such things?
"Rights are not asked.
"They are taken, and Scotland is a sovereign country, entitled to resume her independence at will!"
But MacDiarmid's call to fascism went unheeded among those who might have joined an uprising.
Instead, the unemployed and low paid workers of the industrial belt
listened to the promises of Scotland's growing socialist movement,
whose activists and Labour MPs encouraged them to believe in the kind of improvements
that a socialist government in charge of Britain would deliver.
If Scotland's socialists also supported Home Rule - and many of them did -
it was never as much of a priority for them as housing or sanitation.
Or the issue that would finally force Britain into confrontation...
In 1926, when coalminers were facing a wage cut,
Britain's unions joined together and called a general strike.
The Government placed troops on standby
and called for volunteers to keep essential services running.
Thousands volunteered, terrified that the Bolsheviks, as they saw them,
might take over Britain.
After just a few days, the strike in Scotland lost its momentum.
Some miners held out for several months, but eventually they all returned, defeated, to work.
For many workers of the industrial belt, the future would be just like the past,
where they had to know their place, not their worth.
And those industrialists who ran Scotland were only too happy to oblige.
Most of the men who owned Scotland's factories
resisted the influence of trade unions.
And if they looked out for their employees, it was largely through good Christian charity.
John Colville, one of the third generation of the family,
donated a golf course to his grateful workers to thank them
for making his firm a fortune during the last war.
On the board of his family's steel firm,
he sat alongside some of the supreme magnates of Scotland's industry,
men, who between them, sat on the board of over 50 leading companies,
and who effectively controlled the Scottish economy.
Their grip extended deep into politics.
John Colville would himself become an MP and later, Secretary of State for Scotland.
They were symptomatic of a country that was locked in the past.
And those Scots who wanted a better life had to seek it abroad.
50,000 left in 1926.
And yet another 50,000 in 1927.
To nationalists like Hugh MacDiarmid, the scale of emigration
was a sure sign that Scotland was in crisis.
MacDiarmid no longer called for fascist uprisings.
Instead, he concentrated his efforts on the ballot box.
In 1928, he joined up with a small handful of fellow travellers
to form a new political party, the National Party of Scotland.
MacDiarmid set out the party's aims in a letter that's held at Edinburgh University.
Here on page two you see what it was that prompted MacDiarmid to write this.
In one word, emigration. See here...
"A very large part of the Scottish expenditure on education has gone
"not to build up the national prosperity but to export Scotsmen to America and elsewhere
"to undertake precisely the kind of work they ought to have been doing at home."
In other words, MacDiarmid wanted all the opportunities of the New World here in Scotland itself
and he believed that the only way to do that was through independence.
This wasn't the first time a Scottish Parliament had been called for.
Over the years many of the established political parties had backed Home Rule,
but as MacDiarmid says here, bill after bill
had been defeated by the sheer number of English MPs at Westminster.
Now Scots who wanted Home Rule would have a new option -
a political party whose sole objective was independence.
MacDiarmid expected the National Party to attract big support at the election of 1929,
but they secured just 3,000 votes.
An unconvincing start for a liberation movement.
Instead, Scots voted for the devil they knew, for socialism,
for Union and for men of the old industrial order like John Colville.
But just a few months after the election, THEIR world was shaken to its core.
The financial markets crashed, the Great Depression took hold,
and the economic crises of the previous decade were dreadfully outdone.
"Now the ice lays its smooth claws on the sill,
"The sun looks from the hill
"Helmed in his winter casket,
"And sweeps his arctic sword across the sky.
"The water at the mill Sounds more hoarse and dull.
"The miller's daughter walking by
"With frozen fingers soldered to her basket
"Seems to be knocking
"Upon a hundred leagues of floor
"With her light heels, and mocking Percy and Douglas dead,
"And Bruce on his burial bed."
To Edwin Muir, one of the leading writers of the Scottish Renaissance,
it was as though Scotland was stuck in a perpetual winter.
Unlike MacDiarmid, he wasn't a nationalist first and foremost,
but a socialist, a political position that he developed as a youth.
Edwin Muir came originally from Orkney,
and arrived in the centre of industrialised Glasgow aged just 14,
something he said was like leaving the 18th century and leaping straight into the 20th.
Muir developed a dark fascination for the industrial world he saw around him.
And in 1934 he decided to go on a journey
round Scotland to see for himself
what had become of the country at the hands of those who ruled it.
Here in Lanarkshire, Edwin Muir found a world made up of exploiters and exploited.
A landscape utterly devoid of humanity.
Among the unemployed hanging around the labour exchanges, he found only despair.
The civilised world had forgotten about them,
had forgotten this whole part of Scotland.
As a socialist, Muir was appalled.
Muir compared it to the most painful episode of Scotland's history.
'A century ago there was a great clearance from the Highlands
'which still rouses the anger of the people living there.
'At present on a far bigger scale, a silent clearance is going on in industrial Scotland,
'a clearance not of human beings but of what they depend upon for life.
'Everything which could give meaning to their existence in the grotesque
'industrial towns of Lanarkshire is slipping from them.'
The 20th century was not even 35 years old, yet almost as many
Scottish children had died in poverty
as soldiers had been killed during the entire First World War.
And over 400,000 Scots had left in the preceding 13 years alone.
Old Scotland had failed and something had to be done.
To those like Edwin Muir,
the solution was clear.
Only the power of a socialist government in Westminster could fix all Scotland's social problems.
But MacDiarmid and his fellow nationalists disagreed.
Their revolution would see all Scotland's problems fixed by its OWN parliament.
But the nation's internal problems would be overshadowed by concerns of graver consequence
and the new Scotland would have to wait.
AIR SIRENS WAIL
ON FILM: 'The Kingdom of Fife.'
Glenrothes is one of the very few Scottish towns without a memorial
to the dead either of the First or Second World War because history didn't start here until 1948.
Glenrothes and the other Scottish new towns were planned towns,
emblems of a new world,
of an optimism born of victory.
During the Second World War, Britain had pulled together to defeat Hitler's fascism.
The nation's efforts had been directed from London, specifically from Whitehall.
Now, the first government after the Second World War wanted to use the
power of that same central planning to create a new Britain.
A socialist Britain that would eradicate five giant evils -
squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease.
In Glenrothes, their plans included a house
and a job for life, at the nearby Rothes Super Pit.
And miners came in their thousands from the Central Belt,
drawn by the prospect of new houses and hourly wages.
From cradle to grave, the state would provide
and Scotland embraced this Great British future.
A visionary scheme to light up the highlands through hydro electric power was set up in Argyllshire.
At a stroke, 10,000 jobs were created,
10,000 livelihoods were secured.
A car factory was boldly founded at Linwood making Hillman Imps.
In Motherwell, money was sunk into more steel-making on a site at Colville's.
Using all the latest technology, this place would roll steel thinner than ever before.
It was to be called Ravenscraig.
The planners had projected that some old industries would struggle, that some would even die.
But these vast new projects would mop up any unemployed -
they would be the industrial lynchpins around which the new Scotland would take shape.
And through the next decade, through changes of government and boom and bust,
the British state grew, and unemployment remained low.
But by the early 1960s,
it was clear that Scotland wasn't going to plan.
Scotland might have started to look different, but for most Scots, it didn't feel different -
new industries, major projects like this bridge started to appear but not quickly enough.
And as the old industries went into terminal decline, so the unemployment figures crept up.
Remote control from Whitehall wasn't working.
It was as if the planners were out of touch with the consequences of their decisions.
What Scotland needed was someone who would shake up the planners,
someone who could ensure that Britain served Scotland better.
In Harold Wilson's Labour Party there was just the man.
The actual facts are stark...
they're grim for Scotland, and only Labour planning
will improve the position and give us the 40,000 jobs a year that we really need.
In housing, it's a tragic story.
"And I will make you fishers of men."
Those were Christ's words to Andrew and Peter, the first apostles when he returned from the wilderness
and found them fishing on the Sea of Galilee.
It's meant as a rallying cry
for those who work here at St Andrew's House, the Government
HQ in Scotland, to look out for the welfare of their fellow men.
In 1964, the new boss here was Willie Ross and he was determined to do just that...
in his own distinctive way.
Willie Ross was the son of a train driver whose political beliefs had been forged when he worked
as a teacher in working-class communities in Glasgow, in the 1920s and 1930s.
During the war, he had served as Lord Mountbatten's personal signals officer in the Far East.
Once demobbed, he became a Labour MP and had spent over a decade in opposition,
learning how Britain worked.
Willie Ross knew that the fight for Scotland didn't just lie here in Edinburgh.
He took it right to the heart of the British Government.
In Cabinet meetings he would bang on the table demanding more money for his patch, more money for Scotland.
Ross was a fearsome sight, and even the Prime Minister was intimidated.
Willie Ross decided to bring the planning process closer to home,
to St Andrew's House, and he quickly set to work on a detailed master plan.
The master plan for improving Scotland was unveiled early in 1966.
It was state planning socialist-style and on a scale never before seen in Scotland.
It was big on ambition and obsessive about the details -
jobs, houses, roads, power supplies -
nothing was overlooked.
And if it succeeded, Scotland would be transformed.
It was to cost £2,000 million.
But the ink was barely dry on the master plan before disaster struck.
In 1967, the pound was devalued, the British Treasury froze all Government spending,
and the promises Willie Ross had made to the electorate just a year earlier,
were, at a stroke, in tatters.
The unemployment that he'd been trying to alleviate went through the roof.
And Scots left for Canada and Australia
on £10 tickets to a brighter future.
# Oh, flower of Scotland... #
Away from the world of politics, of failed plans and economic turmoil,
Scotland had been quietly changing.
Seeds sown in the Scottish Renaissance of the 1920s
had finally taken root in the popular imagination.
And a new generation had woken up to Scotland's distinctive culture and history.
The site of Bannockburn, the battle in 1314, where the Scots decisively
defeated an invading English army,
was commemorated with THIS state-of-the-art monument
and a statue was raised to the victorious Robert the Bruce.
# ..And in the past They must remain... #
Bruce's exploits were further celebrated in a new song -
Flower Of Scotland, that urged Scots to rise now and be a nation again.
# ..And be the nation again That stood against... #
The mythology of Scotland as a once-victorious nation struck a chord with those Scots
who felt that Scotland had been reduced to Scotland-shire, a sort of badly run province of Britain.
All of this powerful nationalist sentiment couldn't help but spill over into Scottish politics.
-Winifred Margaret Ewing...
-Scottish Nationalist Party.
And so the Scottish Nationalists have taken Hamilton.
And I declare Winifred Margaret Ewing has been duly elected to serve in Parliament
as the Member for the Hamilton constituency.
In November 1967,
the Scottish National Party won a by-election in Hamilton.
The party that had spent three decades losing deposits
up and down the country suddenly seemed to be in tune with the times.
I have to say thanks to Hamilton for making history for Scotland...
The major political parties hoped it was a blip...
but it wasn't.
The SNP started to pick up votes from new supporters,
drawn from new battlegrounds in Scottish politics.
All along the River Clyde, shipyards had turned out
some of the most famous vessels the world had ever seen.
This wasn't just an industry -
it was a symbol of a nation's identity and it was in trouble.
One by one, the shipyards started to go to the wall.
In 1971, one shipyard -
Upper Clyde Shipyard -
employed around 13,000 people and was struggling with large debts.
Its closure would devastate the local area.
Yet, the Westminster Government was refusing to bail it out.
The workers started a sit-in, and a campaign to keep the shipyard open took off.
Churches, councils, trade unions, tens of thousands of ordinary Scots joined the protests.
Eventually, the shipyard was kept open.
But more Scots than ever before were coming to believe that Westminster was either completely out of touch
with Scottish affairs, or worse,
simply didn't care.
And all the time, the Scottish National Party felt the benefit.
Then, somewhere in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland, the drill of an oil rig hit black gold
and sent support for Scottish independence rocketing.
Oil changed Scottish politics overnight and there was lots of it.
Imagine what could happen, said the Nationalists, if Scotland kept it all?
It was Scotland's oil after all...
To the SNP, it was,
and they argued it should be used to benefit Scotland.
After two decades of planning and spending, the five great social evils had far from vanished.
Scots still lived in some of the poorest housing in Britain,
had the worst health in the Western world, had the smallest children in the UK.
Oil, said the SNP, could eliminate all of these ills in a way that Westminster planning never had.
The people of Scotland could have the best health care, housing, education.
Scotland could finally catch up with England, might even be a match for anywhere in the world.
By early 1974, almost a fifth of Scots backed the SNP.
Their picture of a wealthy, independent Scotland was particularly seductive
in a Britain that seemed locked in a downward spiral of inflation, strikes and strife.
In the General Election of February that year, the SNP turned their support
into an all-time electoral high of seven seats.
Where would the SNP rise end?
To the bigger parties, it was clear that SOMETHING had to be done.
The answer seemed to be a kind of Home Rule called devolution.
It would see the powers that one man - Willie Ross -
enjoyed as Scottish Secretary, placed under the control of an elected assembly.
The only problem was that many of the Scottish Labour MPs didn't want it.
They believed that the problems of Scotland were more likely to be solved
by a socialist government in Westminster than by any assembly in Edinburgh.
Chairman, I want to enter this debate in terms of the context of devolution...
All through the summer of 1974, the ruling Labour Party remained
bogged down in debate and divided on grounds of principle.
In Scotland at the moment, there are a very large number of pressure groups, led largely by the SNP...
But the time for principles was nearing an end.
Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson wanted to call another election
to strengthen his position in Westminster.
To him it was simple - devolution would be a vital vote winner in Scotland.
With another general election looming and the SNP still
on the rise, the Labour Party had to have a Home Rule policy.
So Harold Wilson forced it through against the wishes of many Scottish Labour MPs, who felt
it was a betrayal of socialism and a policy guaranteed to lead to the break-up of Britain.
It was in this atmosphere of division and self-interest
that Scotland's first Home Rule referendum was born.
Labour's promise of a referendum on Home Rule didn't stave off the rise of the SNP.
Nor did it unite the ruling Labour Party, or even the public.
-You think you're going to vote "yes"...or would you vote "no"?
-I haven't decided.
-I can't put that on you, then?
It took the politicians four years to agree the scheme.
And during those four years, it was transformed into a referendum with a catch...
a catch that said 40% of the entire electorate would have to vote "yes", to win the day.
What actually do we control if we vote "yes"?
Well, you'll control education, housing, health, the environment, transport...
a lot of the things that are run by the Secretary of State at the moment.
'With an electorate of nearly 3.75 million, the Scottish Office has drafted in an army of clerks
'to count the votes, and they'll be in action from early tomorrow morning.'
On the 1st of March 1979, Scotland went to the polls.
I hereby declare
that, on the basis of the count results in the several counting areas,
the count result which I intend to certify for Scotland is as follows...
Oh, look at this!
This was all prepared for 1979.
Edinburgh's Royal High School was kitted out like a parliament in the expectation
that Scots would vote "yes" in the devolution referendum.
Number of "yes" votes - 1,230,937.
Number of "no" votes -
Scotland HAD voted "yes",
but the majority wasn't big enough to win the referendum.
If it was a test of the country's determination, then it showed a lack of national resolve.
It also revealed a population divided between Scottishness and Britishness.
The plan for an assembly in the Royal High School was Britain's
solution to its Scottish problem.
To many Scots, it was just another Westminster promise that didn't deliver,
a half-hearted enterprise that failed because of its half-heartedness.
As the momentum towards Home Rule petered out,
a new era dawned, one that would have a profound influence on Scotland.
Good afternoon, Prime Minister!
Margaret Thatcher had a new vision for Britain,
one inspired by the work of an 18th-century Scot called Adam Smith...
The man who had given the world the idea of free trade.
Smith believed that markets had to operate freely, according to their own fundamental laws.
And in Margaret Thatcher's modern version of his idea,
the free market had to be brought to bear with greatest urgency
on Britain's nationalised industries.
To her, these vast, dilapidated and inefficient concerns
had been kept open by the state for purely social reasons -
to provide jobs rather than make profit -
something which couldn't go on.
Shipbuilding had won a few battles, but had lost its war.
And in the early 1980s, that other great pillar of Scottish industry,
of Scottish life, came under threat...
Coal had been nationalised to free the industry from the worst excesses
of private ownership, of exploitation.
But many of the pits had never been profitable and had been kept going only by subsidies.
Now any pits that couldn't make money were to be closed.
-Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.
Where there is error, may we bring truth.
Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.
And where there is despair, may we bring hope.
Can you describe when you became aware that the industry was going downhill?
Was there a day came when you realised the game was up?
I was sorry it was ever coming to that.
I knew it was coming, but I was sorry, because there would be a lot of people with no jobs.
-That was that.
-It made so much sense, why all these towns were here.
-They were either here to support a pit or for the steel...
-That's how it was, aye.
And now it's as if the tide's gone out and left these places high and dry.
There's nothing left.
Allanton, Shotts, Cumnock, Bonnyrigg...
the list of places left behind as that tide went out
stretches from one end of Central Scotland to the other.
Those who had chosen to stay, those who had faced the future here in Scotland rather than emigrate
were left adrift, as once and for all their way of life was lost.
In the early 1980s, unemployment returned to levels unknown since the 1920s.
If this was Margaret Thatcher's new vision of Britain,
then it seemed to many Scots to be a place without compassion.
And Scots began to notice
that only a small number of them had voted for her and her party.
When Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives won the election in 1987,
it was their third victory in a row.
And the third time that Scotland voted overwhelmingly against her.
Scotland was being ruled without the consent of the majority of its people,
and at this rate, its national interests could be overlooked forever.
As this reality sank in, Home Rule got a new lease of life.
The idea of devolution had once divided Scottish opinion.
What was needed now was a scheme that would unite.
In 1988, many of the country's political and civic leaders met
to thrash out a plan that would restore the Scottish people's right
to decide their own form of government.
A scheme based on the principle of self-determination.
And here it is -
a Claim of Right for Scotland.
"We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention,
"do hereby acknowledge and assert
"the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government
"best suited to their needs. We further declare and pledge that our actions and deliberations
"shall be directed to the following end -
"to agree a scheme for an assembly or parliament for Scotland."
And there, the second name - Donald Dewar.
And after his, name after name, page after page.
The Claim of Right was clear and unequivocal.
The crisis of the 20th century had gone far beyond material things -
beyond jobs, beyond housing.
It threatened the very nature of Scotland's existence.
The people should no longer be ruled without consent, said the Claim of Right,
only a Scottish parliament could safeguard Scotland's identity now.
One opposition party, the SNP,
didn't back the Claim of Right,
but for almost 60 years, their calls for a parliament had echoed across Scottish politics.
With support for out and out independence increasing
and Scotland's other opposition parties now committed to a parliament as well,
Scotland grew restless.
Among the people, a sense of nationhood grew and was heard.
At Murrayfield, in 1990, Scots embraced
their own unofficial national anthem for a rugby match against England.
What song did they choose?
60,000 Scots got behind their country and belted out the sentimental '60s
folk song, Flower Of Scotland, and inspired Scotland to a famous victory
over their oldest adversaries.
BAGPIPES PLAY "Flower Of Scotland" THEN CROWD SINGS
# Oh, flower of Scotland When will we see
# Your like again?
# That fought and died for
# Your wee bit hill and glen
# And stood against him
# Proud Edward's army... #
And the English team
went right on singing God Save The Queen,
as if England and Britain were one and the same thing.
# ..Long live our noble Queen... #
It was just sport.
But it told its own story.
People who had begun the century as loyal subjects of Britain had changed
their allegiances and they no longer unquestioningly accepted that to be Scottish was,
first and foremost, to be British.
But Britain had changed too.
The version of Britain that Scots had understood and supported was gone
and it had been replaced with something very different,
something that Scots didn't recognise as their own creation.
Ravenscraig Steelworks had been the jewel of post-war planning,
one of the foundations on which 20th-century Scotland was supposed to be built.
By the time it came down in 1996, Scots the length and breadth
of the country were united in an urgent mission to take back political control.
The nation had a settled will.
The birch trees are reclaiming the site of Ravenscraig.
The furnaces, coke piles, iron stores and cooling towers
are long gone, and now any traces of one version of the old Scotland
are giving way to a much older one.
The heavy industries of the 19th and 20th century have all but vanished.
And Scotland, the land,
is taking the place back.
But what lingers is a sense that something has gone that has not yet been replaced.
There once was a settled will.
In 1999, that settled will was turned into a Parliament -
not an assembly, but a Parliament.
When hard economic times forced Scots to question the Union,
Scotland created a new relationship with its old partner,
and in doing so, helped to create a new kind of Britain.
For most of the 20th century, Scotland's story was the story
of a failing nation, one that couldn't keep hold of its population.
In the first years of the 21st century, Scotland's story changed.
Scotland became a place in which to stay rather than leave, a place to come to rather than go from.
So what of the future for the 5 million people who live here today?
As the 21st century stretches out ahead, what will fill the empty spaces, what will fill this void
where the nations' industrial heart once beat?
And what will become of us, as a nation?
Is it "Scottish" that most defines us now, or does "British" still run deep too?
Is Scotland's journey to self- determination at an end or is there more to come on the road ahead?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Documentary series. As a partner in the British Empire, Scotland began the 20th century with an advanced economy and a world beating heavy industry. But come the closing decades, its sense of Britishness was in doubt and a Scottish Parliament sat in Edinburgh for the first time since 1707. Charting what was probably one of Scotland's darkest centuries, Neil Oliver discovers a country driven to self-determination through a series of economic crises so deep, that her most striking export became its own disillusioned population.