Scottish Parliamentary Leader Talks About the 2014 Independence Referendum

The Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer, the Right Honourable Tricia Marwick, MSP, delivered a fascinating NYU Wagner guest lecture on April 10 entitled “Scotland’s Journey to and Beyond the Referendum on Independence.”

As the elected Presiding Officer – or Speaker – of the Scottish Parliament, Ms. Marwick had a unique and non-partisan viewpoint of the independence referendum held last September, which she described as her “ringside seat.”

Her speech covered Scotland’s rich history of democratic engagement and the challenges since presented by the Scottish Independence Referendum last year, in which a record 85 percent of all eligible voters turned out. The Referendum fell, 55.3% to 44.7%, with more than 3.6 million ballots cast.

Ms. Marwick was joined in conversation at NYU Kimmel Center for University Life by Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice Principal at the University of Edinburgh, and Michael Laver, Dean for Social Sciences at NYU's Faculty of Arts and Science. The  moderator was NYU Wagner's Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Research, and Professor of the Politics of Public Policy, Anthony Bertelli.

The University of Edinburgh co-sponored the  luncheon discussion with NYU Wagner.

 Ms. Marwick sketched more than 700 years of  Scottish political history, noting, “I think it’s fair to say that the Constitutional journey is far, far from complete.”

The panelists then weighed the import of this huge political mobilization for the future of Scotland's governance, policy, and civic life. Newly energized political parties, and voters, are engaging in the political process in the wake of the Referendum, and their hopes and expectations appear to be running sky-high.

“People have made clear that they want to be involved, and the challenge to all of us is to figure out how to respond to that,” summed up Ms. Marwick.

Since 1998, “Tartan Day” on April 6 each year has been recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives as an official celebration of the contribution of American-Scots to U.S. culture and life. The visit with NYU Wagner was part of a weeklong program of events and celebrations to mark this annual celebration of Scotland and all things Scottish.