Leading campaigner in fight for devolution dies aged 84
Canon’s input in helping to create Parliament ‘cannot be overstated’
THE First Minister has led tributes to Canon Kenyon Wright, one of the key founders of devolution, who has died at the age of 84.
The former Episcopalian priest was chairman of the cross-party Scottish Constitutional Convention, which in 1995 published the blueprint for the Scottish Parliament.
Nicola Sturgeon said she was deeply saddened by his death, but said his legacy would live on through the work of the Parliament. She said: “He is a great loss to Scotland’s political, civic and religious communities. His input to the creation of the Scottish Parliament cannot be overstated.
“His chairmanship of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which led to the creation of the Scottish Parliament, was testament to his strength of character, tenacity and charisma.
“He was able to bring together the different strands of Scottish politics and society to achieve consensus about the way ahead for Scottish devolution.”
Former first minister Alex Salmond said Canon Wright was “one of the great spirits of the movement of self-government” and his role on the Convention had shown “a patience, commitment and determination of extraordinary dimensions”.
He added: “In more recent times, his willingness to embrace the independence cause demonstrated that his belief in Scotland transcended any political party or particular position. His guiding light was the right of self-determination of the people of Scotland.
“Scotland has cause to be grateful for the life of our very own grand Canon, and his passing will be mourned by many.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said Canon Wright’s tireless campaigning with the Convention was “a vital reason why we have a Scottish Parliament today”.
She said: “For generations to come there will be a parliament in Edinburgh that makes decisions affecting the everyday lives of Scots, and that is the wonderful legacy he leaves. The day before the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999, Canon Kenyon Wright handed the Claim of Right to Donald Dewar.
“That document now resides in the Donald Dewar Room in the Scottish Parliament, a fitting reminder of what was achieved by these giants of Scotland’s devolution movement.”
Born in Paisley in 1932, Mr Wright was a Methodist missionary in India before serving at Coventry Cathedral in England.
He returned to Scotland in 1981 as General Secretary of the Scottish Council of Churches.
A long-time campaigner for Scottish devolution, famously responded to Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to accept the idea with the comment: “We say yes – and we are the people.”
The Convention grew out of the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly, which in 1988 produced the Claim of Right declaring “the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs”.
A year later it was signed by most of Scotland MPs, MEPs and councils, as well as trade unions, civic groups and churches.
Although it had no legal force, it was a persuasive statement of public opinion underpinning the Convention, which in turn produced Scotland’s Parliament, Scotland’s Right in 1995. The Scottish Government said he died peacefully at home on Wednesday.
CANON KENYON WRIGHT: Praised for his ‘tenacity and commitment’.