Lord Ewing, who has died in June 2007 aged 76 of cancer, was for 30 years, a consistent battler for Scottish devolution who became a much acclaimed joint chairman of the Scottish Constitutional Convention from 1990 to 1996. Ewing was a Westminster MP for 21 years, winning Stirling and Falkirk for Labour in 1971, and serving the area through several boundary changes until 1992 when he stepped down and became a life peer.
He had a long career as a fervent Eurosceptic, from the time he made an attack on the EEC in his 1971 maiden speech (traditionally, “non-controversial” occasions). He was a fervent opponent of job cuts, and it was typical that his Lords’ maiden speech, on unemployment, was in defence of Rosyth naval dockyard, threatened by closure.
Ewing was open about his “spoilsport” activities, as an opponent of drunkenness and Sunday opening. “I am all for civilised drinking,” he said, “but there is no such thing as a civilised drunk.” He opposed abortion, supporting the 1977 Benyon bill to curb terminations. In 1985 he also backed Enoch Powell’s bill against embryo experimentation.
In 1987 he asked not to be considered for the frontbench team in Westminster. In 1989 he announced he would not be standing again for his Westminster seat. This made it easier for him to become embroiled a year later as chairman of the Scottish Constitutional Convention. In 1996, he was appointed chair of the Fife Healthcare NHS Trust and served for two years.