In Scotland and Wales, too, there was a growing feeling by the 1970s that the government in London had too much power. In Wales, a nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, the party of “fellow countrymen”, became a strong political force in the 1970s. But Welsh nationalism lost support in 1979 when the people of Wales turned down the government’s offer of limited self-government. Almost certainly this was because many of them did not welcome wider official use of the Welsh language. In spite of the rise of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh language was actually spoken less and less.
In 1951 29 per cent of the Welsh population spoke Welsh. By 1981 this figure had fallen to 19 per cent, even though Welsh was used for many radio and television programmes, and in schools.
In Scotland, the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) showed its growing popularity by increasing its percentage of the national vote from 20 per cent to 30 per cent during 1974- The SNP became the second party in Scotland, pushing the Conservatives into third place. When Scotland was offered the same limited form of self-government as Wales, just over half of those who voted supported it. But the government decided that 54 per cent of those who voted was not a big enough majority, and to the anger of the SNP it abandoned the selfgovernment offer. As a result the SNP itself collapsed at the next election, losing nine of its eleven seats. But like Plaid Cymru in Wales, the SNP remained active in Scottish politics. In both countries most people continued to support the Labour Party, partly in protest against mainly Conservative England. Although in Wales Welsh was declining, and although in Scotland only a very few people still spoke Gaelic, the different political and cultural life of Celtic Wales and Scotland seemed unlikely to disappear.