On Friday night, Danny Alexander, Willie Rennie and Charles Kennedy held a public meeting in Inverness on the independence referendum. A key theme was what would happen in the event of a No vote. For Highland communities, rule from Edinburgh is every bit as dangerous as rule from London. Nowhere has this been as keenly demonstrated as through the centralisation of the Scottish police force. This has now led to armed police being present on routine duties on the streets of peaceful Highland towns and communities with the wishes of residents and the local authority being casually disregarded.
I was quite impressed to see even a central belt Labour MP get the need for making the A9 dual carriageway the other week. Michael Connarty and I were on the panel at a Better Together event in Bathgate and he was slating the SNP’s centralisation agenda so you can tell how bad things are getting up here.
While the specifics of Danny’s speech were Highland related, there is a lot in there for anyone who’s interested in the general question of more powers. He used the F word, too, saying that federalism was much more radical and liberal than independence.
I think we are definitely within touching distance of being able to get a good bit down the road towards the Federal UK that Liberal Democrats want. It’s clear that the outcome will be close enough that if there is no noticeable change, we will be here again within a decade. Obviously full federalism needs the rest of the UK’s agreement but there is much that could be done, as set out in the report of Sir Menzies Campbell’s Home Rule Commission.