Michael Moore has been talking to Scotland on Sunday’s Eddie Barnes. They covered everything from the Liberal Democrats’ record in government to the forthcoming referendum on independence.
The pro-union cause is often accused of negative campaigning. Moore rejects this, saying that they have been highlighting the positives of Scotland remaining within the UK:
I absolutely reject the way you characterise our side of the argument,” he responds. He points to the series of lengthy documents issued by the UK government, which have highlighted the “positive strengths” of the UK. “At no point do we say, this bit [about Scotland] is rubbish,” he says.
He does, however, think that the Yes campaign glosses over issues an independent Scotland would have to deal with:
“The way they are presenting their case is to say there will be no issues with this. It’s the squeaky clean, easy approach that suggests it’s painless and it’ll all go on with nothing to get your head round – that’s what I have a problem with.”
Moore took some pain recently for suggesting that there may have to be border posts between Scotland and England so took the opportunity to expand on that point:
He stands by the point he was trying to make – that the SNP can’t argue for both an open border with England and a vastly different immigration policy. “No-one wants them [border controls],” he says. “It would be ridiculous. I represent an area of the country where there are back roads going over and it would be ludicrous to have border controls.”
But, post-independence, “the hard reality is they [a future Scottish Government] would need to work it out with the rest of the UK”
While we’re on the subject of immigration, he took the opportunity to follow Vince Cable and Nick Clegg by taking a swipe at those awful Home Office poster vans:
“That wasn’t a smart way to deal with immigration policy” he says
He shows he understands that our time in Government has been hard for Liberal Democrat members and activists to deal with, but sees hope for the future:
But he believes that policies such as the Lib Dem plan to increase the income tax threshold to £10,000, and efforts to “stop” further Conservative raids the welfare budget are winning back friends.
Have the Lib Dems moved from utopia to reality in these last few years? “I am not going to disown where the party has come from but there’s no question that we’ve been on a journey over the last three years, looking hard at what is deliverable in government,” he says. But making things happen in power has helped restore the party’s “self-confidence,” he argues.
“There have been some rocky moments for activists and members but people under-estimate our resilience at their peril.”
He briefly touched on welfare, but, with characteristic modesty, didn’t mention his crucial role in securing the extra £35 million for councils to help them cope with some of the consequences of the so-called Bedroom Tax, so I’ll have to do it for him.
You can read the whole interview here.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings