Tag Archives: Alistair Carmichael

Alistair Carmichael case rumbles on

Alistair Carmichael speech Jan 2014Today the Election Court will be sitting in Edinburgh to hear witnesses in the legal challenge, as we explained here. It is expected to carry on for 4 days. At the end of the process the court will report to the House of Commons, and any action will be decided by them.

The hearing will not be in public this time, apart from the summing up. Apparently tweeting has been banned.

Back in May, Alistair issued this statement.

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Alistair Carmichael election petition: new hearing ordered by judges

The judges who heard Alistair Carmichael’s application to dismiss the election petition against him delivered a partial judgement today and ordered that a further hearing take place. From the BBC website:

The judges have ruled that the language used in section 106 was “wide enough to encompass a statement made by a candidate about himself”.

However, they said they wanted to hear evidence about the two remaining issues before issuing a determination on the case.

These are whether the words were false statements of fact which related to Mr Carmichael’s personal character or conduct, and whether they were said “for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election”.

The judges said they wanted to hear evidence on these issues because each case had to be considered on its own facts.

You can read the entire judgement here.

Commenting on today’s news, a Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:

Alistair Carmichael will continue to play a full role in the new stages of the legal process that are ongoing, confident of a positive outcome. Alistair’s focus will remain working hard for his constituents and doing his job as MP for Orkney and Shetland.

Alistair will need even more help to pay the exorbitant legal fees. If you want to see a good man have a fair fight against well-funded opponents, you can donate to the fund-raising site started by his old friend Sheila Ritchie here.

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Pizza, Politics and Alistair Carmichael

Watford pizza and politicsWith a move to Hull University looming I’m one of the many who reluctantly had to miss out on Conference this year. However some solace was found in Watford Liberal Democrats organising a “Politics and Pizza” evening, with Home Affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael as a special guest.

Politics and pizza is a fantastic combination of two of my biggest interests and it seemed very popular with the rest of the local party as well. The venue was nearly filled and what a lovely venue it was! It’s the finest mix of library and bar you’ve ever seen. The only downside was having to spot the door to the venue tucked between two larger and far more “shiny” shops. Big thanks to Cllr Peter Taylor playing “Spot the Liberal Democrat” at the door and helping me and a few others who nearly managed to walk past.

As the pizza arrived, people merrily chatted with each other between bites and I was lucky enough to be offered a seat at Alistair’s table. After a brief discussion amongst ourselves at the table where Alistair asked about ourselves – all but one of us at the table were new or at least younger members – it was time for the main event to begin. After a brief introduction from Peter, who had worked for Alistair in the past,  Alistair stood up to talk to us.

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The funniest moment of Conference so far…

Or at least, the funniest that didn’t involve pig jokes..

The BBC’s Daily Politics team tried to get Alistair Carmichael to choose between David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn. Not a wise move…

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Carmichael legal fees fund launched

In just a few hours, a fund launched by Alistair Carmichael’s long-time friend Sheila Ritchie has raised nearly £2000 to help with the defence of the election petition against him.

Earlier this week two judges heard two days of legal arguments. They will now then decide whether the petition proceeds any further. Two days’ worth of a QC’s time really doesn’t come cheap. The fund aims to raise £50,000 to help with those costs.

Sheila says:

Everyone in the Northern Isles knows someone who Alistair has helped, and he has fought so hard for his constituents.

During the election he made a mistake which the SNP has blown out of all proportion. They are using a vague law to try and overturn the election result, even though what he did is not related at all to his hard work on behalf of his constituents.

I’ve known Alistair well for almost exactly 10 years now. Many people in the party know what a decent human being he is and how hard he works. One recent example is sorting out the problems people in his constituency were having while having to wait very long periods for benefits assessments. 

He’s spent his lifetime campaigning for human rights, and particularly against the death penalty. Here he describes his visit to death row inmate Troy Davis:

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Alistair Carmichael election petition hearing to be broadcast live tomorrow

Two days of legal argument beckons as the next stage in the election petition against Alistair Carmichael in Edinburgh.

We won’t have to rely on journalists recounting the evidence, either. We’ll be able to see it all for ourselves as it’s broadcast live on STV. Here, from the STV website, is how to watch.

Broadcast You can watch on television on STV Glasgow and STV Edinburgh. These can be found at Freeview channel 23, Sky channel 117 and Virgin channel 159 in both city TV broadcast areas.

The programme will start at 10am and feature full and uninterrupted coverage from the court.

There will be special coverage of the court case in STV News at Six and on Scotland Tonight from 10.30pm.

Online Visit the STV Player to watch the live programme from 10am. This is available on the STV Player app for both iOS and Android.

The Player stream is available only in the UK.

If you’re not already signed up to use the STV Player, now would be a good time to join.

STV News will offer live text updates from the court on this page.

Other media STV is making the broadcast footage available to other broadcast media via satellite link.

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And this is why MPs doing casework is important

I’ve heard quite a few people say that MPs should concentrate on making laws and not act as “glorified social workers.” I totally disagree with that approach.

I’ve also heard politicians, ministers, even Liberal Democrat ones, confidently tell meetings that it’s fine, such and such a problem is fixed and the service in question is now working well when any service user will tell you that this is far from the truth.

This is why it’s so important for MPs to understand what problems people are facing and to take action to fix them.

One example of this comes from Orkney and Shetland. We all know that claiming benefits is s bit of a nightmare, particularly if you are required to have a Work Capability Assessment. If you live in a remote area, and they don’t come much more remote than those two islands, you could find yourself waiting for a very long time for that assessment, leaving you temporarily out of pocket.

Island residents took their concerns to local Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael who flew to Aberdeen last week to meet contractors Maximus (who replaced ATOS). The Shetland News reports:

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Alistair Carmichael 1 Chris Grayling 0

So, after Alistair Carmichael’s use of a parliamentary device to deliver  a whomping defeat on the Government over their attempt to railroad through English Votes for English Laws, Chris Grayling has announced that he’s not going to put the matter to a vote on Tuesday after all. During the 3 hour debate instigated by Alistair, the Government’s case became even more incoherent. The Herald has the story:

Ministers were facing potential defeat in the Commons vote on ‘English votes for English laws’ – due to be held next week.

Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems and the DUP were all expected to vote against the proposals, which also caused disquiet on the Tory backbenches.

Chris Grayling, the leader of the House, told MPs the proposals would be redrafted and reintroduced later this year.

This is not over by any manner of means, but Alistair’s victory is important because it means that a major constitutional reform has not been brought in on the say-so of just one parliamentary chamber. This should be properly scrutinised. A draft bill examined by both Houses of Parliament would seem sensible to me – a bit like we had for the Snoopers’ Charter, or, indeed, just bring a proper bill through Parliament in the usual way.

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Geeky Alistair Carmichael secures Commons debate on English votes

Just over an hour ago on his Facebook page, Alistair Carmichael wrote:

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Alistair Carmichael wants Orkney and Shetland to control their share of the Crown Estates

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TAlistair Carmichael has tabled an amendment to the Scotland Bill which would devolve control of the Crown Estates revenues to local level for Orkney and Shetland and, interestingly, the Western Isles. The Independent has the story:

Mr Carmichael said that the SNP administration is “in practice and instinct a highly centralised government” and did not want “devolution downwards”. Under his plan, the islands would have their own commissioners deciding how Crown Estate land is run.

He added that the Crown Estate owns and manages the seabed, which is of great importance to islands that rely heavily on the fishing industry, with salmon and trout farms. Mr Carmichael said these farms have to pay a percentage of their turnover to lease these areas, which is “a tax by any other name”.

This should present a challenge to Angus Brendan McNeil, the SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar which includes the Outer Hebrides, because he should support the extra revenue for his local community. He won’t, of course, because the SNP likes to keep everything nice and centralised in Holyrood. Even if he violently disagreed with their policy, he would be forbidden from criticising it in public thanks to particularly draconian standing orders by which nationalist MPs have to abide.

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Carmichael accuses the Tories of abuse of process over English Votes for English Laws

Alistair Carmichael had a right old go at Leader of the House Chris Grayling over English Votes for English Laws. The Conservatives have chosen to take the easy route and merely amend Commons Standing Orders rather than have the House of Lords, where they don’t have a majority,  scrutinise it.

Questioning Mr Grayling in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael said:

If there are not to be two tiers of MPs in this House after these changes, what on earth does it mean to have a double majority at Report stage? I have to say I think it is an outrage that the Government are seeking to drive ahead with a fundamental challenge to the constitutional integrity of this House as the Parliament of the UK through Standing Orders. If the Leader of the House really thinks these proposals will bear scrutiny, he should bring forward primary legislation for proper scrutiny both on the Floor of this House and in the other place. If he thinks he can do that, let him come ahead and do it.

Grayling told him he was welcome to bring his proposals forward. After the exchange, Alistair said:

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Human rights and civil liberties feature in Lib Dem parliamentary debates

Next week, in two separate debates, Alistair Carmichael and Lord Jim Wallace will highlight the importance of human rights and civil liberties.

In an email to party members, Carmichael urged them to sign our petition in support of the Human Rights Act. He said:

As a former solicitor working in the courts, I know the HRA isn’t just some bureaucratic system invented by Brussels bureaucrats to wrap us in red tape, which is what the Tories would have you believe.

The HRA was drafted by British lawyers in the aftermath of the Second World War, and gives us so many fundamental protections that

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Cameron’s shocking example of self-serving politics is biggest threat to union

Alistair Carmichael has written a devastating attack on David Cameron in today’s Herald, accusing him of “psychopathic ruthlessness” and of “one of the most egregious pieces of self-serving politics ever seen” in stoking up English nationalism. It’s strong stuff.

At 7am in the morning of September 19, following the referendum result, the Prime Minister emerged to thank the people of Scotland for sticking with one of the most successful political unions the world has ever seen and to reaffirm his commitment to its future. This was his time to tell the people of a continuing UK that he understood what had

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Carmichael and Davey blast Tories’ withdrawal of subsidies for onshore wind

A few wind turbinesWe know that during the coalition years the Liberal Democrats ensured subsidies for onshore wind. The Guardian managed to give precisely 2 and a  bit lines at the bottom of their report to Ed Davey. He was the Energy and Climate Change Secretary who fought tooth and nail to protect renewables, but there’s no mention of that. Ed is quoted as saying:

Anti-wind power Tories will put up electricity bills, cut green jobs and reduce investment.

Alistair Carmichael also took the Tories to task for what he called a “lamentable sop to the Tory right.”

This is full-throttle Tory energy policy.

Their decision to end the renewables obligation for onshore wind is a backwards step for the UK’s energy mix.

It is a lamentable sop to the Tory right-wing who would sooner have us concede the battle on climate change than commit properly to renewables. This blinkered and outdated view of the world is bad news for the environment, but it is also bad news for jobs and investment.

In coalition government Liberal Democrats blocked these madcap Tory ideas. In opposition, we will lead the campaign against them.


photo by: vaxomatic
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Just when we thought we didn’t have to worry about David Ward’s tweets any more…


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++ Breaking…Willie Rennie: I hope that fair minded people will give Alistair Carmichael a second chance

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie has just issued this statement acknowledging the seriousness of Alistair Carmichael’s actions but saying that the Orkney and Shetland MP deserves a second chance.

I have discussed the serious nature of the publication of the Scotland Office document with Alistair Carmichael. He fully understands the impact it has had on his reputation. He deeply regrets his actions, has accepted responsibility for his error of judgement, apologised to Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador and declined his ministerial severance payment.

I have known Alistair for almost thirty years and have worked closely with him in parliament for almost a decade. I have always been impressed by his energy, dedication and professionalism.  He has served Orkney and Shetland for fourteen years and has been elected on four separate occasions.  It is clear to me that recent events are an aberration.

As a liberal I believe that people deserve a second chance.  I hope fair minded people would agree that Alistair Carmichael should be given that second chance.

Yesterday, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party Executive met and gave Alistair Carmichael its support. He has my support too.

Alistair will now get back to his job representing Orkney and Shetland.

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Statement from Alistair Carmichael following leak inquiry

Following the Cabinet Office’s conclusions regarding the leaking of a Scotland Office memo to the Daily Telegraph, Alistair Carmichael issued the following statement:

The Cabinet Office has today published the conclusions of its inquiry, after an internal account of the First Minister’s discussions with the French Ambassador was published in the Daily Telegraph on 3rd April.

I had not seen the document before it was published in the Daily Telegraph, however I was aware of its content and agreed that my special adviser should make it public.

I should not have agreed this. It was an error of judgement which I regret.

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In Full: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference: “Liberalism is needed more than ever”

Here is Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Conference in which he says the party will confound the doom-mongers and sets out why we can be proud in our records in Government. He paints a grim picture of life with the Tories governing alone and, after praising Willie Rennie, tells us  “Let’s go win.”

Good afternoon, Conference.

It is good to be back in Aberdeen.

Aberdeen is where I attended party conference of the Scottish Liberal Party for the first time here in 1983.

The party was very different then.   In fact it was a different party – liberals and social democrats were still in different parties.

The Scottish Liberal leader then was Russell Johnston.

The party Chair was Ross Finnie and the vice-chairs included a couple of young turks called Jim Wallace and Malcolm Bruce.

What ever became of them?


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Alistair Carmichael moves order giving power for votes at 16 to Holyrood

I can’t imagine Alistair Carmichael will have been much prouder in his political life than he was that night when he stood at the Despatch Box in the House of Commons and gave the Scottish Parliament the power to do something that he’s wanted to see for many years – give the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.

He said:

On 18 September last year, the people of Scotland, including tens of thousands of 16 and 17-year-olds, voted in the Scottish independence referendum, and made the historic decision to remain a part of the United Kingdom. The participation of our young people in the vote was truly historic and inspirational to witness. We saw the young people who took part in the referendum in great numbers listen to the arguments, frequently ask the toughest questions, and make up their own minds in a mature and reasoned way. They showed that they were more than capable of being a part of Scottish democracy when they helped their country take the biggest decision we have faced for centuries.

Evidence suggests that, having listened to the arguments and participated in the debate, 16 and 17-year-olds voted in the same way as the population of Scotland as a whole—to maintain Scotland’s position in our family of nations. This is, of course, welcome in itself, but it also puts paid to the notion that those who are old enough to marry and have children are not old enough to weigh up the issues and decide how to cast a vote. It demonstrated the desire to be involved in an event that would shape the future of the country, and it demonstrated to us all that when people understand the issue before them, hear the arguments and know the facts, they want to use their democratic right to make a difference.

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Alistair Carmichael MP writes…A proud day as we move nearer to Liberal Democrat vision of home rule for Scotland

Saltire - St Andrews Flag - Scotland - Some rights reserved by byronv2One of my first political campaigns was the 1979 referendum on a Scottish Assembly, as it was then styled.

The failure of that campaign was formative in my political thinking.  We all learned the hard way some simple political truths. Constitutional change is only achieved by working with people from other parties and of no party and that our liberal vision of Home Rule for Scotland within a strong federal United Kingdom is more relevant today than it has ever been.

As a teenager growing up in a small tight-knit island community I also quickly realised that local communities were best placed to make the decisions that affect them. We also understood that Government in Edinburgh was just as capable of getting things wrong for us as government in London.

Fast forward thirty five years and it was a proud day for me as Secretary of State for Scotland when we won decisively the vote to keep our 300 year old family of nations together with a promise of extensive new powers for our Scottish Parliament.

We set up the cross-party Smith Commission to bring people together and build consensus on what these new powers should be.

No party got everything they wanted but we owed it to the majority of Scotland who made the democratic decision to reject independence to see through their desire for more powers – a desire shared by our party.

I was pleased the Smith Commission aimed high.

The draft clauses I have published today will mean our Scottish Parliament will raise over half of what it spends. It will create a new Scottish Welfare State System with a starting budget of more than £2.5 billion.

And it will introduce votes for 16 and 17 years olds for Holyrood and local government elections.

Smith also made another important point that has not received the attention that it deserves, namely that the process of devolution should not stop in Edinburgh but should be driven to local communities across Scotland.

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16 and 17 year olds in England and Wales have every right to be disappointed

This week the Scottish Parliament and Westminster both pass a Section 30 Order. Section 30 is the bit of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows powers to be given from Westminster to Holyrood. Two years ago a Section 30 Order gave the Scottish Government the power to hold the referendum on independence. This week’s transfers the power to the Scottish Parliament to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the next Holyrood elections which take place in May 2016. It will have to be confirmed by the Privy Council in March but that’s just a formality.

This means that young people in Scotland will have a say on the way their health, education, transport, justice and housing systems are run. We know that giving young people the vote was a massive success in the referendum. My heart swelled up seeing them head into the polling station with real excitement and pride on 18th September. There is surely no excuse for denying them the say at any level. Scottish 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote at Holyrood and local elections – but when it comes to Westminster, they will have no say. Of course this could all change if the next Parliament legislates. They surely can have no excuse to delay.

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Carmichael talks green investment, energy and renewables

AlistairCarmichaelYesterday, Alistair Carmichael spoke at a Green investment conference in Edinburgh, which is, of course, home to the Green Investment Bank.

It was a strong pitch to persuade those attending that the Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government on policies that are both green and pro-businesss. Here are some of the highlights.

Being Scotland, there had to be a bit on the constitution, though, and the Smith Commission:

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Danny Alexander, not Vince Cable, designated Lib Dem shadow chancellor (oh, and no Lib Dem reshuffle)

speech danny alexander 6The Guardian’s Nick Watt reports today the long-trailed announcement that Danny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury, will take on the role of the party’s shadow chancellor at the 2015 election:

Nick Clegg has decided that Alexander, his closest ally in the cabinet, will be the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman during the campaign and will face George Osborne and Ed Balls in any television debates on the economy. … The Lib Dems insisted that the election roles for Alexander and Cable were consistent with their cabinet roles. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “We are enormously fortunate to have two talented and well-known ministers on economic matters that are recognised and respected by the public. By the next election Danny Alexander and Vince Cable will have both served for five years as chief secretary and business secretary respectively, so they know their areas inside out. It therefore makes complete sense that they should continue in those roles during the election.”

I’ve made no secret of my view on this: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Vince Cable should have continued in the role he held in 2010 as the party’s shadow chancellor. He is, quite simply, head and shoulders above any of his colleagues when it comes not only to understanding the British economy, but, just as crucially, explaining it in a way that is both credible and distinct from the Tories.

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Conference speeches: Alistair Carmichael – Coalition with Tories is like having a cat

Here is Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Conference morning, strangely devoid of news of his victory at the Lib Dem Disco last night.

Good morning conference and welcome back to Glasgow.

It has been quite a year since we last met here.

Last November this was a city united in grief when Police Scotland’s helicopter fell from the sky and crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub at the other end of Argyle Street, killing ten people.  The response from the people of Glasgow at that time was remarkable.   They showed the truth of the slogan that is on the lanyards most of you are wearing today – People Make Glasgow.

In July we hosted the best Commonwealth Games ever.

We saw some truly memorable world class performances.

No sooner was that over than we led the nation and the Commonwealth in commemorating the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

And then we had a referendum.

I confess I am speaking from a text this morning but I think that even without it I might have managed not to do a Miliband and forget to mention it.

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Let’s get some action on votes at 16

As I said on Friday, one of the best sights of the Independence Referendum was seeing enthusiastic 16 and 17 year olds heading to vote. They were so engaged in the process and it seems so unfair to take it from them now. Votes at 16 has been our party policy for a long time. It was our Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore who, along with Nicola Sturgeon, made it happen for the Referendum. It may not be practical to implement before next May, but we should at least try to get legislation passed this Parliament if we can.

Funnily enough, there is a Bill being debated in the House of Lords, a Private Members Bill brought in by our Paul Tyler. It was introduced on his behalf by Alison Suttie in June. It needs the Government to give up some time for it. This is something that we could make happen.

Unsurprsingly, Alistair Carmichael says it’s a matter of when, not if, 16 year olds get the vote:

The energy and enthusiasm of young people in the referendum campaign is something of which Scotland should be proud.

I have always believed that young people are much more politically engaged than they are given credit for. Never has that been clearer than during the referendum campaign. One of the most active volunteers for Better Together Orkney was in fact fifteen year old Jack Norquoy of Birsay.  Jack spoke at a packed meeting in Kirkwall Town Hall alongside Shirley Williams.  He made a powerful and compelling case for what he believed in.

Our young voters were given the opportunity and seized it with both hands. I believe that it is now only a matter of time until we see votes at 16 rolled out across the UK. That time should be now.

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Is Mike Crockart voting Yes to Independence?

You might think so from these photos of his office in the heart of Edinburgh West

Crockart yes 1

Crockart Yes 2

Not for the first time, his staff have had to take down Yes posters which had been glued on to the office windows.

Yesterday a cavalcade of Yes cars parked outside the office and played loud music next to Mike’s No Thanks street stall. Why do they bother with nonsense like that.

This, sadly, is one of the milder incidents of intimidatory behaviour which are becoming commonplace across Scotland.  I have lost count of the number of committed and passionate No voters who have very politely declined to take a poster because they are worried that their windows would be knocked in if they display it. It shouldn’t be like this. 

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The day Alistair Carmichael made me cry

Carmichael at Lib Dem No RallyOn Thursday night an all-star cast of Liberal Democrat giants addressed a rally of party members and supporters in Edinburgh. We had 2 Cabinet Ministers, 2 former and a current Scottish leader, 3nformer federal leaders and one of my political heroes, Shirley Williams.

I had had a quick read of Alistair Carmichael’s speech before the event, so I really have no excuse for the fact that it made me cry when he delivered it. The way he talked about taking his 5 week old baby to the polling station to vote for change in 1997 and how the family is going together to vote for a liberal vision of the future on Thursday made me fill up.

There was also a powerful “I’m not a nationalist but…” segment where he says that if you think our problems can be solved by maps or only in Scotland then, actually, you are.

Please excuse the photo. I arrived in plenty of time but spent so long blethering to folk, which isn’t like me at all, that the only seat left was right up at the back.

I was a bit sceptical about holding the rally in the first place and to be honest, I still am. I reckon that several hundred people out on the streets talking to voters would have been a much better use of our time. However, it has given us a rich variety of good quality speeches, including videos from Mike Moore and Charles Kennedy, who was filmed from the top of Aonach Mor on a wonderful sunny day. It was a fantastic sight.

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Carmichael and Crockart rock at the Ice Bucket Challenge

Two very different but very funny takes on the Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon from the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West.

Mindful of some concerns of wasting water, Alistair Carmichael did his with iced sea water from the beautiful Tingwall Pier near his Orkney home. He started with a  thinly veiled threat of terrible revenge on those who nominated him and then:

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael – Independence vote is far too important to shun

AlistairCarmichaelWriting in the Scottish Daily Record, Alistair Carmichael praises that paper’s “Missing Million” campaign.

It seems 300,000 people have not registered to vote, and many others will probably not turn out on referendum day.  The paper had already been urging readers to exercise their vote, with a 16 page pullout yesterday, and they are now actively tracking people who are not on the roll.

Alistair writes:

The Daily Record. There’s a reason it’s called Scotland’s Champion and the “missing million” campaign shows why.

On September 18, you, I and every other eligible voter will have

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Lessons must be learned from the Jo Swinson speculation

jo swinson by paul walterOn Thursday, George Eaton of the New Statesman blogged that Jo Swinson was about to replace Ed Davey in the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle.

Today, the Guardian’s Nick Watt says that this is not the case and Jo is expected to become Secretary of State for Scotland in September after the independence referendum.

Nick Clegg, acutely conscious that the five Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers are all men, is expected to promote the business minister Jo Swinson to the cabinet. But she is expected to succeed Alistair Carmichael as Scotland secretary after September’s independence referendum in September if, as expected, the pro-Union side prevails. Carmichael would be praised for his role in the victory as Swinson took charge on introducing greater devolution to the Scottish parliament.

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