Tag Archives: Scottish independence referendum

Of course sterlingisation and debt default would lead to Scots paying more for loans, mortgages and credit

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has been taking a bit of a pasting on social media from nationalists who don’t like what he said in a tv interview yesterday. He argued what I thought was a pretty obvious point that in a Scotland where we were using the pound without the protection of a lender of last resort and where Alex Salmond had led us to inglorious default on our share of the UK debt, our mortgages, car loans and credit cards would be more expensive than they are now.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, if we have no lender of last resort, the banks have to keep more money in their reserves which mens they have less to lend out. That will push up their interest rates to start with. We would all end up paying more. Think about the effects that would have on already stressed household budgets. We’ve so far avoided the huge spike in repossessions that we saw in the 1990s recession. That could change rapidly.

Remember when Vince Cable was complaining that viable businesses were really struggling because banks wouldn’t lend to them in the wake of the last recession? We’d have that to deal with as well.

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Danny Alexander sets out vision for more powers after a No vote in the Scottish referendum

Danny, Charles, Willie in InvernessOn 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.

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LibLink: Sam Ghibaldan: Put people, not nations first

Sam Ghibaldan was Special Adviser to Jim Wallace and Nicol Stephen throughout the Liberal Democrats’ 8 years in coalition with Labour at Holyrood from 1999 and 2007.

He’s written an article for the Scotsman outlining the importance of liberalism in securing us the rights we hold for granted and comparing it with nationalism in the context of the Scottish independence referendum.

First he outlines what liberalism has done for us:

But at their core is the liberal belief that gradually took root during the 19th century, and was brought to fruition in response to the lives squandered during two world wars, that every individual mattered. Once that dangerous, radical idea became established, so did the concept that the state should nurture people, equipping them with education, healthcare and other support. As it turned out, these were just the things needed to promote personal liberty, which exploded into the 1960s as deference fell out of fashion and choice became an expectation instead of a luxury.

Liberalism’s contribution to human wellbeing, in the form of happiness and self-fulfilment, has been immense. We are free. Free to make our own career choices, to enjoy ourselves as we wish, to believe – or not – in whatever we want, to live comfortably regardless of our sexuality without fear of society’s censure.

Personal choice, freedom, liberty – however you describe it – is more important than nationality, religion or any tribal identity. It allows us to be who we are, and who we want to be. People may choose allegiances, identities, whether related to football teams, musical tribes, religions or nations. But in a society that allows and facilitates such diversity, the important thing is that people can do just that – choose – and the state does not define them, or their rights, by those choices. First and foremost, they are human beings, individuals and fellow citizens.

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And the winner of the referendum debate was…….Charles Kennedy

Charles indyrefI’m sure we all remember THAT debate on Monday night between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond. It was what we call in Scotland a right  rammy. Two men standing up on stage shouting at each other has typified the independence debate has generally been going on up here. It’s not edifying. I took part in STV’s live blog of the event and you can see my take on it here.

Although Salmond is widely judged to have won the debate, the pivotal moment came when he laughed at me. Well, not actually at me, but at anyone who wants reassurance that we’re not risking higher interest rates or economic instability over the fundamental issue of the currency. When Alistair Darling, on behalf of people with those concerns, continued to question he First Minister on the risks that sterlingisation would put us under, and to challenge the wisdom of not taking a share of the UK’s debt, Salmond laughed. In a very sneery way. And then he called Darling a One Trick Pony. You know, when you’re trying to persuade people to trust you and make the massive change you want, you need to show you understand their concerns and address them, not treat them with contempt. It’s no wonder that the main theme in my Facebook was that people were fed up and were switching off.

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Opinion: 19th September – now what?

imageLooking ahead: It’s 19th September, and Scotland has voted “No” to independence. Thank goodness for that! The uncertainty is over. The people of Scotland will continue to have their say in how the whole of Britain is run; will still use the pound (and still have their say in how it is managed); will, without the need for difficult negotiations, still be part of the EU and still have the whole of NATO ready to protect it; will still be both British and Scottish, without having to choose one or other; will still have representation on the UN security council. And the Union will not have to endure the pain of partition – which a century of evidence from countries like Yugoslavia, Sudan, India and even Ireland tells us can be very great indeed.

The Union has survived, but it was close, and there’s still a problem. Nearly half of Scotland’s population is so unhappy with the way that it is governed that it was willing to turn its back on the benefits of being part of a long-lasting and successful union. Clearly something needs to change, if this widespread discontent is to be contained.

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Better Together can always make a better ad. Alex Salmond can not give us a better currency option than we have being part of the UK

20 pound note. Photo courtesy of steved_np3 on Sxx.huWhat’s the last thing you would want to happen on postal voters’ polling day? How about your own side putting out a broadcast that is beyond terrible? Better Together’s latest effort, showing a woman’s two minute clumsy, contrived monologue as she makes up her mind to vote No. It was Rosie Barnes and her rabbit without the political intelligence.

I’m willing to accept that I may not be its target audience. After all, I am a thoroughly committed No voter and this will have been aimed at undecided women in the largely Labour voting central belt of Scotland. I’m not sure I’m meant to absolutely hate it as much as I do, though. There are ways of appealing to a segment of the population without really annoying a similar group of people.

Calling a broadcast “The woman who made her mind up” as if this was some flight of fancy is the first major error and it doesn’t get much better.  That it was shared more on social media by Yes campaigners than pro UK supporters tells its own story. They have made hay, contributing to a #patronisingbtlady thread on Twitter which, to be honest is just as patronising and sexist as the original broadcast.

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Caron Lindsay on this evening’s referendum debate

caron lindsayOver on STV, our own editor, Caron Lindsay, has been making some predictions about the Salmond/Darling debate this evening.

Alex Salmond goes into tonight’s debate as the underdog.

The Yes campaign is behind in the polls and he knows that he failed to make a convincing case for independence three weeks ago.

Posted in LibLink | 17 Comments

Opinion: Scotland’s Future – a view from the Gallery

I’ve recently had the chance to work in the Scottish Parliament during August, and it’s been a really great experience. On Thursday, I was fortunate enough to get tickets to the final debate before recess, courtesy of Liam McArthur MSP. By the wonders of technology, you can watch it too.

It was an interesting experience. Alex Salmond took the opportunity to note all the good things the Scottish parliament had done, and attempt to be fair to other parties. He did actually manage this; however, his argument that the parliament has done some great things and made some mistakes could apply to every parliament across the world, including Westminster.

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Former Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett says he’s voting Yes in the Independence Referendum

imageWay back in January, former Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett made a very intelligent contribution to the debate on independence in an article for the Scotsman. He said his vote was still up for grabs. He was fed up with the banality of the official campaigns and highly critical of the Liberal Democrats for participating in Better Together.

Well, his vote isn’t up for grabs any more as he’s decided that he’s voting yes on 18th September and explains why in today’s Edinburgh Evening News.  Even though I reach a different conclusion on the question of independence, I can’t find much to disagree with in what he has to say about the quality of the two official campaigns:

I believe neither side is telling the whole truth and that the facts about the future of an independent Scotland, or one remaining in the UK, are not as clear as either side likes to make out. There are risks with either option and if either, or at least one side, would admit to this, they would gain more credibility in the public’s eyes.

Alex Salmond claiming he will get everything he wants in every single set of complex negotiations after a Yes vote is something I am sure that even he does not believe.

On the other side, the No campaign claiming that Scotland’s future use of the pound or membership of the EU will be something they will not support is equally hard to believe.

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats for independence

Scotland pipers bandHow has our party got swept up into the negativity of Better Together, and how does one reconcile that negativity with the commitment of the Edinburgh agreement to negotiate in a cooperative way?

The problem lies in a probably well-founded belief that discussing possible negotiations cooperatively in advance would lead to a realisation that they’re perfectly practicable, that Scotland could achieve political independence while maintaining close social and other ties to rUK. Hence the refusal to pre-negotiate, the refusal to investigate options – for example, to ask for an official EU position on continued membership for all present EU citizens – in favour of a simple scare story: if you vote Yes you will fall over a cliff.

In contrast, much of the Yes campaign is genuinely grass-roots, and conducted imaginatively, intelligently and with a sense of humour.

It is about self-determination, not nationalism. Indeed it is England that is becoming ever more narrowly nationalistic, as epitomised in the ludicrous promotion of `British values’: apart from being delusional, this concept has no traction in the wider world. We should condemn Islamic State for its gross violations of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights; if we condemn it for its violations of British values we will rightly be laughed at.

photo by: deejayqueue
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Danny Alexander and David Torrance discuss the Independence Referendum

imageIt is an hour and six minutes of your life you won’t get back, but it is actually worth listening to this conversation between Danny Alexander and political commentator David Torrance as part of Dundee University’s Five Million Questions project.

David has just written a book on Federalism so it was obvious he was going to be quizzing Danny on that subject.

It’s also available on You Tube here. Enjoy. It’s much better than a lot of the hot air around the independence referendum.

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: Alex Salmond’s future looks bleak so he turns to the past

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWillie Rennie has been writing for the Daily Express in response to Alex Salmond’s invocation of Robert the Bruce yesterday. The First Minister has obviously given up on the detail and is sticking with the Big Picture aimed at emotional appeal. I’ve always been one for tugging on the heartstrings. I go on about it all the time. You do need to have some facts in there somewhere, though. It helps if those facts have some relation to the truth, as well.

It’s been annoying me for some time that the pro UK side has not been quick enough to rebut the ridiculous claims that the pro-independnece side makes about the NHS. They claim that it’s been privatised in England. I’m no fan of the changes in the Health and Social Care Act of 2012, but I know that health care is still free at the point of need as it should always be.  It’s been annoying that few senior Labour figures have rammed that home to the SNP, perhaps because it doesn’t suit them to do so in a Westminster General Election context.  Willie makes it perfectly clear who calls the shots as far as the Scottish NHS is concerned:

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Danny Alexander: “We would all be diminished by Scottish independence”

imageWith just a month to go before the referendum on Scottish independence, Danny Alexander gave an interview to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph emphasising that a vote for independence would be forever and that he would be “desperately sad” to see the UK, with its strong social and economic ties, break up.

He suggested that people from other parts of the UK could urge their family and friends in Scotland to vote No on September 18th.

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Opinion: Better Together should agree to a third independence referendum debate

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TIt appears that despite lengthy discussions between Sky news and the Yes and No campaigns there will now be no third televised debate between the two campaigns.

According to the Sunday Times:

A spokesman for Better Together said: “We made it clear right from the start that all television debates would have to be done before the first postal votes start to go out.

There are only two weeks now before around 1m people who are registered for postal votes start to receive their voting forms.

It’s only right that the debates between the leaders of the Yes and No campaigns have all been seen by then. If Mr Salmond had not spent so much time trying to delay both the STV and BBC debates, other bids could have been accommodated.”

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Rennie on the SNP’s “dishonest, desperate and disgraceful” NHS scaremongering

nhs sign lrgScottish Lib Dem Leader Willie Rennie delivered a passionate speech yesterday setting out his positive arguments for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom.

A link to the whole speech is below, but he spent a bit of time rebutting some recent scaremongering by the SNP on the issue of the NHS:

And across the UK, few things unite people like our belief in the NHS.

Founded on the principles that it should meet the needs of everyone, that it should be free at the point of delivery, and that it should be based on clinical need not the ability to pay, it remains a source of pride in which each and every one of us has a stake.

These principles are unique and they are enduring.

For the Nationalists to claim that they are under threat is dishonest, desperate and disgraceful.

It is also factually wrong.

Despite the financial pressure of the global financial crisis, the NHS budget has been protected and NHS funding in England is now £12.7 billion higher than it was in 2010.

Private sector involvement in England’s NHS is paid for with public money, meaning that the cash equivalent is protected for Scotland – and the Scottish Government can spend it however they see fit.

The publicly-funded NHS was this year ranked best healthcare system across the 11 richest countries in the world – and we are determined to keep it that way.

But five weeks out from the independence referendum, and the SNP has suddenly started to pretend that funding is in doubt.

Standing on street corners, dripping poison about the NHS into the ears of passers bye is a sign of just how desperate they are becoming.

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Charles Kennedy: Independence would “inflict huge damage” on rural Scotland

Charles Kennedy is not one for the sort of sloppy, casual scaremongering we’ve seen from both sides in the Scottish independence debate. Danny Alexander has form for it, saying, unhelpfully,  the other day that independence would be worse for Scotland than the 2008 economic crash. So when he expresses concerns about stuff, we should probably take notice.

He will be talking today about the effects of independence on rural Scotland, like the massive area he represents. He’s particularly concerned with the costs of providing the postal service.

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Food for Thought: Scottish independence?

An educational charity called WORLDwrite contacted Lib Dem Voice recently with a link to their programme below.

This was made by WORLDbytes, which is a “unique online Citizen TV channel set up and run by the education charity WORLDwrite. Dedicated to advancing new knowledge, skills and ideas, the charity promotes excellence in citizen reporting and provides free training to volunteer-learners which combines practical film making with tackling challenging issues.” It offers a 6 week training programme for 16 – 25 year olds, so may well be of interest to any Liberal Youth readers.

This is a video their volunteers made about the Scottish referendum.

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LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Why our destiny must lie with the F word

Charles KennedyThe Independence Referendum campaign continues to be depressing. The only really good things associated with it tend to come from Liberal Democrats and most especially Charles Kennedy. He’s written a thoughtful and persuasive article in the Herald about the dilemma facing Scotland beyond 18th September as, whoever wins, we’ve all lost out from increasing centralism to Edinburgh in recent years.

He outlines the problem:

In the pre-devolution days of one- party Tory domination there was much legitimate railing against the excessive concentration of power within Whitehall. The centre accrued and amassed while

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Willie Rennie vs Tommy Sheridan and an angry mob

I wrote yesterday about my experience at what was for all intents and purposes a taxpayer funded rally for the Yes campaign for independence. The Yes supporters were very nice when they told me that “No” voters were stupid.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was not so lucky the other night when he turned up to a meeting in Abbeyview, Dunfermline this week to debate the pros and cons of independence with Tommy Sheridan, the former Socialist MSP. All Willie knew from the invitation was that it had been organised as a debate for undecided voters. This is the (imprintless) flyer advertising it:

Abbeyvew indyref meeting

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The weirdest evening I’ve ever had at taxpayers’ expense

Kenny MacAskill at Scotland's Future LivingstonWell, last night was a weird evening. And I know what weird is. I go to the Glee Club a wild, rude, drunken end of Liberal Democrat Conference singalong and Doctor Who conventions.

This, though, was the Scotland’s Future taxpayer funded Scottish Government independence event in Livingston, held in a local hotel. It was hosted by Training and Youth Employment Cabinet Minister and local MSP Angela Constance who was lovely, as she always is. She also had that clever political talent of under-promisng and over-delivering. She said …

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Charles Kennedy: I miss being Rector of Glasgow University more than I missed being Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Charles KennedyLast week, Charles Kennedy spoke in Liverpool as part of the Liverpool John Moore University’s Roscoe series of lectures. His subject was the ongoing debate on Scottish independence and his comments were, as you would expect,  enlightening, in fact one of the most enlightening moments of the debate so far. The bar isn’t that high, but Charles’ lecture is actually very good. Here are some of the highlights.

He started off by referring to his 6 years as Rector of Glasgow University, saying that he misses it more than he missed being leader of the Liberal Democrats. He also remembered being told off by a Professor in his own university days for that typical student politico offence of not actually going to any questions. Discussing career options, the academic said to Charles:

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Yes Scotland is a bit late to realise that Wings over Scotland is bad news.

Forth Railway Bridge at North Queensferry Fife Scotland

About two years too late, the Yes Scotland campaign has started to distance itself from controversial pro-independence blog Wings over Scotland,  run by a Bath based individual who describes himself as “Rev” Stuart Campbell.

The Courier reports that Yes Scotland has asked its Edinburgh Group to stop distributing leaflet that invites people to look at Wings.

This is not just an Edinburgh thing though. I don’t live in Edinburgh and I had a Yes newspaper delivered with this leaflet

photo by: conner395
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3 Scots pro-UK leaders promise more powers after “No” vote

Brazil v Scotland 22In an unprecedented show of unity, the leaders of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties in Scotland wrote a joint article for Scotland on Sunday yesterday in which they promised more powers for the Scottish Parliament if Scotland says “No, thanks” to independence in 3 months’ time.

Ruth Davidson, Willie Rennie and Johann Lamont have managed to put together a decent article, cogently arguing the case for staying in the UK, and for more powers to Holyrood and from Holyrood. That last bit is very important and I’m …

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Willie Rennie MSP: “I need you to get out and make our positive, sunshine case for a stronger Scotland which works together as part of the UK.”

Edinburgh Castle, stunning in the morning sunScottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie sent this email to party members to spur them into action 100 days ahead of the Independence Referendum.

Dear Friend,

With 100 days until the referendum, Liberal Democrats have a golden opportunity to loudly state our case for home rule for Scotland in a federal United Kingdom.
We know that the majority of people believe Scotland has the best of both worlds as part of the UK family.

photo by: HannahWebb
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Nick Clegg in Scotland: Liberal Democrats are guarantors of more powers

Forth Railway Bridge at North Queensferry Fife ScotlandNick Clegg is coming to Scotland today to lend his support to George Lyon MEP ahead of Thursday’s European elections. He’s also going to be speaking to the Scottish Chambers of Commerce in Edinburgh.

There has been hardly any mention of actual European issues in this election as politics up here is dominated by the independence referendum. Nick’s remarks will concentrate on the question of more powers for the Scottish Parliament. He’ll say that a no vote is a positive choice and will repeat his …

photo by: conner395
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The Independent View: Scotland, vote no and let’s all move towards a Federal UK

Brazil v Scotland 22As an outsider, analysis about September’s Scottish Independence Referendum is something of a minefield. There is space to constructively critique the SNP’s proposals, but needs to recognise that I don’t have a vote, and that Lord Robertson-style hyperbole about a Scottish “cataclysm” is not just offensive – and for unionists, counterproductive – it is inaccurate, too.

So let me begin by making clear that in my CentreForum paper analysing Scottish independence published today, I believe that Scotland is perfectly capable of becoming an …

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Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael go independence myth busting

Saltire and Forth BridgeBoth Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael have tried their hand at taking on some of the pro-independence supporters’ claims about the consequences of independence today with varying degrees of success.

Before I start, I usually try to refer to SNP and Yes supporters as pro-indy people or something like that but it’s a bit clumsy. I say the Yes Lot, too, as long as people know I’m doing it in good spirit.  I don’t really like calling them Nationalists because the likes of Jim Murphy use that as a …

photo by: 4652 Paces
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Trouble in paradise…SNP MEP says leadership should admit they made a mistake over independent Scotland’s EU membership

DSC_0044So we’ve had the first real sign of jitters within the SNP ranks tonight. Up until now, they’ve been as tight as anything, united against everyone else as they pursue their lifelong goals. In fact, I suspect there might have been a few times Nick Clegg has looked at the loyalty of SNP members and elected members and maybe felt a wee pang of envy. Even when two SNP MSPs resigned the whip over the party’s abandoning of its anti NATO stance, it was all done more in sorrow than anger. …

photo by: theSNP
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Opinion: As everyone looks to keep Scotland in the Union is the coalition doing enough to keep Wales in?

Welsh flagIn 1889 Lloyd George saw the way that Wales was bring treated by his fellow Liberals, over home, rule as being like prize giving at a country fayre:

 Excellent little Wales’ and all that. At horse shows we sometimes see a first prize of £10 given to one, £5 to another, while the third is ‘Highly Commended’. That is the way that Wales is treated by the Liberal Party. Ireland deservedly gets the first prize (a series of splendid measures). Scotland take second prize. Wales, like a Welsh mountain pony, is

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Danny Alexander writes… Direct community engagement on Scotland’s future

TGOC 2011: NW Highlands (gp027)When Russell Johnston, that stalwart of liberal democracy, first ran for parliament for Inverness in 1964 he made a point of holding public meetings across the constituency. And when I first met him, in the 1980s, he was still following that old tradition – small gatherings, inviting all-comers to engage in open debate, determined that he could persuade the communities he served so energetically to follow him on the best path for the Highlands.

Over the subsequent years, politics has perhaps lost a little of that traditional engagement.

photo by: Ted and Jen
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