Tag Archives: Scottish independence referendum

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.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 34 Comments

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.

Posted in News | 8 Comments

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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Opinion: The Scottish independence referendum – a lack of wisdom in the pro-UK camp?

September 14th "Welcome to Scotland"In September 2014, the Scottish public will vote on independence from the rest of the UK. As of mid-April 2014, the opinion polls suggest that the pro-UK camp is ahead, but over the past few weeks the pro-independence camp has been fast catching up. Why?

One reason seems to be the spat between the London-based UK administration and the Scottish National Party (SNP) over the role of Britain’s sterling currency. All three main UK national parties stepped in behind a sudden policy of non-cooperation with an independent Scotland …

photo by: amandabhslater
Posted in News, Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , , and | 22 Comments

LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Let’s cut out referendum tension and concentrate on historical significance of referendum vote

Carmichael looking mean croppedLiberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has written for the Daily Record about the need to conduct the independence referendum in a more respectful tone, citing examples of attacks from independence supporters on those who want to stay in the UK:

Cybernats – or internet trolls, to give them their proper name – wish Eddie Izzard serious harm simply because he has the cheek to disagree with them.

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Michael Moore MP’s Road to the Referendum… A Vote for the United Kingdom: A positive Choice

IMG_2186Making a positive choice for the United Kingdom in the vote on Scotland’s future is as much a matter of the heart as well as the head.  Recently, those involved in the argument for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom have begun to argue more assertively that a vote for the UK is the positive choice.

We have just over five months to decide whether we stay in the United Kingdom family or go it alone. Five months to choose between remaining part of this four-nation partnership that we have built together or to break away and to start again.

I believe in the contribution Scotland has made over the last 300 years along with our friends and families across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – our common effort to create and share something bigger and that serves us all well.

photo by: ianpatterson99
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Carmichael: We should be proud of what we are achieving in the UK, not talking about leaving

Union FlagIn a week where I’ve despaired a bit of the pro-UK campaign in the Scottish Independence Referendum, it’s good to see Alistair Carmichael come out brimming with pride at what we have and what we’ve built together in the UK. In a speech at Edinburgh University last night. Yes, it’s a wee bit listy, but we actually need to look at and appreciate what we’ve got rather than just assume that the grass on the other side is going to be greener. Frankly, when people are wooed by the thrill …

photo by: mrs.timpers
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  • User AvatarLiberal Al 29th Aug - 12:22am
    This is truly scary news. When I first heard that a Tory had defected to UKIP and chosen to take a by-election, I chuckled, naviely...
  • User Avatarmuxloe 29th Aug - 12:01am
    @malcolmwood Many people in England don't want regional devolution but that doesn't mean that it necessarily follows that they are content with the west lothian...
  • User Avatarmuxloe 28th Aug - 11:55pm
    @johnmc No party has offered that possibility. (And no mainstream party will; its againstTory instincts while Labour and Lib Dems need the celtic votes) Why...
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    It's very simple. You check until you are satisfied that you can take full responsibility for the decisions you make and the reliability of the...
  • User AvatarPatrick McAuley 28th Aug - 11:39pm
    Danny I hope I was clear at the start of the piece that this is a stain on all Local Authorities and we all need...
  • User AvatarPatrick McAuley 28th Aug - 11:37pm
    Richard you are right, the issue is to what end do you take your checks. Undermining a qualified professional with more experience and knowledge than...