Tag Archives: Scotland

Congratulations Brexit, but Scotland holds the key

It would be churlish not to congratulate the Brexit campaign, especially its leaders Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage on their stunning success, which amongst other things has led to

  • The ousting of Boris and Michael’s friend Dave from the office of Prime Minister. Chimes of Perfidious Albion. ‘Et tu, Brute?’ With friend like this Cameron needs no enemies. The rest of us should watch Johnson and Gove, and beware.
  • The wiping of many £billions value from UK shares
  • The wiping of $trillions value from global shares
  • The fall of about 10% in the value of the £
  • The lowering of the UK’s credit rating to negative
  • The very possible introduction of tariffs against UK imports into the EU, specifically on cars made at UK Japanese implants, leading to loss of jobs and future investment – ouch!
  • The very likely secession of Scotland from the UK
  • The less likely but possible secession of Northern Ireland if Sinn Fein saw its chance and managed to call a referendum for re-unification of Ireland which were then to succeed based on the Catholic majority in the population and the general desire to stay in the EU
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So what’s going to happen about Scotland?

Not every part of the UK has voted to leave the European Union. Every single council area of Scotland has voted to Remain, all but one of them by a significant margin,with most over 60%. In total, 62% of Scots voted to remain, 38% to leave.

The SNP is naturally making noises about a second independence referendum. Of course they are. It’s what they do. If we were them, we probably would too. Their manifesto was pretty explicit that they would consider they had the right to a referendum in these circumstances:

We believe that independence offers

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Are you prepared to take the risk of leaving the EU?

To be honest, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to the EU referendum until after the Scottish elections had passed. Being an expat – or migrant, if you want to put it another way – in a country outside of the EU, it seemed, from a distance at least, that while the rest of the UK would support remaining, England might have a temporary moment of madness during the campaign but would come to its senses in time for the actual vote.

But it was a Facebook post from Scottish Lib Dem stalwart Sheila Richie which really jolted me. She described herself as being “scared” about the potential outcome in a way which she didn’t feel scared about the Scottish independence referendum. I know what she means.

I have a daughter. I’m scared what a vote to pull out of the EU means for her and for her ability to find jobs or higher education in a country which suits her. If she returned to the UK, she wouldn’t automatically have the right to go and work in France, Spain, Germany or wherever (and yes, I know that the UK could stay in the EEA and have the same right of movement as we currently do, but the main aim of most of the Brexiters seems to be to stop immigration so realistically that’s not going to happen.) It would also mean her opportunities for spending time on programmes such as ERASMUS, or even having the opportunity to study for her degree in an EU country, would be at best made difficult by visa regulations, and at worst virtually impossible.

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Rennie: Deal with Chinese company with bad human rights record would tarnish Scotland’s human rights reputation

Any contract signed with the China Rail Group CR3 will tarnish Scotland’s human rights record. So says Willie Rennie following the refusal of the First Minister to rule out such a contract with the controversial company.

Watch their exchange at First Minister’s Questions here:

Nicola’s bad-tempered response shows her defensiveness on this issue.

This week saw revelations in response to Parliamentary Questions by Willie and Freedom of Information requests that government officials tried on multiple occasions to remove reference to the China Railway Group from documents around the Memorandum of Understanding but the First Minister still signed the final agreement with them.

The FOI releases include a letter from the First Minister expressing “delight” that the specific projects presented had been well-received by the Chinese investors. This contradicts the Government’s assertion that specific projects were not on the table.

Answers to PQs from Willie show that the Scottish Government had not made any checks to find out that the China Railway Group had been blacklisted by the Norwegian state pension fund, or investigate the human rights concerns expressed by Amnesty International about their work in Africa.

And to compound the ill-advisedness of this process, apparently Brian Souter, SNP donor and campaigner against LGBT rights, had been mentioned as a potential investor.

It has now emerged that Sir Brian Souter, a high-profile SNP supporter and donor, was discussed as a possible investor in a deal potentially worth over £10bn from an early stage.

Willie says that the First Minister needs to decide whether to drop China Rail Group CR3 or drop Scottish values on human rights.

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Willie Rennie announces Lib Dem leadership team – with a majority of women

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has announced his leadership team which contains the 5 MSPs and 7 women from outside Parliament. Some of them will be well known to LDV readers.

Willie said:

Scottish Liberal Democrats have punched above our weight over the last five years at the Scottish Parliament and the team announced today will help ensure that we continue to lead the agenda.

Our party is full of talented people and I am delighted that senior party figures outside of Holyrood will play a leading role in driving our policy agenda forwards for the next five years. They have contributed a huge amount to the communities they serve, from councillors to campaigners, and bring a wealth of experience to the team.

This gender balanced team will provide strong liberal voices inside and outside parliament. These appointments will put the Liberal Democrats in the strongest possible position to grow over the next five years.

The team includes:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton’s maiden speech: EU is most important charter for freedom the world has ever seen

There is a reason I have spent so much time and energy over the past decade trying to get Alex Cole-Hamilton elected to the Scottish Parliament. I hope the video of his maiden speech this morning will help you understand it too.

I had pretty high expectations, if I’m honest. The subject, the EU, is one of his strong points. Last year he won best speaker in the Charles Kennedy Memorial Debate on our continued membership of the EU. Alex managed to exceed even my lofty expectations today.

He paid tribute to his immediate predecessor and to Margaret Smith, who, as Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh West until 2011, had played such a huge role in getting Free Personal Care through.

On Europe, he highlighted the role of the EU in preserving the peace. Only the last two generations of his family have been free from the losses of European war. As well as preserving the peace, the EU helps us tackle the challenges facing our world which know no borders, like climate change and human trafficking, he argued.  The case he made for the EU was persuasive, inspiring and optimistic.

The full text is below:

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It’s Willie vs Goliath in Holyrood

This afternoon, MSPs will choose the new First Minister of Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the largest single party will not be unopposed, though. Willie Rennie, on his fifth anniversary as Scottish leader, is standing against her. Willie is a massive optimist, but I doubt even he expects to get more than a handful of votes. We won’t have a Wales scenario in Edinburgh. However, it is important that someone lays down a marker that the SNP, which no longer has a majority, has to work to make its case to Parliament. Nicola Sturgeon’s comments that she expects Parliament to respect her mandate are not the sort of comments you would expect from a leader without a majority. She has to show a bit of humility and respect for Parliament.

This will not be the only time when the Liberal Democrats will lead the opposition to the SNP, as we did so often in the last Parliament. On Thursday, Sturgeon presents her list of Ministers to the Parliament. Under its standing orders, Parliament can only reject any new names. It can’t pass judgement on any of the people already in post. Willie Rennie has appointed Mike Rumbles to be Business Manager (or chief whip). This is a role that he took during the last period of Holyrood minority government from 2007-11. His experience of the Parliament’s procedures will be helpful.

The Liberal Democrats have been horrified at the total muck-up the SNP has made over payments to farmers. During the election, Tavish Scott slammed the SNP for seeking to charge interest to farmers on emergency payments made to them while they sorted out their IT system. It seems incomprehensible that Parliament should not even get a say as to the performance of the Minister responsible. The Parliament has an opportunity to assert itself and reject that Minister. The Press and Journal reports:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarChristopher Haigh 1st Jul - 9:18pm
    Peter, any idea why rural areas so overwhelmingly seem to support Tory MP's at the moment ?
  • User AvatarSpencer Hagard 1st Jul - 9:03pm
    David - I agree. And the sooner the better!
  • User AvatarNom de Plume 1st Jul - 8:42pm
    petermartin2001 The problem is the euro. The federalists have a lot to answer for. They have turned Europe into a powder keg, again.
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 1st Jul - 8:38pm
    The increase in racism has been horrific and I personally know a European who received abuse before the vote and is now afraid it will...
  • User AvatarPaul Pettinger 1st Jul - 8:24pm
    Strongly agree. The last thing we should be doing is help further mainstream xenophobia, but challenging it, the scapegoating of migrants, the lack of investment...
  • User AvatarSteve Comer 1st Jul - 7:31pm
    Good move by Tim to visit the centre with Caroline. I`m also pleased to see him openly attacking Farage over the posters as Guy Verhofstadt...