Tag Archives: Scotland

Three things you need to know about the new powers going to Scotland

There are some very interesting articles about the forthcoming Scotland Bill, the details of which were unveiled on Thursday, in today’s press.

The Tories were trying to back out and Clegg, Alexander and Carmichael wouldn’t let them

According to Michael Moore in Scotland on Sunday today.

 It is not a surprise to me that the Conservatives fought tooth and nail to remove some of the key elements of the Smith agreement.

We saw in the commission itself they adopted two or three different positions in the space of 48 hours on welfare and were clearly in touch with London colleagues at every stage.

We resisted it there and I am glad that my Liberal Democrat colleagues have resisted it in terms of the bill. There is no question in my mind that without Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg digging in on this over the last crucial 48 hours before the bill was published, we would have ended up with the whole Smith process unravelling.

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LibLink: Michael Moore: The Smith Commission has delivered

The Vow deliveredThis was the week that the Government unveiled the 44 clauses of the Scotland Bill which will be debated after the General Election. Former Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore was a member of the Smith Commission upon whose report the clauses were drafted. He says in an article for the Scotsman that the Commission has delivered and “the Vow” has therefore been kept:

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A sign of the trouble Labour faces in Scotland?

Liberal Democrats face their challenges in Scotland, there’s no doubt about that, but what about the party that that for so long dominated Scottish politics? The Evening News reported this week that the Labour Party has had to cancel a fundraiser due to lack of interest in one of their key seats in Edinburgh:

Deputy Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, local MP Sheila Gilmore and a shadow minister from Westminster were among the speakers lined up for the Edinburgh Eastern fundraising event on Saturday.

But after poor ticket sales, the local party executive decided to cancel the supper, promising refunds to those who had booked.

Former Edinburgh East Labour party chairman Paul Nolan said the event had been a popular fixture in the diary for many years and usually attracted up to 150 people.

But he said he understood fewer than 50 tickets had been sold and admitted the situation was embarrassing.

He said: “It is worrying that we can’t get members to come to a fundraising Burns Supper two or three months before an election.

“If we can’t get the activists motivated, it’s going to be even harder to get ordinary voters to turn out on polling day.”

Mr Nolan said last year’s Burns Supper had raised around £1000.

Edinburgh East will be a key constituency at the general election in May as Labour fights to stop a predicted advance by the SNP across Scotland.

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Willie Rennie warns SNP over ID database

Willie Rennie got a pretty good splash of headlines yesterday after he raised his concerns over SNP plans to create a massive ID database in Scotland. The Scotsman has details:

The Scottish Government is considering an extension of the NHS central register, which is already the “most complete and authoritative record of individuals in Scotland”.

It currently covers about 30 per cent of people, but ministers want to extend this and share information stored with more than 100 government agencies – including HMRC for tax ­purposes.

A similar population register was ditched south of the Border when controversial and expensive plans for ID cards were scrapped in 2010.

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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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Willie Rennie makes fair student finance a Scottish budget priority

There is no doubt that Willie Rennie is being brave in his choice of priorities for this year’s Scottish budget. In truth, the SNP have an overall majority at Holyrood so they don’t need to give any sort of ground.They have done the last few years, though. Last year, they gave extra money for childcare and free school meals in response to Willie Rennie’s persistent pestering. The year before it was college places.

This year, he’s taking a bigger risk. There’s an issue which in the context of the Holyrood parliament represents one of our finest hours and in the context of Westminster our worst. It’s tuition fees. Way back in 1999, Liberal Democrats fought an election saying tuition fees would be dead if they were in government and they kept that promise. We know what happened in 2010. We shouldn’t have done what we did, but, as I wrote at the time, Vince had actually managed to create a system that was fairer than the one it replaced:

However, if there were a way to get it wrong well, he’s probably done that.

Imagine for a moment if the Tories had been in power alone. I very much doubt that their Business Secretary would have tracked down Lord Browne and bent his ear about the importance of the recommendations being fair and progressive. And they are to a point. To play Devil’s Advocate a bit here, if we can’t have no tuition fees (and I’m not conceding that we can’t), then isn’t this a better option than anything else? Nobody has to pay out anything to actually go to university so access isn’t denied to those from less affluent backgrounds in the way it would be today.

And Labour? Would they, still in Government, be talking about a Graduate Tax? Of course they wouldn’t. They’d bung on the fees – although I’m not so convinced that they would have necessarily covered all the angles.  I mean, it’s coming to something when it takes a Tory to bring up the issue I blogged about earlier about interest accruing if someone takes time out to look after children. He confirmed in the House today that interest would not accrue under these circumstances.

Annoyed though I might be with him, I have to at least give some credit to Vince for taking an hour’s worth of utter tripe from the Labour benches with patience and humour. I’d rate him above just about any Labour minister you might care to mention and definitely any Tory. I loved his line about the road to Westminster having the skid marks of unenacted pledges all over it.

Y

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Jim Hume MSP writes…No room for complacency on mental health

With 2015 seeing the end of the current Mental Health Strategy we have a real opportunity to look at the successes and failure of the approach we take to tackling mental ill health in Scotland.

Our health professionals do fantastic work to help people suffering from mental ill health. But a lack of resources means that we are often asking medical staff to work with one hand tied behind their back.

Liberal Democrats in government have helped ensure that the NHS in other parts of the UK prioritise mental and physical ill health equally. But this is not yet the case in Scotland.

The Royal College of Nursing and other groups have been clear that mental health is often the poor relation to physical health when it comes to funding within the Scottish NHS. The impact of underinvestment in these crucial services is damaging for patients and medical professionals alike.

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Scotland’s Assisted Suicide Bill under further Committee scrutiny

Scotland’s Assisted Suicide Bill has been considered today by the Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament. This is the Committee which is taking the lead on the Bill, although the Justice Committee has also taken evidence on the legal aspects of the proposed reform.  The Bill was introduced by Margo MacDonald in November 2013 and has been taken forward since her death last April by Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

The Committee took evidence this morning from legal and medical professionals. I was surprised to see the Scotsman report say that the Law Society of Scotland is suggesting that the law as drafted might be against the European Convention on Human Rights. They say it’s in conflict with Article 2, the Right to Life. That hasn’t seemed to have been a problem for the Netherlands and Belgium, where similar legislation was introduced over a decade ago. The point, surely, is that the law gives people the choice about what they want to do faced with a terminal illness. What could be more liberal?

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Charles Kennedy MP writes…Our challenge for 2015 is to make positive case for UK political reform

 

As the BBC Radio Scotland self-promotional message has been reminding us at regular intervals throughout the holiday period 2014 certainly was “Scotland’s Year.” The best of times, the worst of times. From the sporting triumphs of the outstandingly successful Commonwealth Games and the hosting of the victorious Ryder Cup through to the referendum and ending on the tragedy of the Glasgow bin lorry crash we have never been out of the news.

The ever-perceptive journalist and commentator Iain MacWhirter (like myself, essentially, a federalist – unlike myself a Yes voter) reckons that the referendum represented the moment at which Scotland became “psychologically independent.” It is an interesting reflection and one which will be further tested as soon as May in the looming Westminster general election.

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First same-sex marriages take place in Scotland

 

At just after midnight last night, the first same-sex marriages took place in Scotland.

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What does Alex Salmond think he’s playing at?

 

When he saw the writing on the wall and was desperate to get people to vote Yes, Alex Salmond made a last ditch appeal on the Andrew Marr Show the Sunday before the independence referendum. He said that people had a once in a generation or even a lifetime chance to vote for independence and they should take it.

Now, it was fairly clear to me and I expect most other people that he absolutely didn’t mean what he was saying. There was no way that the entire nationalist movement was just going to give up and take up crochet if they lost. Of course they were not. They sincerely believe that independence is the best option for Scotland in the same way that I believe that a liberal approach to our problems is the best way to run a society. I’ll never give up my quest to see a truly liberal world.

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Scottish Liberal Democrats announce their list selections – and for the second time in a row manage to put one of their best MSPs in a more challenging position

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have been holding their regional list selections for 2016 Scottish Parliament elections and yesterday announced the top 3 in each region* .

Willie Rennie said on the team announced:

We are first off the mark with our candidate selection and this is a clear statement of intent. We have a team of passionate, dedicated campaigners who are up for the fight and will be working hard for their regions every day between now and the next Holyrood elections.

Our list candidates offer a mix of youth and experience that gives people right across Scotland the opportunity to elect a strong liberal voice to represent them at Holyrood. The new Home Rule powers Liberal Democrats are helping deliver for the Scottish Parliament mean it is more important than ever that we have a team of MSPs who will always stand up for their local area.

With the SNP taking their eye off the ball with the referendum it was Liberal Democrats challenging Scottish Government ministers over the pressure facing our NHS. We led opposition to damaging college cuts and helped families by expanding free childcare.

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Labour’s attitude to abortion devolution says a lot about their attitude to Scotland

When I wrote about the Smith Commission report last week, I was intrigued by its decision not to devolve abortion law to Scotland despite all the parties wanting to do so,  Here’s a reminder of what I said:

One last point: I’d quite like to know the story behind the fudge on abortion and embryology:

  • The parties are strongly of the view to recommend the devolution of abortion and regard it as an anomalous health reservation. They agree that further serious consideration should be given to its devolution and a process should be established immediately to consider the matter further.
  • The devolution of xenotransplantation; embryology, surrogacy and genetics; medicines, medical supplies and poisons; and welfare foods (i.e. matters reserved under Sections J2 to J5 of Head J – Health and Medicines, Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998) should be the subject of further discussions between the UK and Scottish Governments. Those discussions are without prejudice to whether or not devolution takes place and in what form.
  • If they all agree, why not just devolve it?

    Scotland on Sunday had an explanation. Apparently, it was Labour who vetoed its inclusion:

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    An overview of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

    Scottish liberal democratsFor the first time in 5 years, and only the third in the almost 15 years we’ve been back in Scotland, I missed a Scottish Conference this weekend. I had a particularly unpleasant bug that kept me in my bed for almost 3 days. Be gentle with me because I’m still not quite recovered.

    The event had keynote speeches from Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael and leader Willie Rennie, a discussion on the manifesto led by Jo Swinson and motions on subjects such as access to mental health services for young people and putting more NHS resources in areas of deprivation – a patient premium. The conference also passed a landmark motion calling for decriminalisation of sex work. You can have a look at the motions up for debate here. There was, I am told, even a good old-fashioned tammy on amending Conference Standing Orders which the Establishment won – but only after a counted vote.

    My colleague Dave Gorman, from Falkirk gave a brief summary of the day on Facebook and I have his permission to reproduce it here:

    My experience of being a Liberal Democrat, and the vitriol and nonsense written and spoken about us, causes me to write this. Today we agreed policy on, inter alia, widening participation to democracy including giving a duty to electoral officers to stimulate voting; providing new rights to sex workers and decriminalising it; extra funding for GP practices based on special funding in deprived areas; new support for poorer workers and much more. I remain proud to stand with fellow Liberal Democrats to promote opportunity and to promote the rights and opportunities of the minority, the oppressed and the poorest. So there.

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    Opinion: The UK is not working

    WalesFor 45% of Scots and for many in the NW, the SW and in Wales (which I refer to as the devolving regions), the UK doesn’t work, and this should matter to a Unionist Party. As a Welshman who was forced, as were my parents, to spend decades working in England the reasons are only too clear.

    In England we are quite often subject to xenophobia. And while our local colleagues go for exotic weekend breaks, we have to struggle back home to tend to ailing relatives via a crazy London-centred transport network that means that the quickest route from Penzance or Aberystwyth to Dover or Great Yarmouth is via the M25 or Paddington. The quickest route from Liverpool to Southampton is via the M25. And to get to Paris on the HS2 the whole country will have to stop off in London.

    photo by:
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    Last chance to make your views heard on more powers for Scotland..

    Well, not the last chance ever, but certainly the last chance to make a submission to the Smith Commission, which is looking into delivering more powers for Scotland in the wake of the independence referendum.

    My view is that it was very clear that people wanted significantly more powers. I don’t think that was predominantly why they voted No, but it was clearly indicated during the debate.

    The difficulty that the Commission has now is that the Labour Party, which has been dragging its feet on more powers anyway, now has no leader and no direction. Like the other parties, it has submitted its own recommendations, which are by far the most timid, but how is it going to get its act together enough to agree anything more substantial. It will have to, because  the most basic instincts of self preservation tell you that “The Vow” made must be kept.

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    Alison McInnes makes debut at First Minister’s Questions

    Highly regarded Scottish Liberal Democrats Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes stood in for Willie Rennie, who’s recovering well from routine surgery, at today’s First Minister’s Questions. You can watch her here from 23 minutes in.

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    Why I’m spitting furious about Johann Lamont’s resignation.

    The Scottish Labour Party has been thrown into turmoil by the sudden resignation of its leader, Johann Lamont. Her decision effectively sets Labour’s Holyrood and Westminster camps in open warfare against each other.

    Lamont threw in the towel after discovering that Scottish Labour’s General Secretary Ian Price had been removed from office without her even being consulted. I have to say that I am beyond furious about the way Ian has been treated. He is a friend of mine and an opponent who is worthy of respect. The problems faced by the Labour Party are primarily to do with their sense of entitlement to power and their predilection towards factionalism, personality cults and in-fighting, not a pragmatic, sensible general secretary who could actually have been part of the solution if he’d been allowed. I do not like seeing my friends being treated badly.

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    Police Scotland change armed policing policy – a victory for Lib Dem McInnes

    Armed Police graphicWe’ve covered the controversy over the use of armed police in Scotland several times over the past few months. A standing authority for firearms led to armed officers patrolling Scotland’s streets, often against the wishes of local communities, particularly in the Highlands. People had been horrified to see police officers with guns in their holsters going into the shops in peaceful Highland villages. Concerns were also raised that the routine arming of Police would lead to criminals routinely arming themselves, making us all less safe.

    Danny Alexander took exception to armed police patrolling the streets of Inverness. Alison McInnes, the highly effective Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson in the Scottish Parliament, has campaigned tirelessly for a change in policy. And yesterday, Police Scotland changed its mind. The BBC reports;

    Specialist armed police officers in Scotland will in future only be deployed to firearms incidents or where there is a threat to life.

    The move came following concerns from politicians about officers carrying weapons while on routine patrol.

    Opposition parties described the move as a U-turn.

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    Rennie chooses Michael Moore and Tavish Scott to represent Liberal Democrats on Scotland Devolution Commission

    Willie Rennie announced two very different Liberal Democrat representatives for the Scotland Devolution Commission to be headed by Lord Smith of Kelvin. On one hand you have former Secretary of State, co-architect of the Edinburgh Agreement, statesman, diplomat. On the other you have plain-speaking, uncompromising former leader Tavish Scott. They will be quite a formidable double act,  a parliamentary good cop/bad cop. 

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    Salmond’s bizarre public dig at critical commentator Torrance shows Scotland had a lucky escape

    A couple of weeks ago, Alex Salmond picked a fight with the BBC’s Nick Robinson. Cue a mob descending on the BBC’s shiny new Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow demanding that the journalist be sacked. In fact, much as it pains me to admit it, Robinson was actually in the right on that occasion. Salmond hadn’t answered a question he’d asked. He’d spent several minutes giving  a rambling answer about the first part of his question before lambasting the BBC for publishing a story that the Royal Bank of Scotland would move its HQ from Scotland in the event of a Yes vote. It was quite bizarre to see hundreds of people demand that a news station takes the Government line. Where else would you see that?

    Yesterday, political commentator David Torrance, who is probably one of the most fair minded people around, wrote a pretty critical but in my view accurate article about Salmond for the Herald. Torrance had written a well-received biography of the First Minister some years ago. This is what he had to say yesterday:

    But then blatant hypocrisy never seemed to bother Mr Salmond. The Liberal Democrats, another party which wasn’t spared his tribal warfare, were pilloried for reneging on their no-tuition-fees promise after the 2010 General Election, yet three years previously Mr Salmond had ditched a manifesto pledge to eradicate all student debt, even though it had arguably captured a significant chunk of the student vote.

    And in spite of lofty rhetoric about being “positive”, divide and rule was a hallmark of his style, as was phoney outrage.

    Anyone not perceived as a threat was treated with charm and thoughtfulness, but for those who fell outside that category condescension, pettiness and often downright rudeness were the order of the day.

    I can think of no other politician who behaved as badly as often and, more or less, got away with it.

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    Strong language from Nick Clegg on more powers for Scotland: This opportunity cannot be hijacked

    I had a sneak preview of an article Nick Clegg wrote for today’s Sunday Post. I was a bit disappointed in its blandness. We needed more robust language, I felt. Why? Well, when Cameron had just had almost half of Scots who voted tell him they wanted out of the Union, his main message in response was to pick a fight with Labour on the so-called “West Lothian Question.” Really, Dave, is that what you take from all of this? By making more powers for Scotland seem contingent on resolving the English votes for English laws issues, he exacerbated tensions up here.

    Yes supporters were already, entirely understandably, devastated. I only need to think of the anxiety I’ve felt over the last couple of weeks to understand entirely how it feels for them. The last thing these people needed to do was to find themselves in the middle of a scrap between the Tories and Labour over something that was irrelevant to them. There needed to be a very clear message that the powers would be delivered on time. If they aren’t, then, frankly, the three pro-UK parties are completely stuffed. As Ming Campbell memorably put it on the BBC News Channel on Friday night, you might as well hand out free membership of the SNP.

    Rather than use his resignation statement to bring people together and soothe people’s emotions, Alex Salmond sought to raise tensions by suggesting that David Cameron had reneged on a commitment to have the Second Reading of the new Scotland Bill by 27th March. That was never part of the deal. As an MP of 20 years’ standing, Salmond should know that even if it had had its second reading by then, it would have fallen as Parliament is due to be dissolved days later. The commitment was to have a Bill ready to be debated by the next Parliament immediately after the election. That’s what the Better Together election poster explicitly said:

    Better Together election poster

     

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    The post-independence referendum to do list

    I am so relieved this morning. I don’t think I have ever been as scared and anxious about any political event in my life as I was about the result of the referendum on independence. I really do think that a win for Yes would not have brought the help for the most vulnerable in society that was promised.

    I don’t feel any great sense of victory. I know that many of my friends, who have the same values and want the same things for our society as I do, are feeling distraught this morning. I’ve been on the receiving end of defeat enough times to know its pain. These are good people and I feel for them.

    I need desperately to sleep but before I do, and while I wait for Salmond to make his statement at 10 am, I thought I’d jot down a bit of a to do list for a whole variety of people. It’s ambitious.

    1. Deliver on the more powers pledge – putting something like Liberal Democrat policy into practice.

    The result was not a massive vote of confidence in the UK as it stands. The union has been put on probation. If people are not given signifiant new powers that make a difference, we’ll be back here in 5 years’ time. Do it quickly and inclusively.

    2. Develop a strategy for tackling poverty and inequality at UK and Scottish level

    In some ways the “more powers” thing was a bit of a red herring. People wanted more powers but they also wanted to make life better for the most vulnerable people in society. We need a bit of vision on delivering better housing and getting people out of poverty. That will really give the 84% of people who turned out yesterday a reason to do so again.

    3. No excuses, no delay: we need votes at 16 now

    One of the best sight of yesterday was seeing 16 and 17 year olds heading to the polling station for the first time in a UK election. It worked. They shouldn’t have that vote taken away from them now. Is it possible to implement it for the General Election next May? There is no reason it couldn’t be rushed through Parliament, surely. No taxation without representation, after all.

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    Senior Liberal Democrats react as Scots vote to stay in UK

    The sovereign will of the Scottish people, by a margin of, give or take a bit, 55%-45 %, is to stay in the UK. In voting No, they put their trust in David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to deliver more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

    Here’s how senior Liberal Democrats reacted. First,  Nick Clegg:

    I’m absolutely delighted the Scottish people have taken this momentous decision to safeguard our family of nations for future generations.

    In a dangerous and uncertain world I have no doubt we are stronger, safer, and more prosperous together than we ever could be apart.

    But a vote against independence was clearly not a vote against change and we must now deliver on time and in full the radical package of newly devolved powers to Scotland.

    At the same time, this referendum north of the border has led to a demand for constitutional reform across the United Kingdom as people south of the border also want more control and freedom in their own hands rather than power being hoarded in Westminster.

    So this referendum marks not only a new chapter for Scotland within the UK but also a new chapter of constitutional renewal across the UK.

    Willie Rennie:

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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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    Charles Kennedy launches new Liberal Democrat Poster van tour “Why would we walk away?”

    Charles Kennedy poster launch

     

     

    In Glasgow this morning, Charles Kennedy launched a new Liberal Democrat poster campaign reminding people of the good things that the UK has created together. Why would you walk away? is its theme. 

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    Jim Wallace: Team Scotland within the UK – the best solution

    Back in the day when we had a Scottish Government that was more bothered about doing everything it could rather than complaining about what it couldn’t do. When it found it didn’t have the power it needed, it found a way round. That Government, which  implemented transformative social and political change from fair votes for local government to free personal care to leading the way on freedom of information, land reform and the smoking ban, would not have achieved all it did without the leadership of our Jim Wallace. This is a guy who knows how to make things happen. …

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    Pro-UK rally in Trafalgar Square at 6pm TONIGHT

    If you’re in London and you want Scotland to stay in the UK, head for Trafalgar Square at 6pm. A rally is taking place to show solidarity across the UK. Fraser Nelson wrote about it in the Spectator:

    What’s the point of holding a rally in London? It’s true that no one there will have a vote, but this is for those who still love this county and can’t bear to sit back and watch it fall apart. Those who want to do something, no matter how small. The rally should enforce a point : that the UK is an extraordinary union of

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    Shirley Williams wows Dunfermline – in pictures

    Shirley Williams has been an absolute star these last few days. She came to Scotland on Thursday and will be here until Tuesday night. She’s already travelled the length of the country. She spoke at the Liberal Democrat rally on Thursday night, went to Orkney for a hugely well attended debate on Friday night and was back in Fife yesterday afternoon.

    She spoke to voters on the High Street where both campaigns were out in force. I’m sure the Yes campaigner with the megaphone who yelled out “Bow down to your Imperial Overlords” as we all assembled for a photo.

    Shirley group photo Dunfermline

     

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    Opinion: The economics of independence have been lost in the smoke of battle

    As economic issues have come to the fore in the referendum campaign, I find myself, oddly, sympathising with both sides in the debate, not for what they are saying, but for what they can’t say. You can imagine the story lines:

    In an astonishing admission that has left the Yes campaign in tatters, Alex Salmond has accepted that the markets will be adversely affected in the short-term by a vote for independence.

    or;

    The Better Together campaign was in free fall yesterday when Alistair Darling agreed that an independent Scotland would be economically viable and could be more prosperous in the longer term.

    Intuitively, …

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