Tag Archives: Scotland

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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Opinion: How to tell the SNP?

No yes scotland photo by kyoshi masamuneHow do we point out to SNP supporters that they should vote No next Thursday to save their party, without alarming No voters?

The survival of the SNP depends on a No vote.  The party exists to campaign, lobby and bully for independence achieved through a Yes vote in the referendum.  It has no other purpose.  If it wins the referendum, even by a single vote, it will have achieved its purpose and have no further reason to exist.

The SNP is not a liberation movement like the ANC or SWAPO, whose victory founded democracy in states where the previous oppression and authoritarianism meant there were no alternative democratic political parties and the liberation movements have continued while politics develops.

Scotland is a vibrant democracy.  Scottish Parliament elections change Scottish governments.  The Liberal Democrats – and Labour and the Conservatives and the Greens – have purposes related to improving people’s lives and pursue policies related to doing that in changing circumstances.

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Well, that rather blows a hole in the Yes campaign’s NHS claims, doesn’t it?

I don’t often use the word “lies” in politics. I save it for the most egregious examples of political dishonesty. One which has made me incredibly angry recently has been the Yes campaign’s utterly dishonest campaign on the NHS. They argued that a Yes vote was the only way to protect the NHS, saying that privatisation in England meant that there would be less in funding through the Barnett Formula. Preying on the fears of some of the most vulnerable people in our society is completely unacceptable.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has just, to put it mildly, proved the Yes campaign wrong. This is what they have to say:

Independence would give the Scottish government more freedom to set spending and tax policies. It would also, in principle, have more freedom to borrow. That freedom would be constrained by the size of the debt it would likely inherit and the willingness of markets to lend. On most plausible scenarios it is hard to see how an independent Scotland could “end austerity” in the short run. In work published this summer we showed how, on the basis of the independent OBR’s oil forecasts, an independent Scotland would likely still have a deficit of 2.9% of GDP (borrowing of about £800 per person in today’s terms) by 2018-19 even if it followed current UK government tax and spending plans – plans that are forecast to lead to the UK as a whole actually having a small budget surplus by the same year. In this case an independent Scotland would need to implement bigger spending cuts (or more tax rises) than the UK as a whole or try to borrow more. This means it would likely be harder rather than easier to protect the NHS.

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Opinion: Devo-Instant – a recipe for disaster

Union FlagWe are now into headless chicken mode. With a week to “save the Union”, we are contemplating fundamental constitutional reform at breakneck speed, driven by a timetable drafted on the back of a fag packet by Gordon Brown. Decades of unresolved debate about conflicting options will now be sorted out in months.

We all know about the Dangerous Dogs Act, “emergency” legislation which turned out unworkable. This time we’re not just talking about dangerous dogs. We are talking about the dangers of a botched constitutional settlement and national disintegration.

For politicians who don’t understand, this is not just about abstract ideas like regional government or an English Parliament. It is about organisation. It is about making sure there is one authority for each necessary task, not three or zero. It is about the jobs of those who skivvy for you politicians and do these tasks. It cannot be set up in a fortnight.

photo by: mrs.timpers
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Michael Moore MP writes…Scotland’s Future – my personal view

The EildonsA week today we will take the most important political decision of our lives.

Across the Borders, in the privacy of the voting booth we will each face the question: should Scotland be an independent country?

It’s the moment of truth as we weigh up what’s best for our families, our communities and our country.

I am proud to be a Borderer; I am proud to be Scottish; and I am proud to be British. For me the answer is straightforward – I want to continue to be a part of this family of nations which we call the United Kingdom, so I will be voting ‘No’.

Looking around me I see families whose stories tell the tale of these great British Isles –  parents and children from all corners of the country; life stories of careers down south, up north and all parts in between; shared experiences with others across the UK in our armed forces, on the sports field or in the culture of Coronation Street and the Olympics.

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams: A chance to promote a new union

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams has been writing for Click on Wales saying that she hopes that Scotland remains within the UK and how the Referendum gives an opportunity to make the union between our nations work better.

First she talks of the benefits of remaining in the Union:

The referendum offers us a chance to promote a new Union, rather than stubbornly defend the old.  The Welsh Liberal Democrats offer people a more positive future:  not one of isolation, but one in which all corners of the United Kingdom are indeed stronger and better together.

I firmly believe that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. Being part of a strong family of nations like ours is in the best interest of not just Scotland but the rest of the UK too. We all benefit from a stronger economy, greater national security and a powerful international voice that would be hard to match as separate states. However, Scotland must have more powers to determine its future.  To simply do nothing in the event of a ‘No’ vote cannot be an option.

And she talks bout what needs to happen in the future for both Scotland and Wales and highlights what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in Government.

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Kirsty Williams says Carwyn Jones’ devolution comments will confuse Welsh voters

Carwyn Jones and Alistair DarlingYesterday, I saw Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones speak at  a Better Together event in Edinburgh. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that much. Most of what I’ve heard about him comes from the Welsh Liberal Democrats who aren’t, shall we say, completely enamoured at his record in office.

Having said that, he did have some useful things to say. He was very clear that he as Wales’ leader wanted Scotland to stay in the UK:

We want you to stay to work with you to build socially just

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Opinion: I’ve changed my mind on Scottish independence

I’ve changed my mind over Scottish independence and so on which way I would vote in the referendum on 18 September.

Although a Liberal and Liberal Democrat, I welcomed the SNP’s election progress from the 1967 Hamilton by-election to their first administration in the Scottish Government.  As a school and college student, trying to be different, I would talk to girls about Scottish independence.  As a chat up technique it was a total failure!  Only a few years ago, I wrote in an email about wanting to be on the northern side of the border when Scotland became independent.

I displayed a sham certainty that melted several years ago before the prospect of a referendum after the SNP’s election victories.

In fact all along I was arguing for federalism with a passion that persists.

Why when, Liberal Democrats are jostling to explain why they are voting Yes, have I abandoned my flirtation and do I passionately want a No vote?

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Opinion: A new constitution won’t deliver the social change people think they’ll get with a yes vote

As a Scottish Liberal and a lawyer, I have been inclined at times to get too involved in the minutiae of constitutional issues.  I can explain how to count several forms of PR and I have firm and detailed views on written constitutions.  Enduring two years of referendum campaigning in Scotland, however, has woken me up to the dangers of over-emphasising constitutional issues.

When you read much of what comes from the Yes campaign, you are lefd to believe that every social problem – real and perceived – that has ever occurred in Scotland will be solved by changing the constitutional settlement.  Scotland will become a land of milk and honey where all social problems melt away (or, at the very least, are showered with unending supplies of healing money) and a raft of social services will be presented as being “free”.

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LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Scotland’s energy considerations benefit from the UK

Photo of loch Sloy hydro electric scheme by paul walterCharles Kennedy is one of a handful of politicians on the pro-UK side never to have put a foot wrong in the independence debate. Labour’s Kezia Dugdale, always passionate on feminism and social justice is another. Better Together could do a lot worse than leaving all the talking to them for the next 12 days.

On his own website, Charles has written a typically thoughtful article about Scotland’s energy needs, what we gain from being part of the UK and how independence would affect us.

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Opinion: A real respect agenda

As we near 18th September and the Independence referendum vote the language of some commentators and politicians on both sides has become less respectful and in some cases quite febrile.

Unfortunately that has included our own party where in the last few weeks we have seen speeches reported on Liberal Democrat Voice using the language of:

Standing on street corners, dripping poison about the NHS into the ears of passers-by

and

nationalist thugs

It’s a language that has been compounded by our agreement to adverts that suggest the only way to demonstrate your love for your children is to vote No.

The Yes Scotland …

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Danny Alexander says EU membership would not be possible with Salmond’s “bonkers” sterlingisation plan

I wrote last night that Alex Salmond’s plan to use the pound come what amy after independence would  lead to higher personal credit costs as well as higher national debt costs. According to Danny Alexander it might also compromise Scotland’s EU membership.  He has a letter from the former EU Commissioner Oli Rehn who told him that it would “not be possible” for Scotland to join the EU while using someone else’s currency.

Rehn said in a letter sent to Danny today:

As to the question whether ‘sterlingisation’ were compatible with EU membership, the answer is that this would simply not be possible, since that would obviously imply a situation where the candidate country concerned would not have a monetary authority of its own and thus no necessary instruments of the EMU.

This certainly puts more doubt as if there wasn’t enough already on the Yes Campaign’s  currency plans. No doubt they will have  whole load eminent people lined up in the morning to tell us that it’s all going to be fine and we shouldn’t worry about it, but people aren’t daft. In fact, they will probably say that it strengthens their case for a currency union and surely the nasty UK wouldn’t deny them that, especially when they would have a mandate for it from the referendum. Except that the mandate wouldn’t apply to the rest of the UK.

Danny announced this a little while ago in a speech at Chatham House. He probably showed a little too much glee to be honest. A more thoughtful “look, we did try to investigate to see if it would be possible but regrettably it isn’t” tone  might be a little more appropriate. We don’t really need more aggression and dissonance in all of this. People are turning off. The most common reaction of my Facebook friends to last week’s ill-tempered debate between Darling and Salmond was to switch of. A “more in sorrow than anger” approach might keep them listening.

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Jim Murphy returns to Scottish independence campaign trail, promises more powers for Scottish Parliament

Jim MurphyNever let it be said that I’m not good to my niece. This morning I took her into Edinburgh to see the return of Labour’s Jim Murphy and his Irn Bru crates to the Independence Referendum trail. You may remember he had to call his “100 town in 100 days” tour off at the end of last week after encountering angry mobs of Yes campaigners. 

A much friendlier crowd, estimated by the BBC to be around 300, turned up to see him today in one of the most beautiful locations in Edinburgh outside the National Gallery which has the Castle behind and views down to the Scott Monument and Waverley Bridge.

I have to say I’m not Murphy’s biggest fan. I don’t like the language he has used in the past, saying that he is a patriot, not a nationalist. Everyone involved in this campaign has the best interests of Scotland at heart. There is just a fairly fundamental disagreement on how to deliver the best future  and I think that using words like patriotic raises the toxicity level of  the debate unnecessarily. I may be alone in this. I know Tim Farron used the word a lot during the European elections – and I told him exactly the same thing. There was a marked softening of that nationalist/patriot rhetoric from Murphy today. He used the word patriotic much more often than I am comfortable with, but he did acknowledge that it applied to everyone who loved Scotland.

It was standard campaign stuff with a bit of humour. He said that we could heckle him all we liked so long as we didn’t play with his crates. He’s also learned early on in the campaign not to give questioners the microphone because the first time he did that, they ran off with it. He looked very comfortable on the stump. As my niece wryly remarked, “It’ll be doing wonders for his ego.” There were a couple of heckles, and someone unfurled a big saltire with YES on it at the back. Oh, and there was a Sun journalist in a chicken suit for some reason best known to themselves. No eggs, though, this time. 

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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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Rennie: Stand up to the nationalist thugs

Yesterday, Labour MP Jim Murphy was egged in Kirkcaldy as he was speaking there as part of his 100 towns in 100 days tour. He travels the country with 2 Irn Bru crates to stand on and speaks and meets people around the country.

Twice in the last week, there have been really ugly scenes as he was surrounded by Yes campaigners who did their best to shout him down. Last week the same thing happened in Motherwell. Now, I don’t much care for Murphy’s politics, but he has the right to express himself without facing intimidation.

I’ve been chased down streets by Labour thugs before. They didn’t like being beaten with the regularity we managed it in Chesterfield in the 90s. I remember copping a mouthful of abuse from some scary Labour men in a quiet street during the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election back in 1995. I remember It’s really unpleasant and not how politics should ever be conducted. Since I’ve been back in Scotland, bar the odd skirmish at counts between Labour and the SNP, things have been pretty civilised in comparison. Until the last few months.

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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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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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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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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPrateek Buch 30th Sep - 12:39pm
    "Economic policy written by Prateek Buch? The person who thinks inflation doesn’t really matter?" I'm sorry, what? Who is this namesake of mine...?! Congratulations Nigel...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 30th Sep - 12:34pm
    @RC "According to Yougov, one of the reasons we are languishing with 7% of the vote is that 16% of our 2010 voters have gone...
  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 30th Sep - 12:24pm
    I suspect that there are many views on how the Party should develop after it is free of the Coalition. However, given Cameron's apparent determination...
  • User AvatarRC 30th Sep - 12:15pm
    The problem is that the Conservatives are stealing 2010 Lib Dem votes precisely on the back of the economic recovery. According to Yougov, one of...
  • User AvatarTony Rowan-Wicks 30th Sep - 12:07pm
    As a left-leaning LD, I welcome articles like this. I'm not clever enough to sort out the economy - as none of us on LDV...
  • User AvatarRoland 30th Sep - 11:58am
    Perhaps the biggest and simplest change is to give much more encouragement to the development of organisational learning! The example of "Chinese strategies for maths...