Tag Archives: Scotland

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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Saltire hunting

imageOne of the superb, and very enjoyable, things about Liberal Democrat Voice, at the moment, is that there is excellent coverage of the Scottish debate. This is helped by having a Highlander co-editor, the great Caron Lindsay. There are about two interesting posts a day about Scotland at the moment in the run-up to the referendum.

As honorary photo editor, or “photo-fairy” as I encourage the team to call me, this leaves me with a bijou problemette. At the height of our powers here at LDV Towers, we like to illustrate each post. But there are only so many Scots photos one can lay one’s hands through the good offices of Flickr/CCL.

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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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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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Lib Dems have led the case against armed police in the Highlands – not that you’d know from the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland

This time next week, I will be in one of what I think is the most magical places on earth, the Black Isle. The friendly people, gorgeously rich scenery from the fertile farmlands to the wonderful pink-sanded Rosemarkie beach, the rubbish mobile phone signal and the utter peace of the place combine to make it my perfect bolt-hole.  I feel myself relaxing as soon as I get my first view of Munlochy Bay from the A9. It’s pure heaven.

I try very hard when we’re there to do all my shopping from local shops rather than the big supermarkets in Inverness, …

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

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

He outlines the problem:

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

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Progress in Magna Carta’s Birthday year

Magna Carta by EteeIn a week when the big news is about changed faces in government, there is also much manoeuvring in the political undergrowth about the rules which govern government:  our constitution.

The House of Commons Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform (P&CR) has launched a debate on a written constitution for the United Kingdom.  This has been a Liberal and Liberal Democrat objective for all my time in politics, but the question has always been how such a document would be drawn up, agreed and entrenched beyond the usual …

photo by:
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Alistair Carmichael to co-host Scottish Fashion Awards

AlistairCarmichaelSomeone must have heard of Alistair Carmichael’s excellent skills at Ed Fordham and Russell Eagling’s wedding last Saturday. He’s only gone and got himself another hosting gig, at the Scottish Fashion Awards in September, just 17 days before the Referendum on independence.

Fibre 2 Fashion has the story:

The Scottish Fashion Awards have announced an impressive list of nominees and honourees for the 9th annual fashion extravaganza, which will take place in 8 Northumberland, London on 1st September 2014. The event will be co-hosted by The Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael

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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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Why we need Liberal Democrats: Consensual Stop and search of under 12s in Scotland halted

Police stop and searchThe Scottish Liberal Democrats aren’t in Government at the moment. Despite that, the small Parliamentary group has had quite an impact in the past 3 years. Willie Rennie has had Salmond squirming at First Minister’s Questions over his associations with Rupert Murdoch and has been pivotal in securing extra funds for colleges, childcare and free school meals.

Back in January, it came to light that 500 children under 10 had been stopped and searched by Police in 2010. That’s bad enough. Last year that figure was just 88 …

photo by: Tony Austin
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More powers for Scotland – guaranteed

Rennie, Davidson, Lamont More powers photo popWe brought you the joint article from yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday in which Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie and his Conservative and Labour counterparts Ruth Davidson and Johann Lamont. Now this lunchtime, the three leaders appeared at the iconic Edinburgh monument on Calton Hill to issue a joint statement.  Whether it was wise to drag journalists up there in this blistering heat will be seen from the coverage that ensues. I’ve already seen one point out that the monument was once known as Scotland’s …

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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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Something a bit different – Trams return to Edinburgh

Trams in St Andrew Square Edinburgh
If you think that canvassing on behalf of the Coalition Government is hard, you should have tried canvassing in Edinburgh during the 2012 Council elections. The Liberal Democrat/SNP administration which came in in 2007 actually did, eventually, sort the contract problems and ensured that today could take place.

photo by: Karen V Bryan
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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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Devo 15: Lord Jim Wallace writes.. Next 15 years represents inspiring opportunity to build on devolution success

Scottish Parliament 23 May 06 061Before going in to address a class of first year law students at Aberdeen University, last November, the head of the Law School took me aside and said, “Just to be aware. Most of your audience can’t remember a Scotland without a Scottish Parliament.” And, of course, these students were only about four years old, when the first elections to that Parliament were held fifteen years ago last week.

To those of us who campaigned so long and hard to create the Parliament, it doesn’t seem so long ago.

photo by: Martin Pettitt
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Danny Alexander speaks out against use of armed and mounted Police in the Highlands

Police on Horse BackIn February, I reported that Danny Alexander had spoken out about the use of Police horses in his Highland constituency. As a native of Inverness I shared his sense of horror that anti-riot policing techniques were being used in the peaceable and safe Highland capital.

Danny had written to the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to express his concern about such unprecedented, heavy-handed policing, to to mention the cost of bringing the horses up from Ayrshire at a time when the service is closing local control rooms. He’s …

photo by: joncandy
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Devo 15: 15 great achievements in 15 years of the Scottish Parliament

Tomorrow, it’s 15 years since the first meeting of the Scottish Parliament established after may years of work and campaigning by the Scottish Constitutional Convention. In that first decade and a half, it’s done some groundbreaking and pioneering things. It has a lot to be proud of. Here are some of Holyrood’s highlights.

1.  Free personal care for the elderly – Enabling older people to live at home for as long as possible

Stay Well At Home Service, Evesham, Britain

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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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Alistair Carmichael as many of you will never have seen him before

Do you know what, this independence referendum is actually starting to have some nice moments.  I would never have thought it. Sadly, few of them are to do with the actual substance of the campaign, but there’s always hope.

One of the best things about it for me is that for what I imagine will be the only time in our lifetimes, my Dad and I are on the same side in a political debate. I was absolutely thrilled when he took up volunteering for Better Together one day a week and he’s become a bit of an expert on the …

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I don’t care where Alex Salmond lays his head – but does he have to be so evasive about it?

The Benjamin HotelBuckwheat or memory foam, or water. Those are some of the pillows Alex Salmond could have had, according to the Telegraph when he stayed in New York’s Benjamin Hotel in 2007 when he was there on official business. But, do you know what? I’m not really that bothered. Yes, luxury hotel suites are expensive but in the world of international diplomacy and business, it’s pretty much par for the course. Sure, some people would be happier to see our politicians stay in a Bed and Breakfast with squeaky, staticky, purple nylon sheets and those duvets with flowers on that were so popular in the 70s, and a bit of thrift never goes amiss, but I’m not going to get in a lather about it.

photo by: Reading Tom
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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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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarLiberal Neil 20th Aug - 5:20pm
    Most of the points put forward by Denis in the article and in the comment by John Barrett are perfectly reasonable. If people currently on...
  • User AvatarDav 20th Aug - 4:42pm
    the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a good expression of what mid-20th century liberals believed to be universal rights and values And 'British values'...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 20th Aug - 4:31pm
    Thanks Tony Hill, as you say, I think a feeling of lack of power and injustice is something to do with it and we should...
  • User AvatarIain 20th Aug - 4:30pm
    There is a strange assumption in the 'Yes' camp that rUK will want have some interest in promoting the interests of Scotland, in some cases...
  • User AvatarIan MacFadyen 20th Aug - 4:30pm
    It is silly to condemn the Better Together campaign for being negative. It exists to oppose a bad idea and ensure that it is voted...
  • User AvatarJohn Barrett 20th Aug - 4:22pm
    Moving away from the Islamic State debate to the Scottish State. With Federalism not an option in the September 18th referendum and Westminster unlikely to...