Tag Archives: Scotland

Willie Rennie goes all Alice in Wonderland AND uses the F-word

Have you ever thought that what Parliament really needs is a few more Alice in Wonderland references?

This afternoon the Scottish Parliament started a two day debate on whether to call for a Section 30 order, the device that would enable them to hold a second independence referendum. Theresa May has said that “now is not the time” in much the same tone of voice as she said “brexit means brexit.”

It’s funny, because, as Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles pointed out today, they’ve managed to clear 2 days of parliamentary time for this (although the length of the debate was something we agreed with) at a week’s notice and put so much effort into setting it all up, yet we’ve gone 445 days without a mental health strategy. Priorities, and all that.

I started watching the debate as Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale started speaking. Of all poisoned chalices, hers is the biggest. She’s one of the most caring, articulate, engaging politicians I’ve come across, yet she’s lumbered and with and constantly undermined by Corbyn. During the last referendum, I watched her speak particularly to women’s groups and she was fantastic at putting across a positive case for the UK. She and Willie Rennie are both very good at that but they were both sorely under-used on the national stage.

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Here we go again…

 

We all know about the announcement from Nicola Sturgeon. Some have written here in support of Liberal Democrat leadership figures maintaining a staunch unionist position, to the extent of wishing to block an independence referendum in the first place. Others have written in support of the Liberal Democrats crossing the divide and actively backing Scottish independence this time around.

I have made no secret of the fact that in 2014 I was a reluctant Yes voter. I am also open about the fact that in the next referendum, the only thing that will have changed for me is my increased certainty that independence is the least worst option on the ballot, in the wake of Brexit. However, many others within the party will be similarly convinced of their position behind a No vote.

In the wake of the recent Northern Irish election, I remember reading a Mark Pack article asking what lessons Liberal Democrats could learn from our Northern Irish sister party, which had enjoyed a strong result. The Alliance Party exists as a cross-community endeavour to defend and advance liberalism, tolerance and understanding across sectarian and nationalistic divides. Crucially, it does so without declaring either the British union or a future reunion of Ireland as the correct context to achieve those goals in.

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Cole-Hamilton: Greens have no mandate to call for second Scottish independence referendum

This week, the Scottish Parliament will vote on whether to seek a Section 30 order, the device in the UK Parliament’s power that would give it the right to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. The SNP Government is expected to win with the support of the Greens. However, Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has made it clear that the Greens do not have a mandate to call for a referendum given that the three conditions in their manifesto have not been met. He has challenged Greens leader Patrick Harvie – who could easily merit being called “Pushover Patrick” for voting with the SNP on these critical issues, to explain his actions.
Alex  has asked Mr  Harvie why the party has turned its attention away from public service reform, back-tracked on its requirement that opinion polls should indicate support for a new referendum, and scrapped its requirement that a million-strong petition should be the trigger.

Alex said:

The Scottish Greens had three criteria to allow a referendum from their manifesto. None has been met.

The Greens have no mandate for a referendum. They should respect that and decline to vote for a referendum at Holyrood next Wednesday.

Scottish Liberal Democrats had a manifesto commitment against a referendum and we will stick to that.

With education performance slipping, the mental health strategy abandoned and the economy sluggish, Scotland needs its Parliament working on these issues instead of a referendum.

Alex has written to Patrick Harvie saying:

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Another civil liberties victory for the Scottish Liberal Democrats

A couple of years ago, the SNP was planning to make this super ID database which made what Labour’s planned ID cards from 2008 look positively timid. They intended allowing 120 public bodies, including the Royal Botanic Gardens and Quality Meat Scotland, access to the NHS Central Register.

Alison McInnes, our then Justice spokesperson was on it straight away, as was Willie Rennie and made such a big fuss that the idea has now firmly been consigned to the dustbin.

Following parliamentary questions from Liam McArthur, our new Justice Spokesperson, the Scottish Government admitted that it had “decided it would not …

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The emotions of constitutional change

 

Here we go again – Scotland is (if Westminster grants a S30 Order) being treated to yet another bitter, divisive and emotional constitutional referendum where lies and spin will confuse one and all and we will likely end up with a narrow result that satisfies no one. What joy!

I voted No before.  This time we are told that circumstances have changed (thus the SNP and the hyper-nationalist Scottish Green Party are demanding the re-vote that they would have demanded whatever happened) and some of my LibDem friends say that Brexit means they will now vote Yes.

Willie Rennie promises to make an “emotional case for the Union”.  I find it hard to get any more emotional about staying with the Union then separating from it.  Where can a liberal find that emotional call?

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Heartbreak

I’m feeling pretty heartbroken at the moment. Like Charles Kennedy, I’m a highlander, a Scot, a Brit and a European, with the first and the last most important. Now my rights as a European citizen (though I will be one no matter what) and a British citizen are under threat.

As I write, the Labour Party, the so-called opposition, is about to crumble  and let the Government have its way on the Bill that will pave the way for our exit from the European Union. It beggars belief that the Government has been able to get this through without any serious opposition. It’s the greatest issue of our time, and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party might as well have been part of the most right-wing, isolationist, dangerous government we have  had in my lifetime.

I’ve been fairly sure that the country has been headed to hell in a handcart before. There was the 80s, for a start, when Thatcher destroyed the industrial fabric of our country and championed selfishness over community. You thought things could only get  better with a Blair Government but he ended up ruining the country’s standing with the folly of Iraq.

I thought I had felt heartbreak in 2011 when I saw so many of my friends lose in the Holyrood election, when we lost our MEPs and the turmoil that followed, in 2015 when the General Election result was the worst we could have anticipated. None of that, tough that it was, comes close to my sadness and fear for the future.  I feel like we’re throwing away our safety net in so many ways. What will be left of workers’ rights and human rights in ten years’ time?

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Rennie and Farron react to Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement on the second independence referendum

It looks like either a second referendum on Scottish Independence in 5 years is on its way. Either that or an indefinite stalemate between the Tory Government in London (who must give permission for the vote) and Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalist government in Edinburgh.

This was inevitable ever since the Brexit vote. That a large majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU was always going to lead us to this place. Nicola Sturgeon built a very big tent in the hours after the result was declared but she and her ministers spent the rest of the Summer dismantling it piece by piece. They talked about independence incessantly. Now, they’re a nationalist government. They are not going to give up on independence because they lost a vote any more than I’m going to give up on the EU.

You have to govern for all of your people, though and, at the moment, there is no sign that anything like a majority of the  Scottish people want an independence referendum. For many, relationships from the division and polarisation of the last one are only just healing over.

Willie Rennie and Tim Farron have both been reacting to today’s announcement. Willie said:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 29th Mar - 7:36pm
    P.J. 29th Mar '17 - 7:16pm Two points actually. Some people claim that the Conservative party has a liberal wing, for instance Douglas Hurd MP...
  • User AvatarLaurence Cox 29th Mar - 7:21pm
    I suggest sending a 'not in my name' response to Donald Tusk, as it is he to whom the Article 50 letter was handed. Here...
  • User AvatarP.J. 29th Mar - 7:16pm
    @Richard Underhill Your point is??
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 29th Mar - 7:08pm
    David Beckett, there is a real chance of much of what you warn happening. On the Tory side, Hammond and Davies are pragmatists. On the...
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  • User AvatarDavid Raw 29th Mar - 6:38pm
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