Tag Archives: Scotland

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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Alison McInnes MSP writes…The Scottish Justice Secretary is wrong to say stop and search is an operational matter

Police stop and search1st April 2014 marked the 1st anniversary of Police Scotland, a single national police force that replaced our 8 regional forces.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats were the only group in the Scottish Parliament to oppose the national force from the outset.

One of the key strengths of Scotland’s policing up until then had been its local foundations.  Funded by local councils, managed by local officers and officials, accountable to locally elected representatives, responsive to local needs.

photo by: Tony Austin
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Michael Moore MP’s Road to the Referendum… A Vote for the United Kingdom: A positive Choice

IMG_2186Making a positive choice for the United Kingdom in the vote on Scotland’s future is as much a matter of the heart as well as the head.  Recently, those involved in the argument for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom have begun to argue more assertively that a vote for the UK is the positive choice.

We have just over five months to decide whether we stay in the United Kingdom family or go it alone. Five months to choose between remaining part of this four-nation partnership that we have built together or to break away and to start again.

I believe in the contribution Scotland has made over the last 300 years along with our friends and families across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – our common effort to create and share something bigger and that serves us all well.

photo by: ianpatterson99
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Carmichael: We should be proud of what we are achieving in the UK, not talking about leaving

Union FlagIn a week where I’ve despaired a bit of the pro-UK campaign in the Scottish Independence Referendum, it’s good to see Alistair Carmichael come out brimming with pride at what we have and what we’ve built together in the UK. In a speech at Edinburgh University last night. Yes, it’s a wee bit listy, but we actually need to look at and appreciate what we’ve got rather than just assume that the grass on the other side is going to be greener. Frankly, when people are wooed by the thrill …

photo by: mrs.timpers
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Stop and search nonchalance from Justice Secretary shows why Scotland needs the Liberal Democrats

Police BrutalityIn January, I wrote about the worryingly high police stop and search figures in Scotland, which is proportionately much higher than in England includes over 500 children under 10 years old.

Now it transpires that these figures may not be accurate. And may be made up. According to the Edinburgh Evening News:

Official figures show a huge number of incidents where stop-and-search powers have been used since the creation of a single police force. Critics claim officers are under pressure because the number of stop-searches has been made a “key

photo by: Tony Austin
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Andy Myles announces support for Scottish independence

I was not even remotely surprised to wake up this morning to this headline.

Andy Myles joins Yes

 

Andy was Chief Executive of the Scottish Party from 1992-1997. He was then a special adviser to Nicol Stephen during the second term of the Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition. Sadly, he’s no longer a member of the party, which is a great shame. We shouldn’t be losing good liberals like him. I hope that at some point in the future he’ll feel able to join us again.

It’s been clear from his always thoughtful and considerate posts …

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Danny, please listen to Charles Kennedy before you write about the Independence Referendum again

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TDanny Alexander’s article on the Independence Referendum in yesterday’s Sunday Times (£) was, for me, a frustrating read. If I’m honest, it was actually like nails being dragged down a blackboard.  Full of language like damaging, devastating and divorce, t is absolutely not what we need at this stage of the campaign. He even brought in the spectre of not being able to sustain the NHS in an independent Scotland. 

A poll published in yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday

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Michael Moore MP writes… Federalism: The best future for Scotland

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TLast week saw the intervention of two giants of Scotland’s political landscape in the debate over Scottish independence.  An emerging consensus came to light after Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, and Sir Menzies Campbell, former UK leader of the Lib Dems, issued separate calls for the Scottish parliament to be given sweeping new powers as an alternative to independence.

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Charles Kennedy: Pro UK campaign needs to be more positive

Charles KennedyCharles Kennedy has made a welcome intervention in the debate on Scottish independence. As far as the Better Together campaign is concerned, he’s quite off message. I suspect Liberal Democrats will feel that his comments needed saying and deliver a much-needed kick up the backside to the pro-UK organisation.

I very rarely share Better Together social media stuff because it’s only rarely that I see something that my friends will actually appreciate. The campaign generally gives off an air of dourness that doesn’t even connect with its own activists. They might well have bought into the idea that negative campaigning is effective, and while the polls are still in their favour, they will see no reason to change.

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Clash of the Cabinets: A wasted opportunity

I’m feeling a bit disgruntled today. My two governments are in the news. The Scottish and UK Cabinets have set up rival camps, glowering at each other with the City of Aberdeen providing an unwitting No Man’s Land.

How very different it could have been.

Given that these governments share responsibility in really important areas like employment, climate change, transport and energy, I think it would have been so constructive if they’d been able to organise a joint session to discuss these issues. Youth unemployment, for example,  is a significant issue north of the border and it’s something that both governments are …

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: Scotland can’t go it alone and keep the pound. That’s not bullying, it’s reality

Danny Alexander has taken to the pages of this week’s Mail on Sunday to write about the Scottish independence referendum.

He tackled the hostile reaction from some nationalists to David Bowie’s entreaty at the Brits. “Scotland, stay with us.” said the rock legend.

David Bowie’s call sparked strong reactions on both sides of an ever more passionate debate. He was attacked for being a ‘celebrity’, being English and not living in the UK.
And why shouldn’t a ‘celebrity’ have a view and express it? Why shouldn’t an Englishwoman have a view on  an issue that will change the country she lives in, too?

Come

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Shirley Williams: “A separate Scotland would be a diminished Scotland, leaving behind a diminished United Kingdom”

Shirley WilliamsLast night, Shirley Williams spoke at the East Dunbartonshire Liberal Democrats’ Annual Dinner. Someone has slipped us a copy of her speech. She joins David Bowie in calling for Scotland to stay within the UK but had a little more substance to her argument. She made the point that both Scotland and the rest of the UK lose out if we leave. She talked of the opportunities Scotland’s had and the contributions its politicians have made internationally. Here is her speech in full:

It is a privilege for me to be asked to speak at your annual Liberal Democrat dinner, a privilege not just to be here in Scotland when the huge question of your future is being discussed, but also because you have an outstanding young MP in Jo Swinson, widely recognised as a rising star and now a mother as well.

She holds her constituency, as you know, by a very narrow margin. She is already one of the most respected women in Parliament.  And for me, after fifty years in politics – I was first elected in 1964 – it is marvellous to see the emergence of a new young generation of women MPs. In the devolved parliaments of Scotland and Wales, a much higher proportion of members are women than is the case in Westminster.

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Two things about the independence referendum that haven’t made me want to punch a pillow or hide under the duvet

It’s not been a great week in the Scottish independence referendum. The Codswallop Quotient has gone through the roof since word got out last Tuesday night about George Osborne’s plan to rule out a currency union with an independent Scotland.  If the CQ has a similar effect on the human body as the pollen count, there will be lots of people sneezing across the country this week.

It was a huge gamble on Osborne’s part and it will be a while before we know whether it’s paid off. I’m still not getting any sense that it’s doing any more than reinforce …

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Another wheel comes off the SNP’s independence bandwagon as EU Commission President says Scotland would find it difficult to join EU

It has not been a good week for Scottish independence campaigners and particularly the SNP. Their primary objective in their quest has been to achieve a break up of the UK without scaring any horses. We’d hardly notice, they said. Everything would go on pretty much as before. We’d still have the Queen and the pound and, of course, an independent Scotland would be admitted to the EU automatically on the same terms as the UK currently enjoys.

This week George Osborne, backed by Danny Alexander and Ed Balls, ruled out the SNP’s preferred option of a currency union. Alex …

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Bluff, bluster and bullying, says Salmond. Pot, kettle and black come to mind

That the SNP would dismiss yesterday’s announcement on currency by George Osborne should not come as a surprise to any of us.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have taken to the airwaves to complain of “bluff, bluster and bullying” by those nasty big boys from Westminster. It’s actually quite brazen to sit there and say, having been told a very firm “no” that the answer was really yes. But their aim was to whip up fury amongst their own supporters, to incite an emotional reaction in those who don’t like English Tories telling things like they are.

That was always going to …

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Ruling out currency union: Locking the horse inside the stable?

MoneyThe currency in an independent Scotland has been the subject of much frenetic debate in recent months. The Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence is clear that their preferred option is to continue to use sterling within a monetary union with what would remain of the UK:

The Commission’s analysis shows that it will not only be in Scotland’s interests to retain Sterling but that – post independence – this will also benefit the rest of the UK.

Under such an arrangement, monetary policy will be set according to economic conditions across

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Bedroom Tax no more in Scotland – with Scottish Liberal Democrat support

It’s been a big week for the Scottish Parliament. On Tuesday, Holyrood passed a much stronger equal marriage bill than we have south of the border. Yesterday it passed a budget which, with different ideas incorporated from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, will make a huge difference to many people in Scotland.

The Holyrood budget process is very different. You’d never find George Osborne publishing his budget 3 months in advance, letting all parties contribute to the process and then putting an amended budget through Parliament incorporating new ideas. It’s to Finance Secretary John Swinney’s great credit that he adopts …

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Sir Menzies Campbell to develop plan for more powers to Scottish Parliament

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie puts some much needed positivity into the hitherto dismal and demotivating debate on Scottish independence. We’ve been drowning in a deluge of claim, assertion, counter claim and denial for months now and there are times when even this determined no voter is exasperated by Better Together’s inability to inspire. Yes Scotland and the SNP are just as bad.

The one glimmer of soul food for the federalist has come from Willie Rennie’s constant calls for the development of a consensus on more powers for the Scottish Parliament. He wants to see a common proposal to …

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Willie Rennie warns against SNP “dismantling of Scottish justice system”

The other day, someone said in a comment on here that the SNP seemed like a liberal party. I don’t doubt that there are liberals in it, but they are not evident at the higher levels and particularly in regard to anything the Scottish government does in relation to justice.

Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary has presided over a massively disproportionate use of stop and search powers, agreed to appalling overuse of solitary confinement for vulnerable female prisoners, failed to be mortified after a second damning inspection report at Scotland’s women’s prison, Cornton Vale and is now

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Charles Kennedy’s tribute to “Highland Champion” John Farquhar Munro

John F and Charles KWhen Charles Kennedy was elected MP for the then Ross, Cromarty and Skye in 1983, John Farquhar Munro, the former MSP who died at the age of 79 on Sunday, was one of his key supporters. A friendship that would last more than 30 years was forged. Charles has paid tribute to him.

John’s passing is very sad not only for all his former constituents who he represented so ably for many years, but also for the wider Highlands and islands, where he was seen as a champion.

Since

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Former MSP John Farquhar Munro dies at 79

John Farquhar MunroJohn Farquhar Munro, who represented Ross, Skye and Inverness West in the Scottish Parliament from its creation in 1999 until he stood down in 2011 has died at his home at the age of 79.

He was never shy about speaking his mind and voting against the rest of the Liberal Democrat group when he felt it necessary.

Scottish Leader Willie Rennie, who knew him well from the early days of when he was our Chief of Staff in the Parliament paid a warm tribute to him:

John F was a canny, crafty Highlander who calmly asserted his place in the political world. His roots in crofting and the west Highlands gave the strength and depth to endure the trials of politics.

Delivering the right status for Gaelic, protecting crofting and abolishing the Skye bridge tolls are just a few of his many achievements in public life.

His character and personality attracted friends from across politics.

Our thoughts are with his wife Celia, who was a tower of strength in all he did, and all his friends and family.

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Do we need to start educating Scotland’s primary school children about their rights?

Shocking figures show that police in Scotland have stopped and searched 750,000 people in the last year. The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research report also found that 500 children under 10 were stopped and searched in 2010 alone.  This has caused concern from human rights and children’s organisations.

Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner, Tam Baillie, writing in the Herald said:

On any reading, it is clear that young people are being targeted and there will be times when their rights are being infringed.

In a the country that claims to be committed to children’s rights and wants to be the best

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LibLink: John Barrett: Independence is about country, not cash

Former MP for Edinburgh West John Barrett has made a surprise intervention in the debate on Scottish independence. Writing in the Scotsman last Saturday, he became the only senior figure so far to say that he doesn’t yet know how he’s going to vote in the referendum on 18th September.

He said that the debate so far has become polarised and is switching people off:

There are good people on both sides, who genuinely believe in what they are arguing for. Unfortunately, as they are entrenched in their own positions, they are often unable to view many important issues in a non-party

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The three dimensions to Alistair Carmichael’s speech: positive vision of UK, incoherent nationalist ideas and future powers

Alistair Carmichael speech Jan 2014Alistair Carmichael’s keynote speech and subsequent question and answer session in Stirling today touched three different dimensions of the constitutional debate, the last of which should cheer any Liberal Democrat heart. Up until now, roughly, the nationalist campaign has been all about painting a pretty picture of how all our problems would disappear if we controlled our own destiny, and in dismissing all searching for detail and questioning as scaremongering. The pro UK campaign has been about robust analysis of the SNP positions, but it hasn’t even made my heart sing and I’m voting for them. It’s been all head and fact and evidence based and worthy,  but it’s not appealed to the emotions.  The parts of Carmichael’s speech trailed overnight heavily emphasised what Scotland gains as being part of the UK, though. Were we about to see a change of emphasis?

The positive vision for the UK

It’s not just about money, said Alistair. It’s about what the 4 nations of the UK have built together. He said Scotland gets more out than it puts in which will no doubt have the nationalists in a tailspin of indignation – but the same is the case for all the countries which make up the UK, greater than the sum of their parts.

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Alistair Carmichael to outline the benefits of the UK in keynote speech

I am about to head off to Stirling to see Alistair Carmichael deliver his first keynote speech of the year in which he will set out the benefits of Scotland remaining in the UK. The pro-UK arguments have mainly been quite dry and technical and he wants to do more to relate them directly to people’s practical concerns and to celebrate what the UK has achieved by building such institutions as the NHS and the BBC.

He will say

That partnership has a remarkable history. And we’re not just talking about the past – right now Scotland sees the benefit of this long

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LibLink: Tavish Scott: Cuts plan is Osborne masterstroke

Well, we almost choked on our tea here in LDV Towers when we read that headline. Then we remembered that Tavish is hardly best buddies with the Tories, nor with the idea of the Coalition.  What was his latest article in the Scotsman all about? Well, possibly getting his wooden spoon out and stirring it a bit. This article was even quoted in Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions by Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm.

Tavish looks at Osborne’s assertion that there must be £25 billion further spending cuts:

Fast forward to this week and Chancellor Osborne is positioning his party against both Labour

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Willie Rennie: “In 20 years, they’ll be glad they had nursery education at an early stage because it might just change their life chances”

There were extraordinary scenes in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon. First of all, the Scottish Liberal Democrats didn’t even vote for their amendment, and nor did anyone else. They didn’t have to, because the Scottish Government had taken a big step to doing what they wanted.

For months, Willie Rennie has got up at virtually every First Minister’s Questions session and doggedly asked, pleaded, cajoled with Salmond to extend nursery places to 40% of 2 year olds from its current figure of 3%, just like Nick Clegg had done south of the Border.  And every time, Alex Salmond replied with varying …

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    David, we have never (in our surveys) asked any questions about the performance of individuals. Lib Dem Voice do ask those questions in their own...
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    I wouldn't be so sure about that, Caractacus. In Scotland, the Lib Dems have been praised by NUS for persuading the SNP Government to minimise...
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    Easter Clegg. This from the party led by Wallace.
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    @Matthew Huntbach "Voting against tuition fees is not just voting against tuition fees, it is voting FOR however universities would be paid for if there...
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