Alistair Carmichael MP writes…how the Lib Dems in government worked together for Grangemouth

Three weeks ago when I was appointed as Secretary of State for Scotland many journalists and commentators (and even a few posters on Lib Dem Voice!) forecast a period of strife ahead as the “bruiser” from the Whips’ Office took over at Dover House.

I am not expecting anyone to say they were wrong but I hope that maybe some of them are feeling just a little sheepish this weekend.

The threat to the future of the petro-chemical plant at Grangemouth was one of the most serious to face Scotland for several years. It also produced a degree of political unity and cross-party working that is normally absent from Scottish politics.

As Secretary of State for Scotland I was determined that Scotland’s two governments should work as closely together as possible to save Grangemouth. This was not for any narrow political reason but because Scotland’s national interest demanded it and at least 800 jobs depended on it.

The cross-party working went beyond the coalition parties and the SNP. I have kept in close contact throughout recent events with my Labour opposite number, Margaret Curran, and local Labour MP, Michael Connarty. All round the cooperation has been easy, intuitive and effective.

This does not mean that we are suddenly all going to agree about everything. Scotland still has a difficult and divisive eleven months ahead of her in the run up to the independence referendum.  It does, however, mean that when we need to work together we can do.

Particular credit this week should go to my colleague, Ed Davey. He put in countless hours talking to both sides, working hard to avert strike action and then to avert the closure of the plant.

At the same time Vince Cable put his department on a state of alert, ready to look for a buyer if it came to that.

Danny Alexander played a central role in securing a substantial UK Loan Guarantee for the new ethane facility at Grangemouth. This was an important part of the discussions and will be crucial in the future redevelopment of the plant.

I am immensely proud of the way that Liberal Democrats have been able to work together in government and to work with people in other parties to make a contribution to saving one of Scotland’s most important industrial assets.

Remember that the next time someone questions the value of Liberal Democrats being in government.

* Alistair Carmichael is the MP for Orkney and Shetland and Liberal Democrat Chief Whip.

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  • Good article…..

    Only question I have – how much does the loan guarantee come to and what are the terms. I hope it is not a reward for Ineos for behaving in the way they have

  • It is quite something to think that the four Cabinet Ministers with direct responsibility for this issue were Liberals.

  • Richard Dean 26th Oct '13 - 7:45am

    Surely, they are LibDems, not Liberals? Dem is an important part.
    The old Liberal Party still survives, according to its website.

  • Simon McGrath 26th Oct '13 - 10:06am

    @Richard – the Lib Dems are a successor party to both the Liberal Party and the Social Democrats. Both parties voted to merge. The party which calls itself the Liberal party was formed by liberals who did not accept the merger.

  • Richard Dean 27th Oct '13 - 4:44am

    Ok, so our four are LibDems. They may be liberal and democratic, but they are not Liberals.

  • From the South of England this seems very much like a Scotland story. The sooner the people of Scotland vote to take responsibility for their own affairs the better it will be for everyone. Ed Davey should have spent less time on Grangemouth and thought a bit more about investing in alternatives to the madness of a new generation of nuclear power stations n England.

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