Anti-English or Anti-Scottish? A guide to the independence referendum

At last, Westminster and the UK media have woken up to the reality that Scotland is sleepwalking towards independence. The phoney war is over and finally we may get some serious debate rather than evasion, insults and accusations of ‘talking Scotland down’.

When the Scottish Liberal Democrats refused to form a coalition with the SNP after the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, it was not just personal antipathy to Alex Salmond’s unbearably smug persona. Our then leader, Nicol Stephen, warned that the SNP would spend the whole time in government blaming Westminster for everything, rather than concentrating on actually making a difference to the people of Scotland.

And so it came to pass. For four years, the SNP happily blamed the insultingly termed ‘London-based parties’ for their own failure to fulfil even one of their much-trumpeted 2007 election promises.

Since winning the 2011 Scottish Parliament election outright, the old excuse has gone and Alex Salmond has had to face the daunting prospect that he might actually have to try and fulfil a promise or two, the biggest of which is to get on with his party’s raison d’etre: achieving independence.

But Alex Salmond is not stupid. He is a formidable politician; if only that were allied to principles, he could be a great one. He knows that opinion polls have consistently shown only around a third of Scots would vote for independence. So unless he can change the rules of the game, any referendum on independence is likely to be lost.

Hence the SNP’s attempt to include 16 / 17 year olds in the poll, on the basis that support for independence is stronger amongst young people, less aware of the practical consequences of separation on jobs, pensions and the economy.

He is also not keen on the Electoral Commission overseeing the referendum process, as he would be unable to fix the question. The SNP have implied the Commission would be biased, solely on the basis that they are a UK, rather than a Scottish, body.

As for the blatant attempt to secure a fall-back option of the ill defined ‘Devo Max’, this is such a shameless ploy that only Alex Salmond could have dreamed it up. The fundamental flaw about a three question referendum is the likely lack of clarity about the result.

Our Scottish leader, Willie Rennie, challenged Alex Salmond in October to explain the outcome if 99% of Scots voted for ‘Devo Max’ and only 51% voted for independence. Salmond’s truly breathtaking response was that therefore independence would have won!

It suits the SNP to spend the entire time discussing process rather than actually defining what independence would look like. Mike Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, posed six simple questions on independence to the SNP in September, covering: bank regulation, pension payments, national currency, membership of international organisations, Scotland’s defences and what it would all cost. He is still waiting for a reply.

But the SNP continue to stall on defining independence, as they know it would be harder to appeal to the romantic rebel side of the Scottish character as people begin to see jobs under threat in the defence and shipbuilding industries, likely closures of air and naval bases as UK armed services withdraw, no control over interest rates if they kept the pound or joined the Euro, uncertainty over state pension arrangements and the prospect of having to set up their own social security and taxation systems.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to resolve all these issues, but it would take a lot of time and hard work, with no guarantees Scotland would be better off as a result.

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48 Comments

  • Isn’t it LD policy to give the vote to 16/17 year olds?

  • David Allen 16th Jan '12 - 5:45pm

    Not long ago, I wrote an Opinion piece which explained that the Euro is a bit like the chain gang of escaping prisoners in Woody Allen’s old film. A bunch of individual prisoners (or nations) trying to escape their pursuers (or trade globally), while shackled together at the legs, just won’t be able to compete effectively. So, the Euro is a disastrous idea. Europe simply must, eventually, either unite or disband.

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-the-euro-chain-gang-26306.html

    Now, Alexander Darling has rightly pointed out that if Scotland leaves the UK but is allowed to retain sterling as its currency, then the “sterling zone” will be in just the same appalling bind as the Eurozone.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/14/scottish-independence-alistair-darling

    The SNP might be happy to let Scotland join the Euro Chain Gang, or the Sterling Chain Gang. But why should Scottish voters be allowed to inflict Chain Gang shackles on England, Wales, and Northern ireland?

    Darling suggests that if Scotland wanted to go independent but keep sterling, it would have to accept control of the currency by the Bank of England. So Scotland would end up with much less influence over their own financial destiny than they have now.

    I’m not sure he is right about that. Once independent, you could rely on Salmond to kick up a fuss and demand a share in control of Sterling Zone finances. Result, pain shared throughout all the nations of the British Isles. Result, the rest of the world racing ahead of a hobbled Eurozone and a hobbled Sterlingzone. Both of which would contain nations moving at different speeds, but unable to devalue or revalue their respective currencies to adapt to these changes.

    Scotland should be told that if they vote for independence, they cannot keep sterling. It would be unfair to the rest of the UK to let them do so, and it would be bad for Scotland itself.

  • “Our Scottish leader, Willie Rennie, challenged Alex Salmond in October to explain the outcome if 99% of Scots voted for ‘Devo Max’ and only 51% voted for independence. Salmond’s truly breathtaking response was that therefore independence would have won!”

    You make the fairly sensible assumption that independence supporters would prefer Devo-Max over the status quo, and Salmond’s answer is perfectly reasonable.

  • Richard Shaw 16th Jan '12 - 6:11pm

    @Chris

    It is LibDem policy to extend the franchise to 16/17 year olds for all public elections, not just for a one-off referendum. It would be perverse to allow them to vote for/against independence but then deny them the vote in subsequent elections.

  • cynicalHighlander 16th Jan '12 - 6:17pm

    Taken from elsewhere. If you check out the UK’s treaties with the UN and various other UN backed organisations [which super-cedes UK law] it explicitly states that a country that wishes to cede from a Union should have the right to do so without there being interference from the country that it wants to cede from.

    I remember the 1979 referendum under UK rules of heads the UK wins tails Scotland loses with there undemocratic 40% rule so this referendum will be out of UK’s grubby past.

    Mentioning principals on a LibDem blog is rather hypocritical looking at their actions over the last 20 months.

  • cynicalHighlander 16th Jan '12 - 6:22pm

    Richard Shaw

    It would be perverse to allow them to vote for/against independence but then deny them the vote in subsequent elections

    So you’ll be fighting to get the voting of 16/17 on Hospital boards rescinded then, what bizarre thinking runs through some peoples minds.

  • When the Scottish Liberal Democrats refused to form a coalition with the SNP after the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, they had 16 seats. They could have been part of government and had input into the democratic process.

    Today they have 5 seats and no power and no influence.

    That really worked out well for them then. Great decision.

  • mike cobley 16th Jan '12 - 6:48pm

    Independence is a solution looking for a problem. The separatists know they have to put barriers in people’s minds before erecting a barrier across the country, thus they strive night and day to spread the ignoble meme that a line on a map seperates the good people from the, well, not so good. Never mind being concerned about the problems ordinary folk have to face all over the British isles – just keep focussed on what can be done here north of the line on the map. If other people south of it are suffering, well, that’s their lookout. Nothing for us to be concerned with.

    This is the very core of the independence argument which so angers me. That my life will be severed from that of friends and family members in England. Not in all ways, of course, but certain social, cultural and political avenues of involvement will be forever closed to me by separation; I will have no say and way to influence matters.

    From the above you might think of me as being pro-unionist. Well, as a LD party member I firmly believe that a federal structure is the most fruitful way ahead for the whole of the UK (of course meaning an English assembly of some kind). So in my eyes I’m in favour of Unity – god knows, the border-surpassing problems that we face will demand it of us in the years ahead.

  • cynicalHighlander 16th Jan '12 - 7:01pm

    mike cobley

    The problem seems to me to be in your own mind not in others. The UK is disunited and has been for decades yet the LibDems have never pushed for change except in your parties manifesto for federalism and the people are not going to wait for another century to publish and act on a non existent blueprint. Your party is quite willing to talk radically when it suits but act as one of the mainstream whenever the opportunity has arisen to start the change. The genie is out of the bottle now and thankfully will never go back in.

  • mike cobley

    “That my life will be severed from that of friends and family members in England. Not in all ways, of course, but certain social, cultural and political avenues of involvement will be forever closed to me by separation;” Care to give us some examples?

  • Bugger (the Panda) 16th Jan '12 - 7:08pm

    Scotland isn’t sleepwalking into independence, we are marching.

    It is Westminster who haven’t a clue, what to do.

    As far as I understand the B of England was nationalised and thus is a UK asset. So part of it would belong to an independent Scotland.

    Osborne, Clegg and Cameron speak, 1,200 new SNP members sign up.

    Do you suppose that they are all wanabee Scots?

    Brilliant, keep it up.

  • Just in from work to see the debate I referred to in my article really getting going! I am rather surprised at cynicalHighlander’s perception that the Lib Dems have never pushed for change except in our party’s manifesto. Firstly I would have thought that was the very place to push for change as you are then asking people to vote on it. However, CH may have forgotten the key role we played in the Constitutional Convention (unlike the SNP) which set up the Scottish Parliament, the Steel Comission which led to the cross party (but again SNP absent) Calman Commission. This has led directly to the current Scotland Bill which is going through parliament (though again the SNP are complaining having failed to engage in making amendments as the bill went through until the very last minute and even they with only vague assertions). Lastly, not content even with piloting the biggest fiscal transfer of power to Scotland in 300 years through parliament, Willie Rennie has now set up our Home Rule Commission, chaired by Ming Campbell, to consider what further powers could be devolved.

    I’d say that is a pretty good record of effective campaigning, consultation and achievement. I’d rather that than being part of a party which protests its faith in one single idea (independence) but fails to even try and get it through parliament when it came to power in 2007. Then,despite having had almost 100 years to think about it, appears unwilling to actually define the practical consequences of independence by engaging with Mike Moore’s 6 questions, rather than shouting abuse.

    We have a long, principled history of federalism, and are delighted to see other parties come on board more recently.

    I look forward to a reasoned reply from CH rather than abuse….. Am I naive or cynical in wondering if I will get this?

  • mike cobley 16th Jan '12 - 7:32pm

    Cynical – I agree about the party’s utter lack of spine when it comes to the inability to walk the walk. That’s it.

    Dubbie – oh, I dunno – voting for one. Perversely, I feel as much involved with those people south of The Line On The Map as I am with those north of it. Clearly this is sense of connection with a wider community is something that seems to be lacking in nationalists.

  • Richard Shaw 16th Jan '12 - 7:58pm

    @cynicalHighlander

    Not bizarre at all. Hospital boards are irrelevant to this, since they don’t affect the government or political future of the nation and the franchise in that case is not temporary. I repeat that it would be unfair to temporarily extend the franchise in order to change the government of Scotland and then withdraw it so that they no longer have any say in the government resulting from that vote. My preferred option is to permanently extend the franchise and hold the referendum and then hold a Scottish Parliament election as soon as possible afterwards – any pre-independence government would be illegitimate as it would have been elected to fulfill as different role.

  • Davie Ferguson 16th Jan '12 - 8:20pm

    “For four years, the SNP happily blamed the insultingly termed ‘London-based parties’ for their own failure to fulfil even one of their much-trumpeted 2007 election promises.”

    I think they managed to fulfill the vast majority of their promises. The Scottish Electorate seemed to agree in May last year…….electing a majority SNP govt (despite Eck’s “unbearably smug persona” 😉 ) while consigning the Liberal Democrats to the very fringes of Scottish Political life..

  • David Pollard 16th Jan '12 - 8:32pm

    The Liberal Democrats in Scotland are leading the debate. Every recent opinion poll shows that Scots will vote for Devo-max and not for independence. Willie Rennie has set up the Home Rule Commission to work out what Devo-max would mean in reality. If he is courageous, Willie will extend the Commission’s terms of reference to take into account the views of others, including Civic Scotland and perhaps the Labour Party. To be consistant LibDems should push for the question of Devo-max to be included in the referendum and should also support the date of 2014, to give ample time for the Commission to get its ideas straight and to get them agreed as the preferred option for Devo-max. All this stuff coming from England should be treaded with caution.

  • Kenny Campbell 16th Jan '12 - 8:46pm

    Hi Katy, sorry for the off-topic question but can I ask if you will be standing in the local council elections this year?

  • David you raise an interesting point. I would expect that our Lib Dem Home Rule Commission would either engage with civic Scotland during its evidence gathering phase or lead to a wider push for greater powers on the back of its conclusions (similar to the Steel Commission leading to Calman). I’m not sure which approach is being taken but I am pretty certain that we would want to engage widely with civic Scotland at some point.

    I don’t really like the term Devo Max as it implies there is a maximum (and of course because it is completely undefined at this stage). I don’t agree that Devo Max should be added into a referendum, mainly because of the timing. This would only allow (from Jan 2012 to autumn 2014) a bare 2 years to go through the process. While I can’t remember exactly, I think the time taken by the Steel and Calman Comission combined took longer than that because they were both proper pieces of research and consultation. I don’t think it is a good idea to rush these things because if you want serious conclusions, you have to be prepared to take proper time over discussion, consultation, analysis and conclusions. As we have always said, devolution is a process not a one off, so the Scotland Bill is the current devolution extension currently on offer. The results of our Home Rule Commission might certainly lead to another bill in time, possibly by the 2015 General Election or more likely before the Scottish elections of 2016 I’m guessing.

    I do however go back to my earlier point that Alex Salmond claimed that a 3 question referendum with a 99% vote for ‘Devo Max’ (however defined) and a 51% vote for independence would mean independence had won. You cannot assume that all those who voted for devo max were the same as those who voted for independence. There may well be people who vote for independence but don’t like the ‘half way house’ (as they might see it) of ‘Devo Max’. Any statistician or polling analyst would confirm that one choice is not dependent on the other so you cannot logically conclude that a vote for one would automatically mean a vote for the other. That is not the way a 3 way option process works.

    This is why I pointed out that any such result would lead inevitably lead to confusion. I cannot believe that even supporters of independence would want to spend years arguing in the courts over what such a result would mean. The natural ‘gut’ response to such a result would surely be that ‘Devo Max’ had gained the most support so it should be the understood result, but exactly the same charge could be made against this conclusion.

    A simple Yes / No question on independence would give the clearest outcome. I would have thought that any genuine supporter of independence would not want to be thought of as tricking the voters into independence. Once this vote is out of the way, if it is for independence then presumably the process leading to this would then start. If the vote is No, then a continuing discussion can progress along the lines of what possible future devolution might be desired.

    I don’t think that just because something comes from England, it should automatically be distrusted (though that may not be what David is meaning). Clearly the Lib Dems, Labour and the Tories don’t want independence. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t right (as a number of leading academics have confirmed over the past few days) in saying that the Scottish Parliament is not entitled to hold a referendum on reserved matters, whether consultative or binding. I would have thought that any true believer in independence would jump at the chance of the offer of temporarily getting the powers to allow for a legally binding referedum. But then maybe not everyone in the SNP actually wants independence….. Maybe they are quite happy just blaming Westminster for everthing…..?

  • When the Scottish Liberal Democrats refused to form a coalition with the SNP after the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, it was not just personal antipathy to Alex Salmond’s unbearably smug persona. Our then leader, Nicol Stephen, warned that the SNP would spend the whole time in government blaming Westminster for everything, rather than concentrating on actually making a difference to the people of Scotland.

    And so it came to pass. For four years, the SNP happily blamed the insultingly termed ‘London-based parties’ for their own failure to fulfil even one of their much-trumpeted 2007 election promises.

    Is that really what you saw? That’s not what I saw. What I saw was a minority SNP administration doing a fairly good job in the face of hysterical, mindless opposition for opposition’s sake from the Lib Dems and Labour. Even the Tories behaved better than you did.

    And given the doing you got in the subsequent election, I’d suggest more people saw what I did than what you did.

    But Alex Salmond is not stupid. He is a formidable politician; if only that were allied to principles, he could be a great one. He knows that opinion polls have consistently shown only around a third of Scots would vote for independence. So unless he can change the rules of the game, any referendum on independence is likely to be lost.

    Most opinion polls show about a third for independence but only slightly more against, with the remainder undecided. It’s technically true to say that only a third support independence it’s equally true to say that only a third oppose it. You don’t get to claim the “don’t knows” any more than the Nats do.

    Hence the SNP’s attempt to include 16 / 17 year olds in the poll, on the basis that support for independence is stronger amongst young people, less aware of the practical consequences of separation on jobs, pensions and the economy.

    Or perhaps they want to give a voice to those who have the biggest stake in the outcome. Given that extending the franchise to the same group is official Lib Dem policy the naked hypocrisy of this criticism is staggering.

    It suits the SNP to spend the entire time discussing process rather than actually defining what independence would look like. Mike Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, posed six simple questions on independence to the SNP in September, covering: bank regulation, pension payments, national currency, membership of international organisations, Scotland’s defences and what it would all cost. He is still waiting for a reply.

    But he’s not waiting for a reply. The answers to all six questions are available in black and white in various SNP publications, and all available on the their website. I know, I checked. But of course Moore knew this very well, he was just banking on the assumption that most people wouldn’t. He was just playing his transparent little anti-nat games, as usual.

    This article really is a piece of work. It’s indicative of the reasons that I left the Lib Dems and why you are now a complete irrelevance in Scotland. It saddens me because while I support independence I don’t specifically support the SNP, and in the coming years Scotland will need a strong liberal voice whatever the outcome of the referendum. Unfortunately, with gold-plated nonsense like this article coming from the Lib Dems it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we’ll have one.

  • cynicalHighlander 16th Jan '12 - 10:03pm

    Katy

    You’ll have to accept the way I write as I failed any English exam I took and at my age to find the reason being dyslexia change is not as easy as people might think.

    The reason the SNP avoided Calman was purely your refusal to consider independence in that consultation which is why it is more a pigs breakfast than anything realistic made up with numbers scribbled on the back of an envelope according to Calman himself. If the SNP hadn’t won in 2007 would your party of gone with the Steel commission proposals? Hypothetical I know so no answer required but hopefully you’ll see were I am coming from that your actions appear reactionary rather than proactive.

    Any proposals in Westminster proposed by the SNP your party voted against for political reasons only HANSARD 1803–2005 .

    As your party keeps going on about fairness over the question/s and are adamant that one question is the only fair one then thankfully other people can put logic on this. Scotland and the Kellner conundrum

    If you really are federalist then this is your chance to show but you’ll have to be quick as the tide is on the way in according to the latest polls and Scotland is due to sail in 2014.

  • cynicalHighlander 16th Jan '12 - 10:06pm

    Richard Shaw

    Well if you believe in the UK then 16/17 are more likely to vote no to independence in the latest poll for Ch 4 News.

  • @Oranjepan

    “Why are you silencing Scots…” is an oddly emotive choice of words given that you know I’m in the very category you’re accusing me of “silencing” , but the answer is implied in your question; expatriate Scots aren’t entitled to vote precisely because they have no stake in the outcome, at least no more stake than any other person on the planet who may or may not decide to go and live there at some point in the future. The decision is for the people who live there.

    As it happens I’ll almost certainly go back at some point – I’m currently three years into what was only supposed to be a one year secondment – so of course I’d quite like to have a vote, but I accept that I have no right to expect a say until I do so. Even if I didn’t I can’t see any practical means by which the franchise could be extended to the likes of me anyway.

  • @Ivan

    Expatriate voters manage to have a say in Westminster elections under the current system.

    I’m sure the Holyrood folks could come up with something. Trust me, the Line On The Map isn’t really that much of an obstacle. I commute across it regularly.

    And I would also argue that expat Scots do have a stake in the outcome – their home country is going to fundamentally change in almost every respect. Writing them out of the question is reducing Scottishness to nothing more than geographical co-incidence, which brings the questions about the arbitrary Line On The Map raised earlier by Mike Cobley back into play.

  • @T-J
    Expatriate voters manage to have a say in Westminster elections under the current system.

    Expatriate Brits have a passport that says they’re British. There’s no such record of who is or isn’t a Scot. The closest thing we’ve got is the register of births, but that’s hardly the same thing, and even if we took birth place as a criteria for eligibility how would we practically go about adding all those people to the electoral role? I don’t even think the register of births is centralised.

    Had the Representation of the People Act included a mechanism for expats to retain their eligibility to vote in devolved and local elections then this wouldn’t even be a question, we’d all get one, but it didn’t.

    I’m sure the Holyrood folks could come up with something. Trust me, the Line On The Map isn’t really that much of an obstacle. I commute across it regularly.

    Riiiight. So you can’t think of a way to do it, but you’re happy to demand that Holyrood thinks of one.

    And I would also argue that expat Scots do have a stake in the outcome – their home country is going to fundamentally change in almost every respect. Writing them out of the question is reducing Scottishness to nothing more than geographical co-incidence, which brings the questions about the arbitrary Line On The Map raised earlier by Mike Cobley back into play.

    What stake do they (we) have if they’re not going to be affected by the result? The idea that Scottishness is reduced more by restricting a poll to residents than it is by being subsumed inside another state is, frankly, hilarious.

  • @Ivan

    Riiiight. So you can’t think of a way to do it, but you’re happy to demand that Holyrood thinks of one.

    Its not my job to figure out how Holyrood can best represent its people. But may I suggest the census? Or as you say, the registrar of births – no its not centralised, but is that really an insurmountable obstacle to democracy?

    What stake do they (we) have if they’re not going to be affected by the result? The idea that Scottishness is reduced more by restricting a poll to residents than it is by being subsumed inside another state is, frankly, hilarious.

    I maintain that they are affected by the result. Their/your home country is going to be fundamentally changed by one of the options.

    And I suppose it depends on what you mean by Scottishness if you figure that my view is hilarious. I won’t put words in your mouth, but if its purely a matter of whether you are north of an arbitrary line in Autumn 2014, then its nothing worth voting yourself a nation-state over.

    If on the other hand its a cultural thing, well – why should an expat not get a vote? Especially worth considering are people who are not currently expats but who would become ones if independence happened, not least because independence would directly affect them in an immediate sense. Why should the happenstance of living south of an arbitrary line on the chosen day invalidate one’s nationality?

  • cynical-Highlander
    I am sure you would do well in an exam with the reformed spelling of Gaelic
    as all the children in Scotland will undoubtedly do in the future.
    There is of course no overseas voting for the citizens of the Republic of Ireland
    for obvious reasons. Independence did not stop the need for the Irish to emigrate
    to find work and it is hard to see how an independent Scotland would solve the same
    problem.

  • Dan Falchikov

    Oh dear – there’s an old rule in US politics about the consequences of running against popular things – one that the Scottish Lib Dems would do well to learn – given their ad hominem attacks on the popular thing (wee Eck) last year resulted in the loss of 11 seats and almost all of their credibility. So it is a shame to see these attacks continue in this article.

    Actually the Lib Dems were obliterated because of the Coalition. Just being in the same room as a Tory is a vote loser in Scotland. The flexibility of what ‘pledge’ and ‘manifesto commitments’ mean to Lib Dems was probably a bit of a turn off too.

    I’ve said this before, but the only unionist party that truly represents the entirety of the UK is Labour. The Tories, and now Lib Dems, have abandoned/been abandoned by Scotland.

  • T-J

    Not at all, I just don’t see “Scottishness” as inexorably linked to an ability to vote in a referendum in the way you clearly do.

    Not that “Scottishness” particularly worries me one way or the other. As I’ve said in other threads, I’m not really a nationalist in the “proud Scot” cultural sense. For me, Scottish independence is about governance first and foremost, so in that sense yes, the line might as well be arbitrary from my point of view. I’m probably in a minority in the nat camp in feeling that way, but I’m not unique. I’ve met plenty of others, including many English people in Scotland, who will vote “yes” in the referendum more out of contempt for Westminster and UK.plc than for any patriotic affection for Scotland.

  • Tony Dawson 17th Jan '12 - 8:55am

    I lived in Scotland for over a year and find, as a Northerner schooled in the South, that I wish to be in the same country as Scotsmen rather more than (say) people from Kent, East Anglia or Cornwall. So, I presume I also get a vote? 🙂

  • @Oranjepan

    Is it really about “independence for Scotland as an expression of Scottishness”? I think you’ve just made that up on the spot. As far as I’m aware, independence for Scotland is about… independence for Scotland – the belief that we’d make a better fist of managing our affairs separately than under Westminster. Of course there’s a strong nationalist streak of Romantic Scottish Exceptionalism that runs through the SNP’s core vote and certainly informs the politics of some of their MPs, but they’ve been careful to keep a lid on that minority tendency for many years now because they realised that it was never going to be strong enough to get them what they want, and it was a turn-off to those who don’t share it.

    But go on then, you show me Salmond and co indicating that independence is about an “expression of Scottishness”. Should be easy give that “everything” they say indicates it.

    Is it really so incomprehensible to you that different people can arrive at a similar conclusion for different reasons or from different motives?

  • Tom Robinson 17th Jan '12 - 11:43am

    Katy Gordon topped the LibDem list of candidates for Holyrood in Glasgow in May 2011.

    Even under a PR system she was not elected which tells you what Scots think about the LibDems.

    Talking in such negative terms about Salmond is foolish-he remains the most popular politician in Scotland by miles and his unionist opponents in England (Cameron Clegg and Miliband) would be utterly delighted if England had the same high opinion of them that Scotland has of Salmond.

    The LibDems in Scotland are are not merely facing oblivion, the fools are embracing it 🙂

  • In my opinion…only those registered to vote in a Scottish constituency should vote. Otherwise what is the criteria? Born in Scotland? Both parents are Scottish. One parent is Scottish? et al… It raises more problems.

  • cynicalHighlander 17th Jan '12 - 1:12pm

    Lets give these expats a vote! I would suggest that those who wish to include ‘Scots’ outside Scotland are talking nonsense for their own personal standing rather than any basic normal democratic standard.

  • Speaking as a Welshman living in London, I’ve yet to hear a positive put for Scotland remaining in the Union – you tend to either see arguments along the line of “the status quo seems to work fine, so why change it?” or the fear, uncertainty and doubt and personal insults peddled by the likes of this post.

    Yes the answers to the Scotland Secretary’s questions are interesting, but are, in many respects, details that could be worked out later (though someone further up the comments suggests that the SNP have already published answers to most or all of the questions anyway) – the major point of independence, it seems to me, is the principle of the thing; that supporters believe that Scotland could be governed better as a state separate from the rest of the UK.

  • Andy Canning 17th Jan '12 - 1:52pm

    This article is deeply depressing in its total failure to understand political reality.

    1. Alex Salmond is popular. In fact he may well be the most well liked politician in the UK.

    2. The SNP government has been a success. Not only did they overcome the difficulties of four years as a minority government to win a majority but they have continued to maintain their popularity even in the latest polls.

    Oh, how things could have been different for the Lib Dems in Scotland if only Nicol Stephen could have overcome his personal dislike of Alex Salmond and recognised the opportunity that going into colaition in 2007 could have presented.

    Instead the active hostility to the SNP led the Lib Dem leadership to totally misunderstand the feelings of the electorate and we were punished by a whoesale switch of the Lib Dem vote to the SNP lock, stock and barrel.

    Unless and until the party understands how out of touch it has become with its past supporters history will only repeat itself.

    This is very important if the referendum is close. One of the key battlegrounds will be for the past Lib Dem Highland vote. If the SNP cements this group to its cause then the referendum could well be lost. If the Lib Dems can re-connect to this group then the Union will be preserved.

    What is depressing is that the views of the author here show she has learnt nothing. If the Lib Dems build their campaign on these assumptions the Highland vote will go for independence. The Lib Dems need to show a degree of humility, recognise that they have got it so wrong in the recent past and seek to positively engage with their old vote. As a start we need to argue for something like ‘devo-max’ whatever it’s called. If we just negatively defend the Union along with Labour and the Tories we are sunk.

    Let’s have a bit of clear yellow water! The SNP can argue for independence, Labour and the Tories can argue for the status quo but we should be making the case for Federalism.

  • Given the tenor of some of the comments here, Katy’s mention of ‘London-based parties’ seems particularly apt. While it may be convenient for some to continue with the line that any party that doesn’t want independence necessarily wishes to reintroduce feudalism, it is frankly insulting to the intelligence of any reasonable reader to suggest that the Lib Dems are interested in anything other than what they have campaigned for; a truly federal United Kingdom.

    Feel insulted if you like, my view is that the Lib Dems are interested primarily in what’s good for the Lib Dems, and too many within the party simply accept as axiomatic that a UK-wide party must, by definition, be in favour of the UK, and go from there.

    We heard nary a peep about federalism from the Lib Dems since, well… I don’t recall ever having heard a Lib Dem use the word “federalism” out loud until the SNP’s unexpected majority (and don’t forget I was a member for several years). It’s only now that a referendum on independence is certain that you’ve collectively started flailing around trying to find a way to bring your moth-eaten and long-dormant federal aspirations up to date.

    I grew up in an English border county, 20 miles from Wales and 120 miles from London. If you think that the ‘London-based parties’ care more about my home town because of which side of a line on a map it lies, you’re crazy. The problem with ‘London-based parties’ is not that they think Hadrian’s Wall is an active military installation defending them from the barbarian hordes, it’s that they think the M25 is an active military installation…

    I think this is entirely true. I think Westminster serves huge swathes of the UK really badly regardless of nationality, and if you’re inferring that the Scots somehow have it worse than anyone else then I’m not sure from where, because no one here has suggested or even implied such a thing.

    The difference is that, thanks to historical, cultural and geographical happenstance, the Scots have an obvious way to do something about it in a way that the English regions can’t.

  • Graeme’s absolutely right, I can still recall the depth of my dismay when I heard that the LDs would not govern with the SNP last time. That dismay has simplygot worse!

  • My view is that you are primarily interested in what you think is good for you, and you assume everybody else is therefore the same. Yet you’ve rejected asking other people their opinion on the grounds they may disagree with you,”

    No, I quite clearly haven’t. I’ve accepted that some Scots, myself included, aren’t entitled to a say because we don’t live there and because I can see no practical way for the franchise to be extended to us anyway. I’ve also said that, whilst I personally believe that I and those like me gave up the right to a say when we left, if a practical and straight-forward system could be found to allow us to vote then I would accept that decision too. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with it, but plenty would, and the prospect doesn’t alarm me.

    I also believe that you are pursuing this issue entirely disingenuously because it’s easier for you to muddy the waters than to make a case for a “no” vote.

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