Author Archives: Graeme Cowie

Scottish Liberal Democrat fracking decision – setting the record straight

Yesterday we published this post entitled: “Willie Rennie reaffirms Scottish Lib Dems’ opposition to fracking – despite Conference vote”. Beneath the article, Graeme Cowie posted a six part response. As per our comments policy, the length of comments is limited to encourage short and pithy debate. We do not allow multi-part comments. However, under the circumstances we decided to ask Graeme if he would like, instead, his comments to be published as a full article. Graeme assented, so here is his comment in full.

Correcting the Record

As the person who summated the amendment that received around 2/3 of the support of a very busy Conference Hall, I feel compelled to respond to the total double-speak over this issue. It is firstly misleading to imply that the debate was poorly attended; asides the Saturday debate on All Women Shortlists, it was the best attended debate of the entire Conference.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Against comfort blanket constitutionalism

At Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference, I committed a cardinal liberal offence. I voted against a pro-federalism motion, moved by Robert Brown and Lord Purvis. I opposed in sorrow and anger at the Party’s stasis on the constitutional question. I was also annoyed that attempts some of us made to secure a more robust debate at Conference on federalism, were rebuffed by Conference Committee. We were made to feel that the party bureaucracy did not want a real clash of ideas for Conference to resolve democratically.

The motion didn’t take practical steps towards advancing federalism any further than the Party already had. Its tone, if anything, made federalism more difficult to advance. Siobhan Mathers was right when she said in the debate that Lib Dems are excessively high-minded, believing they had more influence than was the reality on further devolution. Though the Campbell Commission reported first, it was outflanked by the Tory proposals on critical areas like welfare. The Party seems reluctant just to admit that, whatever the proximate cause, we lost our radical edge. We did not adapt to the shifting constitutional landscape even before the independence referendum.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Opinion: Constitutional agnosticism – reuniting Scotland’s liberal voice

The Scottish Liberal Democrats adopted a targeted strategy in its 11 held seats at the General Election. We faced a drop in the popular vote by more than half compared to 2010 and a Scottish Nationalist insurgency. The approach taken was to appeal to a Unionist tactical vote in those areas, hoping that the fear of SNP victories across the board would draw-in Labour and Tory voters in places like East Dunbartonshire, Gordon and West Aberdeenshire.

I want to acknowledge from the outset, that this was a less ineffective strategy for the Scottish Lib Dems than it proved for Scottish Labour. Though losing all mainland seats, the margins by which we were defeated were relatively close. Mike Crockart, for example, was much closer to holding his seat than most Glasgow Labour MPs. There is not zero merit in this approach.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 55 Comments

Opinion: No is not enough; Scottish Liberal Democrats must embrace independence referendum

Alex Salmond’s SNP have a political mandate to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence. With an unprecedented majority in the Scottish Parliament and a manifesto pledge, the question is not if we have to confront this issue, but how.

Leaving aside arguments about the Scottish Parliament’s legal authority to legislate on an independence referendum (this can be resolved amicably through Westminster legislation) the Scottish Liberal Democrats must engage with the merits, not just of independence, but also “devo-max”.

Although Liberal Democrats generally support the Union, not all members are so-minded. Some (myself included) are ambivalent or notionally support Scottish independence, …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 23 Comments
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