Author Archives: Martin Veart

Fracking and the Liberal Democrats

It seems that there is widespread misunderstanding among the federal party members as to why we here in Scotland decided to end the current moratorium we had on fracking and other non-conventional extraction of hydrocarbons.

Introduced in 2013, the Scottish moratorium on fracking was, as far as one understands it, based upon awaiting further evidence.  The following year, such evidence actually came to light in the form of the Scottish Government’s 2014 report: Independent Expert Scientific Panel – Unconventional Oil and Gas.   

The report is comprehensive: addressing as it does both the environmental and public concerns.  It comes to the conclusion that, with proper oversight, public consultation and tight planning restrictions, that it is possible to exploit the United Kingdom’s potential for future hydrocarbon exploitation.

It was upon the basis of this report that Ewan Hoyle of Glasgow put forward his amendment to end the moratorium on fracking.  At conference, I spoke in support of the amendment on the current state of the industry.  With the oil price currently around $36 a barrel, the North Sea offshore industry has already shed over 70,000 jobs, with the associated knock-on effects throughout the economy. 

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Campaigning with C.A.R.


The North and East Liberal Democrat AGM was held last Friday.  We had a good turnout, enjoyed the wine and mince pies (thank you!) and had a really interesting and brilliant talk from Baron Jeremy Purvis of Tweed.

Jeremy posed some real issues for us Liberal Democrats in terms of identity.  After all, in a liberal society where everybody claims to be small ‘l’ liberal, what is the use of a liberal party?  Especially in a system where everybody from both left and right have to converge upon the centre ground in order to gain power.  The SNP and Conservative “love-in” has changed things though.  Each present themselves as the only alternative to the other  This situation led to the SNP almost sweeping the board in Scotland (50% vote share) and to the Tory majority government on 37% of the vote.  There is nothing as useful in politics as having a good enemy.  This viewpoint, however, leads only to insularity, acrimony and bitterness.

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Opinion: We need to be serious in opposition as well as in government

Aviemore 2008 was a good conference. From the opening session with Nick Clegg’s first speech to conference as leader, through to Malcolm Bruce’s closing note, looking at Scotland through the prism of history, those attending the conference were upbeat and cheerful. It seems that opposition is really suiting us.

It is on that last note, however, that things for me rather soured. When the Liberal Democrats gain power, we are going to have to deal with the country and world how it really is, not how we would like it. That reality has to be faced up to by some members …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | 1 Comment

A personal view: A Political Child

Tomorrow, 3rd March 2008, marks the 20th anniversary of the official formation of the (Social &) Liberal Democrats, and Lib Dem Voice will be featuring a special article by Chris Rennard, the party’s chief executive. Today Martin Veart, a party member in Aberdeen South, describes how he came to join the Lib Dems…

One winter, the lights went out. Not just our lights, but all the lights. Even the street lights no longer shone orange through the window. My mother, who used to live without electricity when she was little, had an oil lamp. While all the other windows of all the other houses showed a few flickering candles, our living-room window glowed with a warm, rich cream light. Above, in the cold sky, the stars were so bright, so beautiful. Inside, the newly-fitted oil fire kept our house warm.

When the power was on, there were always a lot of men on the television news. They had placards and would be shouting, shoving and being shoved by policemen in their high, domed helmets. A white-haired man, Mr Heath, was often on the television making speeches. The news would speak about strikes and miners.

There was another man, Mr Wilson, who would also be on the news, telling the public (whoever they were – I didn’t understand that word) why Mr Heath was wrong. I didn’t like Mr Wilson. He didn’t look like a good man , with his funny-looking nose, his pipe, and the long mac he always wore. Mr Heath looked nice, smiling broadly and laughing when the news wasn’t bad. Besides, he was supposed to be a friend of Mr Chadd, the man who owned the department store where Mum shopped and that was good. Mum and Dad always voted for Mr Heath’s friend, Mr. Prior. He was another man with white hair and a kind face. At voting times he used to wear a big blue, round kind of badge.

Usually there were just the three of us but, sometimes, Dad would come home. He would bring presents. Dad always wrote to Mum and my big brother when he was away at sea but I was too little to get my own. But Mum would read her letters to me and I would collect the stamps. I had loads from Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, places in Africa, even Vietnam and China. Anyway, Dad would be at home for a few months then back to sea. At least for a year, maybe more. I always cried when we saw Dad off on the train.

When Dad was at home, he used to do many nice things with us. Play in the garden, take us to places. It was real fun. We sometimes used to play cricket in the back garden but, when I was very little, I used to get scared by the big helicopter that would thunder over the house. It was blue and gray and black. It was carrying men out to sea. I asked Dad if he ever went by helicopter but he said no, he didn’t.

Dad had a friend, Mr Mitchell. Sometimes at night Mr Mitchell would come around and drink Dad’s whisky and talk. Mr Mitchell didn’t look nice and Mrs Mitchell seemed to be a very old lady, much older than Mum, Dad or even Mr Mitchell. One night, there was something else on the news. Soldiers with long guns. There were crowds, people being carried and a man waving a white handkerchief. They said people had been shot. The words “Bloody Sunday” started to be used.

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