Author Archives: T J Marsden

Here we go again…

 

We all know about the announcement from Nicola Sturgeon. Some have written here in support of Liberal Democrat leadership figures maintaining a staunch unionist position, to the extent of wishing to block an independence referendum in the first place. Others have written in support of the Liberal Democrats crossing the divide and actively backing Scottish independence this time around.

I have made no secret of the fact that in 2014 I was a reluctant Yes voter. I am also open about the fact that in the next referendum, the only thing that will have changed for me is my increased certainty that independence is the least worst option on the ballot, in the wake of Brexit. However, many others within the party will be similarly convinced of their position behind a No vote.

In the wake of the recent Northern Irish election, I remember reading a Mark Pack article asking what lessons Liberal Democrats could learn from our Northern Irish sister party, which had enjoyed a strong result. The Alliance Party exists as a cross-community endeavour to defend and advance liberalism, tolerance and understanding across sectarian and nationalistic divides. Crucially, it does so without declaring either the British union or a future reunion of Ireland as the correct context to achieve those goals in.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 34 Comments

One union liberalism

So now we know what Brexit means. Other than the famous tautology, it means we’re out of the Union, out of the market, out of the travel area, out of the customs union, everything. To cut a long story very short, it means I feel lied to.

Far from governing in the interests of both Remain and Leave voters, this government’s Brexit objectives leave pro-Europeans with no stake in the proceedings that will define this United Kingdom perhaps for the remaining duration of its existence. Worse, we are being asked to meekly unite behind the most trenchant version of the opposing viewpoint available.

A bitter enough pill for an individual to swallow, but in summarily rejecting any compromise at all, this government is also dismissing a substantial majority view formed in a nation backing European partnership.

Liberal Democrats in Scotland have been making a virtue out of being the only party in favour of two Unions, the only pro-EU, pro-UK party. Given the ascendant and hegemonic views of the SNP and the Tories, the probability of retaining both unions is low. Those parties hold power and will remain in power throughout the negotiations as no elections are due between then and now. By the time we get a chance to propose having cake and eating it to the electorate, it will be too late. There will be no cake.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 30 Comments

Opinion: ‘Scotland – where now?

 

The referendum is over and has settled nothing. The election has raised more questions than answers. And the Conservative Government’s first Queen’s Speech has set the direction of travel, while leaving the specifics nicely vague. What we do know is that plans for ‘English Votes for English Laws’, barring Scottish MPs from voting on whatever the executive decides are England-only matters, will see Scottish Votes for British Laws made increasingly irrelevant. We also know that further devolution to Scotland is going to happen, but not if the offer can satisfy the SNP’s short term ambitions.

So where are Liberal Democrats in all this? Our historical commitment is of course to Federalism, which differs from devolution in that the members of a federation usually cannot be abolished by their federal government, and that such members are usually equals – each state has the same amount of control over its own affairs, and the same relationship with the federal government. Not so with devolution, which has led to the creation of several assemblies in the UK, each with differing powers and responsibilities.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

Opinion: A new hope for electoral reform?

Much will be said and written about what happened on the 7th. But we need to think about what happens next now. We have been heavily defeated, and it would be easy to allow that defeat to set the mood and leave us paralysed. We must not let that happen.

The electoral system has delivered a result that bears little resemblance to the popular vote. Our own defeat has been amplified by this – as has been pointed out elsewhere, our parliamentary presence was within 25,000 votes of being wiped out entirely. Imagine, two million votes for no representation at all. We need to work with the others who have been disenfranchised by the electoral system. The Greens, who went home with one seat for one and a half million votes. UKIP, who won the support of almost four million people but who also get but a single seat. The SNP might have benefited hugely from the system, but they are now looking at their seats being rendered powerless by EVEL, and also support reform

Posted in News | Tagged and | 46 Comments
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