Conference Preview: Wednesday 18 September

Conference closes exactly one year away from the Scottish independence Referendum. To mark the occasion, Secretary of State for Scotland will develop the themes of identity he’s been talking about recently. He’ll say:

I am a Borderer and a Scot.

I’m proud of those things.

But as a twenty first century Scot, I have another layer to my identity.

I am British and I’m proud of that, too.

So are most Scots.

The vast majority of people I speak to – friends, constituents, people in communities the length and breadth of Scotland – are at ease with their identities.

Glaswegians, Borderers, highlanders, Fifers, islanders.

Across the country, people have an emotional attachment to their communities, to Scotland and to the United Kingdom.

He’ll look at what Scotland stands to lose by leaving the UK:

And our presence on the world stage gives us the influence to shape a better world.

Negotiating in the UN Security Council, shaping the direction of the European Union, raising our international aid budget to the second highest in the world.

Together the UK family of nations has pioneered state pensions, established a National Health Service, and developed the most successful network of universities that Europe has ever known.

We have been at the cutting edge of scientific research, at the forefront of global trade and at the sharp end of war where we stood – alone at times – in the successful fight against fascism.

These are good things, great things, in which men and women from across our family of nations have worked together and scaled the highest heights

Policy debates include:

Emergency motions on Legal Aid and Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act in the light of David Miranda’s detention.

The themes paper for the manifesto. It seems to want a stronger economy and a fairer society. Who knew? Three amendments seek to commit us to welfare which supports disadvantaged people, redistributing “work and reward”, and maintaining the party’s distinct identity with tighter anti-poverty measures.

Human rights – Julian Huppert’s last of 8 appearances on the Conference stage.

After the party awards, Nick Clegg will, in his leader’s speech, set out the case for further Coalition in 2015. That’s just coalition, not coalition with anyone in particular.

He’ll also say that the value the Liberal Democrats have added to the Coalition has been worth the resulting difficulties:

Every insult we have had to endure since we entered government – every snipe, every bad headline, every blow to our support – that was all worth it, because we are turning Britain around.

I listened to Norman Lamb talking last night at a Liberal Youth with commitment, understanding and compassion about his work in tackling mental health provision for young people. He really gets what needs to happen, including extending youth health services to 25 year olds. In Scotland, we don’t have a Norman Lamb. Some teenagers have to wait a whole year just to get treatment for anxiety, depression or self harm. This is why we need to be in Government and why, on this, I agree with Nick.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • jedibeeftrix 18th Sep '13 - 10:07am

    “But as a twenty first century Scot, I have another layer to my identity. I am British and I’m proud of that, too.”

    I don’t understand this, Caron, could you explain?

    Speaking as a firm Unionist it sounds like a nonsense to say that a pro-Independence Scot is NOT a 21st century Scot!

    What one recognises as ones identity is theirs to determine, and I imagine they would reject this specious statement equally as I would have were he to have said:

    “But as a twenty first century Brit, I have another layer to my identity. I am European and I’m proud of that, too.”

    Moreover, British identity has never entirely subsumed the identities of its constituent nations, so it is wrong to state multi-layered identities are a 21st century phenomenon.

    I believe Salmond’s bid for ‘freedom’ will fail precisely because Scots recognise their Britishness, and convincingly so, but this was the same in the 20th century and the 19th, and I won’t write-off a pro-Independence Scot as some backward relic because he doesn’t accept the shared destiny that a British state entails.

    The crucial feature of indirect democracy is the perception of representation, the collective trust in shared aims and expectations that allows the people to put their destiny in the hands of another, safe in the knowledge that even if ‘their’ man doesn’t get the job then the other guy will still be looking after their best interests.

    The manner in which this trust is built is the knowledge that you and ‘he’ have a history of cooperation, and that your respective families likewise have a shared social and cultural history of cooperation, all of which allows you to trust that when adversity strikes ‘he’ will act in a predictable and acceptable way.

    The Scottish and EU referendums are based on exactly the same premise; do you consent that ‘they’ should act in your name?

  • Danny Alexander ” we make the difference”, we certainly appear to have done so at Woking yesterday, from first to a bad fourth. What more messages do we have to receive before we wake up and change our strategy, approach and personnel.

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