How to Beat the SNP

 

I don’t know when the SNP will be toppled, but I am confident it will happen eventually. I also seriously doubt people will flock en masse back to Labour, a party that took Scotland for granted for years and, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve the return of unwavering support. There will be a gap that we could perceivably fill, but we have to earn the right of that space, not make Labour’s mistake of taking it as a given.

Here are some things I have been trying to keep in mind over the past few months talking to SNP voters:

  1. Don’t mention the SNP. Growing up in Scotland, I am used to hearing people criticise the government. We have been doing it since long before I was born.But the governments we’ve criticised have for a long time been either Tory or New Labour. It’s a lot harder to rationally think about the actions of a party that elects 56 MPs purely under the promise that it would make your voice heard. As a result, it has become almost treason to criticise the SNP, or independence.I saw someone brand Jeremy Corbyn a ‘Red Tory’ on Twitter for being a Unionist. Raise concerns rather than blaming them on the government, and hopefully people will see your reasoning before they link it to the SNP.
  2. Don’t mention the Libdems. At least not at first. Not until you have fully rattled someone as to the failures of the Nationalists can you offer a solution.If you mention something the SNP have done wrong, and immediately follow it up with a Liberal Democrat solution, you will be instantly accused of negative campaigning, scare-mongering, bullying etc. You have to be on equal footing with the person you are trying to convince, not just another out-of-touch Westminster politician who just doesn’t get Scotland, even if you have lived in Hamilton your entire life and are starting Glasgow University in September…
  3. Treat them like intelligent human beings. I have often heard the SNP described as as the Borg from ‘Star Trek’, mindlessly following the orders of their Queen and assimilating unwitting Star Fleet Officers into their ranks. I can’t say I disagree with this, but the SNP certainly do.Telling someone that they have no mind, that they are pawns and barely even human, even doing so by a science fiction metaphor, is not going to get you anywhere. You have to challenge them at their own level.I intend to throw in their faces my deeply emotional connection to the UK whenever they speak of Scottish lions roaring, or the voice of Scotland being heard at last. I hope that if I listen and respect them, they will respect and listen to me, something the best teachers will tell you gets A’s in Advanced Higher Computing.
  4. Don’t allow yourself to be branded as anything. The Westminster parties — as if physically partaking in government, or parliament in general, disqualifies you as a reasonable voice.I have the luck of being Scottish, so at the very least they can’t accuse me of not understanding Scotland. In fact, however excited I was when Tim Farron called the SNP ‘Orwellian’ on national television, I recommend that most of the battle to undermine them takes place within Scotland.But even if you are English, or Welsh, or Northern Irish (though there’s always less hostility towards not-England), and believe in localism and devolution, then do not allow them to dismiss you just because of the city your party’s headquarters are based in.We are the party that believes in federalism and localism. And judging by the SNP’s handling of the police force, they are perfectly comfortable with centralism.

The SNP are not going to be beaten overnight, and probably not by the time of the Holyrood elections, but I firmly believe they can be shaken by 2020. This is as long as we are careful, sensitive and treat people’s views and frustrations seriously. There are many dangers to taking on the SNP, but I hope some of this might help.

* Joanne Ferguson joined the Liberal Democrats in May

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71 Comments

  • A rational and thoughtful piece. Our colleagues in Scotland have ,in some respects, a harder task than us in England but it has always been true that engagement is better than abuse

  • Calum

    Spot on, how can there be any sensible conversation until the Carmichael issue is resolved,it just looks awful and won’t go away.

  • I think the huge mistake both the Liberal Democrats and Labour made was associating themselves exclusively with Unionism in the referendum campaign. The Liberals have never been a strongly unionist party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats should have taken no official side in the referendum campaign, saying that we would campaign for Liberal principles whether in or out of the UK, and that individual politicians were welcome to campaign either for yes or no.

    Now it is time to stop demonising the SNP for wanting independence – which is a perfectly reasonable thing to want. Instead focus on the SNP record in Holyrood. Centralising policing is an example of something Liberal Democrats would instinctively be opposed to. The referendum has happened. There was a clear decision, following some promises by the Westminster parties that MUST be kept – if the Tories renege on those promises we should attack them as strongly as the SNP will. But the next elections in Scotland are nothing to do with independence, they are about the record of the SNP in governing Scotland, using the considerable powers they already have (thanks to the Liberal Democrats and Labour). So my advice if SNP supporters talk about independence next May is to say “these elections are nothing to do with that, lets focus on Scotland instead”

  • A Social Liberal 18th Aug '15 - 12:29pm

    There is only one way to defeat another party and that is to argue the issues, point out the failings of the opposition on those issues and show how we would address those issues differently.

  • Carmichael? Should be old news by next May, but it’s not most people’s business. Carmichael holding a ministerial position is everyone’s concern, but his being the representative for Orkney and Shetland? That is entirely up to the islanders and while there is an argument to hold a recall by election, if his constituents don’t cause one that is their business. Unless the matter has escalated to police investigation and criminal conviction, it should remain a matter between Carmichael and his constituents.

    On the article itself – I am neither a unionist nor am I Scottish, so my input is only ever going to be so useful or welcome. But Joanne Ferguson gets it right on the question of how to deal with the SNP supporters on the ground. A warmer hugging strategy will yield better results than opposing everything. Willie Rennie has been right to focus the Scottish party’s attention on specific issues with the police and with centralisation, now we need to make sure that the Liberal Democrats are a safe place for civil libertarians either side of the independence argument to put their votes. Even if they only give us their list vote, it should be possible to return one Liberal Democrat in every region.

  • As for Alistair Carmichael, the hearing is set for early September, I believe. If he is found guilty he will be forced to resign. If not then he may have problems with his own electorate in 2020, but I doubt if most people elsewhere in Scotland will make their voting decisions on the basis of his case… People are just as likely to remember the ruthless hounding of Charles Kennedy over his alcoholism by SNP supporters.

  • I don’t think the SNP can be beaten until Scotland becomes independent. They’ve taken seats Labour and Liberals have held for over 40 years because their vote closely mirrors the number of Scots who wanted independence and also because essentially English politics has little traction north of the border. There’s no reason to believe the SNP can’t hold these seats for the same length of time. Remember The Conservatives have existed on one seat for decades and IMO it’s more likely than not going to be the same for the Lib Dems and Labour. What exactly are we going to offer? Vague notions of change? These voter have found a new home.

  • I could not have posted a better comment than what Glenn has. SNP won’t be beaten until Scotland are independent and the supporters of SNP have found a new home!!!!

  • Thomas Robinson 18th Aug '15 - 2:26pm

    Joanne writes “I intend to throw in their faces my deeply emotional connection to the UK”.

    You are a British nationalist. British Nationalists are far fewer in Scotland than are Scottish nationalists, and have been increasingly in decline for decades.

    Only Project Fear allowed the Brit Nats to deny Scotland its independence. That will not last for ever, so, Lib Dems, go back to your Scottish constituencies and prepare for oblivion.

  • Thomas Robinson 18th Aug '15 - 2:30pm

    AndrewMcC ” People are just as likely to remember the ruthless hounding of Charles Kennedy over his alcoholism by SNP supporters”

    Laughable-it was the Lib Dems themselves who hounded Kennedy out of the leadership

  • Donald Smith 18th Aug '15 - 2:32pm

    Thomas Robinson – to be deeply attached to a country that has had three nations in Britain living in peace for the last 300 years is not nationalism. It is a deep devotion to tolerant, multi-cultural politics. UKIP are nationalists. Lib Dems are not. You should be able tell the difference if you truly understand politics.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Aug '15 - 2:41pm

    The analysis should include something about different electoral systems.
    Yes / No for the referendum, First-Past -The-Post for Westminster, partially proportional for Holyrood, STV for councils.
    FPTP tends to produce landslides that the voters did not intend.

  • Mr Robinson, I do not think anyone believes that the action of some foolish people within the SNP over its attacks on Charles Kennedy is a laughing matter

  • Joanne Ferguson 18th Aug '15 - 3:46pm

    Thomas Robinson, I am attached to the UK because it is as open tolerant place of co-operation that by its very nature embraces conflict of views. If the UK leaves the EU, British nationalism will have won and I will want to be independent. Britain outside the EU is not the Britain I love.

    And in case you haven’t noticed, I AM Scottish. My view may be a minority within Scotland, but that is all the more reason for me to make it known. That is the whole point of democracy. Scotland is more than the SNP. I am not a British nationalist any more than I’m a Scottish nationalist. I’m an individualist, and I, as an individual, happen to admire what the Union is a symbol of. I’m not saying other people have to share my view, but some people do, and this is how I intend to make those people heard.

    I was not a libdem when Charles Kennedy’s leadership ended. In fact I was seven years old and just learning who The Beatles were. But from the reactions I have seen, he was deeply valued within the party and he had to go because of public reaction to him, not because of any “hounding” from within the party (I am speaking of Tim Farron crying as he finished his tribute in the House of Commons and almost doing the same every time I’ve been around him and Charles has been brought up).

    As for the case that the SNP will be in power until independence, this could indeed be true. But I am going to do everything I can to ensure this doesn’t have to happen.

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th Aug '15 - 4:51pm

    What I like about this broad-strokes thinking about our language as a party is that the principle of ‘don’t talk about the SNP” is highly compatible with parallel campaigning in England.

    It is still arguable that 2 years of trying to defend Scottish LibDem seats by the national leadership in particular talking a lot about the SNP has indirectly (and partially) contributed to both ourselves and Labour losing seats in England and is one (only one, and maybe not the key one) factor in our facing a Tory majority government where it could easily have been a minority government.

    Joanne, keep up the good work. Your articles are getting stronger and pithier.

  • Simon Arnold 18th Aug '15 - 5:28pm

    SNP followers, are more a problem, than, the party, itself. Lib Dems, need to stop apologising. Lib Dems, need to challenge SNP, for their complete lack of direction and, their illiberal policies. We need to defeat Nationalism, while introducing Federalism.

    Since 1997, SNP have failed Scotland, I should know, because I live here.

    Labour and Corbyn, are a disaster, the party (US) shouldn’t waste time and energy debating them.

    In Scotland, indivdual Liberty is in grave danger, SNP want a massive, intrusive estate.

  • The Scottish electorate is sophisticated and ‘nae daft’. It will take a long time to remedy the situation – possibly until after independence – or until one party government is perceived as unhealthy. Opposition to one party government could be an early key to any recovery.

    One thing many southern English don’t seem to get is the mutuality of Scottish culture and social life. Traditional Liberal values and policies mirrored this. But the Lib Dems are seen as walking away from their history and siding with the Tory establishment. They were punished for associating with the Tories in the coalition. Residual hostility to Thatcherism is profound. ‘There is no such thing as society’ hung like a specter over the Coalition feast. Anyone taking the trouble to read Tavish Scott’s account of 2011 will discover this.

    Lib Dems are perceived as betraying traditional liberal values. Austerity replaced traditional liberal Keynsian economics – hostility became personified in the member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey as First Secretary of the Treasury. The ‘yellow box’ with red lines should have occurred in 2010 not 2015. Lib Dems (and New Labour) left a vacuum cleverly filled by the SNP in Scotland and Corbyn in England as the vehicle of opposition to austerity. It’s going to take a long time to repair the damage……..and to re-establish the reputation of Scottish Liberal Democrats as the vessel of the traditional liberal values. Fortunately we have a good and decent man in Willie Rennie to make a start.

    Opposing the dangers of ‘a one party state’ and returning to traditional radical liberal values which mirrors Scottish society values are the only possible remedies……..Restoring Alison McInnes MSP as a lead candidate might also send a signal.

  • To add to my comments on Scottish society, here is a story about the consequences of policies on sanctions and welfare implemented by OUR party whilst in coalition. The full story is in the ‘New Statesman’. I quote :

    “Two months ago, after benefits sanctions left Louisa Sewell with no money for food, she shoplifted a pack of four Mars bars. It was the cheapest food in the shop, at 75 pence for the packet. She hadn’t eaten in days.

    Sewell was caught stealing on the Kidderminster convenience store’s CCTV camera, and then fined £328.75 by the magistrates’ court. This fine was the sum of £73 for the theft, £150 in court charges, £85 for prosecution costs, a £20 victim surcharge – and 75p in compensation to the store for the Mars bars.

    The fine is over 438 times the value of the theft.

    This story got to Scotland and was picked up by Reverend Stuart Campbell, who runs a website on Scottish politics, Rev Campbell spotted Sewell’s story online, and decided to begin a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for her to be able to pay her fine. His aim was to raise £500 – but in four days, he has raised nearly £14,000.

    “You see stuff like this every day,” Campbell tells me. But the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for him was that he had recently read a news story about a young investment banker who glassed someone in a nightclub and was let off punishment by the judge, who noted that the man had “a lot going for him”.

    “It was quite hard to ignore the contrast between justice for the poor and justice for the well-off,” Campbell adds.

    “This is a drop in the ocean,” Campbell says about his campaign, the surplus funds of which he is donating to various foodbanks and poverty charities, and a school uniform bank for the children of poor families who are unable to afford clothing for school. “I can’t imagine how many similar cases there have been in the last couple of weeks that we don’t know anything about – just by sheer chance we stumbled across this one and decided to do something about it.”

    Much for the Lib Dems to reflect on.

  • Thomas Robinson 18th Aug '15 - 7:08pm

    Joanne. Thanks for your reply, but when you say: “We need to defeat Nationalism, while introducing Federalism.”, you should probably realise that the Lib Dems have done virtually nothing to advance the cause of federalism in living memory.

    Being a Scotsman living in England for many years, I can assure you that no-one, not even those who used to vote Lib Dem, ever mentioned federalism to me. In England I voted Lib Dem in every GE election from 1987 to 2010, but never again.

    In the Scottish context, far from being the party of Home Rule or Federalism, the Lib Dems reduced themselves to a third-and now very minor- unionist party. I cannot see any way back for them for many, many years, if ever.

  • Joanne Ferguson 18th Aug '15 - 8:13pm

    Thomas, I am really not the person to ask about the historic position of the Libdems on anything, but I will look into it. What I’ve been told is that we were in favour of devo max being on the referendum ballot paper, but I’m not sure. Either someone can clarify this after me or I’ll comment again with what I find out.

    I could argue all day about why the Libdems are still worth voting for, but this isn’t the place.

    I do wish we’d had a separate referendum campaign, a more emotional one than just “you’ll lose money if you leave”, and it should also have been headed by Willie Rennie, not Nick Clegg. I actually heard that there’d have been an overall gain of £1000 per head, so we could easily have taken the opposite approach of asking if that’s all that 300 years of shared culture and shared difficulties is worth.

  • There’s a lot of really good sense here Joanne. I think the Scottish LibDems (myself included) got a lot wrong over the last decade or so, in terms of our attitude towards the SNP. We can learn lessons from that as we go forward, but what we desperately need is new thinking – and you are providing that, so please keep doing so.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Aug '15 - 9:18pm

    The price of oil is key. Scotland is not Saudi Arabia and cannot control the price in world markets. Wide fluctauations in price cause instability of income. An economy needs to be more diverse.

  • Tom R,

    The party have long argued for a more federal Britain, along with HoL , voting et al reform. Home rule is different from federalism.

    However one of the annoyances I have is that the UK Party has strong Welsh and Scottish leaders, but no visible English leader (either as a whole or divided up as English regions), or for that matter a (visible?) Northern Irish leader. That’s not federalism-it looks more like the lopsided devolution the UK is struggling to cope with. So what are we promoting?

  • @Anmaw: Norn Iron does not really have any of the national parties. It’s a separate world.

  • My problem with the SNP is not their por-indy stance. I am sitting on the fence so far as this is concerned. What I don’t like is many of their policies inside Scotland – one of these is the anti-alcohol Kampf. I know it is progressive, but to me it’s too heavy-handed.

  • Joanne Ferguson 18th Aug '15 - 11:53pm

    Anmaw, I know there’s a Liberal Youth England, so I’d assume there’s an English Liberal Democrats in the same way there’s Liberal Youth Scotland and a Scottish Liberal Democrats. Never heard anything about a Northern Irish Liberal Youth though.

    Thomas, hopefully Anmaw’s reply helps with answering your question. I’m going to go look into English Libdem parties now, so I can always keep looking into federalism too if you like. Btw by ‘look into’ I mean ask the Liberal Youth members I talk to most.

  • Joanne Ferguson 19th Aug '15 - 12:07am

    Anmaw, apparently we have an agreement with Alliance in Northern Ireland and actually do have our own party but we don’t stand in elections. It seems that there’s too much tension and would “be s**t on faster than a Tony Blair reelection bid.” — Liberal Youth everybody… 😉

    Thomas, apparently we have a policy paper called ‘Power to the People’ about federalism and two federalism reports during the referendum.

  • Igor S:
    https://libdemsni.wordpress.com. Only small and do not (currently) stand in elections but thats no reason not to have a leader, and be a federal part of the UK party. While you are right to some degree the Northern Ireland is different world, all the main parties do have NI local parties operating and campaigning. Both the Tories and UKIP put up candidates in the GE, and UKIP even have a member on the NI Assembly (admittedly through a defection).

    Joanne: But who is the leader of the ‘English’ LDs? Thats my concern. We look like we are reflecting the current system, not trying to be something different. Personally I would prefer it if England was divided into the regions to allow the leader to be a local campaigner, but regardless, if we were in the USA, Germany, Canada etc we would know who the leader was in our state. Anyway sorry for going off topic – I thought your piece was excellent.

  • Jane Ann Liston 19th Aug '15 - 2:29pm

    Good post, Joanne.

    I fear that for many of the new SNP supporters, their affinity is akin to an obsession with a refusal to believe that their party can do anything wrong. I’m sure many of us can remember being in that sort of frame of mind over some beloved object, and the more friends & especially family pointed out that the shortcomings of her or him, the more we dug in our heels and refused to listen, clinging steadfastly to the belief that all would be wonderful. Logical argument will not work in the face of such belief. Perhaps some who are wise parents, or who recall youthful infatuations only too well, can provide pointers on how to deal with the situation.

  • Joanne

    Excellent sentiment, I agree with your approach of creating a trusting atmosphere and actually discuss the issues before you get heard. I’m pleased to see people on here being open to that approach whe discussing with voters they perceive to have voted “tom the left” of the Libdems (the SNP) sadly there is a desire to shout at and hector those who some perceive to have voted “to the right” (Tory and UKIP, mainly in other parts of the UK).

  • Anmaw

    Good point about having positions that reflect how you believe the country should be structured, it could also work as the regions could basically be the EU election regions.

    Also you are right to point out the difference between Hone Rule and Federalism, I’m all for federalism, home rule just ends upi with the current mess.

    Pedants point
    David Raw

    “the member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey as First Secretary of the Treasury”

    That would be “Chief” not “First.” The guy with the title of “First” is “First Lord” and that has been Cameron for too long now.

  • @Joanne

    The Lib Dems were opposed to having a devo max question on the ballot paper and Willie Rennie made clear that device max or federalism were not on offer in any circumstances. So we non Lib Dems are left with wondering just what the Lib Dems do stand for.

  • paul barker 19th Aug '15 - 8:21pm

    A useful point for us is that SNP members are strongly in favour of holding another Referendum soon while most voters are against. The SNP leadership is either going to dissapoint its activists or annoy most voters.

  • PSI: totally agree, I would go with EU regions too, with the possible exception of Cornwall.

    Hireton: The reason that it was widely opposed was that it would have been extremely difficult to work out the result of a three way question, or a staggered series of questions.. Not impossible, but certainly not clear as no combinations of results was likely to give a majority decision. So how would a plurality decision have been handled? Because the majority would have voted for something else.

    BTW Devo Max (or Home Rule) is not federalism. Likewise federalism is not devo max (or home rule). The LDs are still campaigning for a federal Britain, although as I’ve previously stated we need to be clearer about both our federal structure and about what federalism actually means.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Aug '15 - 10:00pm

    Anmaw 18th Aug ’15 – 9:54pm “or for that matter a (visible?) Northern Irish leader. ”
    It is important to recognise that Northern Ireland has its own political context. John Alderdice is a former leader of the APNI and a Liberal Democrat peer. David Ford is the current leader of the APNI and a Liberal Democrat member. He is anti-sectarian and is a minister in Northen Ireland, elected as such with support across the sectarian divide. He is certainly visible in Northern Ireland He oftens attends Liberal Democrat events as an expert on the Single Transferable Vote, under which Councillors, Assembly Members and MEPs are elected in Northern Ireland.

  • Richard – I think you’re kind of missing my point. If we say that we want (radical) change by reforming the UK into a federal country and society (as we repeatedly do), we need to be a federal party that looks like what we want Britain to become – not just reflecting the current botched system of devolution. My point was that there are some elephants in the room regarding our ‘Federal’ party – one is Northern Ireland. I am, of course, aware of the different political landscape, and our relationship with the Alliance Party and some of its members.

  • Matt (Bristol) 20th Aug '15 - 5:39pm

    Anmaw — most federal systems (except the US) have some regions where the party system is different from the that in other territories. Federalism and a rigidly uniform constitutional structure are not the same thing, although it is positive and good to bring Northern Ireland into the context of UK debate.

    To give an example, as someone who dislikes oversimplification, I was annoyed when it was postured as if the single-sex marriage act (in England and Wales) had ‘resolved’ the issue nationally, and Northern Ireland was not mentioned.

    But I would suggest that of all the Northern Irish parties which are in relationship with a ‘mainland’ party, Alliance have the least differences and present the least challenges to members who wish for a brand of politics that makes reference to what is going on elseqhere in the country and is not NI-specific.

  • @amnaw

    I’m perfectly aware that devo max and federalism are not the same thing. Neither were or are on offer from the Lib Dems.

  • Kenneth Carr 20th Aug '15 - 10:32pm

    So on the one hand , you say SNP supporters should be treated with understanding and respect, and on the other you say you ‘don’t disagree’ that the SNP are like the Borg ‘mindlessly following the orders of their queen’.

    You also add the usual ‘SNP bad’ digs- ‘less hostility towards non-English’, ‘Orwellian’ etc.

    If that is you showing respect, I’m glad you haven’t decided to be abusive.

  • The only time that the SNP may be beaten will be in a post Independent Scotland until then normal rules of politics have be suspended, the SNP can do no wrong newspapers, polls, media can criticise and highlight whatever the SNP are doing good or bad It does not matter because the people are supporting something bigger than politics which is a cause and that cause is the inevitable Scottish Independence.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Aug '15 - 3:30pm

    Northern Ireland could go a step further and elect their MPs to Westminster by the same system they use for other elections..

  • Joanne Ferguson 21st Aug '15 - 9:50pm

    Kenneth, someone on twitter brought this up i realised how bad it sounded. The worst part is that I truly do mean it. I consciously know that the SNP are capable of independent thought, but I haven’t experienced a whole lot of it.

    Hireton, like I said, I’m really not an expert on this. Most libdems I’ve spoken to have been in favour of devo max, but I am a new member. Whast we stand for is liberalism — the freedom to do what you want with your life regardless of the circumstances of your birth.

  • Joanne, what you mistake for not experiencing SNP individal thought is indeed individual thought that is to say discipline, the SNP consciously think through a thought process that results in them not running about like headless chickens mouthing off and arguing with each other they remain disciplined to the cause and the road towards Scotland’s Independence.

  • nvelope2003 22nd Aug '15 - 9:14pm

    This is really frightening. The only saving grace is that the Scottish Parliament is elected partly by proportional representation so there ought to be a handful of opposition MSPs to scrutinise the executive’s decisions. Other polls have shown some different figures and TNS is usually more favourable to the SNP. Maybe Jeremy Corbyn will be able to revive the Scottish Labour Party ? In 1931 the National Government got 60% of the vote and a huge parliamentary majority but was overwhelmingly defeated a few years later despite winning the war.

  • Excellent article Joanne! Like you I am a new Scottish Lib Dem member. Also I am appalled that Scotland is now turning into a one party state and with the amount the amount of support the SNP now have they can get away with cutting corporatist tax, cutting college funding, centralising police forces, etc. I mean forgive me but those aren’t very socialist policies for a supposed socialist party. However when you try to point this out to SNP supporters they accuse you of being a unionist and refer to you as either scum or a quisling or a traitor or just a yellow Tory. That’s another thing it’s like fairness, the right to vote for whoever and honest debate have now been replaced by this abusive campaigning which is used by many SNP activists both on the ground and online aka cybernats. I know many many unionist supporters also used these tactics during the referendum but they were only a small minority compared with the abuse espoused by the SNP activists. Also even the other independence aren’t being opposition towards the SNP. For example whilst the SSP offer policies radically different from the SNP they don’t try to confront the SNP on them. Furthermore the Scottish Greens never try publicly criticise the SNP and just want to remain in its shadow. In addition I would just to clarify that like you I am not a fan of unionists; people who support the royal family, support the trident missile base, support militarism, are obsessed with the army, support conservatives or UKIP, are euro sceptic. I am against these values and favour more liberal, social democratic values e.g. Federalism, voting reform, protection against surveillance, protecting the Human Rights Act, staying in EU, and standing up for anyone who wishes to vote for who they believe in without harassment online. However I am worried those values are being squeezed out of Scotland by a rising, aggressive, militant, left-wing Scottish nationalism and an equally aggressive British nationalism

  • Liam, I suppose as a Lib Dem you ‘favour more liberal, social democratic values e.g’ would you be happy for your ex Leader Nick Clegg to be nominate 10 ex MPs and send them into the unelected undemocratic House of Lords, is this what you mean by social democratic values.

  • Kenneth Carr 23rd Aug '15 - 10:14pm

    Joanne,
    I have to say that I appreciate your candour. If you genuinely think that people who support the SNP are mindless automatons with a whiff of anti-English racism, then you are perfectly entitled to your opinion.

    It just seemed odd to me that you would express these views as part of a piece suggesting that SNP voters be treated as intelligent human beings.

    Good luck with the campaigning though- I would love to be a fly on the wall for one of your doorstep conversations.

  • Joanne, I’m told there’s a SNP MP tonight quoting your ‘treat them like intelligent human beings’ line on his twitter account. I dont know which one it is. But I hope he is making the point to his party that such civility should go both ways. As a LibDem I have never been subjected to as much vile, snide abuse by anyone as I have from SNP people. (Not all, but quite a lot of them).

  • Simon Arnold 24th Aug '15 - 4:12am

    They are very insecure and paranoid. I live in North Scotland. If you live outside Inverness, as, I do, you won’t see investment. Roads are a mess, no Police, no NHS. They don’t have much support up here. After all, the years, that they have been in power, it seems to be getting worse. Shops and business closing down. The supporters of, the party seem to be unlike the actual party. They play up to, and off each other like teflon.

    If you want to win in 2016, get moving now on every issue. Decentralise services, bring them back to local control. It seems they haven’t done much at all, other than blame everyone else, stir nationalism.

    This party, has its work clearly cut out, for us. Holyrood, needs a ‘Balance of Power’ that keeps Scotland free of illiberal nonsense. Green party, in Scotland, is ‘Son of the SNP’ they only differ, with regards to Greens issues. Only on that issue. We have two choices next May, win or lose. We need to win if we don’t; SNP Labour and Greens, will ruin Scotland, and turn us into their dream ticket….. Cuba. I’ve been a member of all three, so I know, especially now, it looks like ‘Lenin’s little brother’ may become leader.

    I support common sense, individual liberty. The far reaches of the political spectrum, is for fools, media mindset and undesireable people.

  • An interesting article that tries to defuse the heated debate that is currently underway in Scotland. I am degree educated, widely travelled and I would like to think we’ll read and able to make my own decisions. I am an SNP member, firmly believe that Scotland would be in a better place, independent. If you consider what has happened with the way oil revenues were spent post Thatcher, how Scots are portrayed as scroungers and the hurt that is currently being felt due to vile and vindictive policies your party signed up to, is it any wonder tensions are high. The whole Borgue reference is laughable. Did you read the National Collective site? Creativity, debate, strong words, but above all, care and compassion. The same can be said for other pro-independence sites. We all know that there nutters on both sides, it goes with the territory. Of course MSM (mainstream media) has created the cybernats personal, but look who owns the MSM. The Lib Dems made a fatal error working with the Tories. In Scotland, that will never be forgotten, just like Liebour and their bon homie with the Tories during IndyRef1. Good luck with trying to regain ground. I have a lot of respect for some of your policies, but actions speak louder. You allowed yourselves to be manipulated by Cameron et Al during GE15 just like Labour. Poor judgement, and in politics that can be suicide unless your Iain Duncan Smith. Good luck and thanks for your piece.

  • Joanne Ferguson 24th Aug '15 - 11:17am

    Kenneth, it’s different when it’s 1 on 1. Some of my best friends support the SNP. It’s just when I criticise the SNP on something, or Tim Farron does for that matter, and I see a wall of internet comments about how I’m just hating on the SNP. It’s really disheartening and contributes to this feeling.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Aug '15 - 11:30am

    Joanne Ferguson 19th Aug ’15 – 12:07am It is better to work with your friends than against them.
    When they visit us, as they did at the Hilton hotel at Glasgow conference you would recognise them as liberals, as good as any of us, or, bearing in mind their political context, often better. When John Alderdice was their leader he bought a house next to a police station.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Aug '15 - 11:32am

    Joanne Ferguson
    Please note that David Steel had a namesake called David Steel, from different time, whom he wrote about.

  • Joanne Ferguson 25th Aug '15 - 12:22am

    Richard, I have no doubt that they were plenty liberal. I am very happy we have allies in Northern Ireland. Those words were from the Liberal Youth Chatbox, where I went to ask people about federalism and sister parties.

  • Simon Arnold – “In Scotland, indivdual Liberty is in grave danger, SNP want a massive, intrusive estate.”

    And this is why the Lib Dems are doomed to fail (along with other parties). Its all the SNP fault.

    The problem with this analysis is that it completely misunderstands what the SNP actually are. The ONLY thing the SNP believe in is Scottish Independence. They are not ideologically left or right, centralist or statist. Their goal is to reflect popular opinion with their policies outside of their key ideological belief (which is solely independence).

    The public are the ones who don’t believe in Liberal values and Personal Independence. When something happens – from an air crash to anti-social behaviour to a kid failing an exam to a senior having a bill they can’t afford, the public response is “what will the government do”. It doesn’t matter the issue, the core public attitude is “what will the government do”.

    This is because the liberal ideologues have completely and utterly failed to promote liberal ideas and the liberal agenda. Campaigning against both Independence and Full Federalism is completely and utterly ideologically illiberal. This is not the fault of the SNP, it is the fault of the party with “liberal” in their name.

  • Simon Arnold 30th Aug '15 - 11:18pm

    Dair.

    I already know that, and keep pointing it out.

    You only have to read their comic The National, to see, the problem.

    As, I said, Liberals, in Scotland, need to stop SNP and, their illiberal big State, snooper agenda. This week, we read how SNP want a new broadcaster, in Scotland. You can imagine the propaganda machine, with smoke pouring out of it.

    I live in far north, mainland Scotland. It is like a plug, has been pulled, and, it’s getting worse. Because of SNP being unable to do anything other create a big useless snooper state, and propaganda machine; everything around it falls to pieces. Scottish Liberal Democrats, need to get out there and just point out all their mess, it isn’t difficult. North Scotland, has been failed on Health, Policing and Infrustructure. Education, doesn’t affect me, but if you do have children, then they’ll have a state appointed guardian. A Library card, that is nothing more than a ‘Child ID Card’ and their tiny heads will be filled with Galic propaganda. Scotland needs to fight for its very survival, otherwise, we’ll become something like Berlin, with a Cuban tan.

  • Steven Duffus 31st Aug '15 - 1:12am

    I think as Gordon Brown has said today, the union’s future will ultimately be decided within the next year. Interestingly, I do feel that yes the English Votes for English Laws and refusal to grant the Scottish Parliament full top-up powers on welfare but I feel the problem could be enhanced further if Labour elect Jeremy Corbyn as new leader. I’m sure even the more optimistic of us will agree that a Corbyn led Labour would ultimately concede defeat in the 2020 General Election meaning the possibility of 10 years of sole Tory rule, something that Scots have almost never voted for. The Tories are at present acting as the communication guru’s for any future Yes campaign when the inevitable next referendum campaign comes round.
    Getting back to matters for Holyrood in 2016. The Scottish Lib Dems in my opinion would be far better served not by highlighting how the SNP are failing in areas such as policing, education and health but by offering their alternative. What they would do if they were given power. Fighting a campaign of positivity over a negative campaign of just lambasting the SNP for all their failures and their journey for Independence isn’t going to cut it. The electorate in Scotland has become politically engaged and are allowing themselves to accept the rhetoric coming from the Nationalists that they have, “Scotland’s best interest at heart” or “Scotland’s voice.” They’re not going the accept the argument that the SNP are failing because of their endless pursuit of Independence, they need an alternative.

  • SNP are trying to get a better BBC free from the control of Westminster and a more balanced unbiased BBC progamming in Scotland, and creating more Scottish programmes and jobs at the new BBC Scotland a very liberal approach by the SNP and good for Scotland.

  • Simon Arnold 2nd Sep '15 - 10:52pm

    SNP want a media propaganda machine. BBC, well, it’s a mess.

  • Joanne Ferguson 10th Sep '15 - 12:15am

    Will, I realise how late I am in this, but I just reminded myself about this article in a fb comment so I came along to check the comments.

    The BBC is not biased. It annoys everyone. The right call it left. The left call it right. It criticises everything it can get its hands on. UKIP tried to prosecute Have I Got News For You because they were so offended, while one of its team captains, Ian Hislop, runs a paper (magazine?) with a headline currently characterising Jeremy Corbyn as the “loony left”. The number of times the BBC has been called biased, and the range of people that have done so, prove just how neutral it is, and how vital its constant critique of everyone is to the public.

  • Simon Arnold 10th Sep '15 - 11:44pm

    The BBC isn’t Liberal, but it is Marxist. it ‘loves’ Corbyn and Labour, it distorts, and talks down us ‘little children’ . It doesn’t like Lib Dems, it didn’t like Clegg, and, it disaproves of Tim Farron, and his personal christian values. Think of DC and Marvel Comics. BBC is a live action, version of The Guardian.

    Newsnight, tonight, now on, in Scotland. Allegra is very excited about Corbyn, now we have Caitlin Moran, god help us all.

    All the other News output, other than BBC and SKY, is much better. It is grown-up, accepting we aren’t children.

  • BBC is Marxist!

    Very funny!

  • Simon Arnold 11th Sep '15 - 12:20am

    I’m not laughing. Andrew.

  • Simon Arnold 11th Sep '15 - 12:22am

    Very odd! What illiberal, wire did I trip, with my last comment? Please, get a grip! we’re Liberals, not an SNP outfit.

  • John Mitchell 30th Dec '15 - 5:46pm

    A very good article that I missed originally. I am somewhat disheartened by some of the defeatism within the thread. I see some claim that”the SNP will only be defeated after independence.” The white flag may as well be raised right now just as Labour has arguably abandoned the red flag in Scotland in favour of the Saltire. That’s not challenging the political weather, that’s capitulating.

    There are plenty arguments to be made against the Scottish Government and as Tim Farron said the SNP are many things but they are not liberal.

    I do agree that the SNP are many things to many people and their greatest advantage is being able to appeal to all sections of the electorate. The Liberal Democrats’ as a party should be proud though in that they are the only party in Scotland and at a UK level that does not subscribe to nationalist or populist sentiment.

    The Liberal Democrats should fight the upcoming election on the issues. On that basis alone the Scottish Government has big questions to answer. Granted, politics is volatile like never before but it’s imperative that the party does not give up in the face of such rampant and unfettered centralisation by the current government.

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