LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Cameron’s shocking example of self-serving politics is biggest threat to union

Alistair Carmichael has written a devastating attack on David Cameron in today’s Herald, accusing him of “psychopathic ruthlessness” and of “one of the most egregious pieces of self-serving politics ever seen” in stoking up English nationalism. It’s strong stuff.

At 7am in the morning of September 19, following the referendum result, the Prime Minister emerged to thank the people of Scotland for sticking with one of the most successful political unions the world has ever seen and to reaffirm his commitment to its future. This was his time to tell the people of a continuing UK that he understood what had taken us to the brink and that he would deliver a modern UK, fit for the 21st century.

Except, he didn’t. Instead, in one of the most egregious pieces of self-serving politics ever seen (and remember, Downing Street is a high bar to clear) he spoke to his own backbenchers and party activists who were increasingly spooked by the referendum on the one hand and Ukip on the other.

For Mr Cameron, the threat of September 18 had passed and the focus, with an almost psychopathic ruthlessness, switched to the General Election on May 7. Dave the Unionist was dead; long live Dave the English Nationalist.

And so it continued through to close of polls. There is no denying that it worked.

Faced with a nationalist tide in Scotland, Mr Cameron was able to surf a wave of nationalist sentiment in England that eventually carried him far enough up the beach to secure a majority in the House of Commons that few had predicted.

Is all hope of retaining the UK  lost?

The answer lies in bold constitutional reform across the whole of the UK. It lies in a federal structure where the people of England can be empowered by devolved government in the same way in which the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been.

It lies in giving the people of England the power to decide exactly what devolution means for them. Is it an English Parliament or a structure of regional assemblies? Only the people of England can decide that.

It lies in a written constitution, a parliament that reflects and respects the views of all who vote for it and where everyone has their say through a democratic mandate and not political patronage or the hereditary principle.

It lies with a UK-wide constitutional convention, where people beyond the political and media classes can have their say and shape their destiny.

It does not lie in a dangerous fudge of English votes for English laws that allows conservatives (in any party) to continue to pretend that, somehow, constitutional change can be accommodated in an institution that ceased to function as a representative democracy in 1974.

You can read the whole thing here.

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

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15 Comments

  • David Faggiani 25th Jun '15 - 1:38pm

    I think maybe it would be better for Mr Carmichael to keep quiet about the stoking of fears of Scottish Nationalism, for a while at least. It’s a bit like Chris Huhne writing an article denouncing motoring offences. I’m very surprised he’s written this.

  • Sadie Smith 25th Jun '15 - 1:49pm

    I have been saying similar things since Cameron was so ungracious and started wittering about English Votes for English Laws. It was grossly ungracious to those who had helped secure the Union and argued for a federal structure.
    And I was born in England and lived only a scant year in Scotland.

  • Carmichael cannot just put his head in the sand and hope everything goes well. He has a constituency and party ..in fact he is the parliamentary party in Scotland and what he is saying is true.Unles you want him to resign, as the SNP are attempting to obtain, then he needs support not further condemnation

  • Exactly the sort of thing we should have been highlighting and attacking before the GE and what I want us to be doing (if we can’t fight Tories there’s no future for us anywhere).

    I’m critical of the whole leak debacle but must we discuss us endlessly anytime anything Scottish comes up?!

  • A Social Liberal 25th Jun '15 - 3:44pm

    I have only one question. Why didn’t Carmichael or any otherLib Dem MP realise Camerons shortfalls over the last five years? Why were they happy to rubber stamp so many illiberal policies?

    Why would anyone work for a colleague who suffered from “psychopathic ruthlessness”?

  • Richard Underhill 25th Jun '15 - 3:58pm

    David Cameron has been blaming the previous government for his problems.
    He should remember that he was Prime Minister.

    John Prescott used to make the same mistake.

  • David Faggiani 25th Jun '15 - 5:01pm

    Well I did actually think he should have resigned, after much thought. And this, in retrospect, is another reason why. He is of course our only Scottish MP, and any attack he makes on Tory policy towards Scotland will always be dragged back to this. This would be the case even if he was talking about, say, fisheries policy, or windfarms. It’s not like Wings over Scotland needs any excuses. But when he’s writing articles which HUGELY provoke the question “and your behaviour, Alistair?”. I just don’t understand what he’s expecting. Anyway, he’s not resigning, so I would just beg him to stop writing articles like this. Leave it to others.

  • Jane Ann Liston 25th Jun '15 - 5:03pm

    ‘… constitutional change can be accommodated in an institution that ceased to function as a representative democracy in 1974.’

    Why 1974?

  • (Matt Bristol) 25th Jun '15 - 5:32pm
  • @David – you may think that. But banging on about it here in a column about something completely different, with an avatar which shows you to be a party member, certainly does not help.

    @Dan – there were many other things which resulted in the SNP “monstering”, not least our being in coalition and Labour’s ineptitude in keeping its core vote. Even the SNP acknowledge that the votes they received didn’t count for votes for independence – remember, 45% people voted ‘yes’, and some of them will have been Green voters, some may have been Labour who returned to Labour, and there definitely are some who were Lib Dem who voted Lib Dem.

    The fact is that the majority of the party members believe in the union – not as it is, but as part of a federal UK. If we suddenly run towards independence, having fundamentally disagreed with it, it will look like political expediency of the first order. What Alistair is doing is restating our case for a federal UK – something which we failed to do well during the referendum, and which, with Labour’s difficulties in England, we actually have a possibility of getting them to agree to do.

  • Did Carmichael say this at the time? Had he done so, and perhaps quit, that might have been mildly irritating. Raising it now is about as devastating as discovering you have run out of shampoo years after going bald. Im fairly certain David Cameron is not crying himself to sleep tonight.

  • Strange we now hear mention of an English parliament when the only previous offering from both Lib Dems & Labour were second class regional assemblies. Stable doors ,horses bolted comes to mind..

  • As the Westminster Houses of Parliament might be re-built sometime in the next few years, it would be an opportune time for the English voters to think constructively about their own top tiers of government. Presumably Westminster could re-emerge as the ‘Parliament of the Union’ in which all MPs congregate at set intervals and for emergency debates. A second tier could be built around the ‘City States’ of England – where the representative MPs also establish their local offices. MPs could be better called to account by their local electorates who could demand representative multi-party government which responded regularly to local citizens instead of hiding in ‘The Bubble’ for 5 years. In fact, England’s government is already showing the seeds of devolution – currently in a patchy format – and a comprehensive system of devolved local government is long overdue. [I don’t have a problem in listening to an ex-minister who might be nudging the English to be bolder – more like the Scots and Welsh]

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