LibLink: Caron Lindsay – Why home rule would be better for Scotland than independence

Our very own Caron Lindsay has been moonlighting over at The Herald, with an excellent piece on the relative merits of independence and home rule.

Here’s a sample:

First and foremost I’m a mum. I want my daughter and her children beyond her to live in a prosperous, inclusive, progressive, liberal, Scotland.

That word liberal is a bit of a giveaway, however. I’ve been active in Liberal Democrat politics for 30 years, since joining as a curious 15 year-old during the 1983 election. I’m a federalist and my views on how Scotland’s governance should work were very neatly summed up by David Steel recently: “The principle of home rule is different from devolution. Under home rule, sovereignty lies with the Scottish people and we decide when it is sensible to give powers to the centre on issues like foreign affairs and defence.”

I will be voting No next year. I don’t doubt that Scotland could flourish as an independent nation but I think that we benefit from being in the UK. The union isn’t perfect, but the way forward is to work on that inter-relationship, not ditch it completely.

That said, I have quite a lot in common with many people who support independence. In the main, we want the same things for Scotland and its people. We want to see an end to poverty, for everyone to have a decent place to live, accessible, gold-standard healthcare and an education system which gives our children the skills they need to excel in today’s world. We want a Scotland where our growing number of older people play a respected part in society and are looked after with dignity and comfort.

Where we differ is on whether we need to be an independent country to do these things.  In fact, I believe that independence would hold us back from achieving some of these goals and I’ll tell you why in the coming months. I want to look at some of the things I’m interested in like civil liberties, feminism, health, education and justice.

As a highlander, power concentrated in Edinburgh is as bad as power concentrated in London.  I worry about the SNP and Labour instinct to centralise anything that sits still for more than 10 seconds, depriving local communities of a say in shaping the services they need.

The referendum campaign gives us the opportunity to think about the Scotland we want to see and make it happen, whatever the result of the referendum. I’ll be looking at the Liberal Democrat vision and showing how Willie Rennie has led the way in making the home rule case and, crucially, has made clear to the SNP that there is a place for them in the discussions after a No vote.

You can read Caron’s piece in full here.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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  • Robin Bennett 26th Sep '13 - 2:24pm

    Caron, I cannot follow as chiming with a No vote your quote from David Steel
    . Under home rule, sovereignty lies with the Scottish people and we decide when it is sensible to give powers to the centre on issues like foreign affairs and defence

  • “The principle of home rule is different from devolution. Under home rule, sovereignty lies with the Scottish people and we decide when it is sensible to give powers to the centre on issues like foreign affairs and defence.”

    And would we English get a say on whether we want to cooperate with you on an issue by issue basis too?

  • @Richard S – why? What Home Rule sets out is the concept that some things are better run at the centre, while others are better run locally. For example, Scotland has a completely different education system to England – so it makes sense for that to be run in Edinburgh and decisions taken on it by MSPs whose constituencies are affected by it, rather than MPs from (for example) Cornwall for whom it matters little. Federalism – which Caron is talking about – would mean that English areas / regions could take the same decisions – taking the decisions on A levels out of the hands of MPs from Caithness.

  • I really want Scotland to stay in the UK. I agree with Caron that Scotland is far from an homogeneous society … following the Glasgow conference, I journeyed over various parts of Scotland visiting family and friends. As an example, people in the Black Isle (just north of Inverness) would be unhappy for power to be located in Inverness, let alone Edinburgh or London.

    Was a strategic error made in not offering devo-max as an option? First, devo-max is going to happen anyhow as a quid pro quo for voting to remain in union. Second, independence sounds sexier than union, it is the direction of travel and it will probably win in a heart over head vote. Third, SNP is a formidable political machine and is redefining Scottishness as voting for independence and buying off various demographic groups with attractive offers (viz pensioners). Fourth, and this is far from scientific, as I was travelling back and forth to conference I had a chance to speak with a bunch of white working-class male Scots – 8 in total over 5 days – 2 said they were leaning towards independence, 6 said they were not going to vote … it is this latter group that will determine the outcome … they can be swayed either way and are likely to be more caught up in the momentum effect. I really want Scotland to stay in the UK, but I am less optimistic than ever following my visit to beloved Scotland.

  • @Keith Legg,

    Taking Cornwall out of the A-Level system would be pointless – the whole point of the test is the certificate you get is nationally recognised. Can we (i.e. the English) decide we don’t want Scottish MPs voting on the A-Level system? – or is self-determination just for other people?

  • I’m afraid that suggesting a No vote in the referendum is some kind of step along the road to Home Rule as defined by David Steel or any other Liberal of the past 30 years is fantasy of a high order. Who is going to deliver this Home Rule? The Conservatives who had drawn a “line in sand” less than 2 years ago? The Labour Party whose health spokes man was quoted this week as wanting to see more UK wide policies in the NHS? Or Nick Clegg who has succeeded in virtually halving the Lib-Dem vote in the UK and whose Scottish wing is polling under 10%? The best hope for delivering Liberal policies and principles in Scotland is with a Yes vote that allows the politics of Scotland to finally break free of the two party dutch auction for marginal seat swing votes that so distorts the politics of the UK. The Lib-Dem had the opportunity to put Devo-Max, Devo-Plus, Home Rule or any other version of the “jam tomorrow” fantasies which are now being floated in the media on the ballot paper next year but chose not to do so out of petty anti-SNP hatred which elevated tactics above achievement.

    A Yes vote has the potential to rid Scotland (and the UK if they grasp the opportunity) of illegal weapons of mass destruction, to safeguard the NHS as a public service, the Royal Mail, a welfare system built on need over pointless prejudice against the poor, free education and the other pillars of a civilised state. A No vote puts all that at risk or worse. Inviting voters in Scotland to put their hands over their eyes and their fingers in their ears to block out not just what the UK has become but also the real opportunity for liberal progressive change offered by independence is a testament to party loyalty but a dismal proposition for the people of Scotland.

  • Tom Robinson 22nd Oct '13 - 10:41am

    Nick Heller. Logical thought processes on Scotland will get you nowhere with the Lib/Lib Dems who regard the fact that they have pursued “Home Rule” for over 100 years (without success!) as something to boast about rather than the indictment that it is!

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