LibLink: Malcolm Bruce Scotland’s unionists need a new vision

This is one from a few weeks ago, but worth sharing.

Malcolm Bruce, a former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, wrote in the Scotsman about the need for those who want to stay in the UK to build a stronger and newer vision of why it is so essential to Scotland’s interests.

He argues for a federal UK as the best option. It’s all about focusing on the positives of staying together:

The SNP clearly articulate the disruption that Brexit brings. The same arguments apply in spades to Scotland opting in a fit of pique to leave the UK.

I dislike intensely the ideology of the Brexit-obsessed Conservative Party and despise the cheery incompetence of the privileged clique that constitute the present Government.

But my reaction is to face reality and recognise that the people who share these islands – which whatever the constitution we will continue to do – will need to regain our senses and work for a better shared future.

So what do Liberal Democrats want?

The Liberal Democrats want to build a federal United Kingdom by recognising what we can do together, not concentrating on what drives us apart.

We have a beautiful country in which to live and attract and welcome visitors. We have food and drink, hospitality and skills for which the nearest and easiest market is the rest of the UK. We have the diplomatic reach of the UK around the world.

We need to show how we can best use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to enhance devotion:

Scotland is a great country. Its identity is never in question. We led the Enlightenment within the UK. We can continue to do so – not by leaving but by staying – using the powers we have won, showing what we can do with them and challenging the rest of the UK to do better.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • So we can take that this is now more important than the possibility of rejoining the EU ?

  • If they were clever the SNP would offer all people newly moved to Scotland the right to vote in an independence referendum and the right to a Scottish passport if successful, thus all the English and Welsh who are desperate to stay in the EU would have the option to sell up and move to Scotland (which is underpopulated) to regain their Freedom of Movement. Of course, many might find they rather like it in Scotland. How the Scot Nat’s would feel about an invasion of the English is another matter but I suspect that all would be forgiven if they got their freedom and then regained EU membership (when many of the English would anyway bugger off to the Costas et al). All the extra tax revenue might also help the SNP out in meeting EU fiscal targets. Never know, Mr Raw, you might find me as your next door neighbour.

  • I detect no appetite for any move to a federal U.K. outside the Lib Dems and can’t see how the party could persuade the necessary numbers of people needed to make it so prior to the pressure for a further referendum on Scottish indepedence leading to the inevitable, but park that for a moment.
    As I understand it, the model the party has in mind is for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to exist as federal states yet England gets divided into regions. Question in reality do you actually think the English population would accept that….ever?

  • Daniel Walker 30th Aug '20 - 6:19pm

    @Tynan “Question in reality do you actually think the English population would accept that….ever?

    I’m pretty sure the Yorkshire and Cornish population would….

  • I beg to differ, people of Yorkshire are a cany lot, I’ve lived there for past 15 years and whilst they do have a very strong regional identity, they are not daft enough to put themselves at a disadvantage. Cornwall I don’t know so well, but still I can’t see there ever being a majority of the English who would want that model. Having England as one federal state among four or carving the others in to regions as well, maybe, but not carve England up leave the others in place. I see no benefit to England or the English in such a model, I thinkt it would be a very hard sell, I just can’t see that ever happening.

  • As a Yorkshireman of a radical cast of mind, who has lived in Scotland for the last sixteen years, I’m not sure whether Tynan would class me as Canny (possibly my fiery Durham miner Granddad would).

    From my observations so far, I’m afraid Lord Malcolm Bruce’s trotting out of the old Unionist tune doesn’t surprise me ……. nor does it surprise me that the Scottish Green Party now has more MSP’s and more party members than the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Long gone are the days when the Scottish Liberal Party was the premier and most powerful political party of Scotland. If Dangerfield was still around there’s a second volume waiting to be written – about Scotland.

  • @Steve Comet, is that not a similar proposal to the lib Dems advocating for ex pat’s to have a vote in the Brexit referendum? I don’t agree with either idea by the way.

    @David Raw, I was born in. Durham and have good memories of some of those fiery miners myself!

  • As the likelihood of the Conservatives losing the next GE rises, the case for Scottish independence falls. A hope for a close connection with the eu will also help. There are plenty of reasons why Scotland would vote against independence if some of its major concerns can be allayed.

  • @frankwest

    “If they were clever the SNP would offer all people newly moved to Scotland the right to vote in an independence referendum and the right to a Scottish passport if successful….”

    That was basically the franchise for the 2014 referendum so far as English, Welsh, Irish and EU people were concerned. If you were normally resident in Scotland and on the Holyrood electoral register you could vote. IIRC post referendum studies showed that people born in Scotland voted narrowly for independence.

    “How the Scot Nat’s would feel about an invasion of the English is another matter…”

    As an Englishman in Scotland, I think they would be very welcoming. You have to remember 1 in 8 of the Scottish population was born in England anyway.

  • Tony Greaves 31st Aug '20 - 7:39pm

    Federalism (as promoted by Malcolm) is not Unionism. Time to get the words right.

  • Point taken, Tony, though I suspect it may be too late and Malcolm Bruce may have missed the bus.

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