LibLink: Tim Gordon: When I think about the UK splitting up, something inside me breaks

Liberal Democrat Chief Executive Tim Gordon has written an emotional piece on the party website’s Ad Lib blog (which you can access if you are a member) in which he says how much he values the UK and how upset he would be if it were to break up.

Whenever I think about the United Kingdom splitting up something inside me breaks. I do not live in Scotland and so I have no vote in the referendum. But I am British and so have every right to a say.

On a national level I can think of nothing worse than for Government to spend the next few years engaged in a messy divorce battle. Leaving aside the economic risks that have been highlighted there is something deeply tragic about throwing away the single most successful political union in world history. Together we built the modern welfare state, liberated Europe and – to some extent – created the modern world. In a world where so many problems are increasingly global I can think of few issues where a smaller Britain makes the world a better place.

On a Party level I believe that the end of the union would be terrible for liberal politics in the UK. If the next decade is dominated by a nationalistic backlash which may increase the risk of us leaving the European Union then we and our country will be ill-served. And that’s before we lose a wing of the Party that has delivered more than its fair share of our political talent and leaders: Grimond, Steel, Maclennan, Kennedy, Campbell and ministers like Alexander, Moore, Carmichael and Swinson. I also believe that a “no” vote will create an urgent need to engage in a serious and much-needed debate about devolution of political power within the rest of the country.

On a personal level – as my name suggests my family hails from Scotland. In the terrible war whose centenary we are currently marking my grandfather served with the London Scottish. I do not want to be forced to choose to be anything other than British.

Amidst the frenetic campaigning up here, I find such shows of solidarity really helpful and comforting. Many of my friends from south of the border have written posts on social media saying why they value Scotland’s presence in the UK and why they don’t want us to go. I’m aware that some people in the party support independence, which is entirely their right, and others don’t feel that they have the right to intervene because it’s up to the Scots. Well, it is up to us but there are many people across the UK who are Scottish or who have Scottish connections. Their help and support is incredibly welcome.

If you want to help the Liberal Democrat campaign for a no vote you can donate here or volunteer here.

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

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10 Comments

  • I can’t recommend this article on the union highly enough. It’s got the tone just right

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11090517/Rory-Bremner-on-Scottish-independence-Why-this-proud-Scot-has-a-very-big-but….html

    By a posh bloke in the Torygraph too. I really don’t think the English and Scots are separated by that much in terms of social and political attitudes. Just a shame the cliques in London have lost touch with EVERYONE.

  • Will there be anything to talk about in LDV this time next week?
    For months Caron has brought us almost daily propaganda for the NO camp. Over the least few weeks the number of Op Eds pushing the NO line, has grown to do,innate all other subjects. Some atnfevervpotch reaching a level of hysterical, over the top name-calling such as “the SNP are liars”.

    I have been happy to contribute my comments as to why as a Liberal and a member of the Liberal Democrats I would prefer a resounding YES to help bust the cosy Westminster establishment . I would like constitutional change throughout the UK and can only see a YES vote guaranteeing that.

    But what will LDV talk about after 18 September?
    Will it be back to normal in the grim plod to the General Election? 200 or so days of struggling to hang on to even half of what we got in 2010? With some people persisting in saying it will be alright on the night.
    Has the referendum campaign been a glorious diversion in which LDV has been able to forget about the realities of fourth place behind UKIP and months and months of opinion poll ratings in single figures?
    Have Liberal Democrats been unwisely frittering away their limited resources on the referendum which would have been better spent on campaigning for victory next May?

  • Ian MacFadyen 12th Sep '14 - 6:51pm

    Thank you Tim. I share these feelings, which you express more eloquently than I can.

    I always refuse to choose between being Scots or Welsh, even in the 6 Nations, because it would be like choosing between parents, or England, where I was born and brought up and live, or Northern Ireland, where I have long-lost (to us, that is) cousins. My Scots father was in the RAF during the war and was captured after the Battle of Crete and served out the war in a POW camp. His father manned the signals on the railway by Greenock docks in both Wars. Our ancestors came from Coll. My welsh mother, from the shadow of Cadair Idris, was a children’s nurse in London in the War and went to night class to improve her English. Her father fought at Gallipoli and in the trenches. My Welsh ancestors are from Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

    People with a mixed heritage like mine are thoroughout these Islands. A Yes vote will tear us asunder.

    Destroying the Union next Thursday will only serve nationalist leaders’ personal ambitious and subject all these Islands to a nationalist nightmare in which liberalism will struggle to be heard. Talk of shaking up the Westminster establishment is callous, unthinking and hurtful.

    If the vote is Yes, there will be no going back once the Westminster establishment is shaken up and there can be no way of knowing what the outcome of such a shaking up would be. Why is is always assumed, by the way, that the St Andrew’s House/Holyrood establishment doesn’t need shaking up after seven years of SNP government and its compromising the integrity and independence of the civil and public service in Scotland?

    With all my being, I hope the vote will be No and I will telecanvass and blog to help get that vote.

    Then, I’ll continue trying to shake up the Westminster establishment by building my local party to get as many Liberal Democrat MPs elected as possible. Any readers on the approved list can help: we need a PPC for Leeds East.

  • Tony Dawson 12th Sep '14 - 8:29pm

    I am intrigued as to why the views of a servant of our Party on any political matter have been put on the website.

    If Scotland (where I once lived and worked) does secede then it will be entirely the responsibility of the complacent Coalition. Even if the Union is ‘saved’ by a close call, they shall be equally culpable. Instant resignation and General Election called for?

  • Denis Mollison 12th Sep '14 - 10:12pm

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. These emotional outbursts, as though independence would create a second Berlin Wall, or see us towed into mid-Atlantic, are just ridiculous. I have friends and relatives throughout England, Europe and the Commonwealth, and whether we are under the same government affects our relationship not a jot.

    The No campaign should hang its head in shame for its “good cop / bad cop” campaign, in which its only arguments seem to be to alternate this kind of love-bombing with ever more extravagant threats.

  • Denis Mollison is quite right.
    I am also slightly sceptical about last minute emotional statements on the referendum,. We have known that the vote on independence has been coming since 2010. Has Tim Gordon had something inside breaking all that time? Are his strong feelings a delayed reaction which took four years to surface? Or did it suddenly break when it began to look sas though a majority of Scots thought that they might be able to handle their own democracy better than the old elite in Westminster?

  • I agree whole heartedly with Tim Gordon.

  • Ian MacFadyen 13th Sep '14 - 12:05pm

    This is an emotional issue. It has always been and became acutely so when the SNP first won power in Edinburgh. All the economic forecasts and arguments and the utopian promises fade away before the only question that maters: do we want to stay together as one country?

    Countries break-up when they can no longer be bothered to stay together. Without that will, economics and politics have no sway.

    If, Colin, Frank, John, Tony, Denis and any others, too much is made of saving this 307 year-old union, how much effort would you put into saying the (by then) 45 year-old union in the EU referendum in 2017?

  • Denis Mollison 13th Sep '14 - 10:26pm

    One of the reasons I am voting Yes is that I am an internationalist – when asked my ethnicity or national identity in the census I put “human” . The EU needs reform in various aspects, but I am whole-heartedly a supporter of staying in. It’s England and the unionists that tend to be more narrowly nationalistic, as is seen in UKIP’s much higher support down south.

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