LibLink… Willie Rennie: Scots are great, independence will not help us to be greater.

Willie Rennie has been writing in the Times about the Scottish independence referendum. One of the charges that gets levelled at anyone opposed to independence is that we think that Scotland is too poor, too wee or too stupid to go it alone. Except nobody on the pro-union campaign actually thinks that. The SNP use it as something to bash the opposition with but it’s a straw man and a flimsy one at that.

I have never heard any spokesman for Better Together say “Scotland is too wee, too poor and too stupid” but I have heard people on the doorsteps tell me “We couldn’t do it on our own.”

I don’t agree and I tell them so. I don’t urge them to support independence but attempt to convince them that people who live here are people of ability.

No matter how tempting it is for an easy victory I don’t want to win the referendum at any price. I reject the idea that we should secure the United Kingdom through convincing each other that we are not good enough.

Questioning the Nationalists claims about independence is not the same as questioning the abilities of the Scottish people:

There is a difference between the ability of a nation state and the ability of its people. The nationalists like to conflate the two so that whenever we question their policy choice of an independent Scotland we are somehow questioning the ability of people who live here.

When Better Together highlights the flaws, problems and risks of independence we are discussing the policy and not the people. And on past experience there will be many in the SNP’s White Paper in November. When Alistair Darling questions Alex Salmond’s candour about the future currency of an independent Scotland he is not questioning the ability of Scottish people to count.

When defence experts focus on the weaknesses in an independent Scotland’s defence and security they are not for one minute saying that Scots would refuse to defend our shores.

When I cast a sceptical eye over the SNP’s promises on nursery education after independence I am not accusing Scots of lacking a desire to educate children.

He argues that it’s the Liberal Democrats’ innate optimism about people is at the heart of our desire for home rule for Scotland within a federal UK:

If we opt for independence it does not mean that we stop producing people who achieve, but I believe that it is easier to maximise that achievement as part of the UK.

Despite their claims of a positive campaign, the nationalists like to run down the UK just as Mr Salmond did on Friday. However, unlike them, I don’t accuse the nationalists of running down the people who make it work just as I don’t conflate the British people with the British state.

The UK is not perfect. I support home rule in a federal UK that would transfer more financial and constitutional power to Holyrood so that we can determine our own destiny on the domestic agenda while sharing across the UK.

Liberal Democrats reached this conclusion through our belief in the innate potential of people. We want a structure that gives us a hand up rather than holds us back.

You can read the whole article here. (£)

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

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