Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Independence Referendum

Last week, the First Minister, Deputy First Minister, the Prime Minister and I signed an agreement on the terms of the independence referendum which means we can now get on with the real debate over Scotland’s future. In the next two years, it is vital that both sides set out their arguments clearly and robustly and last week the UK Government began this process by submitting evidence to the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees on the implications of Scottish independence.

On Defence, the Government outlined that, as an integral part of the UK, Scotland plays an important role in the defence of the UK and this role would inevitably come to an end if Scotland became independent – with huge implications for jobs and security. This is why I firmly believe that Scots are stronger and safer as part of the UK family and, considering the proud connection we have with the UK armed forces here in the Borders, it would be a huge loss locally if this connection were to be broken.

The evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee outlined that as part of the UK, Scotland benefits from a place at the top table in international organisations and access to one of the most extensive, diplomatic and consular networks in the world. This network, along with the UK Trade and Investment, delivers world-class support to Borders, Scots and UK businesses. The evidence also touched upon the important question of EU membership and how this would be negotiated if Scotland were to become independent. Again, these are vital issues which need to be addressed by the advocates of independence and I think provide compelling evidence that we are better together.

Big Energy Saving Week

This week is the Citizens Advice service’s Big Energy Saving week which I was pleased to launch on Monday in Edinburgh as Scottish Secretary. The aim of the week is to raise awareness about savings people can make by changing their energy tariff or payment method and by taking up the schemes on offer for free home insulation. Borderers can find out more about the campaign here or by visiting their local Citizens Advice Bureau.

I know that energy prices are a key concern for local people and it is vital that people are able to switch to a better tariff in order to save money and heat their homes properly. This is why, as Borders MP, I have met with local groups and housing associations over recent months to see how people can work together to get a better deal by switching energy tariff or provider en masse. I also welcome the action the Government is taking through the Energy Bill to ensure that energy companies give the lowest tariff to their customers.

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

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5 Comments

  • Alex Matthews 24th Oct '12 - 10:54am

    A great piece, but I think you should write on what Scotland offers the UK as well. This shows respect to Scotland’s wonderful participation in our United Kingdom, which I think many Scottish, English and other citizens of the UK will appreciate. I think many people forget that this is why we are united than alone, and part of being in a united relationship is mutual cooperation and everyone playing their part. If we over focus on the benefits for Scotland, then to the Scottish people it may sound condescending, and to the other members it will sound pandering.

    In fact, I think this should an opportunity to show each member of the United kingdom and the British isles offers, economically, culturally …etc

    This should be a chance to really show what the United Kingdom is about, and what Britain is about as a whole, so that we are ensuring to show this about unity, and not just personal gain.

  • Alex Matthews 24th Oct '12 - 10:56am

    PS sorry about my poor English. I am writing this on the fly, and I am also Dyslexic.

  • Is there a settled Lib Dem view about Scottish independence?

    Much is made of the relationship with the EU. In the event of a Yes vote the EU will have to choose whether to recognise the ensuing partition. If the EU recognises the partition , there can be little doubt it would recognise Scotland as a state within the EU, with EU citizens. The only practical alternative would be not to recognise the partition, which would create a host of problems. I do not think the EU would or could pronounce that millions are no longer EU citizens.

    Given the UK’s difficult and recalcitrant relationship with the EU, on this issue alone, I can see merit in the independence case.

    What is clear to me, is that if the UK were to withdraw from the EU, it would be better for Scotland to become independent before rather than after this happens.

  • WRT the EU, who says the others member states wouldn’t say, “Well, now that the Union is dissolved, both Scotland AND “England” are “new states””?

    After all – for the rest of the EU – they get to remain “neutral” as which State here is more “legitimate” in the event of a post-dissolution row and that may “England” either has to either opt-in again or go its merry way.

    PS I use the phrase “England” to reflect the language used in the Acts of Union 1707 which covered Wales also if I recollect rightly.

  • george anders 27th Oct '12 - 2:12pm

    Reading a recent article in the HeraldScotland relating to the LibDem party conference. The party decided that the YES campaign could not have a stall
    ” Therefore, to deny Yes Scotland the opportunity to disseminate information to conference delegates is a shocking misjudgment and totally contrary to fundamental Liberal Democrat values.”

    Many party members support Independence and many more are undecided. Is general information to be denied to those who wish to see detail as against havingTV sound bites.

    This form of censorship is a new low for the party in my view

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