No, the Liberal Democrats do not owe Police Scotland £800,000 (or any other sum for that matter)

Get into an argument with any cybernat and, sooner or later, when you’ve won the argument, you’ll have it thrown at you, a bit like a modern Godwin’s Law, that the Liberal Democrats should pay their £800,000 bill to Police Scotland.

This is all to do with the security arrangements for our conference in Glasgow in 2013. South of the Border, the Home Office picks up these costs. As policing is devolved, the Scottish Government had responsibility and refused to do so. That meant that, apart from a small contribution to cover the costs of accreditation from the UK Government, Police Scotland had to pick up the tab themselves. Nothing to do with us.

Every time I get this, I refer the cybernat in question to this response to a freedom of information request which comprehensively debunks the idea that we owe any money to Police Scotland at all. Read my lips,

By way of explanation, it has been reported in the media that there is an outstanding invoice of £800,000 for this conference; however, this is factually incorrect. No invoice for the policing costs of the conference was ever generated and the Liberal Democrats did not enter into any arrangement with Police Scotland to provide policing.

In case it wasn’t clear the first time:

No invoice for the policing costs of the conference was ever generated and the Liberal Democrats did not enter into any arrangement with Police Scotland to provide policing.

Now, you can take a view that the Scottish Government should have paid up. You can take a view that the Home Office could have been more accommodating and not taken advantage of the fact that the Conference took place in Scotland to save money. What is clear, though is that it isn’t and never was a debt to the Liberal Democrats. So, the next time a cybernat trawls that up, just point them here.  They probably won’t get it immediately – after all, they do go in for conspiracy theories about secret oil fields or that John McTernan worked with MI5 to rig the referendum, but you know the truth.

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

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  • Leon Duveen 19th Oct '15 - 9:01am

    Just out of interest, you could always ask how much the SNP pay for policing costs at their conferences.

  • nigel hunter 19th Oct '15 - 9:46am

    Has Labour and the Tories had this cybernat attack,? Bet not.

  • I just don’t understand why the Lib Dems hate the SNP so much. As an outsider the SNP ticks all the boxes : they are a diverse party with women in top posts, they care about and nurture (increasing) core voters; they look after Scottish people who all enjoy free prescriptions, free tuition fees etc. and they are have massive support. Surely 51% ofScottish voters would not support a party that was as awful as is portrayed here on LDV, the Scots are a canny people. So I just don’t understand why the SNP are portrayed as some sort of unruly mob when the evidence suggests the opposite.

  • Actually, the story is from the Daily Record (the one which printed the infamous VOW on its front page) which is about as far from an independence supporting newspaper as you can get…

  • Norman Fraser 19th Oct '15 - 12:30pm

    So the responsibility for policing the Lib Dem conferences in 2013 and 14 was devolved to Scotland but the funds were not. At a time when the Lib Dems were in government it seems strange that no arrangement with the Home Office could be reached and in consequence the Scottish Police budget was down by 85% of the costs. It seems to me that is still a poor advert for the union settlement and the effectiveness of the Lib Dems in standing up for Scotland. It also adds a wee tinge of hypocrisy to current Lib Dem complaints about funding cuts to Police Scotland.

  • party conferences are membership events so the public shouldn’t be picking up the cost. All party conferences should pay the cost of their security.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 19th Oct '15 - 12:55pm

    @Phyllis: I don’t hate anybody, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stand for a group of people spreading a total lie about this party. The SNP is far from an unruly mob – although some of its more ardent social media followers are abusive bullies – it is a well-funded, competent organisation which has settled itself into being the establishment extremely well.

  • Just to be clear. Based upon a story in a Unionist newspaper about policing costs for a Libdem rally having to be paid from the hard pressed budget of Police Scotland, we are some considerable time later treated to a rant about SNP and the peurile use of “cybernat”. There are a whole series of posts from perfectly reasonable people, many of them Libdems, explaining to you that this type of nonsense damages your party’s support in Scotland. Yet you insist. You made reference in an earlier posting to SNP Controllers and were asked to provide three concrete examples. You appear not to have been able to do so. Now you appear to have moved on to this. I have to say these are the posting habits normally associated with trolls. Think about what impact you are having. Try for quality, not quantity. And give us LIBDEM positives, not snp negatives.

  • I have to say Caron having looked into this that you are being a tad disingenuous. The fact that an invoice has not been rendered is an attempt to wriggle out on a technicality. According to a named senior police figure you are actually on a Police Scotland Bad Debtors list. The hole is quite big. You may want to stop digging. Willie Rennie’s inability to answer criticisms on this matter in the past now make sense. Why you have raised it again in the face of the facts is puzzling.

  • @Steve. There is no technicality. There is not and never has been any legal requirement for the police to bill the Lib Dems or for the Lib Dems to pay a non-existent bill. This whole farrago is an attempt by the SNP to splash mud on the Lib Dems. I thought they had better things to do, like sort out the mess that is Police Scotland or the farce that passes for education. And no. I don’t hate anyone either but if someone in politics is trying to dissemble about their role, their record in government or their intentions for the future, then I will speak out about it.

  • Steve, you’d think that any organization – public or not – owed £800k would generate an invoice for whomever owed them it. That PS has not (and goes out of its way in the FoI to say so) suggests, at most, this is down to an anomaly in the Devolution settlement. Another “named senior Police figure” tried to drop a low-ranking officer and exonerate himself in it over the M9 screw-up (not to mention tried to badger the Procurator Fiscal after a critical summing-up by a Sheriff), so call me Mr Anarchist I’m not going to be overly credulous towards what they say.

    Phyllis, so what if a Party is popular at a point in time? Thatcher and Blair were in their time. Rightness or wrongness of a Party derives from its policies not ephemeral populism. And less of the “Scots are a canny people”… that’s no more acceptable than calling us a nation of drunks. It’s very easy to like a Party when it’s giving you universal handouts regardless of income which is the opposite of what the welfare state intended.

  • The reports were in the Herald and the record. Are you suggesting they were splashing mud on behalf of the SNP? That’s not happening. Simple question. Are Libdem party listed as bad debtors by Police Scotland? I can understand that this is an awkward position to be in but the matter was actually dead in the water until Caron breathed new life into it. I suggested she might want to stop digging a hole. You might want to follow suit. And no idea what your ‘hate’ reference is. Certainly not vocabulary I would use. Leave that to others.

  • Drop it with the question begging and dull appeals to authority, Steve. These newspapers are quoting what PS said. Others have quoted the past couple of days that Salmond said ghosts exist. Are you suggesting that they do?

    Newspapers get things wrong, especially when they’re quoting supposedly respected public bodies. Now there wouldn’t be the same credulity towards PS.

    The accepted facts are outlined in the FoI request. Respond to those instead of this sophistry.

  • Drop it? Dull appeals to authority? Do not know what that is supposed to mean. And am I suggesting ghosts exist? Can I take it the Libdem are not listed as bad debtors by Police Scotland? That would be enough for me. And the hate reference? You haven’t explained that. Don’t bother on my account. Any organisation provided with police protection, whether it be the Orange Lodge, the Old Firm or a political party should pay the costs involved. Can see no reason for Libdems or any other body not having to. Simple as that.

  • It’s probably more accurate to say that the Scottish government owe Police Scotland £800,000 – as has been pointed out, party conference policing in England is funded by the Home Office, but as policing is devolved, it’s the Scottish government’s responsibility to fund conference policing. If party conference policing primarily came out of the parties’ pockets, I imagine the Tories would go bankrupt by 2020.

    It’s rather hypocritical to say the Westminster Parties ignore Scotland, and then abdicate their governmental responsibility when one of those parties holds not one, but two Conferences there in the space of thirteen months.

  • Yes, exactly that, Steve.

    It doesn’t matter what verbal gymnastics you get into, the ‘Herald’ and ‘Daily Record’ comments are not “on record”. two newspapers have reported something which was in the news. Next you’ll be telling me that Nicola Strugeon voted YES.

    They quoted summat ACC Higgins said (ahead of Rennie objecting to control room closures on which he has been shown right, call me cynical). Then they quoted something the LibDems and Tories said which disputed that. Why d’you believe PS over everyone else after what we have subsequently learnt of them? They – and the SG – later expressed surprise that they’d been hit with VAT bills which we now know they were fully warned of… yet they did it anyway.

    Unless you are 100% credulous towards these two newspapers, why are you accepting one part of a report – which just so happens to back-up an SNP trope – as entirely accurate? Especially when the FoI request flatly contradicts it. You have a choice: either Higgins was wrong or PS gave a false statement in the FoI request.

    If the LibDems and Tories owed this money, PS would have invoiced them. It has not. How much has it invoiced the SNP for policing its conferences?

  • Just to be clear Libdems are not listed as bad debtors by PS? OK. The liability of other parties is not information I have been able to find despite looking. The FOI paperwork establishes nothing either way in my opinion. My point remains. Why dig this up at this time? And why present it as a matter of fact when it clearly is a matter of some dispute. So once again, Libdem positives for my second vote, not SNP negatives.

  • Soz about the double post… cache is acting up.

  • (Actually, what’s going on? There must be keywords or content length which plays about with modding here.)

    Steve, is it all accusations by the Police of wrongdoing which you view as being beyond reasonable doubt and which their targets cannot appeal, or just ones involving SNP opponents? Likewise, is it all major Parties you think should pay for conference security, or just ones which don’t meet with the approval of the SNP?

  • Steve – ….”LibDem positives for my second point, not SNP negatives”. I think that is fair comment. In May we were hurtled (not unexpectedly in the view of many of us) into the abyss by the electorate, and despite our excellent new leader and some occasional moderately encouraging local by-election results we find ourselves ignored and marginalised, basically because we don’t actually matter in the electoral arithmetic any more. Our negativity towards the SNP and Jeremy Corbyn is born of the frustration and envy of people who a few months ago were on the inside looking out and now have their noses pressed against the glass watching everyone else having fun. We need to face up to what happened and stop the sniping: we ought to be better than that.

  • (Ah, must be content length.)

    Just to be clear, I consider PS’ assertion to be worthless. If they thought they could make it stand up in a court of law (and get Police officers to enforce it), they would have done so by now.

    I also consider it to be disgraceful that a senior Police officer should – as a political leader is about to call his Force out for incompetence bordering on malfeasance – denounce that politician’s Party for offences which he cannot substantiate and which his own staff have disputed.

    It is non-negotiable in liberal democracies that Police do not get to be the final arbiter of public life or personal freedom.

  • ==> Why dig this up at this time?

    Because Caron wants to? Because, as you have demonstrated, it still is a live issue?

  • News from NOVA SCOTIA

  • The Liberal Party makes a huge comeback jumping from 34 seats to more than 180

  • Well done Trudeau Jr!! Harper’s regime has been truly awful for international cooperation, and for climate change policy globally, let alone for many Canadians.

  • nvelope2003 20th Oct '15 - 9:26am

    re Canada – Wonderful news. Just shows what can be done if you have the right leader. From the time Justin Trudeau was elected the Liberal Party’s poll ratings soared although they did dip a bit earlier this year but recovered in time for the election.

  • Alex there is no point in a discussion where you put words into someone elses mouth and then answer them. That is bizarre. Caron has brought up an issue which, rightly or wrongly, reflects badly on the Libdems in the eyes of the public. My point, which remains unanswered, is why persist in this constant snp sniping when it clearly not onlydoes not work, but appears actually to be counter productive. Try to step back and get a slightly different perspective.
    And Simon, the fact remains that a senior police officer made these comments. I would be focussed on that and not on snp baiting. And on having my name removed from any such list.

  • It’s just a minor admin issue isn’t it? These things happen all the time.

  • @Al

    Actually, the story is from the Daily Record (the one which printed the infamous VOW on its front page) which is about as far from an independence supporting newspaper as you can get…

    Al I agree with you because the Lib Dems, Labour and Tories were part of the Better Together and campaigned together and they all backed the famous VOW in the Daily Record so if the Daily Record says its true it must be.

  • Rankersbo.You do know that the reports come from the herald and the Daily record? Rightly or wrongly that gives them a degree of credibility in the eyes of many people, people who are not likely to be snp supporters in the first instance. They are not from fringe supporters, whatever that means, whereas this article does come from a recognised Libdem source. And you seem to miss the point. There are a range of failings in the current government that libdems should be highlighting. What did this article highlight? Caron’s dislike for some individuals she had a disagreement with? Scotland’s unified police force is something I oppose strongly. Opposition to a unified force is a stand out policy of the Libdems that sets it apart from all three of the main scottish parties, yet instead of highlighting that, we have an article that has cybernat as its main theme. The public could so easily be onside with you in a big way on this, but the issue is sidetracked onto a line where the Libdem position is perceived by the public as being snp bashing debtors to PS. The point does not seem to be getting through. Thus the current standing of Libdem in the opinion polls.

  • Steve, “trying to put words on other people’s mouths” is the very definition of closed questions; which is all you are doing in this thread. I don’t give a hoot what PS have said about bad debtor lists… THEY DON’T HAVE ANY RECOURSE TO LAW.

    There is only one way to describe someone who demands a debt which they know they know is not owed in principle or in law. And that is as a two bit huckster. A fraud engaged in an attempted shake-down.

  • And, frankly, I don’t believe for an instant that you are not cognizant of this. Your entire demeanor and rhetorical style is one a gaslighter.

    If you are citing the ‘Daily Record’ as an inviolate word of truth, then you also take that thing called the Vow as true (and accept that it’s been enacted). I’ll go out on a limb and say you don’t… why is that?

  • Well, waddayaknow, here’s another ACC for PS being investigated to gross misconduct.

  • And now the bold capitals. It’s an increasingly irrational series of posts. And if you put words in peoples mouths expect to be called out. No idea what a gaslighter is. And still no answer to the point made at the outset.

  • Malcolm Todd 22nd Oct '15 - 9:39pm

    Nor have you answered the very germane and straightforward question put by Simon Shaw on 19th Oct ’15 – 5:42pm: If there was never any invoice, how on earth can someone who doesn’t pay the non-existent invoice become a Bad Debtor?

    And given the obvious answer (“They can’t”), why not give it a rest? (And please don’t pretend that that was never the point. Look at your own posting of 19th Oct ’15 – 2:43pm.)

  • I responded to two direct posts from Alec. You need to get out more.

  • It doesn’t behove anyone to be that patronizing, Steve, especially one as dishonest as you. Now you’re projecting your own perfidy on us by presenting us as the childish, asinine ones cf. “you two need to get out more”. Why? because we dare to show your argument to be entirely unsustainable?

    ACC Higgins behaved reprehensibly (just as there’s reasonable suspicion that a fellow ACC did; just as his Chief Constable has been shown to have misled Parliament i.e. fibbed). No invoice, no bad debt. No pattern of charging other Parties for security, no principle. End of.

  • What’s highly revealing, Steve, if your dull repetition of what the ‘Herald’ and ‘Daily Record’ said three years ago (and which even PS have dropped, no doubt realizing the potential for gross misconduct). Just because I might otherwise agree with an editorial position doesn’t mean I am wholly credulous on all articles… I’m not a like ‘National’ readers.

    Also, your demanding a loyalty test cf. “why are you doing this?” (um, because in a free press no-one has to ask you, or Cat Boyd, before running a story) and the sly dig about the repute of Caron’s motives and LibDem polls (yeah! How dare a Party which you don’t agree with defend itself from one you support!). Frankly, this is not a position a proponent of liberal democracy should take: it’s more that of someone who sees the judiciary and Police as tools for their political campaigning.

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