Opinion: The regret of voting Yes

I voted Yes in the Scottish Referendum. As a card carrying member of the Liberal Democrats this was not the same choice as most of my peers. It would be easy for me to say that I got caught up in the moment and temporarily lost my mind, but I try to never make excuses for my actions. My five years of studying international relations have taught me that small nations can be successful and happy places, but also that there are alternative modes of governing. Voting yes for me was an opportunity to break down the current government structures and build fresh ones, from the ground up, to make new political structures that are inclusive and do not lock out women and minorities from participating. It was idealistic and hopeful and heavily influenced by my Masters thesis on Women’s Political Participation and a heavy dose of critical international relations theory. It was a glorious time, a time where I could transform my abstract learning into something tangible. I was hopeful. I thought we could have a society where all could participate, where all views could be accepted and valued and where we did not exclude those on the margins.

And then I came to stark realisation that underneath all the hopeful rhetoric was a large dose of Nationalism. (I probably should have realised this earlier, my bad.)  Nationalism is nasty, as I’m sure anyone who has picked up a history book will have come to realise. Nationalism is an ideology that requires the people who live within the country to attach their own identities to that of the nation, to form what could be called a homogenous national identity. For those who happily identify themselves as Scottish, this isn’t really an issue. But nationalism scorns those who do not subscribe with gusto – creating division and closing down spaces for conversation and criticism. 

As the months have ticked on from the Scottish Referendum I have found myself not only feeling a growing sense of relief but also one of regret. I regret voting for a movement that was spearheaded by one of the most illiberal parties of our times – the SNP. Not only are their policies, such as the Named Person and the Super ID Database, an abhorrent abuse of our Civil Liberties, their party ideology is based  on nationalism and national identity which allows the SNP and their (ever-growing supporters) a monopoly on Scotland’s political identity. But Scotland has a political diversity similar to that throughout the United Kingdom – an ever growing base of parties and policies and choice. Anyone who has levelled criticism against the SNP will have felt this, whether they were talking about the £444m underspend on their budget, or their lack of funding to the Scottish NHS, the centralisation of the police force or even just their lack of regional funding – particularly to the North-East and Highlands and Islands of Scotland, you will have felt the wrath of the Scottish Nationalists. You will most likely have been called unpatriotic or maybe even English or perhaps that you are trying to do Scotland down or that you must be a ‘unionist’.  The SNP have turned any criticism levelled at them into criticism levelled at Scotland, and as such every time you speak you are branded as anti-Scottish. The SNP and their supporters are forcing you to choose an identity, or forcing one upon you. In a multicultural society this can only end in tears. I want to live somewhere that is inclusive, fair and provides opportunity for everyone. I do not believe for one second I would get that from an SNP led independent Scotland. But I do believe that is the vision that the Liberal Democrats have for the whole of the United Kingdom.

There are many of us out there, the people who regret voting yes, but most of us won’t speak out for the reasons I have outlined above. But we do talk about it, in whispers and amongst friends.

* Jenny Wilson is a Party Activist in the North East of Scotland and works in Higher Education Administration

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38 Comments

  • “My five years of studying international relations have taught me that small nations can be successful and happy places, but also that there are alternative modes of governing. Voting yes for me was an opportunity to break down the current government structures and build fresh ones, from the ground up, to make new political structures that are inclusive and do not lock out women and minorities from participating.”

    Yes – I think that the most contented nations generally are those with populations of less than 10m.

    It really is a great pity that the SNP are not content themselves with devo-max – it would pave the way for federal government with devo-max applying to all regions.

    The Houses of Parliament are trying to help this change – by sinking into the Thames:

    “MPs and peers are set to move from the Gothic majesty of the Palace of Westminster to a conference centre that is derided as one of London’s ugliest buildings, when the Houses of Parliament undergo essential renovation.

    The Independent on Sunday has learnt that the coalition quietly shelved the idea of including the Queen Elizabeth II centre in a “for sale” list after ministers were told it was a “no-brainer” for it to become Parliament’s temporary home when the palace is refurbished. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, recently warned that the palace, which is slowly sinking into the river Thames, will have to be permanently vacated within 20 years unless extensive work starts soon.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-clear-the-lobbies-lords-and-commons-decamp-to-reviled-qeii-conference-centre-while-the-houses-of-parliament-undergo-renovation-10170236.html

  • I tip my hat to Jenny Wilson, admitting a mistake and/or changing your opinion when further evidence is drawn to ones attention are the marks of a person of integrity whose trying to do the right thing!

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 10:37am

    I think even people who still support independence should think carefully about voting SNP at this election- which is not an independence referendum.

  • Tony Greaves 12th Apr '15 - 10:52am

    It’s ironic that the SNP winning Labour seats may be all that stands between a NOC Parliament and an overall Labour majority. So which would we prefer? Perhaps it’s a question we should not ask at this stage of the election.

    Tony Greaves

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Apr '15 - 11:00am

    I think most Liberal Democrats can share Jenny’s motivation:

    “Voting yes for me was an opportunity to break down the current government structures and build fresh ones, from the ground up, to make new political structures that are inclusive and do not lock out women and minorities from participating.”

    This is exactly the sort of change we want to see and we need to find ways of actually achieving it in the face of continued opposition from the other more conservative parties. A party where nobody has a majority at Westminster may have a fair bit of potential.

    Tony, my main fear is an overall Tory majority. Anything else we can deal with.

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 11:09am

    I would prefer NOC to overall Labour majority. My message was more directed at potential SNP supporters in places like Ross, Skye and Lochaber…

  • Caron Lindsay 12th Apr ’15 – 11:00am

    “Tony, my main fear is an overall Tory majority. Anything else we can deal with.”

    This now seems nigh impossible – provided that UKIP do not make a pre election pact with the Tories and stand down candidates in marginals where the Tories are in contention.

    I do not think that Sturgeon can change her position now and support a Tory government.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Apr '15 - 11:13am

    John Roffey, there is no way that the SNP want to be part of any Westminster government but they certainly won’t formally have any deal with the Tories. Interesting to remember that it was the Tories who gave the SNP government their support during the 4 years of minority government up here.

  • Caron Lindsay 12th Apr ’15 – 11:13am

    “Interesting to remember that it was the Tories who gave the SNP government their support during the 4 years of minority government up here.”

    Not only do I not remember – I did not know. I am afraid I haven’t taken much notice of internal Scottish politics! :}

  • Tony Greaves

    It’s ironic that the SNP winning Labour seats may be all that stands between a NOC Parliament and an overall Labour majority. So which would we prefer? Perhaps it’s a question we should not ask at this stage of the election.

    Tony Greaves

    Phillip Thomas

    I would prefer NOC to overall Labour majority. My message was more directed at potential SNP supporters in places like Ross, Skye and Lochaber…

    You’d sacrifice Scotland to prevent a Labour government?

    That’s a deeply, deeply troubling sentiment to express. The fact is the majority of the Scottish people rejected independence and reject the SNP, and you’d rather the SNP dominate Scottish seats in Westminster than have a Labour government.

    I’m grateful that at least Lib Dems in Scotland are prepared to fight for Scotland in Westminster against Nationalists with minority support, even if it permits a Labour government.

  • Picking up the point of smaller [less than 10m] nations – it seems to me that the Party should take a close look at Denmark’s success – which could more easily be emulated if the UK did adopt a federal government – with devo-max for each region.

    I was most interested in:

    “Denmark is frequently ranked as the happiest country in the world in cross-national studies of happiness. This has been attributed to the country’s highly regarded education and health care systems and its low level of income inequality”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denmark

    Perhaps a ‘Ministry for Happiness could also be established!

    http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/bhutan-prime-minister-business-gross-national-happiness

  • Simon Horner 12th Apr '15 - 12:18pm

    Like Jenny, I am a party member who voted Yes in the referendum. I don’t regret doing this as I saw the choice as being between two competing nationalisms. The British version, encapsulated by Ukip (who had just won a national election in England) and by the Conservatives, looked less attractive to me.
    As a democrat, however, I fully accept the referendum result. Even if the rest of the UK eventually votes to take us out of the EU, with Scotland voting to stay in, the logic of last year’s No vote is that we have to accept the outcome.
    I would never vote for a nationalist party (SNP, Ukip or Tory) and am dismayed to see that a prominent Lib Dem in my old stamping ground of North Perthshire is publicly urging people to vote Tory to defeat the SNP. The best way to defeat nationalism is to vote Lib Dem.
    I fear that ‘the Scottish Question’ could , like the Irish one in the late 19th/early 20th century, have an impact on British politics for a long time. I am not sure there is a solution but the one that looks most promising must be proper UK federalism – which is a long way from the dog’s breakfast that emerged from the Smith Commission. Federalism was our party’s policy when I joined in 1974 and was then seen as a bit esoteric. Today, politicians from left and right are increasingly raising the federal option while the Lib Dems, oddly, hardly ever talk about it. I hope to see something bold and radical on this subject in our UK manifesto next week, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Philip Thomas 12th Apr '15 - 12:51pm

    I was asked a simple question: Do I prefer NOC or Labour majority government?
    I answered truthfully for the broad case.

    Obviously there are specific NOC situations I would not prefer to Labour majority government. For example an NOC situation in which a) SNP+Labour =a majority and b) LDs+Labour = not a majority- I view this as a situation which is worse than Labour majority, although not as bad as a Tory majority or Tory+right-wing allies majority.

    Whether a give seat is Labour or SNP does not affect a but positively affects b. Of course it also risks, as Tony has said, getting a Labour majority. That is why voters in seats where Labour is the main opposition to the SNP have a more difficult dilemma than voters in seats where the LDS are the main opposition.

  • Jonathan Brown 12th Apr '15 - 3:57pm

    An interesting article Jenny. From what I read, I don’t think you were in as small a minority as you might think. I think I remember reading that a higher proportion of Lib Dem voters voted ‘yes’ than Labour or Conservative ones, and I think it’s been a great strategic mistake by our party not to better understand the motives of those doing so.

    Like Simon Horner, I am hoping against hope that our party will convincincly articulate support for devo-max. And, indeed, serious devolution to the rest of the UK. As the only Westminster party with a serious interest in devolution, we ought to have been well placed to hoover up the support of the huge numbers of people who wanted a radical break with the Westminster system but not outright independence. But it appears to me (someone based on the South coast and who possibly has missed a lot of what’s been going on up north), that we allowed our unionism and even moreso our almost-hatred of the SNP to smother our belief in federalism. They shouldn’t need to be contradictory, but in practice appear to have been.

  • Jonathan Brown

    As the only Westminster party with a serious interest in devolution, we ought to have been well placed to hoover up the support of the huge numbers of people who wanted a radical break with the Westminster system but not outright independence.

    Labour are the only party to have enabled devolution when in power. It is absurd to claim that you are the only Westminster party with an interest in the subject. In fact the only party that has consistently voted against devolving power has been the Tories. There is a parliamentary majority in favour of the concept and has been since at least 1997.

    Furthermore, you would be making a grave mistake if you assumed that the forces that drive the SNP are simply part of the devolution debate. What the SNP and support want is full independence, they already have devolution, and a great deal of power over tax (which they haven’t used) and spending. They want to stop Scotland having any say in what happens in Westminster by breaking up the Union. This is their primary aim, and to not appreciate this is to fundamentally misunderstand the political debate north of the border. It is not about the minutiae of where political power is, it is about separation, and the forces that drive it cannot be sated with more devolution.

  • Steve Comer 12th Apr '15 - 6:17pm

    Simon: ” Federalism was our party’s policy when I joined in 1974 and was then seen as a bit esoteric. ”
    The reality was the Liberal Party was ahead of its time on its thinking, as it often has been through history.

    Liberals under Lloyd George’s leadership went against the prevailing economic wisdom in the 1920s and supported policies which were rejected in the UK but embraced by Franklin Roosevelt in the New Deal.
    Post 1945 Liberals alone realised that the UK had to accept the post-Imperial world and join with our European neighbours in the EEC (that must have seemed even more esoteric in the mid 1950s.
    Gladstone supported ‘home rule all round’ and Federalism and the principle of subsidiarity is an extension of that.
    If we become a federal UK in a Federal Europe, then much of the argument about ‘independence’ becomes largely academic.

  • Nationalism is not one thing. The nationalism of the SNP is different to that of UKIP. The Tories are also a nationalist party, although we happen to be in coalition with them so I wonder why on that basis we can’t be in Coalition with the SNP. Are they actually worse than the Tories? Really?
    Whether nationalism is good or bad from a liberal point of view depends on whether it is inclusive or exclusive. Nelson Mandela called himself a nationalist, but he wanted everyone to be included in the post apartheid South African national identity. It is not the least bit surprising that the SNP which has grown enormously over the past year has some serious problems with some of their members. However we should judge the party as a whole and consider the decent members they have as well.
    That said I recommend good Liberal policies such as Home Rule, federalism and devolution of powers. There are better alternatives.

  • Kevin McNamara 13th Apr '15 - 12:43am

    Firstly, thank you Jenny for this article.

    Secondly, I mostly believe people like Jenny voted yes because there was no room for debate whatsoever within the Liberal Democrats. To be a yes supporter was heresy, it’s why some defected and some almost shamefully organised for yes. I think the way we steered internally for that referendum should be a lesson to listen to and bring our colleagues with us in the future.

  • The Lib Dems should never have taken an official position on the referendum or positioned themselves as a Unionist party. A better line would have been “this referendum is a distraction cooked up by the SNP that’s irrelevant to Scotland’s real needs, but since it’s here, every Scot should vote based on what he or she thinks is best for Scotland.” Alienating Yes voters wasn’t smart for Scottish Labour and it’s evidently even worse for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

  • Jenny Wilson
    Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking article.
    You conclude with the lines —
    “There are many of us out there, the people who regret voting yes, but most of us won’t speak out for the reasons I have outlined above. But we do talk about it, in whispers and amongst friends.”

    Publishing an article in LDV is perhaps a bit more than whispering to your friends. I have forgotten how many tens of thousands of people are said to read LDV but it is more than just a few friends whispering in a corner. 🙂

    I found the first part of what you wrote interesting, informative and I could feel some of the enthusiasm you felt for voting yes.
    It reflects what family and friends north of the border have said to me.

    The second part of your piece where you go through the motions of blaming all the world’s ills on the success of the SNP is both less convincing and certainly less infectious.

    As Geoffrey Payne points out there is more than one kind of “nationalism”. I note in the picture chosen to illustrate your article there is a large banner being held up which includes the words “END WARS FOR PROFIT AND RESOURCES”. This seems to be an internationalist message, fully in line with Liberalism, from these enthusiasts for a YES vote.

    I realise you may not have chosen this picture but it illustrates a reality that supporters of the SNP and Independence are not raving xenophobes like the more wild eyed fringe members of UKIP. This is not to say that you would not be able to find such people in Scotland but they appear to be a tiny minority.

    Some in The Liberal Democrats seek to paint those supporting independence as something that they are not. This is just driving our natural and traditional supporters away from us. Pretending (or indeed genuinely believing) that those who support the SNP are some sort of 1930s jack-booted threat planning to march on Carlisle and Poland is just daft.

    Those who seek a new deal for Scotland by way of being an independent entity within the EU seem to me to be very similar to the enthusiastic people who came not politics in the early 1980s attracted by the SDP. I would have sooner they had all joined The Liberal Party at the time but in politics you have to live with the realities. In Scotland in 2015 the reality is that a Unionist message is about as popular as a slap in the face with a cold fish.

    As David-1 says, Liberal Democrats should never have positioned themselves as just another Unionist party in the referendum. Unionism is after all one of the worst forms of nationalism to have infected these islands in the last 150 years.

  • Seriously, do you people have any respect for the democratically expressed will of the Scottish people to remain part of the Union?

    The Nationalists don’t, because they have a monomaniacal desire to obtain independence, despite all the economic data being against them. But they’re quite open about this, and you can’t say people vote for them without knowing what they stand for. But I honestly expected better of Liberal Democrats, the ones here seem intent on discussing obtuse policy proposals that don’t stand a chance of making the party’s own manifesto, let alone obtaining popular support, rather than working with a Scotland that has decided it’s future should lie within the Union.

  • Angela Davies 13th Apr '15 - 9:03am

    I would have voted yes in the Scottish Referendum and would not have regretted it. I firmly believe in the right of self determination for small nations. The first world war was fought to preserve this right and many millions died in this cause. I am a Card carrying Lib Dem And I agree with John Tilley. I felt very uncomfortable finding my party lined up with Unionists and am not afraid to say so publicly.

  • Angela Davies

    I firmly believe in the right of self determination for small nations. The first world war was fought to preserve this right and many millions died in this cause.

    I agree. Scotland was given the opportunity to opt for self-determination, but rejected it in favour of remaining in a union with England, Wales & NI.

    Will you respect this result, and cease focussing on separatist issues in favour of working with Scots to make the Union better for everybody?

  • Thanks for a thoughtful article. As an Englishman with Welsh blood who often visits Scotland, a History graduate and a Liberal, I find these comments resonate. I was neutral on Scottish independence, perhaps my heart saying Yes and my mind No – but was swayed by the reasoned and passionate opposition of Scottish Liberal Democrats I respect and admire such as Michael Moore and Charles Kennedy.

    In the first three quarters of the 19th century, nationalism was widely seen as a liberal force, but then we began to see the consequences. That peoples held in subjection against their will by empires should gain independence was admirable, but independence immediately came with border disputes as in the Balkans (not really a problem with Scotland unless the Norwegians want the Shetlands back). Paradoxically, an independence government able to claim it represented the national will could crush civil liberties and protest movements more ruthlessly than many ramshackle empires whose rulers knew they could not alienate most of the subject peoples at once. That is relevant to Scotland.

    Certainly an independent Scotland could work. But two arguments used by Yes supporters seem to me deeply dishonest (to others or to themselves). One was that Scots wanted rid of those devious, cunning, ruthless Westminster politicians and things would be much better without them. It rather ignored that Scots have been disproportionately influential at Westminster (Brown, Darling, Alexanders Douglas and Danny, Kennedy, Ming Campbell) and on the deviousness, cunning, ruthlessness measures it seemed to me Salmond could beat any of that lot.

    The other was that while Scots wanted a fairer, more honest politics, of course they really hoped the rest of the UK would achieve that too. Yet Scottish independence would lurch UK politics way to the right. Moreover, while the Scots would lose all influence on UK decisions, as a small country next door to a big country (its only land neighbour) they’d find themselves willy nilly affected by UK decisions they couldn’t vote on. That didn’t seem to me to annihilate the pro-independence arguments, but it was a big weakness the Yes campaign just did not acknowledge.

    If I were a Scottish Liberal Democrat, though, I might look at the course of the Liberal Democrats in recent years and wonder what course an independent Scottish Liberal Democrat party might have taken!

  • Regional federalism for England would be extremely difficult to implement without making a mockery of democracy and creating a dozen new variants of the “West Lothian problem”. Areas such as Yorkshire or Cornwall seem to have a regional identity that might lend itself to regional federalism but I suspect there are large areas of England that do not have such a regional identity and have internal identity disputes. For instance, telling the people of Sutton Coldfield, Solihull Borough and the Black Country that they are to be part of a region governed from Birmingham would lead to a great deal of opposition. I hear people on LDV talk about somewhere called “Greater Birmingham” but I have never heard anyone from that area talk about living in “Greater Birmingham”. Let alone what happens to neighbouring counties such as Shropshire or Staffordshire that have a low population with many small towns and villages. If some kind of devolution-on-demand was implemented, it might lead to a situation where, for instance, MPs for an independently governed Yorkshire are voting on matters that affect other regions but not their own region. Could health and education really be run on a regional basis? Could students in Yorkshire end up exempt from university tuition fees but students from Lancashire be paying £9k per year? It might end up being worth renting a bedsitting room just over the regional border in order to save £27k in tuition fees, get free prescriptions and qualify for free personal care. I am not saying regional devolution would never work but people in Scotland, Wales, Cornwall or Yorkshire might not appreciate what the situation is like in some English regions where identities and loyalties are of a different kind and there is very little interest in regionalism. Anyone counting on federalism in England to resolve the Scottish question might be waiting a very long time indeed.

  • Caron Lindsay 13th Apr ’15 – 11:05am ……. They were treated a lot more favourably than anyone questioning independence within the SNP would have been, that’s for sure…….

    Why would a member of the SNP not want independence?

  • Jenny Wilson 13th Apr '15 - 12:24pm

    I have just logged back in after a weekend on the campaign trail and I can’t believe there are so many comments. Thanks for all the input and discussion – and all the kind comments.

    Just a few I wanted to pick up on – Kevin: As Caron has said there was plenty room for discussion & debate within the party – but supporting a United Kingdom was the outcome. I accepted that, but the beauty of this party is that I was still able to be vocal with my support for independence and (bar some minor sticker sabotage) this was accepted by my Lib Dem Peers . They challenged my views on the daily, but that only made us all more informed (and upped our debating skill significantly) – I never felt shame, I never felt stigmatised and I most certainly did not defect.

    JohnTilley – I was aware that this was more of a whisper, but I wanted to get it out in the open – most people feel they cannot speak about there regrets/thoughts/feelings post-referendum. Thanks for the feedback – hope always sounds more infectious – and that’s why the Yes Campaign had a good vibe. I am not blaming the worlds ills on the SNP but I have serious concerns about them leading into the GE and beyond.

    expats – you would be surprised – I know a fair few members of the SNP that voted no in the end, but perhaps more importantly many people who voted for SNP in the 2011 Holyrood Elections (which gave the mandate for indyref) voted no at the ballot box too. People are more than just their parties – sometimes you buck the trend on key policies.

  • Denis Loretto 13th Apr '15 - 12:25pm

    I am all in favour of a sensible measure of devolution to regions within the UK whether or not they have the historical status of “nations” . However the way in which economic development has taken place over centuries, for all sorts of reasons including sheer geography, demands to my mind a degree of sharing of resources which would be lost if there were to be complete independence of (for example) Scotland. The pre-eminence of London in particular is not going to decline and even “devo-max” or “full fiscal autonomy” would ignore the need for sharing the benefits of this across the UK . Indeed more resource flowing to the regions is needed – not less.

    The slump in oil prices – which is no doubt temporary but may well last a long time – is just one example of the clear and unnecessary risk entailed in pursuing an extreme separatist approach. Fortunately a clear majority of Scots seem to understand this but may well vote SNP as some sort of protest against “Westminster politicians”.

  • William Summers 13th Apr '15 - 12:32pm

    Surely the No campaign was also based on nationalism and identity, just at the British level rather than a Scottish level?

  • Denis,
    I don’t think the SNP are getting a protest vote. It was close. 46% means that a lot of Scots wanted independence and are sticking with the SNP.

  • I don’t regret voting yes, and I would stand by what I was saying prior to the referendum. But I have also gone on often at excessive length about the SNP and its problems, and I would stand by that too.

    With the notion of independence off the agenda for years, the best solution now is to throw full fiscal autonomy at Scotland, but also to resist any temptation to govern England as an SNP-backed majority. Failing to deliver such autonomy to Scotland would fuel the nationalist agenda, but governing England through Scottish nationalist votes would build up tension south of the border as well. And of course autonomy for Scotland would put the part of the SNP that would subsidise oil, cut corporation tax and starve the health sector of funding into the limelight more often.

  • As an Englishman ( well, Yorkshireman to be particularist) living in Scotland I voted No. My motivation as a sixties radical Liberal was not wanting the North of England to suffer a permanent Tory Government if Scotland left the UK.
    Fortunately, Scottish society still retains much of the mutuality and sense of public coherence I remember from my Yorkshire childhood but now sadly lacking in UKIP/Tory land down in the far South. Oddly enough, like Jenny, for somewhat different reasons, I too suffer from a bit of ‘buyers remorse’ in voting they way I did last September..

    For the life of me I can’t see why we should contemplate funding a Trident replacement when there are so many social issues starved of funding. Does not having their own nuclear weapons weaken Germany ? Does a radical Liberal really have to embrace austerity as if Keynes had never lived ? Did we really have to sell off the Post Office and the East Coast railway ? Do we really need to dish out knighthoods and peerages to rich donors ?

    Post what I fear will be an election debacle, the Lib Dems really must, as the song says, go back to their homes to think again. If they don’t the Scottish Greens will steal their thunder.

    Yes, the SNP has some headbangers, though Nicola has got rid of Kenny Macaskill. But if the Lib Dems and Labour (showing signs of terminal decline) really have a sort out, then the SNIPS will have no divine right to permanent rule at Holyrood. As it stands today , plenty of English friends are asking how they can vote for Nicola !!

  • Denis Loretto 14th Apr '15 - 12:40am

    If I understand T-J correctly he or she is saying “Despite the democratic decision of the Scots to retain the benefits of UK membership let’s just throw them to the wolves in order to teach them a lesson – and certainly tell them we don’t want their representatives at Westminster having anything to do with governing the UK of which they (decisively, not all that narrowly, Glenn) voted to remain an integral part.”

  • David Raw 13th Apr ’15 – 10:57pm
    “………………..For the life of me I can’t see why we should contemplate funding a Trident replacement when there are so many social issues starved of funding.

    Does not having their own nuclear weapons weaken Germany ?
    Does a radical Liberal really have to embrace austerity as if Keynes had never lived ?
    Did we really have to sell off the Post Office and the East Coast railway ?
    Do we really need to dish out knighthoods and peerages to rich donors ?

    …,,,,English friends are asking how they can vote for Nicola !! ”

    Well said, David Raw. Six nails hit on the head.
    Sound reminders for thinking Liberal Democrats north and south of the border.

  • If the Lib Dems can work with the Conservatives in government, despite being (at least originally) their political polar opposite, then the SNP can work with parties opposed to Scottish independence.

    In reality, I think the SNP have pretty much abandoned hope for de jure independence in this generation, and are looking to get the best deal they can for Scotland within the current system.

  • Denis.
    It depends how you look at it. It was about 45% Yes and 55% which is a 10% lead, so it would only have taken a 5% swing to take it down to the wire. 45% is not that far from 50%. This was a straight yes or no vote and the fact remains that not that far short of 50% of the population wanted independence.

  • I have got to say that I do not ‘get’ the move to tribalism and/or nationalism; it just does not add up for me. I support England at rugby because I grew up supporting them. I live in Wales so I support them, except when they play England and even then if it’s a good game I generally don’t mind too much if they win. I have an ancestor who signed the Declaration of Arbroath and I regularly go to Scotland on holiday and/or to visit close friends. I have travelled overseas extensively through work and holidays and when I’m abroad I say I’m British, like most people in England and unlike most people from Scotland and Wales. I remind my Welsh friends who complain about ‘the English’ oppressing the Welsh mine workers that the mines were mainly owned and operated by the Marquess of Bute, a Scot, and that Henry Tudor was Welsh. I remind my Scottish friends who complain about ‘the English’ oppressing the Scots that in the 17th century (before the Act of Union) the Scottish Stewarts took over the English crown and that their real complaint is against the ruling classes who oppressed the workers and not much to do with nationality. Finally, I have voted Liberal or Lib Dem all my life and have never had an MP or government of my choice but that said I’m in favour of radical constitutional reform for a fairer and more just British (UK) society.

    The Comments on Jenny Wilson’s Opinion appear to be dominated by SNP/independence supporters, many of who clearly still want to have an independent Scotland, sooner rather than later. I believe that the vast majority of British people would not like to see Scotland leave the UK Union and I fear that the SNP will cause real problems in the next parliament, all of course under the guise of looking after Scottish best interests. I will not comment further on Scottish matters other than to say I strongly believe that the single most important, redline, condition for Lib Dems co-operation with or within the next government should be a truly objective UK Constitutional Convention which is set up and reports back with a recommended way forward within the first year of the new parliament and that all collaborating parties are committed to supporting the related recommendations. I feel very strongly that a new constitutional set-up for the UK is urgently needed, is the key to saving the UK Union and that it must treat all parts of the UK in the same way, even if there are some timing and transition issues to be addressed. It is very clearly feasible to solve the constitutional problems facing the UK – provided all involved are objective and fair-minded.

    The table below is but one scenario of how the 2015 General Election might end and the reason for including it is that it probably illustrates the main problem with the current First Past The Post voting system and getting all parties to agree to a new fairer constitutional system. The key challenge will be for organisers of a Constitutional Convention to get parties to look beyond their short term position regarding seats and power to what’s fairer and best for the whole of UK society. I’m sure it is feasible even if it could be difficult.

    Party UK % of % of
    Seats UK seats UK votes
    Con 254 39.1% 31.7%
    Lab 298 45.8% 31.0%
    L Dem 27 4.2% 11.8%
    UKIP 6 0.9% 12.8%
    SNP 41 6.3% 3.8%
    PC 4 0.6% 0.4%
    Green 2 0.3% 2.7%
    DUP 8 1.2% 0.7%
    Sinn F 5 0.7% 0.7%
    SDLP 3 0.5% 0.5%
    Allia 1 0.2% 0.2%
    Indep 1 0.2% 0.2%
    ANO 0 0.0% 3.5%
    Total 650 100.0% 100.0%

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