Shirley Williams wows Dunfermline – in pictures

Shirley Williams has been an absolute star these last few days. She came to Scotland on Thursday and will be here until Tuesday night. She’s already travelled the length of the country. She spoke at the Liberal Democrat rally on Thursday night, went to Orkney for a hugely well attended debate on Friday night and was back in Fife yesterday afternoon.

She spoke to voters on the High Street where both campaigns were out in force. I’m sure the Yes campaigner with the megaphone who yelled out “Bow down to your Imperial Overlords” as we all assembled for a photo.

Shirley group photo Dunfermline

 

It’s incredible that an 84 year old whose last spell in public office was in 1979 can still be such a draw. One of the most touching moments of the entire campaign came when a Yes campaigner came over to say to Shirley that she had always admired her.

Shirley with Yes campaigner

 

It was lovely to see her inspire another generation:

Shirley talks to young people

 

And though I have met Shirley many, many times, there was not a single photo of us together in existence. But Willie Rennie sorted that out:

Caron and Shirley

I asked Shirley what her answer was to the Yes campaign’s complaints about the UK being the 4th most unequal country in the world. She said that inequality was a problem, but that at the moment Scotland is the second most well-off part of the UK. There is poverty in Scotland but so much more in places like the north of England and Wales. Together we can do so much more to tackle this on a UK wide level. That will be so much more difficult if Scotland leaves.

The Observer has taken part of what Shirley said at the rally as part of their rationale for backing a No vote:

In a speech on Friday, Lib Dem peer Baroness Shirley Williams set out a strong case for maintaining the union: “The  shared heritage of the rule of law … the commitment to the liberty of the individual, the constraints of a constitutional monarchy, these are not values to be taken for granted. For most of the world we live in, these are at best aspirations. For us, voluntary members of a lasting union, they are the foundation of a stability and security that is beyond price.

 

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

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9 Comments

  • Malcolm Todd 14th Sep '14 - 1:15pm

    I remain a huge fan of Shirley Williams myself, but I’m surprised you think her “last spell in public office was in 1979”! She was an SDP MP 1981–3 and has been a member of the House of Lords since 1993 (though I’m sure she’d rather the latter office was abolished).

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 14th Sep '14 - 8:09pm

    Actually, you are right. I meant as a government minister. Blame referendum -related brain fade.

  • Denis Mollison 14th Sep '14 - 9:27pm

    I love Shirley to bits – a key reason I joined the SDP in 1981 – but is she really suggesting that an independent Scotland would give up “The shared heritage of the rule of law … the commitment to the liberty of the individual”? [ “the constraints of a constitutional monarchy” is part of our shared heritage that I would happily replace with something more egalitarian and democratic in due course.]

  • David Blake 15th Sep '14 - 6:26am

    The BBC has virtually ignored the Lib Dems during the referendum campaign, desire the fact that in terms of MPs it is the second largest party. A disgrace.

  • is she really suggesting that an independent Scotland would give up “The shared heritage of the rule of law … the commitment to the liberty of the individual”?

    With Jim Sillars and his threats of a “day of reckoning” against companies (and probably against individuals as well) opposed to independence, it is a question that could legitimately be raised.

  • “The BBC has virtually ignoredthe Lib Dems…” Is this another example of the London-centric view of politics trumping reality on the Scottish ground?

  • David Blake
    I don’t know if you have contacted the BBC but if you have I bet their answer was something like — “Over the last two years the opinion poll ratings for the Liberal Democrats have declined to single figures. In parliamentary by-elections the Liberal Democrats have lost more deposits than they have saved, in May they only hung on to one MEP whereas UKIP got 24. On the basis of the evidence we think it would be unfair to give a fringe party anymore coverage than we have. The BBC has a duty to report fairly on politics and it would be unfair to other small parties to keep reporting on the Liberal Democrats. We give a disproportionate amount of coverage to the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg but that has not improved his position in the polls, he is the most unpopular party leader of any party since polling began.”

  • Peter Watson 15th Sep '14 - 2:15pm

    @JohnTilley
    The BBC might also add that in 2014, SNP, Labour, Conservatives, and even UKIP have scottish MEPs but the Lib Dems do not, possibly a more meaningful statistic than representation in Westminster in the context of a potentially independent Scotland.

  • Peter Watson
    Yes you are quite correct. I could also have mentioned the hundreds of losses of Liberal Democrat Councillors every May for more than five years which has resulted in the party ceasing to exist in the majority of the UK.
    Or I could have mentioned the decine in membership numbers since the Clegg Coup.
    But most people outside the parliamentary party have already got the message.

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