Tag Archives: scottish independence

Scotland – time for Project Facts

As Liberal Democrats, we do not support independence and we don’t want a second referendum; we have better ideas about the constitution. However, we must live up to our title as democrats and must recognise that there is now a clear majority at Holyrood for such a referendum. It would be foolish and self-defeating to oppose it. We must not repeat the mistake we made at the 2019 General Election when we were proposing to ignore the outcome of the EU referendum by not going back to the electorate for a second vote. That surely damages our reputation and cost us votes.

But we can take a constructive, different and positive view about how a second independence vote should be organised, learning lessons from the disastrous EU referendum process involving four years of discord and wrangling, and resulting in an outcome that few seem to be happy with. The simple yes/no, in/out binary approach to referenda with little in the way of facts, just opinions, guesswork and hope, and a promise on negotiations later, is not the way forward this time. It will give no guarantee that the outcome, if in support of separation, will meet the expectations of all those voting for change. The reason for this is the massive imbalance between the population of Scotland and the rest of the UK with whom Scotland will be negotiating and who will be very much affected by separation. Their representatives will bring a different set of requirements to the table that will potentially have a huge influence on the outcome. Another White Paper, as promised by the SNP, given this scenario will serve no real purpose other than again being a wish list and merely a basis for negotiations from one side only.

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Independence would do even more damage than Brexit

In an article in the Scotsman, Alistair Carmichael has pointed out the similarities between Scottish independence and Brexit. He said a hard border between Scotland and England would be inevitable:

Just as it is uncontested that ursine mammals defecate in forested areas, it is not a matter of debate that, under SNP plans, an independent Scotland would have a hard border with the rest of the United Kingdom.

He points out the harsh realties of independence:

The reality is that if Scotland separates from the rest of the UK and cuts itself off from its “single market” then there will have to be customs posts and officials, checks and barriers between Scots, our businesses and our biggest trading partners.

It is a simple matter of common sense – and for those lacking in common sense it is also a fact affirmed by experts in international trade and economics, the same experts who voiced the same concerns about Brexit and are in the process of being proven correct.

He compares Sturgeon’s language to that of Farage and Johnson over Brexit:

It speaks volumes that Nicola Sturgeon’s statements around independence and trade barriers mimic almost to the word the arguments of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – that we would somehow be re-engaging with the wider world by building yet another hard border.

And an SNP candidate’s claims that a hard border would create jobs was no barrier to a campaign visit from Sturgeon:

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Malcolm Bruce writes…Whither Scottish Nationalism

The tectonic plates of Scottish politics are on the move again.

When Labour dominated politics in Scotland they were often lazy, arrogant, bullying and complacent and looked after their own. Sufficiently like the mafia to be caricatured as COSLA NOSTRA.

Labour lost its way and initially Liberal Democrats picked up ground. However, free of any obvious ideological positioning the SNP were able to move into Labour territory.

Now less than a generation later, the SNP have become the Scottish establishment and acquired an even more venal, more incompetent yet downright arrogant, complacent and nasty braggadocio.

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Why don’t the Scottish Lib Dems support Independence?

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I am a founder member of the Liberal Democrats and I live in England. I respect the right of Scottish Lib Dems to decide their policy on Independence for Scotland. I hope, though, that they will permit me to ask the question “Why don’t you support Independence”.

We, that is Lib Dems on both sides of the border, are an outward-looking, pro-European Union party.  We argued long, hard and loudly that a Union of 28 member states with a home market of over 400 million citizens was better than a single state with 67 million.

The UK is no longer in the EU.  I don’t think anyone is optimistic that the UK will re-apply for membership any time soon, nor that England would be welcomed with open arms by our former colleagues if we did.

On the other hand, all indications are that an Independent Scotland would have the opportunity of a fast-track to membership, with a full say in shaping EU policy and allowing its citizen’s the benefits that are being taken away from the rest of us.

From the southern side of the border that looks like a very attractive option indeed.

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Could Scottish Independence save the Scot Lib Dems?

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There’s no denying that the first 20 years of the 21st Century have hardly been auspicious for the Liberal Democrats in general and the Scot Lib Dems in particular. North of the Border the numbers of our elected representatives has been in rapid decline; in the period 2000 – 2020, numbers of our MSPs in the Scottish Parliament have dropped from 17 in the first Parliament to five now; at Westminster, in roughly the same timeframe, our MPs have reduced from 10 to four; whilst in Scotland’s local authorities the number of Lib Dem councillors has atrophied from 170 in 2003 to 67 today.

That’s an approximate reduction of two thirds overall which, however you might try to dress it up, cannot be celebrated as progress; quite the opposite. The reasons  why this might be so are many and varied and I have written about some of them before, so now is not the time to beat that particular drum again. Suffice to say that continuing to do more of the same, in terms of electioneering and campaigning, and expecting different results falls very neatly into Einstein’s definition of madness. Radical change in strategy and tactics is called for, and it can’t come a moment too soon.

What hope for the future, then? The prospects for the Holyrood elections next May – if Covid-19 allows them to take place – aren’t looking too rosy for the party. Multiple successive polls have put the party at between 6 – 8% or the projected vote, in many cases a lesser proportion than the Scottish Green party. Below the Greens for goodness sake! How are the mighty fallen. Most commentators predict a healthy majority for the SNP and their Green allies, although the only poll that matters is the election vote itself, and politics is a fickle mistress. We may be surprised yet.

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Why Scottish Liberal Democrats oppose a second Indyref

Last Sunday,  Lib Dem Voice published my article on how the Scottish Liberal Democrats should promote polices that use the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament create a fairer, greener and more prosperous Scotland.  Some commented that since Brexit has happened Liberal Democrats in Scotland should pivot to support for independence, or at least put the question back to the people of Scotland.  I thought it might help to set out some of reasons why Scottish Liberal Democrats oppose a second referendum and want to keep Scotland in a reformed and federal United Kingdom.

The preamble to our constitution commits us to promoting promote a democratic federal framework for the United Kingdom.  Independence is not the same as Home Rule in a Federal UK and it should come as no surprise when we say that.  We should also learn from David Cameron what can happen if you support a referendum about something you oppose.

Over the past three decades the Scottish Party has successfully helped deliver devolution and home rule for Scotland within the United Kingdom.  The Scottish Parliament has substantial powers.  Those powers should be used to address the problems our country faces now.

Politics is about choosing what to spend time, money and effort on.  Choosing to talk about the constitution means that other issues will inevitably be neglected.  In March 2017 the head of the Civil Service in Scotland warned Scottish Ministers that preparing for another independence referendum would see de-prioritisation of domestic policies.  This is a real issue in SNP run Scotland.  Standards have slipped.  Scottish schools have declined in international rankings, college places have been slashed and the Scottish Government has failed to meet its own targets for the provision of nursery places.  Another referendum and potentially the creation of a new state will suck attention and money from almost every other problem we face.   Whether you’re a parent with a child at school, a patient waiting for surgery or a homeless person in desperate need of a roof over your head, you don’t have the luxury of years of more constitutional wrangling.

But what about Brexit?  We know the arguments against Brexit.  Separating from our largest trading partner will harm our economy for years to come, reduce opportunities for young people, for science, research and development and make it harder to tackle Climate Change.   The debates about the Northern Ireland backstop have highlighted the problems a new land border between the EU and a non-EU member state.  The real financial cost of Brexit is much larger than any ‘savings’ from ending EU budget contributions.  

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SNP divisions on Brexit make independence less likely

It feels as though from the minute that Scotland voted No to independence in 2014 the SNP have been seeking “IndyRef2”.

The independence debate in Scotland isn’t just whether you want to be part of the UK anymore, it is whether Scotland will re-join the EU if they become independent.

Although revoking article 50 was a part of SNP’s 2019 General election manifesto, their party isn’t united on the Brexit front. In fact over a third of SNP voters voted for Brexit. I suppose they are staying true to the party’s isolationism.

The reason I’m mentioning this is it now makes the independence debate more difficult for those on the Yes side due to the fact that some want Scotland to re-join the EU if they became independent and some would rather Scotland become separated from both the UK and the EU.

Whether Scotland would be allowed to re-join the EU is a debatable issue in itself and even if Scotland were to re-join, it wouldn’t be the same relationship as the UK had with the EU prior to Brexit.

The SNP will cause controversy either way they choose to go but are most likely going to re-join the EU(if they can), as over half of their party voted to remain.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine Your nationality won’t matter if we wreck the planet

Politicians must heed what young people, concerned about the future of our planet, are saying, writes Christine Jardine in her Scotsman column:

Too little time recently has been dedicated to looking at how we are damaging the planet, undermining the future of generations to come and destroying the natural world. More importantly we are letting the valuable and scarce time we have left to change things slip through our fingers.

That was also not my only encounter this week with a younger generation frustrated at the adult world’s lack of action to protect their environment. On Friday morning I visited a group of pupils at Cramond Primary School in my constituency to see their campaign to clean up the air they breathe every day.

Their presentation was impressive but so too was their commitment that their world is under threat and that we are all responsible. Everything they said echoed what I had heard earlier from Greta, and not just about climate change.

She  described the benefits of being part of the More United group of MPs working together where they agree.

She went on to talk about the distractions of Brexit, and, now, the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum and how those are overshadowing what’s important.

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EXCLUSIVE: Nick Clegg on Brexit and Scottish independence: Everybody loses

Nick Clegg talked earlier this week about the possibility of a second independence referendum in Scotland following the Brexit vote. This has been construed in some quarters as implied support of independence.  He has written to Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie to enthusiastically endorse the position he has taken – that the Liberal Democrats will campaign to keep Scotland in both the UK and the EU. Independence, he says, would only compound the problems of Brexit meaning that everybody loses.

Here is his letter in full:

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Jo Swinson launches “Scotland should stay!” petition

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TJo Swinson, Lib Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, is inviting those who “think Scotland should be stay part of the United Kingdom” to sign a petition saying so ahead of the independence referendum on 18th September. Here’s the text of the email circulated to party members last night:

In just over a month my fellow Scots and I will cast the most important vote of our lives.

I’m hoping there’s a resounding vote for Scotland to stay as part of the

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Who’s afraid of Scottish independence?

Saltire - St Andrews Flag - Scotland - Some rights reserved by byronv2The last month has seen the ‘Yes Scotland’ independence campaign take a battering.

First, Mark Carney raised doubts about Alex Salmond’s plans for a post-independence currency union between Scotland and the remainder of the UK.

This warning was echoed when, with more naked partisanship, George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls teamed up to state they would each refuse to form such a currency union.

And then last Sunday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hammered in

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , , , , , and | 33 Comments

Michael Moore writes… Hullabaloo Tuesday

Heard much about the referendum lately?

I only ask because there is a curious phenomenon at play in Scotland at present.

Never mind “Will you be voting ‘Yes’ or No’ next year?”: the real divide in Scotland seems to be between those who think they have heard too much from politicians already and those who think they have heard nothing at all.

To campaigners on both sides of the ‘great debate’ this latter camp is intensely frustrating.

At my last count (I am in recovery now), the UK government had published over 600 pages of analysis and argument. The slackers at …

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments

LibLink: Caron Lindsay – Why home rule would be better for Scotland than independence

Our very own Caron Lindsay has been moonlighting over at The Herald, with an excellent piece on the relative merits of independence and home rule.

Here’s a sample:

First and foremost I’m a mum. I want my daughter and her children beyond her to live in a prosperous, inclusive, progressive, liberal, Scotland.

That word liberal is a bit of a giveaway, however. I’ve been active in Liberal Democrat politics for 30 years, since joining as a curious 15 year-old during the 1983 election. I’m a federalist and my views on how Scotland’s governance should work were very neatly summed up by

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Pensions, the triple lock and Scottish independence

Steve Webb has come under a bit of fire for comments that his triple lock, which guarantees a state pension rise by the higher of earnings, inflation or 2.5% can’t be guaranteed after the election. Let’s look at what he actually said to the Financial Times.

My view is it should be triple lock; to be absolutely clear, I would want to see that continue. But we, as a party, will have to thrash that one out.

He made clear that this would be something that all parties would have go deal with.

This is pretty much a statement of the obvious. …

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LibLink: Michael Moore – Scotland is stronger within the United Kingdom

michael-moore-mp-secretary-of-state-for-scotlandMichael Moore has been sharing his thoughts on the referendum on the US version of Huffington Post.  He writes:

Scotland is facing an historic decision in 2014: whether to remain as part of the United Kingdom or to leave and go it alone. Scotland’s nationalist First Minister Alex Salmond is in America this week and will seek to persuade Americans that Scots want independence, that it is our destiny and that U.S. relations with Scotland will only improve should it happen. On all counts, I believe that this analysis is flawed.

With

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Electoral Commission advises SNP to change Independence Referendum question

The Electoral Commission has published its advice on both the question for next year’s referendum on whether Scotland should leave the UK and spending limits. Both sides of the debate have been quick to accept the recommendations, which means that most of the issues on process should now be resolved.

This means that Scots will be asked next Autumn to answer:

Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No

This is different from the SNP Government’s proposed question:

Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

And also from the rather cumbersome question drawn up by a panel set up by the parties who …

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Scottish Independence: one brief letter, one big problem for the Yes campaign?

Here at Liberal Democrat Voice, I have occasionally drawn the attention of readers towards the Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs and its inquiry into the economic implications for the United Kingdom of Scottish independence. And this week, the Committee appears to have obtained an answer to a question which has hung heavy over the debate until now, i.e. would an independent Scotland automatically become part of the European Union.

In response to an invitation from the acting Chair of the Committee, Lord Tugendhat (a former two-term European Commissioner), Jose Manuel Barroso wrote;

Whilst refraining from comment on possible future scenarios,

Posted in Europe / International, News and Scotland | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

George Lyon MEP writes: Scots need guarantees on EU membership before independence referendum

As a Vice President of the European Budget Committee I am busy debating how the EU budget, or what those who stalk the corridors of Brussels call the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), will be distributed in coming years.

As an MEP for Scotland, I am also focussed on getting the best possible deal for my constituents.

With all the constraints that the current economic climate have placed on the budgets of Member States that task is hard enough.

But Scots must also consider that the next MFF, that runs from 2014-2020, will be decided in the shadow of the independence referendum. The consequences …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Opinion: Scottish reshuffle and the independence referendum

In amongst the fall-out from the reshuffle last week at Number 10, another reshuffle was somewhat lost in the news. In Scotland, Alex Salmond decided it was time to change things around a bit in Bute House – though unlike David Cameron, it was more a case of rearranging the deckchairs than bringing in new furniture.

The only departure of note was Bruce Cameron, along with two junior ministers, and in all those cases it was for genuine personal reasons. However, the big change was the move of Nicola

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Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.

Energy prices

Rising energy continue to be a huge for concern for Borderers and I was pleased to meet with the Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey last week to discuss the Government’s plans to help people reduce their energy bills through the Green Deal, the most ambitious home insulation programme the UK has ever seen.

With the Green Deal, Borderers will be able to pay for some or all of the insulation work done with the savings they make on …

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Better Together, the pro UK campaign launches in Edinburgh

The campaign to keep Scotland within the UK launched on Monday in Edinburgh. Led by former Chancellor, Alistair Darling, it aims to “promote the view that Scotland is a better and stronger country as part of the United Kingdom”. The name of the campaign, Better Together, is positive and deliberately does not include the word “no”.

There were keynote speeches from Darling and a finale by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, but the stage was mainly given over to a selection of ordinary people who took to the stage to explain why they wanted Scotland to stay in the Union. Some of them are in this video, the Best of Both Worlds, also available here on You Tube.

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In other news… Richard Kemp for Liverpool, Kennedy on the UK, defection in Cambridge, Hughes at Leveson

Here’s a round-up of stories we haven’t had time to cover on the site this past week…

Richard Kemp to represent Liberal Democrats in Liverpool mayor election in May (Liverpool Echo)

‘He said: “I am standing because I believe that only the Liberal Democrats have the long term strategies which will place this city in a leading position able to create the jobs and investment which this city so badly needs. Liverpool needs an encompassing vision and direction that everyone in the city, residents, business and friends can buy into and support.”

You can read Richard’s own account of …

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Opinion: What happens if Salmond loses the independence referendum?

There are clear signs that support for independence in Scotland is volatile and that the current debate is weakening it. Issues, such as defence, uncertainties over any financial settlement – not least because RBS is as Scottish as a glass of Glenmorangie – plus the normal fear of voters faced with a big step into the unknown, will all conspire between now and 2014 to make victory less and less likely.

So the residents of Scotland (including many who would describe themselves as English) may well say no. What then? Does the issue fade away?

In Scotland there would have to be …

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments

Opinion: Firm Friend and Equal Partner – Alex Salmond’s Lecture at the Scott Trust

I attended Alex Salmond’s lecture at the Scott Trust this Tuesday. It will come as no surprise to most of you that it was a terrifyingly brilliant performance by Scotland’s First Minister. However, it is important to note that the man is an enviable position at the moment and is well aware of that fact.

For a start, he has the luxury of being both in government and opposition at the same time (government in Scotland while being able to dump on everyone in Westminster, including Labour). He proudly declared on Tuesday night that not only are the three main party …

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Opinion: UK break-up – we’d all be losers

On the 6th May 2011 the Scottish National Party secured a historic majority for the next five year term at the Scottish Parliament. Their manifesto promised to freeze council tax, oppose tuition fees and set a renewable energy target of 100% by 2020. However, more crucially, one of the SNP’s most important pledges was to hold a referendum on independence.

The SNP is keen to emphasize its view that independence would make Scotland more successful; economically and socially. The SNP state that independence is the best choice for the future of Scotland and the issue should be decided by …

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments

Anti-English or Anti-Scottish? A guide to the independence referendum

At last, Westminster and the UK media have woken up to the reality that Scotland is sleepwalking towards independence. The phoney war is over and finally we may get some serious debate rather than evasion, insults and accusations of ‘talking Scotland down’.

When the Scottish Liberal Democrats refused to form a coalition with the SNP after the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, it was not just personal antipathy to Alex Salmond’s unbearably smug persona. Our then leader, Nicol Stephen, warned that the SNP would spend the whole time in government blaming Westminster for everything, rather than concentrating on actually making …

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Opinion: Speaking up for Scots – a referendum on independence needs democratic legitimacy

All sorts of scare-stories surround a future Scottish referendum – from practical questions about the debt rating of an independent nation to more emotive fears of a new wave of Highland clearances.

Yet amidst all the manoeuvering by both the pro and anti-unionists seeking to define the framework under which the question will be answered (in particular whether it should be a straight in-out decision) the respective leaders at Westminster and Holyrood retain one glaring blindspot.

Scotsman columnist Bill Jamieson is entirely correct when identifying an “effective disenfranchisement which could undermine the referendum vote as envisaged,” but perhaps not …

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Liberal Unionism in 2012

There’s no escaping history in our party, and current debates of nationalism, unionism and secession should prompt Liberal Democrats to delve back into the Gladstonian past.

The Liberal Party split over the Union. Gladstone favoured Home Rule for Ireland, Liberal Unionists didn’t, and ultimately joined the Conservative Party. This cemented the Conservative Party as the party of the Union, and it is a position the Conservative Party still holds.

The purpose of this article is, however, to challenge the Conservative Party’s stranglehold over being British.

The existing Conservative argument goes that a Conservative Britain is a Britainthat stands proud and takes no nonsense …

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Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism #12

Yesterday was St Andrew’s Day, a special day of celebration in Scotland. If Iain Smith, Liberal Democrat MSP for NE Fife which includes the town of St Andrews had his way, it would have been a full public holiday, not just the half day that civil servants can take if they want that the SNP have delivered in Government.

There’s a lot going on in Scottish politics at the moment. Here are just a few snippets:

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Daily View 2×2: 30 November 2009

Welcome to a new week, and the anniversary of the end of the invasion of Iraq … first time round, that is – Operation Desert Storm officially finished in 1995. And happy birthday to David Mamet, Billy Idol, Lorraine Kelly and Gary Lineker and Gael García Bernal. On with the day …

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Richmond Park: Lib Dem Hold (Jonathan Calder)

… some will ask how extraordinary personal wealth can be squared with [his’ talk in an

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