Tavish Scott: why I want to be Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish politics used to be predictable: Labour was the largest party, the SNP was bitter about it, the Tories were resented for existing and the Liberal Democrats were a voice of reason. But the results of the Holyrood election and last week’s Glasgow East by-election remind us that times have changed. Political parties are having to reposition themselves and adapt to the new dynamics. It’s a dangerous game, with the future of our country at stake.

For the SNP, the plan is clear. Pick fights with London, luxuriate in Labour’s decline, and hope for a Tory government at Westminster. Salmond’s conservative Nationalists and Cameron’s nationalist Conservatives combine to threaten the future of our country. We need a political party to take them on and show them up. With Labour in terminal decline, that is the role for the Scottish Liberal Democrats. We can do that by campaigning for a Parliament with more powers, particularly on tax, so that Scotland is strengthened within the UK.

Poll after poll suggests that Scots want a more powerful Parliament, but not full independence. Politicians must look beyond short-term tactics and work to deliver the long-term constitutional changes that the Scottish people really want. The Calman Commission was intended as a forum in which parties could work together on a blueprint for a strengthened Scottish Parliament.

I am clear about the kind of settlement that Calman should reach. As a member of my party’s Steel Commission I have long advocated radical reform so that more powers – especially on tax – are devolved to Holyrood. Those powers would enable the Scottish Parliament to raise or cut spending in accordance with Scotland’s needs. Such a package may be Gordon Brown’s last chance. If he survives a bloodbath at the autumn Labour Party Conference – and it’s a big if – he should commit to a fundamental re-write of the Scotland Act. If he dithers, and everything suggests he will, Labour will be holed below the waterline before they even choose a new Scottish leader. I suspect that will prove to be Labour’s tragic fate.

Later this month I hope to be elected as the new Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. If I am, you can be sure that my party will argue forcefully for these reforms as the basis of Calman’s conclusions. A blueprint for a strengthened Scottish Parliament would force Alex Salmond on to the defensive. More important than that, it would meet the public’s demand for a more mature and stable settlement at Holyrood. In this respect, and in all others, I believe that the Liberal Democrats must be the leading voice of reason in Scotland’s future.


* Tavish Scott is the Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland, and Parliamentary Shadow Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth.

Editor’s note: Liberal Democrat Voice is, as with all internal party elections, remaining neutral in its editorial line, and seeking to ensure balanced coverage. All three candidates have written about why about why they wish to lead the Scottish Lib Dems: Mike Rumbles’ article was published here on 4th July; and Ross Finnie’s here on 1st August. Supporters of the candidates are encouraged to submit their views to Lib Dem Voice either as an article – find out how here – or comments; but the editor will seek to ensure fair representation for all candidates.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Leadership Election, Op-eds and Scotland.
Advert

4 Comments

  • Is it just me or is Tavish rather preempting Calman?

  • A question for Tavish: which quangos would you cut, and why?

  • Ross Chmiel 4th Aug '08 - 10:18am

    Dan- no, he is just setting out his and a large number of Scottish Lib Dems position. That’s why we have members of the Commision – to help influence the recommendations it reaches. To do otherwise would be rather odd.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRuth Bright 23rd Jan - 10:49am
    Graham perhaps women didn't want to stand in the patch I mentioned because of the blokeish atmosphere in the local party. One of the old...
  • User AvatarJeff 23rd Jan - 10:31am
    Anne Chitnis 21st Jan '20 - 8:03pm: And why did nobody understand that the huge numbers who voted LibDem in the European elections were bound...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd Jan - 10:25am
    Thanks, Peter. That's an interesting comment. I agree that sometimes we do tend to dwell rather a lot on diversity issues, and we should perhaps...
  • User AvatarJo Wan 23rd Jan - 10:21am
    "...sudden influx of both former Conservative remainers, and Labour social democrats is going to swamp the Liberal core of the party and kill it." And...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 23rd Jan - 9:46am
    Steve Nunn East Dunbartonshire: 2010 She won 2015 She stood but didn't win 2017 She won 2019 She stood but didn't win - So no...
  • User AvatarFrank West 23rd Jan - 9:19am
    David Raw, Gordon Brown based govn spending on the back of saying he had abolished the boom/bust business cycle in the UK, making no provisions...