This time we should be firmly pro-Independence


At the last conference Alex Cole-Hamilton explained his opposition to Scottish independence by noting that he was a UK citizen, an EU citizen and wanted to remain both.

It is a fine sentiment.

The time, though, is fast arising when he and others may have to decide which is more important. When no amount of campaigning against the decision will prevent the outcome, when the Tory backbenchers melt and when the Labour leadership get behind the Brexiteers, then then people of Scotland are faced with a choice. It is a stark choice, it is a difficult choice and it is a choice, no doubt, that people do not want to make. But it is a choice they will be forced to: “UK or EU”, “both” will not be on the ballot paper.

So which to choose?

On the one hand we have the undeniably messy, flawed and incomplete European Project. Messy, flawed and incomplete though it is, that European Project has been a spectacular success. Begun in the ashes of Europe after only the latest of frequent catastrophic wars, in seventy years no member state, once admitted to the fold, has engaged in armed conflict with any other member state. We have taken newly liberated fascist dictatorships and kept them as stable, peaceful, liberal democracies. Newly liberated communist dictatorships have had their economies and societies transformed by EU membership. We have forged the largest market in the world, developed the means to improve our environment, advanced science and cooperated in fighting crime. We have developed a block that can take action against multi-nationals, stand up to the US, China and Russia and can forge trade deals from a position as an equal, not as a supplicant.

Against this any Brexit must be seen as regressive. Any Brexit moves back to a narrow parochialism that will diminish and impoverish us all.

The Brexit we see, though, is beyond awful. Not content with parochialism, we see contempt for decent values. We see contempt for the rule of law, contempt for human rights and contempt for parliament. The government holds the status of citizens of other EU states in contempt; seeking to use the lives of our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues and even our own families as tools in their negotiations. The Brexiteers hold us, anyone who disagrees, in contempt. The Brexiteers even hold those who voted their way in contempt, people to be manipulated with an outlandish picture of a post-EU idyll that evaporates as soon as the manipulation has fulfilled its purpose.

With the UK set to leave the EU any campaign to keep Scotland within the UK is a campaign to drag Scotland out of the EU with the rest of us.  If we are a party of Unionism we are a party of Remain in pro-leave England and a party of Leave in pro-remain Scotland.  This is not a principled stand.  It is either a contrarian position, or precisely the type of “have your cake and eat it” fantasy we scorn the Brexiteers for.

We should take the principled position. If Scotland must leave the UK to stay in the EU then Scotland must leave the UK.

* Tony Lloyd is a member in Lewisham Liberal Democrats, an accountant and so pro European that he insisted on the European national anthem at his wedding.

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  • Very lovely. Except what is to be on offer is not UK or EU but UK or isolated.

  • I’m voting for whichever option allows the most freedom of movement for my Scottish friends currently living in Europe, and for my European friends currently living in Scotland.

    Whether that’s the EU, the EEA, or some other compromise, my prime objective here is to get away from the vile British immigration system.

  • Little Jackie Paper 15th Mar '17 - 9:45am

    ‘But it is a choice they will be forced to: “UK or EU”,’

    Serious question – Is that true?

    I can not see anywhere where Nicola Sturgeon has said in explicit terms that an independent Scotland led by her would seek full EU membership. Granted, the SNP are not the same thing as the independence campaign. Granted, the Scottish Government has a lot of warm words for the EU and granted Scotland at the referendum voted to remain in the EU.

    Granted also that (presumably) Scotland joining the EU would need a referendum, the result of which can not be pre-empted.

    She has talked about Scotland being in the single market – but that’s not necessarily the same thing as full EU membership. p41 of the SNP manifesto for the Holyrood elections in 2016 talks about the SNP campaigning, ‘passionately and positively for an “in” vote, to remain in the EU.’ But it doesn’t say anything about Scotland’s future in the event of a LEAVE vote. Presumably that manifesto referred to Cameron’s renegotiated terms.

    So, in all sincerity, does anyone have a link where it is explicit that the second independence referendum will be UK or FULL EU. It is an assumption a lot of people seem to be making at the moment – but the basis for that assumption isn’t clear to me.

  • There will not be another referendum for a good few years and during the last one the EU went out of it’s way to say Scotland will not automatically qualify for membership. Personally, if I was Scottish I would have voted yes, precisely because I think Scotland would be fine outside of the UK and the EU. It has a low density population with good resources making it much easier to emulate somewhere like Norway. But that’s me.

  • Scott Smith 15th Mar '17 - 9:55am

    I can’t even begin to agree here. As a party, we are fighting for the UK’s re-entry to the EU. Scottish independence would mean a deficit of >9% of GDP, Irish-style austerity and agreeing to join the single currency. I simply cannot understand the argument that the counter to one act of nationalism is another one, which would be infinitely more damaging to the Scottish economy.

  • I agree with the article

  • I think David and Little Jackie Paper have hit the key question: why should we have any confidence that EU membership for Scotland is likely if it goes independent? All the evidence suggests otherwise, and Spain would likely veto. EEA membership is a different matter and probably could be guaranteed.

    Without any such assurances, it’s a very risky prospect, however a loose coalition of those who like Europe and don’t like Westminster could easily provide a path to a majority.

  • Bill le Breton 15th Mar '17 - 10:07am

    Forgive me and correct me if I am wrong, but did I hear yesterday that Sturgeon is now saying that she is not looking to join the EU, but, via EFTA, to be an EEA non-EU member.

    Surely that is also what we Liberal Democrats are going to end up advocating for the UK as a whole.

    There are a great number of Tories who will worry about the unraveling of the Union and will begin to see the value of EEA non-EU membership with its access to the Single Market.

    Ditto, many of the 27, fearing the precedent of an independent Scotland will prefer the UK to have EEA non EU status rather than risking the lesson that Scotland will give other EU27 member states’ indepence seeking regions.

    So, surely what we need to do is campaign vigorously for Federation of the UK and membership of EFTA EEA non EU status. Dare I say that an independent global facing UK needs a C21st century constitution based on a Federation.

    Devo Maximus Plus Plus for all the nations of the Union. And a beacon of Free Trade.

  • Tony, as I’ve asked Keith on his article on the same subject: what sort of hard border do you want to see built between an EU Scotland and England?

  • Little Jackie Paper 15th Mar '17 - 10:14am

    tpfkar – I’ve not lived in Scotland for some years, and I’m certainly out of date in terms of the feeling there. My sense when I lived there was that Scotland was best described as ‘less-anti’ rather than ‘seriously pro’ when it came to the EU.

    Personally I don’t see any reason why Scotland couldn’t join the EU – the Spain thing is overblown. But Scotland joining the EU almost certainly would mean the establishment of a set of institutions well beyond what seemed to be proposed in 2014. Given that the EU got burned by softening the rules too much in the last decade I can’t see that they will want to do the same in future. I mentioned on here the other day that the most likely comparison for how Scotland would be treated is Montenegro.

    Now, obviously it would be rather strange to say in one breath that being taken out of the EU is an affront that necessitates independence and then in the next say that Scotland would not seek full EU membership. But I can’t see anything that puts beyond doubt the assumption in the article that Sturgeon does indeed see this as UK or FULL EU.

  • A thought. Up to 24 Conseravtive MPs alleged to be under investigation by police. Government majority 12. Say 8 of the elections involved were declared void. By elections held and 6 lost because of the scandal. Government in a minority. Time to pounce. An opposition motion suspending EU exit negotiations. Either way a General Election may follow. Could be the answer to our prayers or not. Debate!!!!

  • Just realised Govbernment majority 14 after Copeland, is it not. So just play around with the figures Conservative lose 8 seats say, a minority, same sort of scenario arises. You can be pedantic and say well Ulster & Labour MPs will vote with government but some Conservatives may not etc. Either way same principle applies. Good to discuss?

  • What if Juncker is right? What if a deteriorating economy combined with changing demographics lead to Britain seeking to rejoin the EU?

    I believe this will happen within a generation and probably a lot sooner. Indeed, as declining tax revenues force further cuts in social services; as stagnant wages meet rising inflation; the shift in public opinion should become noticeable even before the end of the two-year deadline.

    The protracted process for Scotland to rejoin the EU would become unnecessary. Moreover, the loss of Scottish voters would delay the rest of the UK’s inevitable request to return.

    Therefore, acting in the interests of the whole of the UK, the LibDems should continue to oppose Scottish independence.

  • @ Andrew Drucker – I hope your vote will be based on more than just what is best for your friends on one particular issue, If not we are in danger of becoming just like the Conservatives: only interested in making the rich even richer, or Labour interested in making the public sector even bigger. Ultimately if we go down that line we become just like the other parties, only interested in what is good for people we like, and only able to focus on a single point at a time. Liberals are capable of so much more than that.

  • The SNP policy position on the EU is very clear and easy to find.

    “We believe that the best way to build a more prosperous and equal Scotland is to be a full independent member of the EU.”

    The Scottish Government was, and even now, still is, offering a series of compromise positions that recognise the different EU referendum result in Scotland. These allow for a special deal for Scotland to stay in both the UK and the EU, failing that, the whole UK to stay in the European Single Market, and then a final compromise position of Scotland to remain in both the UK and the European Single Market. These compromise offers have met with an intransigent Westminster government. The Scottish Liberal Democrats voted with the hard brexit Tories to oppose these compromise positions that would have avoided an independence referendum. It is that Westminster intransigence that has lead to the independence referendum announcement last Monday.

    As for how difficult it would be for an independent Scotland to join the EU, “It would be easy negotiations … there’s not much to negotiate … Scotland fulfils all the legal needs by applying European legislation.” as reported by the BBC, even if it was not the answer the UK state broadcaster was hoping for.

  • Neil Sandison 15th Mar '17 - 12:22pm

    Shouldnt we be aiming our fire power at the conservatives who have broken their word to Scotland about remaining in the EU and given ammunition to the nationalist to call for another independence vote. Perhaps after seeing 3 of the nationalist parties on college green at Westminster all singing the same song for seperation we should be calling for the renaming of the conservative party to the Conservative and broken Unionist Party a party now that only represents England and has little trust in the other nations that make up Great Britain .

  • As an English man. I’m truly bored and fed up with this and I’m completely resigned to Scotland leaving. Just as, I suspect, most Europeans are bored and fed up with the UK and completely resigned to us leaving the EU

  • Nick Collins 15th Mar '17 - 2:18pm

    Is it not ironic that the most impressive block of MPs in the House of Commons are the ones who would rather not be there: the Scottish Nationalists? If I lived in Scotland, I would certainly vote for them and I would seriously consider voting “Yes” in the next indyref, whenever it takes place.

    Nicola Sturgeon is currently, by a very wide margin , the most effective leader of a political party in this disunited kingdom.

  • Richard Elliott 15th Mar '17 - 3:36pm

    Surely as one of the reasons to oppose brexit is a rejection of nationalism and hard borders – support for pooling sovereignty for mutual benefit, how can we support Scots Indp – as with Brexit we will both be poorer in many ways. We need to stick with the Union but reform it – devolve most tax powers and have an English parliament to create an equal Union of 4 parts. The national parliament would cover foreign policy, international arrangements, defence, aid, security, borders and a number of co-ordination matters.

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Mar '17 - 4:07pm

    Richard Elliott 15th Mar ’17 – 3:36pm
    “an equal Union of 4 parts”
    This sounds very equitable; except that it appears to mean that as a resident of England my vote will count for approximately one-tenth as much as that of a resident of Scotland, and still less in comparison with my fellow citizens living in Wales or N Ireland. Could you explain to me either why that is not so, or if it is so, why you think it fair?

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Mar '17 - 4:22pm

    It would sadden me if Scotland left, but Scotland must do what is best for Scotland. I hope Theresa May can come to a compromise with Nicola Sturgeon or people begin to value the financial contribution the UK still makes to Scotland.

  • The odds on Scotland voting to leave the UK must, surely, depend on the attitude the EU take towards a smooth transfer of membership. If the EU leaders strongly signal that they will welcome an independent Scotland with open arms, then it is reasonable to assume that many Scots will find that option appealing. Equally, if the indications are that the process of joining will be long and difficult, then the case for independence
    is weakened. Surely Nicola S will want to know which of those scenarios is the most likely before she actually goes ahead.
    Regarding the economic viability of an independent Scotland, looking at present figures may be misleading. For example, if Scotland is “in” and the rest of the UK “out”, is it not fair to assume that some companies will relocate ? (eg financial sector firms from London to Edinburugh). And if Scotland is the financial basket case some suggest, then surely they will be the recipients of EU largesse in terms of grants etc. ? Look how well Ireland did out of EU money in the past – the country was full of blue signs indicating another project funded from Brussels.

  • Scotland should be allowed a referendum,after the UK leaves the EU if that is what they desire.It is after all their country.But I don’t think the Scots should think that they will automatically be given an easy ride to readmission to the club.Spain in particular has many reasons to oppose Scotlands readmission,the Catalonia,Basque region and to some extent Galicia issues could give Spain reason to oppose Scotlands admission .
    It is after all the UK that is (for now) the member,and as a constuent part of the UK ,Scotland would not have any protected rights to remain without going through the procedure for admission,plus it is very likely they would have to adopt the Euro as their currency,and most probably be part of the Schengen area.
    But of course all this could change if we secure a good trading relationship with the EU.Time will tell 😯

  • If Scottish independence is to be supported then so, surely must English independence? Where the does that leave the two other countries, both of whom are far less able to thrive on their own.

    The truth is the UK should be all or nothing. The Scottish Government feel they could do better without the rest of the UK Nations, I’m fairly sure the case for England to do likewise is also easy enough to make. If one of the two richer nations leaves then why should the other stay?

    I think we’re better together but if Scotland vote to leave the other nations should immediately be given the option to do likewise. Split the assets and split the debt and like most divorces I suspect the lawyers will be the only real winners….

  • Even if we did score the best trade deal with the EU it will not be good enough for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, they will find fault somewhere with the deal in order to justify a 2nd independence referendum because deep down, that was always their intention.

    The only way to settle this is for Scotland to have a 2nd Referendum AFTER the UK has completed it negotiations with the EU and we have left the EU on whatever terms have been negotiated.
    That is the only way to lance the Boil that is the SNP, I believe the SNP would lose another referendum, during the campaign they would be shown up for their complete failures and in-competencies as a government for the Scottish people and also how their plans for the country is a real threat for the people of Scotland. Hopefully it would put an end to the SNP stronghold on Scotland.
    I do not think Labour is going to be in a position to be an alternative to the SNP Government for at least another 2 parliamentary cycles.
    Holyrood would never vote in a Tory Government.
    The Scots have so far only experienced 2 Labour led Labour / Libdem coalitions
    and 3 SNP governments, all of which has let down and lost the trust of the people of Scotland
    What the people of Scotland need is a Strong Scottish Liberal Democrats alternative in the form of either a libdem majority / minority government or at least a Labour coalition but where Libdems are the larger party.
    This would also serve to strengthen the Liberal Democrats in Westminster in holding the Tories to account.

    This could be a huge opportunity for the Liberal Democrats in Scotland if they take on the SNP and expose their economic / political arguments for a 2nd independence referendum

  • Thanks for all the comments.

    The question about getting into the EU is a big one. Thanks to Al for clearing up the SNPs professed wishes on the matter.

    As for the practicality: I just don’t know. I think the issue will be largely political: Scotland cannot demand entry but may gain continued membership/fast track admittance if there is goodwill. It’s probably do-able if the Scottish government has better diplomatic skills than Theresa May (not a high bar).

  • Some have commented that it would be better for Scotland to be part of the UK. That splitting up the UK is a regressive step. That there are all sorts of horrible consequences that will arise from independence.

    Yes. I know.

    The same, though, goes for Scotland’s membership of the EU. And it can’t have both. Scotland will have to choose.

    Is it better for Scotland to be part of the UK? Yes. Is it better for Scotland to be part of the EU? Yes. Which, though, comes first? Is the UK more important than the EU or the EU more important than the UK?

    For many reasons, including those sketched out above, my answer is:

    The EU.

  • A couple of specific replies:

    CassieB: On a lighthearted note, your question is often phrased as “so you want to rebuild Hadrian’s wall, do you?” To which my response is “Yes! That would be absolutely awesome!”

    Less flippantly, I don’t want any sort of hard border between England and Scotland. But here’s the rub: whatever the course of action, bad things are going to arise. Is being part of the EU more important than avoiding a hard border between Scotland and England? I would not only answer “yes” but argue that as the UK government increases the likelihood of a hard border the advantage of EU membership over the disadvantage of a hard border increases.

    Cllr Mark Wright: If proposing a course of action to preserve, as far as possible the integrity of our continent; to preserve international co-operation; to preserve the rights of millions of EU citizens; to pull part of our continent away from protectionism, isolationism and authoritarianism; to keep at least some of Britain open, tolerant and united with the rest of Europe makes one an illiberal nationalist then I better come out as the second coming of Mussolini.

  • “With the UK set to leave the EU any campaign to keep Scotland within the UK is a campaign to drag Scotland out of the EU with the rest of us.”

    Only three years ago, the SNP was hell bent on leaving the UK which would have meant leaving the EU as well. How times change.

    Now Sturgeon wants to stay in the EU for reasons of trade yet Scotland does more than four times as much trade with the rest of the UK. The arguments make no sense at all.

    Scotland would not be allowed to join the EU any time soon. The deficit is far too high. The country would need its own currency and that would need to demonstrate convergence with the Euro for at least two or three years. Spain would probably veto accession.

    The SNP case relies on the fantasy that Scotland would remain a member of the EU. That is so wrong on so many levels. Scotland is not a member of the EU and never has been. Membership is held by the UK.

    SNP policy in reality is to exit both unions simultaneously.

  • So many assumptions so many appeals to tinker-bell politics, all we have to do is believe and everything will be OK, facts don’t matter.

    The EU will accept Scotland with open arms! Why? You can’t ask that faeries will die if you ask that.

    The EU will provide lots of money to Scotland, but reality and Greece suggest otherwise, stop have you no care for the faeries.

    Before rushing into a decision I’d suggest asking and answering the following questions.

    Is Independence worth everything and other things don’t matter. If Yes vote Yes. There are people who believe independence is everything, many of them are SNP members and office holders. If No move on.

    Are you voting Yes to stay in the EU, if so you better check it does mean that. I’d suggest it won’t but if you don’t ask don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out the way you think.

    Are you voting Yes to rejoin the EU. If Yes at what price and will you pay it.

    Does voting for Independence leave you facing years of austerity and struggle but your OK with that because eventually life will be better, vote Yes.

    In fact as short hand just look at the the arguments put forward for Brexit (strangely enough many are the same) and look how the Brexit divorce goes. If it goes well perhaps independence is a good idea if it goes badly your looking at the blueprint of what will happen to the relationship with Scotland and what remains of the United Kingdom, although to be fair its likely to be worse.

  • As a Scot, but not a supporter of the SNP, I am concerned that Sturgeon’s greatest achievement is to change the way her largest neighbour regards Scotland.

    Most English people used to regard my home country with warmth and affection. Today, after years of nastiness from the SNP, quite a high proportion of English people would be very pleased to see Scotland being kicked out of the UK.

  • Tony,

    Please provide facts that Scotland would be a member of the EU. Not wishes, facts; I can’t find any plenty of aspirations but no facts at all, only an open question.

  • John Mitchell 15th Mar '17 - 9:51pm


    “Today, after years of nastiness from the SNP, quite a high proportion of English people would be very pleased to see Scotland being kicked out of the UK.”

    I think the bitter sentiment is increasing, I wouldn’t say it’s the majority though. This in some ways could be part of the nationalist long game. Where division never used to exist, agitate for it as much as possible. I live in Scotland and I’m sick of the First Minister holding the process of government to ransom with the threat of constant referendums. You don’t need to live in the rest of the UK to be tired of it.


    “It is that Westminster intransigence that has lead to the independence referendum announcement last Monday.”

    No. On June 24th 2016, Nicola Sturgeon was in Bute House giving a speech about the EU referendum result. The SNP always wanted a referendum, whatever the cost. Their intentions have always been clear.

  • @frankie
    Several senior EU officials and leaders of member states have told the SNP on numerous equations that Scotland would be treated like any other country waiting to join the EU.

    Joining the Eurozone would be compulsory. This would involve having a stable currency, proven convergence with the Euro, and strict austerity to reduce the 16 billion deficit. There would probably be a net contribution by Scotland since countries like Romania would continue to receive funding and the EU would have lost the second largest budget contribution.

    Joining Schengen would be necessary, prompting the need for a managed border with the rest of the UK. Trade tariffs with the UK would also apply depending on the arrangements negotiated by Brexit.

    The SNP will probably continue to insist that Scotland will keep the Pound, keep their “EU membership”, continue with their high public spending, be affluent due to North Sea oil and will avoid mentioning the £40-70 billion North Sea oil infrastructure decommissioning cost as estimated by DECOM.

    The SNP’s single objective is to achieve Scottish independence and they will say anything to make it happen.

  • @Peter

    Your using facts have you no feelings for the poor faeries, you’ll be knee deep in dead ones if you carry on like that. Playing devil advocate the pro independence supporters will say your facts are not certainties and they get a better deal; strangely enough the very claim made by the brace Brexiteers another group that believe in Tinkerbell politics.

  • So there are calls for the only pro-UK pro-EU party to become a pro-EU pro-independence party. Sorry. That position has already been filled by another party.

    If you hold these views and live in Scotland, please go to the SNP and bask in the glory of being announced as one of the converted Lib Dems.

    As most of you don’t live in Scotland and hold these views, kindly stop telling the Scottish Lib Dems what we should do. If you want English independence, go ahead. The Scottish Lib Dems are Scottish, British and European. That is the point of this party.

    The point of SNP is independence at any cost. So many English Labour, Greens and Lib Dems just don’t get that. They are not there to be reasonable. They are driven by independence, whether in or out of the EU.

    They are nationalists. We are federalists.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Mar '17 - 11:00pm

    Any Scot who does not want or believe in independence and yet facing Brexit chooses the EU over the UK, might as well do so as they are about as Liberal and patriotic as Benedict Arnold !

    The EU is a project and institution,of a few decades. While the UK is our very state, more or less a shared territory , a nation in all but name , a country , but for divisiveness, our land itself.

    We are in need of Dickens and Shakespeare, or Verdi, or any writer or talent that can see what perhaps only I and a few like JK Rowling can, this lack of emotional feeling for our United Kingdom is at best almost like a tragedy of history , at worst a treachery of of history in it is a betrayal of the good in our shared three hundred , not twenty three, years !

  • @ Lorenzo Cherin. It’s a long time since I did my English lit o level – but I think you’ll find the English bard rather predates the Act of Union…… whereas the Scottish bard and his ode to a parcel of rogues and English gold doesn’t.

    Personally I prefer Ian Rankin to J.K.R. The absurdity off a half shopping trolley at Kings Cross station rather baffles me, but please Mr Cherin don’t call the Scots the Scottish – it doesn’t help.

    Personally, with some reservations, I find Scotland to be a far more social democratic society than Teresa May’s right wing Tory England.

  • Katharine Pindar 15th Mar '17 - 11:41pm

    Indeed, Lorenzo.

    ‘This royal throne of kings, this scept’red isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in a silver sea,
    Which serves it in the office of a wall,
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands ‘

    Shakespeare might then have named it England, but he was clearly writing about our beloved ISLAND, which you and I and so many of us believe should remain politically as it is geographically, undivided, our shared ‘precious stone’.

  • I’m confused about the principle being appealed to here. It’s clearly not a principle of favouring unity and internationalism over nationalism, since the conclusion is to support nationalism. But it’s also not an argument for nationalism, since the goal is to rejoin the EU.

    Rather, it’s an argument that the EU is superior to the UK, so it’s better to be in one union rather than the other. That’s a preference, not a principle.

  • The problem is that in this context it would further damage the Lib Dems in England, because rather than being seen a pro-EU vote it would be portrayed as an anti-British vote and the act of people who simply can’t accept a democratic decision. It would also not revive Lib Dem fortunes in Scotland as the Better Together campaign basically handed the Independence vote to the SNP. I’ve read similar arguments in the Guardian and again the problem is that because the attacks on Scottish Independence were so OTT vehement in the last referendum the sudden conversion just looks petulant and like parts of the Liberal left really can accept any kind of identity or political decision except a home-grown British or English one.

  • alastair forsyth 16th Mar '17 - 9:21am

    We need a general election. Before that we need a coalition that will win. Coalitions are not always popular but sometimes essential. The elements are there – sane pragmatic Tories, sane pragmatic Labour, sane pragmatic Lib Dems. We already have an all-party alliance in Suffolk dedicated to the expulsion of this far right government and the reversal of Brexit. It is working well.

  • @ Katharine & Lorenzo sorry, but at the time Shakespeare was eulogising his septic isle, queen Liz was having the queen of Scots head chopped off. Nothing very liberal about that.

    A bit of real history about so called patriotism wouldn’t come amiss. Dr Johnson had it right – the rest is self deceptive fluff.

  • Pretty much sums up what I believe, particularly the paragraph beginning “On the one hand we have the undeniably messy, flawed and incomplete European Project.”

    If I were Scottish, given the disastrous route this May government is taking the UK, I would reluctantly vote for Scottish independence, and where Scotland goes, so should Wales (where I live). As say this as someone who went up to Scotland to campaign for Better Together in Inverness. I have been dragged to this awful position by the all together more calamitous Brexit rolling disaster. An important point that Lib Dem HQ and leadership need to recognize, is that the Brexit has undermined the former near unanimous support for the Union within the party.

  • Denis Loretto 16th Mar '17 - 11:26am

    One of the essential features of a liberal attitude to the world is as I see it opposition to narrow nationalism and the erosion of barriers between nations. Some of us even took in with our mother’s milk the utopian idea of eventual “world government”.

    Now in the real world we are undoubtedly entering an era which leads in the opposite direction. What is happening in the world’s leading country puts that beyond doubt. It may well be that we and liberal forces across the world will need to gird our loins to form the only real defence against the dark forces massing themselves. A glimmer of hope in that struggle is emerging in the results of the Dutch election.

    So is this really the time – indeed is there ever a time – for voices within the British Liberal Democrats to advocate the break up of the United Kingdom – even arguing that the introduction of a “hard border” between England and Scotland would be a thing of no great moment. Is it not enough already to face that prospect in Ireland?

    I am as fervent a European as anyone but we fight the brexit battle together – not hideously exacerbating the situation by rending apart our own country.

  • Little Jackie Paper 16th Mar '17 - 12:09pm

    Tony Lloyd – ‘The question about getting into the EU is a big one. Thanks to Al for clearing up the SNPs professed wishes on the matter.’

    Just on that. I was one of the people who raised the point earlier in the thread and perhaps I could have been clearer. The SNP has (as per Al’s link) indeed talked about Scotland as a ‘member’ of the EU. At least I didn’t see any other interpretation of the word ‘member’ other than Scotland seeking full membership of the EU – at least at some stage.

    However Sturgeon in her speech did not say that. I am looking at the text on the SNP website at

    She used the term ‘relationship with Europe.’ (I assume by the way that she is using the term ‘Europe’ as interchangeable with ‘EU’ but even that’s not 100% clear). Now obviously a relationship could very well mean membership. But the text of her speech is not explicit that full EU membership is the eventual aim of this independence referendum. If it has been made explicit somewhere else in the past couple of days, I’d be interested to see it.

    As I said earlier, clearly Sturgeon can’t pre-empt EU membership, nor could she pre-empt the outcome of a referendum on Scotland joining the EU. It may very well be the case that she is seeking full EU membership as the ‘relationship.’ However in my view I don’t think that she confirmed as much in her speech.

    I note in passing that two further documents have appeared on the SNP website – ‘Scotland’s Referendum – What you need to know’ – and an article by Sturgeon for the Scottish Sun
    As far as I can see neither makes an explicit statement that the eventual aim is EU membership.

    And before anyone jumps on me I personally have no preferences or skin in the game on this issue. I’ve nothing against the SNP and if Scotland goes independent I for one would wish them well. If Scotland stays in the UK I’d be very happy about it.

  • Nick Collins 16th Mar '17 - 12:23pm

    Katherine and Lorenzo,

    There are lots of references to “England” in Shakespeare’s plays written prior to 1603. That includes Richard II. (I wonder why Katherine chose to omit this line:

    “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”

    but perhaps it’s as well that she chose to omit some of the, to modern eyes, more dubious lines which follow)!

    Following that date, with the need to flatter James I of England and VI of Scotland, who was very keen to unite his two kingdoms, his plays tend to refer to “Britain” .

    If you are keen to cite Shakespeare in defence of your thesis , you would do better to quote King Lear, whose project to divide his kingdom ends in tragedy. Although, personally, I do not believe that the latter play has any more relevance to our current predicament than the one from which Katherine chose to select a quote.

    But the point is that the “United Kingdom” is a political construct resulting, historically, from the demise of the Tudors and a political decision, a hundred and four years later, to combine the kingdoms of Scotland and England in one entity called “Great Britain”.

    If the people of Scotland choose to “be as nation again” and prefer to entrust Scottish Nationalist rather than English Conservative politicians with the task of negotiating their future relationships with the EU then that seems a perfectly reasonable thing for them to do.

  • Shakespeare may have predated the 1707 Act of Union but he was still around when the Scots King James VI became King James I of England in 1603. “Sceptic Isle” is a bit unfair and not very funny.

    At the 2014 Referendum 27 of the Scottish local government areas voted NO including the Borders by 67%, a similar percentage to Orkney and Shetland. Only Dundee and the areas around Glasgow voted YES by a small majority. A look at the map shows only a tiny area of Scotland supporting independence. Those parts of Scotland which are most supportive of the Liberal Democrats voted NO by quite large majorities. Presumably this is why the party continues to support the Union.

    Maybe the Borders area and some others would choose to remain in the UK if Scotland became Independent. How could the SNP stop them doing so ? Would they end up with just the Glasgow area and Dundee leaving the UK ?

  • Nick Collins 16th Mar '17 - 12:38pm

    Sorry, “a nation”, not “as nation”.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Mar '17 - 1:06pm

    David Raw, I’ve no idea what a ‘septic’ isle may be, do you have many of them in Scotland? But you could argue that Elizabeth chopping off Mary’s head was an act in defence of England’s and Scotland’s unity, albeit an unpleasant one! Nick Collins, I chose to omit the line about England for the obvious reason, that I was pointing out that the poem could equally apply to Britain; as far as I quoted, moreover, it’s still surprisingly up-to-date, us still having a monarchy and being pretty warlike. Anyway it’s a lovely piece of poetry which I enjoyed looking up again and quoting to back up Lorenzo!

    Denis Loretto, I entirely agree with your sentiments. This is a time for nations to stick together, not to fall apart. I have always thought of myself, as it happens, as a citizen of the world, and that everyone living at the same time as me is a fellow citizen.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Mar '17 - 2:01pm

    The response from David is so obvious, but wrong , even in its historical analysis.

    Ignoring the bias that sharing the same birthday as Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the first to have the title prime minister, and Queen Elizabeth ,the first , Elizabeth to be Queen, and with our present , possibly the greatest monarch of all time, yes, ignoring the fact that knowing I shared her birthday , might have given me as a boy with a love of history, David is typically brief and biased in his analysis!

    Mary Queen of Scots was executed for spending the entirity of her time plotting with King Phillip of Spain and assorted Papal supporters and the pope himself, to overthrow the rightful Queen of England, by the self same , then separate Queen of Scotland, to support the papal and or Spanish take over of these islands.

    Fewer people were executed in the entire reign of Elizabeth the First than in one year of King Phillip of Spain

    There was no Spanish inquisition under the Virgin Queen

    There was a Spanish Armada, an invasion attempt by the same cohorts described, beaten by the efforts of the defenders of these islands, the same as in the second world war.

    Shakespeare did pre date the Act that unites these islands, but he, in common with some, spoke of a love of our island that for three hundred years and many wars against greater pressure and oppression than even this thread allows for, unites these islands yet !

  • Nick Collins 16th Mar '17 - 2:04pm

    “I’ve no idea what a ‘septic’ isle may be, do you have many of them in Scotland?”

    Gruinard, perhaps?

    “I chose to omit the line about England for the obvious reason, that I was pointing out that the poem could equally apply to Britain”

    Except that it doesn’t.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Mar '17 - 2:29pm

    “European national anthem at his wedding”
    The EU is not a nation, but perhaps a federation of democratic nation-states.
    Beethoven’s ninth symphony is not an anthem. It was used to celebrate the end of the “Iron Curtain”, the consequent demolition of the Berlin Wall and the consequent re-unification of Germany as a democratic, federal member-state with a capital returned to Berlin from Bonn. According to the eminent conductor of the West East Divan orchestra the music has been used by Walter_Ulbricht and by the former Fuhrer.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Mar '17 - 2:44pm

    Lorenzo Cherin 16th Mar ’17 – 2:01pm: We should oppose the death penalty. QE1 may have been tricked into signing the death warrant and regretted doing so before the Spanish (Catholic) Armada was launched. The King of Scotland became the King of Great Britain in 1603 and authorised a translation of the Bible.

  • Stop digging Lorenzo. That guid Scot C.B. Was not the first PM – it was Robert Walpole. And Queen Liz broke all records for executions and torture….. you wouldn’t have lasted long as an RC – she had 130 catholic priests executed. End of.

  • nvelope2003 16th Mar '17 - 4:10pm

    David Raw: The office of Prime Minister did not officially exist until the early 1900s although the First Lord of the Treasury was normally called Prime Minister since the time of Walpole.

  • nvelope2003 16th Mar '17 - 4:15pm

    I expect Elizabeth ! executed a lot less people than were killed in France and Spain where there were orgies of killings. It was another time and you cannot make comparisons with today. Mary Tudor was only Queen for 5 years and she killed hundreds of Protestants. Catholics were seen as the agents of a foreign power, the Pope, who was also a temporal ruler allied at different times to other temporal rulers, such as Spain or France

  • @Chris. “stop telling the Scottish Lib dems what we should do”. Ouch ! That jarred a bit. Just shows that a lot of people south of the border care deeply, for 101 different reasons. Not going to apologise for that.
    @Lorenzo. You raise an interesting point about the lack of patriotic passion for the United Kingdom. The problem is that so many people living in England have very mixed backgrounds. Leaving aside those whose families came from the Commonwealth post 1945, many people who Nicola S no thinks of as English would have very different personal identity. I grew up in a new town near London where there was a Male Voice Choir (largely Welsh or their progeny ) the rugby club had been founded by Scots and you could go for a drink in the Shamrock Club if you wanted. These identities run deep and still matter to people, as you will know if you’ve been following the Six Nations Rugby !!

  • @peter
    “Joining the Eurozone would be compulsory. This would involve having a stable currency, proven convergence with the Euro, and strict austerity to reduce the 16 billion deficit. There would probably be a net contribution by Scotland since countries like Romania would continue to receive funding and the EU would have lost the second largest budget contribution.’

    You mean like Sweden and a number of other EU countries which have not even joined the ERM? Please don’t repeat this pointless and counter-productive scaremongering.

  • nvelope2003 16th Mar '17 - 8:24pm

    Sweden did not have to adopt the Euro for the same reason as the UK – it did not exist until 1999 and Sweden joined the EU on 01/01/1995. New members are supposed to join it when they satisfy the requirements but older ones do not have to join. Scotland would have to join eventually but as it appears they do not plan to join the EU because of opposition from SNP supporters this is largely academic and with a £16 billion deficit they would not qualify unless they reduced it.

  • @Hireton
    Joining the Euro is compulsory and has been for all States that joined post Maastricht. The fact the EU does not enforce this for Sweden (who accept joing the Euro is mandatory but maintain that joining ERM2 is voluntary, the latter is a pre-requisite for the former!) is one example of the when it suits approach to it’s own rules…

    Could Scotland do likewise and keep the Pound, I doubt the BoE would accept this, could they keep a Scottish currency linked to the pound, I guess so. But if they are going to throw their hat in with the EU over and above the UK then I would have thought joining the Euro would be preferable…

    If we are to separate I fail to see why either country would want to risk their currency stability based upon the actions of the other. The same way May is finding that Brexit means the rest of the EU will not necessarily go along with her plans, Sturgeon should accept the the rUK would take a similar role.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Mar '17 - 11:13pm

    David, nvelope2003, says it as it is, or was, you see things in the context of time and place when understanding history. And get the facts always.

    Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first prime minister to have the official title.

    Fewer people died in the reign of Elizabeth than the worst year of Phillip of Spain, but that as fact or fiction is not as important actually. The important fact is that the situation was different then and our standards are different today. We could say such as her today is a monster, in the context of her time she was a moderate .Her religious settlement was a compromise meant to keep the emerging puritan type of Protestant and the arch Catholics satisfied. It satisfied neither, but was very different to what the Lutherans and Rome each wanted.She said, and meant it, “i do not wish to make windows into mens souls.”

  • David Raw,
    Philip II was engaged in multiple wars and had little grip on his various garrison commanders. The Catholic Church became vicious when it began losing it’s grip. See the Spanish Fury. Elizabeth I was not exactly a moderate, but in context of the time she was small beer.

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