WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to March for Europe: No Tory civil war will take our EU identity away

“If you change your mind, I’m the first in line” from Abba’s Take a Chance on Me was not quite what we expected to come blaring out of the PA system at the Young European Movement’s rally after the March for Europe in Edinburgh this afternoon. The good tunes just kept coming, though, with Dancing Queen and the Proclaimers 500 miles featuring as well.

There was a pretty big turnout, which was amazing given that the event was up against Andy Murray winning his second Wimbledon men’s singles title.

The Lib Dem contingent was pretty big, too. We were led by Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton who gave a stonking speech. We are here, we are united, and we are citizens of the European Union, he told the crowd. He told people from elsewhere in the EU living here that this was their home, they are our family and they are welcome here. His speech was extremely well received by the crowd. Watch it here.

Other speakers recounted incidents of horrendous racism experienced in the last few weeks. One young man told how he came home one night to find the Police in his house talking to his mother who had almost been pushed under a subway train by an attacker. Another young woman talked about the racial slurs that people seem to feel it’s ok for them to throw about. It was really disturbing stuff.

Former Big Brother winner and now youth leader John Loughton made his first rally speech. He’s been at events with world leaders, including President Obama but it was the first time he’d addressed such a large crowd,

For a party with over 100 parliamentarians, the SNP were represented, very well, I should say, by an Edinburgh Councillor. I know folk are on holiday at the moment, but I would have thought they would have one MP or MSP available to show up. Labour and the Tories were nowhere to be seen, but there was a reasonable contingent of Greens. It was the Liberal Democrats who turned out in force, though.

The grieving process that started in the small hours o 24 June has a long way to go, but today was a good day for those of us who want to find a way through this that involves maintaining the closest possible ties with our European neighbours and allies.

All of Scotland’s political leaders were unequivocal in their support for the EU. The campaign in Scotland didn’t have any of the blatant racism and dog whistle politics that we saw south of the border. And we voted to remain by a big margin. Those two things aren’t unrelated. What a pity we couldn’t have seen a better quality campaign south of the border. We might have been saved from what Alex described as a massive act of self harm.

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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Jul '16 - 12:22am

    Very impressive but since when do party leaders or individual parliamentarians from devolved bodies or uk wide , decide our federal party policies for years from now ?

  • Rightsaidfredfan 11th Jul '16 - 8:04am

    I just don’t understand what this is going to achieve. Yes, we know the remain side are not happy with not getting their way, especially after being so cocksure that they’d win. But what are you actually trying to gain from this? Surely the only thing the party should be doing is lobbying for exit terms that still leave us with a strong link to Europe even if we’re not going to be in the EU? Because we are leaving, is there still anyone around who hasn’t grasped that yet?

  • Apparently 1000 lawyers who have signed a letter explaining the weakness of the Leaves case to use the referendum to carry on regardless. So I would say nothing in this world is certain although personally I think the next Tory leader will be more interested in playing to the right wing gallery that doing what is best for our now divided country

  • See the petition for a second referendum with conditions is still ticking slowly away, about 1-2,000 signatures a day, now passed 4, 130,000

  • But what are you actually trying to gain from this?
    Obviously don’t know your recent history, suggest you read up on Nigel Farage – there was a time when he was happy to poll 100 votes more than Screaming Lord Sutch…

  • In response to Rightsaidfredfan “we are leaving, is there still anyone around who hasn’t grasped that yet?”
    Erhm. May I remind you that there wasn’t a majority for Leave in Scotland. If you are taking about England and Wales, sure, you can leave. Bye then.

  • John Barrett 11th Jul '16 - 2:04pm

    I completely understand the wish to campaign on this issue and full credit to Alex for leading the fight and making a good speech.

    However, not accepting the result of the EU referendum puts the party in the same place as the SNP, who do not wish to accept the result of the independence referendum and now wish to reverse the result.

    I have spoken directly to Alex about this and the fact that while he would like to overturn the referendum on the EU result, he and all Lib-Dem MSPs are signed up to opposing any attempt to do the same with the Scottish referendum and a second referendum on independence, as they say that result should stand for a generation.

    The party, and our MSPs in particular, should be aware of the dangers of trying to face both ways at the same time (on the results of both referendums), or it will be impossible to rebuild the trust of those who still doubt our honesty and credibility.

  • @John Barrett – I fully accept the numerical result from the referendum; however I do not accept the spin and interpretation being put on the result by people who obviously failed CSE maths.

  • James Hicklin 11th Jul '16 - 5:00pm

    The fact that Scotland voted Remain doesn’t change anything. In 2014 in the Independence Referendum Scotland voted to remain part of the UK and on 23rd June the UK voted to Leave the EU. So, as part of the UK, Scotland leaves.

  • @ James Hicklin “The fact that Scotland voted Remain doesn’t change anything. In 2014 in the Independence Referendum Scotland voted to remain part of the UK and on 23rd June the UK voted to Leave the EU. So, as part of the UK, Scotland leaves.”

    I’d love to know on what scientific evidence you base that assertion on the present state of Scottish popular opinion. My own experience is that there has been a major shift again following the EU Referendum – and that Willie and Nicola et al are cautiously exploring all possibilities.

  • James Hicklin 11th Jul '16 - 6:22pm

    @ David Raw
    David, I didn’t make an “assertion” about “Scottish popular opinion”. I’m not in any position to do so. The logic of my argument was that, when consulted in 2014, the Scottish people voted to remain in the UK. Now the UK electorate has voted to leave the EU so Scotland, as part of the UK, will also leave. Of course, it may be that at some stage in the future Scots will vote for independence from the UK and an independent Scotland can apply for EU membership. But, as far as I can see, that’s not likely to happen this side of Brexit.

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