Willie Rennie invites 1.6 million Remain voters in Scotland to join the Scottish Liberal Democrats

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  • John Mitchell 2nd Jul '16 - 3:27pm

    UK wide the party may run into a danger of becoming a single issue party like the SNP or Greens. I understand the tremendous disappointment that those who passionately believe that Scotland and the UK should remain within the European Union feel, but that debate is now over and the votes have been counted. I do not think that this is something that could not be revisited in the future, but I do think that as a party we must accept the result and move forward.

    The big issue that we face remains climate change. All of this debate about the EU and what happens to the various political parties pales into insignificance of the real and pressing challenge that faces humanity which is the changing climate. The Paris climate change agreement is only a start and not nearly ambitious enough.

    I’d also say that if you voted leave on June 23rd, as I did and over a million did in Scotland, that you’re equally welcome within the Liberal Democrats. Our party welcomes debate on the EU and many other things and a debate is certainly there to be had.

  • John Barrett 2nd Jul '16 - 4:07pm

    Every party in Scotland, with the exception of UKIP, supported Remain, so asking those 1.6m voters to join the Lib-Dems by claiming we are the biggest pro- EU force in the country, when the vast majority of those voters not only voted this year for other parties, but clearly decided not to vote Lib-Dem a few months ago. As we are now the 5th party in terms of popular support in the country, this is an interesting approach to say the least.

    I believe Willie and Tim’s strategy since the Brexit result to be a recipe for disaster. If Tim thinks setting aside an election result is the way forward, no doubt he will be happy for others to set aside results they do not agree with. Over the last 30 years the public have repeatedly voted the wrong way (in my opinion) and not elected Lib-Dems at local, regional and national elections, but we have always accepted the result and moved on. There will always be many not happy with the result, but in any democracy the least we expect from our leaders is acceptance of any democratic vote.

    In Scotland, by joining in with Nicola in her search for an alternative solution to Scotland remaining in the EU, Willie is now in “her big tent” and has set the party up for another pasting, when no solution is found and the second referendum is then put forward as that solution he has been searching for.

    He is now in the position of being like a mouse invited to dinner by a snake, only to discover that he is in fact dinner.

    Nicola’s strategy is clear and is heading for a second referendum, whatever she has said to the contrary. Willie and his MSPs are unwittingly playing her game by joining in her search for the “holy grail”. When they don’t find it, don’t be surprised when the SNP offer the second referendum as the only way of remaining in the EU. Scottish Liberal Democrats will have to decide which way to vote. Saying that we opposed a second referendum, but are campaigning in it (either for or against) will be seen as another broken promise or U-turn.

    Unless we develop a strategy for the future, the recent rush of new members will be let down and drift away in the same way as many older members felt let down during the Clegg years.

  • I disagree with you, John. We are a pro UK, pro EU party. That gives us an important usp particularly if Labour are going to go down the road of no freedom of movement of people

    Nobody is asking for the referendum result to be set aside, but it’s hardly surprising that a pro EU party would take a pro EU line in the same way that nobody is surprised that the SNP continues to campaign for independence. It’s a principled stance.

    I’m sure you would have been the first to slate Willie if he hadn’t supported Nicola in her international efforts, too.

  • Martin Land 2nd Jul '16 - 5:21pm

    Tim’s doing fine. Let’s leave him alone and let him get on with it.

  • paul barker 2nd Jul '16 - 5:35pm

    I dont think we have to worry about becoming a “Single Issue ” Party because the desire to keep The UK & The EU together implies so many other Liberal attitudes : openness, internationalism, federalism & a belief in consensus, for starters.

  • Andrew McCaig 2nd Jul '16 - 5:58pm

    To be honest, I view the possibility of Scotland leaving the UK with far more equanimity than the UK leaving Europe. Had I been living in Scotland at the time I might well have voted for independence, and certainly for the Liberal Democrats to put such a strong emphasis on the Union was in my opinion a mistake, and is why we are now the 5th party in Scotland..

    As far as I am aware Tim has only said that we would campaign to rejoin the EU in the next general election. I agree with him that circumstances might well dictate that such an election could halt the leaving process, if it happened early enough (which still looks unlikely to me). Since that view is supported by far, far more voters than have ever voted Liberal or Liberal Democrat or even SDP-Liberal Alliance in the last 80 years, I don’t really see how it can be viewed as disastrous…

  • I agree with Caron – and would add it should be perfectly possible – indeed more likely – to achieve Liberal policy objectives inside an independent Scotland with PR that’s in Europe than in the existing Westminster system.

  • Jackie CHARLTON 3rd Jul '16 - 8:00am

    John Mitchell I welcome your comments and respect your vote as you say as a Lib Dem leave voter your vote is yours and you must feel free to choose how you use it. I also agree wholeheartedly with your views on Climate Change and environmental catastrophe that we are still in danger of heading towards. Europe can hold together on this but it needed the UK to keep this on the agenda. I am no expert, don’t know how the machinations of the EU parliament run or how these things happen. But I do know that Climate Change is no respecter of borders or boundaries which means co-operation is the only way. Yes, the Lib Dems are focusing on the EU and the fall out from the 23 June but if we unite behind this one issue it means that so much else is protected as a result not least the important issue of environmental management across the world. The EU can make world nations change their perspective and keep the US, Australia, China and India in the loop too. The UK was so much part of that global change but only if it is in the EU.

  • John Barrett 3rd Jul '16 - 11:44am

    Caron “Nobody is asking for the referendum result to be set aside”

    I just quoted directly from the Independent on Saturday, in an article which generated 1,100 comments (so it is not just me) which said – “Leader Tim Farron said on Saturday night that he would be “clear and unequivocal” with voters that if elected it would set aside the referendum result and keep Britain in the EU.”

    Now that coverage might also include their interpretation of his words, but I put it to you that their understanding of what was said by Tim, and Tim would have probably briefed them in detail as to his meaning, was what many reasonable people might have thought too.

    You cannot have your cake and eat it.

    Either we as a party should continue to argue our case for or against any issue based on our principles and beliefs, but accept referendum results must stand and then move on – as our MSPs are signed up to by opposing any second Scottish referendum, or alternatively we could say that we are up for trying to overturn previous referendum results in the way it appears that Tim would like to with the EU referendum and the SNP would wish to on the Scottish independence referendum.

    I am only pointing out that trying to face both ways is not the way to look like a credible party and to inspire those who want to support us.

    Nicola’s efforts to negotiate a separate EU deal for Scotland are already described in today’s Sunday papers by her Yes voting supporters as “certain to fail”. It should be no surprise to Lib-Dems when they do. She is acting in a statesmanlike way, which is designed to undermine the opposition in Scotland and gather support, for that second referendum.

    My own view is that although I was on the losing side of the Scottish Referendum, I accept the result of it and actually agree wit the MSPs that the result should stand.

    It is not “slating Willie” to use your words, to point out that he is sleep-walking towards providing the SNP ammunition they will use to justify a second referendum.

    What does not help Willie, Tim or the party is for every utterance by them to be given unqualified support, while any criticism of them is then described as slating them off.

  • John Mitchell 3rd Jul '16 - 2:26pm

    @ Jackie Charlton

    You’re absolutely right. Climate change does not respect borders and the world needs international cooperation on this. That has to happen in order for it to make necessary progress.

    I certainly don’t want to lose cooperation in areas of tax avoidance, climate change and combating international crime. However, I do realise that my vote to leave the European Union could made this more difficult. If the EU was like the EEC and primarily a trading area, I believe I would have voted differently. I would consider myself to be a Eurosceptic but at the current structure and its lack of transparency.

    I embrace an internationalist outlook and working with other nations. As you correctly say it is the only way to meet global challenges. On this occasion though and with the current structure and the way the EC and EU operates with no serious reform forthcoming I could not endorse it.

  • I welcome positive moves by the LibDems to encourage pro-EU Scots to campaign with them, but warn against pandering to the nationalists who will use any route to get it. I want to be a Scot within the UK within Europe, and I don’t want to have to chose between the two. I may need to in the future, but I hope that all efforts to secure the whole of the UK a good deal with the EU is pursued first. Then, and only then should the full pros and cons of Scottish independence be considered. At present, the biggest concerns for an independent Scotland remain.

    Many people voted for BREXIT because they were annoyed with the establishment, and other reasons that have little to do with the EU itself. Much of the debate during the Scottish Independence referendum was along the same lines, dismissing legitimate questioning as scare-mongering and blaming faceless others for problems within our own control. There was an eerie echo of the Scottish referendum every time Boris talked about “taking back control”, and the idea that if you appreciate union, you can’t have faith in your fellow Brits/Scots, and are probably a traitor.

    The SNP have been in power in Scotland for a while now, and it’s time they were held to account. By all means, work with them if it means getting Scotland’s voice heard within negotiations, but please don’t let that deflect from holding the governing party to account for what they already have control over. There is much that needs to be done, with particular scrutiny required in health and education, and despite the claims, we have a Scottish Government who is leading Scotland progressively further to the right.

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