Willie Rennie loses patience with the Conservatives, saying they put party before country

Let me take you back to 7 am on 19th September last year. In Scotland, we’re emotionally drained after a brutal 2 year referendum campaign. After some real fears that the result might go the other way, No campaigners were relieved rather than triumphant.

Then David Cameron comes out of Downing Street and starts picking a fight with Labour, trying to paint the opposition as anti-English and talking about English votes for English Laws. That was the moment that you needed a Prime Minister to bring the country together, not exacerbate divisions.

Since then, the Tories and the SNP have been doing this strange harmonious dance. Alex Salmond has been trolling Middle England talking about various demands he’d make in the event of a hung Parliament. The Tories have fed that fear with their posters showing a pathetic looking Ed Miliband in a smug looking Alex Salmond’s pocket. That, of course, suggests to me, as I wrote at the time, that David Cameron thinks he’s been in Nick Clegg’s pocket these past five years. Michael Fallon’s insinuation that Ed Miliband would do a deal with Nicola Sturgeon to get rid of Trident is fanciful in the extreme, but it all seeks to scare swing Tory voters. You just wonder what “secret Ed/Nicola pact” the Tories will come up with next. Compulsory Gaelic lessons? Installing Alex Salmond as News Editor of the BBC?  Making a deal with the Loch Ness Monster to crash the Stock Exchange (as a friend of mine suggested on Facebook)? The list is endless.

SNP strategists think that their best hope of independence is a majority Tory government, unleashed and able to inflict its worst miseries on the poorest people in our country while giving treats and tax breaks to the rich. Check out the Tory manifesto to see how that’s exactly what we’d get.

The Tories think their best hope of a majority is more SNP MPs, so they are constantly talking them up. George Osborne was praising Nicola Sturgeon after the leaders’ debates, Michael Gove was similarly effusive. 

It was Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson’s suggestion that the Tories could win North East Fife that finally caused Willie Rennie to lose patience. He said:

Politicians from all political flavours put their differences aside to defend the integrity of the United Kingdom in the referendum last year.  Despite only having one Member of Parliament in Scotland the Conservatives played their part.

Yet as soon as the referendum was over they put their own interests ahead of that of the United Kingdom.

Within minutes of the result of the referendum being announced David Cameron stood on the steps of Downing Street and sought to secure a majority for the Conservatives on English votes for English laws.

Instead of healing the nation after a fractious referendum he inflamed the situation.  This only helped to fuel the rise of support for the SNP in Scotland.

The Conservative election campaign has repeatedly talked up the SNP. Immediately after the UK Leaders Debates, George Osborne was talking up the performance of Nicola Sturgeon.  I am not sure what kind of bizarre tactical game he was playing but it can only have helped the SNP increase their support further.

And now the Conservatives in Scotland are getting in the way of our battles to stop the SNP in the eleven Westminster seats we hold in Scotland.

Just the other day the Scottish Conservative Leader was visiting North East Fife claiming they can win.  It’s a seat the bookies say is a close race between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.  The Tories are also rans.  The only result of their reckless actions would be to divide the non-SNP vote and let the SNP win.

I don’t doubt the Conservatives’ loyalty to the United Kingdom but their actions show they are putting their party before their country.

It’s a dangerous game to play that can only serve to boost the SNP and risk the economic recovery.

In the eleven Liberal Democrat seats in Scotland the best way to stop the SNP is to vote Liberal Democrat.

It’s the best way to ensure we keep the economic recovery on track. The best way to ensure we balance the books, deliver more powers for Scotland and secure more money for our Scottish NHS.

That’s because in each of those seats there are only two horses at the races.

Thankfully, many traditional Conservatives are ignoring the overtures from the Conservative Party. In increasing numbers they are backing the local Liberal Democrats to stop the SNP.  They don’t necessarily agree with us on everything we say but are lending is their vote in this election to prevent an SNP victory.

Ruth Davidson hit back, calling Willie “pathetic” and accusing him of “pygmy politics.” Whatever happened to the slick, polished Conservatives? They seem to be all over the place at the moment, making everything unpleasant and personal because they know the facts around their policy just don’t stack up. You could hear the adrenaline rushing around Priti Patel as she was being interviewed on Radio 4’s PM this evening. It was so obvious she was uncomfortable with the script she’d been given.

Only another 23 days of this to go…


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

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  • Compulsory Gaelic is the best idea I’ve heard in a month of Sundays.

  • The Conservatives are to an extent, like UKIP, basically confuse English Nationalism with what is in the interests of Britain. This is why they don’t really have support in Scotland or Wales. They are very myopic and if they win in May it will be a disaster. A lot of them thought that if Scotland went they would lose a drag on the economy and ensure that they would remain in power. Just as a lot of them think you can return to an imagined golden age by leaving the EU. Unfortunately they’ve got a lot of people convinced.

  • Jane Ann Liston 15th Apr '15 - 1:09am

    Glé mhath.

  • Julian Gibb 15th Apr '15 - 5:44am

    To start an article from the viewpoint of “…the winning side” in the Referendum highlights why the LibDems and Labour are doing so badly in Scotland. The Yes vote plus a large section of reluctant No voters were looking for real change.
    They breakdown of the opinion prior to the vote was probably a third firm No , a third firm Yes and a third favouring significant powers ranging from Smith to Full Fiscal control.

    The latter group in the last few days of the vote had to make a choice and split slightly in favour of No. The Westminster Parties describe this as a settled issue.

    During the Referendum I worked with LibDems and Labour members firmly in the Yes camp. You have written an article based on the assumption that all members of unionist parties support the union.

    A polarised stance explains why you will suffer at the GE vote. Trying looking at the indicators such a 80,000 people going out and joining the SNP. In addition all of the other pro independence parties had a significant rise in membership.

    It is not a wise political strategy to stick your fingers in your ears an chant “la,la,la”

    What happened to the party who championed home rule?

  • Philip Thomas 15th Apr '15 - 7:24am

    We’re still championing Home Rule aren’t we? I mean, that is what devolution is. Did someone switch our manifesto for one abolishing Holyrood while I wasn’t looking?

  • So it has taken until April 2015 for William Rennie to lose patience with The Conservative?

    What took him so long?

  • matt (Bristol) 15th Apr '15 - 10:12am

    None of what Caron descirbes is helped by certain papers (including one whose name is often colloquially mispelled) portraying the election as likely to end in a choice between a Tory / LibDem coalition or deal and a Labour / SNP coalition or deal. The possibility that the LibDems could have common ground with Labour is being written out of the script. What with the Tories’ reckless gamblers’ approach to a referendum, EVEL, the SNP-bogeyman paranoia, the courting of the hardline Unionists, the compulsory purchase of housing association properties nonsense, the ‘cut hard to bribe hard’ spending promises, surely a LibDem – Labour deal has to be back on the cards assuming we don’t get completely scragged – even though it’s going to be based on a lot of mutual distrust?

    If we want to anchor the country in the centre ground, how can we do a deal with Tory party whose manifesto amounts to a ripping up, burning and sowing with salt of the traditional centreground of British politics?

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