Willie Rennie: SNP must hold parliamentary vote to cancel divisive independence referendum

I managed to get two hours’ sleep this morning. The dog woke me up by deciding to use my stomach as a trampoline after someone let her up the stairs. I checked my phone to see a message inviting lots of us to Party HQ in Edinburgh for an event with Willie.

Ten minutes later I was on a train ready to be a yellow diamond bearer in the background as he made a statement and gave interviews to the media

With Christine Jardine, Edinburgh West’s new MP by his side, he talked about the gains we had made, quadrupling our representation and how the election result across Scotland meant that independence was now off the agenda. He said the First Minister needed to make a big gesture to bring the country together:

The election result was a monumental event with the loss of colossal figures on the Scottish political scene.

The loss of 21 MPs including the former First Minister Alex Salmond and the SNP Deputy Leader Angus Robertson will leave a major hole in Scottish politics and the SNP.

The SNP lost 13 percentage points which is more than any other political party in the United Kingdom. Such major losses require a major political response.

The central issue of the election in Scotland was another independence referendum.  The Scottish people have rejected that proposal. Nicola Sturgeon must respond immediately to this major event.

That’s why they should hold an early vote in the Scottish Parliament to sist, delay and stop any independence referendum in this parliamentary term. I agree with the First Minister that now is the time to bring the country together again and there should be unanimity for this in the parliament. Only such a vote would be an appropriate response to give certainty and to put the divisions of the referendum behind us.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t awake enough to think to take any photos. However, all four of Scotland’s Lib Dem MPs will be in the same place at the same time this weekend and I’ll be there to bring you details of that.

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

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14 Comments

  • Denis Mollison 9th Jun '17 - 10:10pm

    By agreeing with Ruth Davidson’s diversionary tactics, pretending that an election that ought to have been about Brexit and about policies within the scope of the UK Parliament was about IndyRef2, an issue that belongs to the Scottish Parliament, we have helped the Conservatives gain 12 seats in Scotland. This has made the difference between their losing and staying (if only for the time being) in power. We have shot ourselves in the foot.

  • Quite right, Denis. And not seeing the contradiction of asking for a second referendum on Brexit but opposing one on Indy reveals at the best wilful muddled thinking.

  • Jane Ann Liston 10th Jun '17 - 12:04am

    Denis, I have to say that very often it was the voters who brought up the independence question first, rather than the canvasser. It is a real concern amongst ordinary people up here.

  • Jane Ann Liston 10th Jun '17 - 12:08am

    Also, if you remember, the SNP made the GE about independence; after Nicola had stated that it wasn’t about independence, Eck said oh yes it was and Nicola fell into line.

  • Denis Mollison 10th Jun '17 - 8:04am

    Jane – yes, under the pressure of the Tory obsession with independence the SNP did allow the argument to be concentrated on IndyRef2. Some local SNP candidates tried to keep the debate on Brexit and progressive issues – it would be interesting to look at the swings against them compared with others.

    The best hope of “stopping IndyRef2” is to stop a hard Brexit first, and hopefully the Uk outcome has been sufficiently damaging for May’s government that that may happen.

  • There was no pretending going on.

    As soon as Sturgeon announced her drive for another referendum, there was a visceral reaction from the Scottish public against it. Sturgeon gambled, and like May, her MPs paid the price. The SNP’s share of the vote tumbled 13% since 2015 for a number of reasons, and that’s one of them.

    The SNP realised that they’d got it wrong, so tried to back peddle, but only a fool would believe they wouldn’t use a strong showing as the latest excuse for nationalism.

    Put frankly, most Scots see nationalism as a bigger threat to ordinary Scots than Brexit or even a Tory government. The Tories, and weirdly the SNP, try to make out Labour are unsure on independence and the big winners from that are Tories.

    This election has shown we were right in our firm rejection of nationalism in Scotland. I hope members in other parts of the UK will support us on that.

  • I’d add that many nationalists don’t even want a good Brexit. They just want to make a case against the UK easier to argue.

  • Our line on indyref2 was the right one, and we were also right to give it prominence. What we did was to catch the mood of the voters. The fact that the Tory and Labour parties also did this is not surprising, and certainly shouldn’t have stopped us doing it.
    I think we’d have gained Edinburgh West and East Dunbartonshire anyway, but I’m pretty sure this strategy helped us win Caithness, and (almost) North East Fife.

  • Peter Watson 10th Jun '17 - 3:06pm

    @Fiona “I’d add that many nationalists don’t even want a good Brexit.”
    I’d have to blame the unionists (including Lib Dems) for that though. In the independence referendum a key argument by the No campaign was the threat that an independent Scotland would lose its place in the EU.
    At the time i thought that the only thing funnier (in a very dark ironic way) than Scotland being dragged out of the EU by a Brexit supporting England would have been England forced to stay in the EU by Remain voting Scots.

  • Nom de Plume 10th Jun '17 - 4:35pm

    “asking for a second referendum on Brexit but opposing one on Indy” is based on a desire to keep the UK together and the UK in the EU. It has a political logic, if not an ethical one. I don’t live in Scotland, but this election should have been about the future of the UK. IndyRef2 could have played a role. It is not possible to judge from a distance. Interesting that Scotland voted Tory to express their dissatisfaction with the SNP.

  • @Peter, you need to blame the EU rules.

    It was not a threat, but a statemen

  • @Peter, you need to blame the EU rules.

    It was not a threat, but a statement of reality. Scottish independence would have resulted in Scotland being out of the EU. It wasn’t actually a huge talking point during the referendum, but the people deserved to know we’d need to apply again. More could have been made of the hurdles, but it wasn’t part of the decision making process for most people.

    Many nationalists took the risk and voted to leave anyway. Some even advocated the benefits of leaving, but now they see it as leverage for another independence referendum, so the position changes again.

  • Thomas Robinson 11th Jun '17 - 2:25pm

    The stance of Willie Rennie and Christine Jardine is preposterous, and Gordon Brewer took the latter apart on the BBC Scotland politics programme this Sunday lunchtime.

    He pointed out that the SNP had topped the poll in Scotland with 37% of the vote but the Lib Dems said that IndyRef 2 should be taken off the table. However the Lib Dems had polled less than 8% in the UK but were refusing to take a second referendum on Brexit off the table.

    Anyone trying to say IndyRef2 should be taken off the table by the winning party in Scotland (35-24) , but Lib Dems Brexit referendum (12-638) should be persisted with, has had a logic bypass 🙂

  • Thomas Robinson 11th Jun '17 - 2:27pm

    Fiona. Please do not deceive yourself. You are not rejecting nationalism, you are simply rejecting Scottish nationalism in favour of British nationalism.

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