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Scottish Lib Dems Should Take Advantage of the Tory Timorous Beasties

November 4th, 2011 Posted in Scotland by

The Scottish Conservatives have squandered a golden opportunity to re-shape Scottish politics and address their decline in fortunes by opting for the newly elected MSP Ruth Davidson. The timorous beasties that bothered to vote (35% did not) in the end opted for pseudo-modernisation instead of embracing real change offered by Murdo Fraser.

Despite her non-traditional lifestyle, Davidson is a Tory traditionalist on the constitution: she opposes further powers for Holyrood and sees the Scotland Bill very much as thus far and no further. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

I’ve previously commented on the opportunities open to the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the likely event of a Scottish Tory civil war. After all, Ruth Davidson only has the backing of two MSPs with the majority of her parliamentary colleagues having supported Murdo’s vision of a new Scottish centre-right force.

It is unmistakable that most Scots want additional powers for their parliament yet a Ruth Davidson led Conservative grouping still doesn’t get Scotland – despite any nice re-branding that may take place.

The Scottish Tories may have missed an open goal but the Lib Dems should not. The Home Rule Commission headed by Sir Menzies Campbell offers an exciting opportunity to demonstrate that on Scotland’s constitutional future post-Calman, we speak for the aspirations of Scots. A seriously beefed-up parliament with the ability to raise the money it spends would go some way to curtailing the politics of soggy socialism and state-funded freebies that have characterised devolution.

Yesterday, Cicero’s Songs provided an excellent analysis of the current situation:

“The Scottish Liberal Democrats are not “Socialism Lite”, and never have been, even if many Socialists were prepared to lend us their votes. We are a radical free market party, that nonetheless believes in corporate social responsibility. There are many economic positions that the Liberal Democrats share with many Conservatives. Where we parted company from the Tories was in our profound belief in Home Rule…

Whether Murdo Fraser achieves the leadership of the Tories tomorrow or not, in a way he has already scored a victory: he is putting forward the possibility of a positive Scottish Federalism- and that is something that the Scottish Liberal Democrats can only view with satisfaction: Murdo, it may have taken a long time, but at last you are with us.

A Federalist bloc of Liberals and those Reformers who want to jump the walls of the Unionist Tory prison may yet be able to lead Scotland away from both dead Socialism and dead-end Separatism and create a better nation: both for Scotland and for Britain.”

Scottish politics just got exciting.

5 Responses to “Scottish Lib Dems Should Take Advantage of the Tory Timorous Beasties”

  1. Graeme Cowie Says:

    Wishful thinking. As long as Michael Moore and Willie Rennie waste all of their energies as Secretary of State for Scotland and Scottish Leader respectively on a perpetual anti-SNP campaign there’s not a cat’s chance in hell of us taking advantage.

    In any case, the Scottish Tory vote is a fairly solid core with not a lot else. It’s not going to move and in any case it’s quite socially conservative on the few things that make the Lib Dems distinctive in Scotland like law and order. The Scottish Lib Dem vote is much softer. Most of our vote went to the SNP at the Scottish Elections and the key to the party’s fortunes is a radical localist and Home Rule agenda and not posters comparing Alex Salmond to the Qatari Royal Family.

    No, the key to electoral recovery in Scotland isn’t pissing about with the rump of the Scottish Tories, but articulating the massive illiberalism of both the SNP and Labour in Scotland. The leadership is making a massive mistake backing illiberal SNP measures like MPPU alcohol and the Home Rule Commission is just several months of limbo before (at best) coming up with a rehash of the Steel Review which predated, was better than, and every bit as comprehensive and detailed, as Calman, which is now going through the latter stages in Parliament. Scottish Lib Dem HQ has gone on the anti-independence bandwagon at full throttle and failed to articulate something beyond the status quo.

  2. Leslie K. Clark Says:


    Let’s just wait and see what the Home Rule Commission comes up with. I’m an optimist.

    I’ve already commented on here about Willie Rennie’s silly volte-face on minimum pricing. It is a silly illiberal measure which any real liberal should feel uncomfortable.

    I didn’t quite say that our electoral fortunes would be transformed by solely tapping the Tory vote. Like you, I also want to see a genuine articulation of liberalism for Scotland. I can only quote what I said a few months back about what our strategy should be:

    “What Scottish Lib Dems require is a compelling narrative of liberalism, differentiating ourselves from Labour and the SNP. Both are conservative in nature in that they won’t change the role and scope of the state in Scotland; and both are left of centre nationalists in the sense that they define themselves in opposition to Westminster.”

    In that sense, we agree.

  3. Graeme Cowie Says:

    My frustrations at the Home Rule Commission is that, admirable as its intentions are, it leaves us completely silent on the constitutional question in the interim. The referendum campaign is already underway.

  4. Leslie K. Clark Says:

    Completely understand. Must admit that I have no idea as to the time frame of the Commission.

    The unionist camp isn’t organised at all in respect of the independence referendum.

  5. TJ Says:

    The only problem I have with the Home Rule Commission is that its remit isn’t nearly wide enough. I would prefer it to be considering the case for a symmetrical confederation of Scotland, Wales and the English regions.

    The present asymmetrically devolved system is a confused mess, with each devolved body having a seperate set of powers and much of the country lacking any devolved representation worth mentioning.

    The goal of these constitutional debates shouldn’t be to beg, bribe or harangue the Scots into staying, it should be about trying to make the whole country a better place for everyone.

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