Browse > Home / Archive by category 'Scotland'

| Subcribe via RSS

Gordon Brown: Long Time No Speak

By Leslie Clark
May 13th, 2013 at 8:07 pm | No Comments | Posted in Labour, Scotland

‘Hey stranger! What you have you been up to? I’ve heard you made an important speech on Scotland’s constitutional future today’.

Gordon Brown replied:

In the last few years I have had time on my hands, time to reflect, courtesy of the British people, and I want to put the positive, principled, forward-looking case for a strong Scottish Parliament inside a strong United Kingdom.

Ask any best man and they will tell you it can take a long time to prepare a quality speech, including the tricky opening icebreaker, but Gordon’s life has been far from hectic of late. As revealed by Guido Fawkes back in February, Gordon Brown went TWELVE MONTHS without speaking in parliament.

With his ample preparation time, his speech on preserving the political marriage between Scotland and the UK ought to be something special.

I’ve not seen the full-text his speech but from the snippets I’ve heard from various news outlets, it appears to be the usual mixture of Nat-bashing, sentimentality and platitudes. In other words, exactly the same speech Gordon Brown has made on the Union over the past two decades.

Boredom is often a key reason for divorce.


The Cato Institute on Scottish Independence

By Leslie Clark
December 11th, 2012 at 3:39 pm | No Comments | Posted in Scotland

The libertarian David Boaz has made a few interesting remarks over on the Cato Institute blog:

“…the land of Adam Smith has become one of the poorest and most socialist parts of Great Britain. So maybe a libertarian shouldn’t look forward to Scottish independence. On the contrary, I think it’s easy for Scotland to whine and demand more money from the British central government. An independent Scotland would have to create its own prosperity, and surely the people who produced the Enlightenment are smart enough to discover the failures of socialism pretty quickly if they become free, independent, and responsible for their own future.”

I’m not sure how such views would chime with the official ‘Yes’ campaign who are presenting independence as a bulwark against further austerity. Meanwhile, the independent Fiscal Commission commissioned by Alex Salmond is understood to be recommending a number of cautionary measures for a post-independent Scotland, including limits to borrowing and spending.

Before screwing things up, New Labour gained economic credibility by sticking to Tory spending limits during its first years in office. Similarly, if the Yes Campaign want to build their economic credentials they ought to abandon the easy-clap anti-cuts rhetoric and focus on the financial realities of an independent Scotland: that the state cannot keep on growing exponentially, spending will need to be kept under control and the growth of the economy is predicated on the success of private enterprise.

The independence vote won’t be won or lost on the basis of remarks by Commission President Barroso but whether one side can demonstrate whether Scots would be better or worse off come separation. But the only route for a prosperous independent Scotland would appear to be along the lines alluded to by David Boaz.

Tags: , , ,

Scottish Lib Dems Should Take Advantage of the Tory Timorous Beasties

By Leslie Clark
November 4th, 2011 at 7:36 pm | 5 Comments | Posted in Scotland

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.

Does Every Scottish Lib Dem Need A Willie?

By Leslie Clark
September 7th, 2011 at 7:11 pm | No Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, Liberal Philosophy, Nannying, Scotland

Alex Salmond today launched the Scottish Government’s legislative programme, with 16 bills dealing with issues as diverse as sectarianism in football to Joseph Stiglitz inspired plans for the economy. With Scottish Labour and the Tories yet to find new leaders, the unofficial title of leader of the opposition should have probably been conferred upon Willie Rennie. And in the debate on the programme, oppose he did on plans to create a single Scottish police force and on the SNP’s timidity in not pushing for an immediate referendum on independence and their silence on the costs of secession.

Most interestingly from a Liberal Democrat perspective, Rennie provided a volte-face on our previous opposition to minimum alcohol pricing by backing the SNP.

I’m not sure what new evidence – apart from the draining of Lib Dem votes to the Nats – has forced our leader to change his mind. Even so, for a party that can trace its intellectual traditions to Mill, whatever happened to the idea contained within On Liberty that “each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual”? Adopting such an illiberal measure to tackle Scotland’s battle with the bottle is disappointing, especially considering Willie Rennie’s impressive performances in the parliamentary chamber as Caron Lindsay has recently blogged.

What does our new position on minimum pricing tell us about the future direction of the Scottish Lib Dems? And as Lenin once said, ‘what is to be done’?

In the long term, opportunities for easy ‘we’re in the moral high ground’ points to get a cheap clap on Question Time or throwing more money at society’s ills have dissipated. 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. The lack of pluralism within Scottish politics is deeply depressing. There is a political vacuum just waiting to be filled.

In spite of this, some tartan imposters purporting to call themselves ‘Liberal Vision’ see the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ future as applying the “fundamental principles of Liberal philosophy and social democracy to foreseeable changes in our country over the next decade.” This neglects the fact that Scotland has already had decades of ‘social democracy’. It’s failed. We don’t need more of it. That ground is already congested so we’d only be serving up the same Scotch broth in a different bowl.

There is also a need to react to Murdo Fraser’s audacious plans to effectively disband the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party to appeal to aspirational, centre-right patriotic Scots. His proposals have been criticised as a PR exercise and ‘appeasing the nationalists’ but the Lib Dems should not ignore his fresh thinking. Indeed, his vision represents a challenge to all Scottish parties. Whilst Murdo has been labelled the frontrunner by the media, it’s up to the Tory grassroots to decide. There’s a high chance his plans won’t come to fruition due a stubborn and increasingly elderly membership who equate unionism with centralisation at Westminster. A civil war, whatever the outcome, is imminent.

Scottish Liberal Democrats should try and represent these same voters who don’t wish to see the government interfere with their lives, drain more money from their pockets and are at ease with life in post-devolution Scotland. Some may label them ‘centre-right’, I label them liberals.

Unlike the Tories, our Scottish and decentralising credentials are sound (i.e. The Steel Commission) but tackling our McNannying tendencies is a must. Scotland needs more champions of enterprise and those who aren’t afraid to challenge the entrenched ‘public is good, private is bad’ pervading attitude north of the border. After all, a caring society does not necessitate greater levels of government involvement. In short, liberalism – not social democracy – should be the order of the day.

Liberal Democrats should shape the Scottish political consensus and not be bound by it. The opportunistic volte-face over alcohol pricing leaves a lot to be desired. Every Scottish Lib Dem needs an effective leader like Willie but he ought to grow some balls on the minimum pricing issue.

We should dare to be different but most importantly, liberal.

Take A Liberty Scotland

By Leslie Clark
June 22nd, 2011 at 3:38 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Civil Liberties, Scotland

A new (ish) group established to oppose statist nannying and promote liberty in Scotland has caught my eye. Take a Liberty Scotland’s description alone demonstrates that they are well worth a look:

In one of the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Sign of Four, Dr Watson, having watched Holmes inject himself once again, ponders the idea of telling his friend he shouldn’t be doing drugs. However, Watson restrains himself; to do so, he suggests, would be to ‘take a liberty’. Why? Because despite wanting to have a go, Watson recognises that Holmes is not a child; he is an adult who makes his own choices however poor those choices may be.”

With a majority SNP Government elected with promises to implement minimum pricing for alcohol, tackle “irresponsible alcohol promotions” and to introduce a Challenge 25 age verification scheme (literally treating adults like children!), there has never been a better time for such a group. It’s founder, Stuart Waiton, has had a few articles published in the Scotsman of late, last month in relation to the SNP’s alcohol plans and earlier this month in response to the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ volte-face on minimum pricing.

I, for one, certainly wish them all the best in their crusade for the retention of our liberties and campaign against government interference in our personal lives. However, in Scotland, that amounts to a Herculean task.

Take a Liberty have recently launched a petition against the Scottish Government’s excessive, illiberal and wholly unnecessary ‘anti-sectarian’ legislation. You can sign it here if you wish.

  • RSS Elsewhere on Lib Dem Blogs…