Liberal Democrats back Scotland’s majority
The Scottish and European referenda caused great hurt in our country. Most people regard themselves as Scottish, British and European in varying degrees – and with no contradiction between them. The referendum process damaged this sensible and healthy view of our identity, and it is now time to heal and bring people together.
Last weekend, I went to Perth with a delegation from Rutherglen for the Scottish Liberal Democrat Spring conference. I found the Party in good heart, buoyed up by over 30 council by elections gains across the UK and a brilliant Parliamentary by election win in London.
There was a strong sense that Liberal Democrats now speak for the majority in Scotland. A majority of people voted for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom – and we stand firm with them.
And a majority of people in Scotland voted for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union – and we stand with them too.
No one else stands with the majority in Scotland – for the United Kingdom and for the European Union.
And yet our country’s future is threatened by two parties – the Tories and the SNP – who do not speak for the majority. The Conservatives of Theresa May who want to drag us into a hard Brexit that people in Scotland did not support. And the SNP of Nicola Sturgeon who want to break up our United Kingdom supported so strongly in the 2014 referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon is edging closer to a second divisive independence referendum which two thirds of voters tell opinion pollsters they do not want. She is milking a grievance artificially injected into the debate by the Brexit referendum last June. Why? – because the Tories were reckless with the future of the UK and called an unnecessary referendum few people wanted to sort out toxic splits in their Party.
The SNP and the Tories do not speak for Scotland.
It is time to heal the divisions of the two referenda with a new vision for our country – a refreshed Union, a federal Union which balances the rights, needs and responsibilities of the United Kingdom with the rights, responsibilities and needs of Scotland. It is the sort of arrangement which works in many countries – from Australia and Canada to Germany and Switzerland. It is a set up where people can choose to be both Scottish and British without contradiction.