11th September 2017
Speaking on the 20th anniversary of the 1997 referendum which led to the setting up of the Scottish Parliament, Rutherglen Liberal Councillor Robert Brown said that Liberal Democrats had been champions both of the Scottish Parliament itself and of Scotland’s place in a modernised United Kingdom. He contrasted the unity and success of the Home Rule movement which had led to Scottish and Welsh Parliaments within the framework of the United Kingdom with the division and discord that later accompanied the independence referendum campaign of 2014.
Robert Brown was himself a Liberal Democrat MSP from 1999 to 2011, deputy Minister for Education and Young People from 2005-7 and has made a major contribution to thinking about how to move to a more federal United Kingdom through the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Steel and Campbell Commissions.
Robert Brown said:
“The Scottish Parliament itself has been a considerable success and the achievements of Liberal Democrats in government with Labour in Scotland from 1999-2007 were remarkable – a major overhaul of Scottish education, free personal care for the elderly, a fair voting system for local government, the abolition of Labour’s university tuition fees, free eye checks as part of an improved service for sight issues, universal nursery education and many more.
Local people in Rutherglen and Cambuslang along with people across Scotland have benefited from these changes and from innovations in public policy like the smoking ban, now almost 10 years old, which led the way for the whole of the UK.
Liberal Democrats played a major part through the Constitutional Convention in bringing about this successful Scottish Parliament within a decentralised United Kingdom, with decision making closer to people, with a pluralist approach at its heart, reflected decades of campaigning for Britain to become a modern democracy.
Contrast that with the way things have stalled since 2007 as the SNP have been obsessed with the divisive independence campaign at the expense of good government in Scotland. They have rightly if belatedly put independence on the back burner at last. I hope Scotland can again set the paced for the whole United Kingdom from focusing on creating a world class education system to tackling the challenges in mental health provision. I want the next 20 years to be about achievement and success for Scotland as part of a revitalised United Kingdom.”