Tuesday, September 06, 2011

I can see why Tory split idea makes sense to Murdo Fraser, even if it is daft for the rest of us

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Well, Murdo Fraser has had more publicity than he's ever had in his life over the past 3 days with his controversial plan to kill off the Tory Party in Scotland, and create another party whose MPs would vote with the Tories in the House of Commons. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, as they say.

It's an idea that was made for mockery.

The very idea that the opposition parties will allow the idea that the new party would be full of peace and happiness and exciting new things and fluffity bunnikins with none of the baggage of the past is crazy. The Tories can run, but they can't hide from what Margaret Thatcher did to Scotland in the 80s. The only reason that they are not pursuing such disastrous policies in office now is because there are Liberal Democrats in that Government from Nick Clegg down taking the sting out of them. A recovery plan for the economy that includes the whole of the country and not just the south of England is a key Lib Dem priority.

But I get why Murdo thinks it'll work. In the 80s, I was on the SRC at Aberdeen University with him. He didn't sit as an official Conservative, but either as an Independent or an Independent Conservative, I can't remember which. The reason for that was because the Federation of Conservative Students at that time were a particularly nasty bunch of bigots. In Aberdeen, they ran a "Students against Sodomy" campaign and they were pure poison. They were even too much for Norman Tebbit to deal with so he disbanded them in 1986.

Murdo therefore has experience of distancing himself from elements in his party so you can kind of see how he's drawing on what he learned then. He was able to function as a reasonably well respected member of the student body.   Thing is, although he totally opposed the horrid views of FCS, he was happy to support the damage the Tories were wreaking at that time. He may want to distance himself from it now, but he cheerleaded for it then.

Just a short observation for a Tuesday morning.


Harry Cole said...

I'm not sure the Scottish Liberal Democrats are in any position to really criticise anyone else.

How is that poll rating?

JohnM said...

I think it's ridiculous for the Scottish Tories because it's opposite to their proposition for Scotland. As for the Scottish Lib Dems, life long champions of devolution and proven progressivism in Scottish governance, the rewards seem to be all past, not present - and that's obviously saying that the present pitch is either undesirable or unappreciated.

I wouldn't dismiss a 'bottom-up' approach to federalism, rather than what might appear to be 'top-down' imposition in ones own party image. The choices aren't simply: unionism, status quo, federalism and independence (the latter two requiring constitutional change for England too) but rather a need to accept, as the starting point, the self determination of an accepted national entity - Scotland. Starting from here, there is certainly a 'gap in the market' for leadership to a 'new union', a confederal one, and then within that liberal partys' advocating liberal policies such as devolving power to communities, human rights, social justice, enterprise and internationalism.

The path, the journey, is as important as the destination. The danger is that whatever the solution which doesn't accept the right to choose, the SNP will continually (and need to as a reason to exist) be able to blame the UK links as the reason for Scottish ills. Like a terrorist organisation (though of course they are not) they will audaciously continue to spoil and ferment antipathy until they eradicated moderate and sensible solutions and get their complete separateness.

Caron said...

John, you see, for me the starting point is what sort of a society do I want to live in, do I want my daughter to grow up in. To me that's a compassionate, free & fair one. The constitution is only part of that.

There is a liberal party articulating the policies you mention - Mike said that devolution doesn't stop with the Scotland Bill & there's Willie talking about devolution from as well as to Holyrood.

And on human rights, who exactly was it that stopped child detention for immigration purposes? Who supported restorative justice against the Tory hardcore, & who has made sure the Tories didn't rip up the Human Rights Act?

JohnM said...

Caron, yes I understand that, and thank heavens the Lib Dems were brave enough to take up the challenge of coalition at this time. However, to protect and to advance what is so precious, you need power in Holyrood too.

Don McC said...

Caron, the problem is that the tories aren't finished and Clegg's position is becoming increasingly weaker with every poll and election that passes.

Honestly, this time next year, do you think Clegg will be in a position to hold back the tory hoard? If he can't, he will have sold the soul of your party and gained no more than a minor delay in the timings of the tories' plans.

The Lib Dems need to stop doing the tories' work for them right now. Next time you speak to Moore, tell him that threatening to impose the Scotland Bill regardless of Holyrood is neither liberal nor democratic. Ask him to choose which party he's really a part of.

You never know, if might just make a difference.

Caron said...

Don, are you saying the SNP might vote down this Bill? Really? How on earth would they pay for the new Bridge to Fife without the borrowing powers?

I am comfortable with where the soul of my party is. I am not always comfortable with the Coalition's actions but, generally, I trust our lot to do their best. They inherited a bad situation and everyone would have had to make cuts.

And, John, I know we do. I want us to be teaming with ideas as good as free personal care & no tuition fees as well as standing up for freedom.

cynicalHighlander said...

I suggest you read the bill Caron as it is unworkable, undemocratic and totally useless in what it offers. Borrowing powers when the UK debt is growing day by day and that will continue for the foreseeable future as growth is in the past.

Murdo is devolving his party as he has read the runes as the UK makes deeper and deeper cuts transferring more wealth to the top 2% of society.

Don McC said...

Of course the SNP might vote down the bill. Why would Moore threaten to implement it regardless unless that was a possibility? Just to sound tough? To noise people up? And you're comfortable with that?

Seriously Caron. If things don't change, this time next year, you'll be using the blue rinse and singing Rule Britannia every time Call-Me-Dave appears on TV. Clegg will just be a distant memory.

The Scotland Bill, as it stands, is seriously bad news for Scotland which is why the SNP oppose it. Scottish Labour, through their foaming at the mouth attacks on anyone and everyone who would point out flaws in the bill, have ensured proper scrutiny of the bill has not taken place and Moore is too busy trying to use the bill to etch his name in the history books to care. Danny Alexander, who cares so little about Scotland now that he doesn't even know it was his party that helped push the Edinburgh tram fiasco through Holyrood and it's been his party that's oversaw the debacle that has been its implementation, will put up with anything as long as the boy Osborne pats him on the head and gives him a cookie.

The SNP tried to prise some consessions from Westminster to make the bill more palatable but that's not the idea, as far as Moore and Co is concerned. If you'd watched any of the reading of the bill either at the Commons or even yesterday as your own Lord Wallace steered it through the Lords. It was sickening watching the likes of Lord Sewell stand up and say "aye, this is wrong with it, that's wrong with it, it's flawed here and doesn't fix this or address that but I think it's a good bill". That fact that it was Lord Forsyth, of all people, who tried to make everyone see the flaws in the bill tells anyone willing to listen how bad the bill actually is.

So I challenge you, again. Will you point out to Moore that threating to force the bill on Scotland against the wishes of Holyrood is neither liberal or democratic? Or are you like other LibDems, willing to abandon your principles for the sniff of power? Will you still be confortable with where the soul of your party is if (or more likely when) the LibDems are decimated in next year's council elections?

Caron said...

I thought John Swinney indicated at the Scotland Bill Committee that they wouldn't vote the Bill down - and it has already been amended to include some things the SNP want.

Calman was pretty much done and dusted and, despite being invited to put their case, the SNP resolutely refused. In 09 at the Budget crisis, Jeremy Purvis extracted commitments from them to engage with Calman a little bit.

You can't make law on the back of a fag packet - and that's what it seems like the SNP is doing. The Bill was most of the way through the House of Commons when the 6 demands come out - with no case really being made for them. The SNP's own Corporation Tax paper states that tax revenue would fall and then you have to wonder what service would be cut to compensate for it.

The Scotland Bill isn't like a big pot of curry where you can add a little bit of this and a little bit of that and play about with it - you have to have the foundations right. It's still a pretty huge devolution of power and makes Holyrood much more accountable.

It's not the end of the line - Mike Moore's said that himself. He wants to give away power as far away as possible - unlike the SNP who want to keep it all for themselves in Holyrood, with the single police and fire services being a prime example of that.

But the next stage has to be considered carefully like the last one was. The way we're going is good.

If the SNP vote down this bill, which I think is unlikely, then they will have to explain to the people of Fife why there's no money for the new Bridge which is their lifeline and the other capital projects they won't be able to borrow money for.


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