Thursday, August 09, 2012

Willie Rennie was right: Alex Salmond did panda to China over Dalai Lama


So, now we know. Willie Rennie was right all along. Scotland's First Minister didn't put up any sort of a fight when China sent the boys round to talk about the Dalai Lama. Today's Scotsman has the details.

The Scottish Government didn't get involved in meeting the Dalai Lama when he visited Scotland between 21 and 24 June. Alex Salmond refused point blank to meet him, and nor did any other member of his Government. He had no problem giving time to the Chinese Consul General two weeks before, though. The Scotsman have obtained a record of that meeting and it makes no mention of any discussion taking place on human rights.

This is what the note says about the Dalai Lama's visit:
The Ambassador asked the First Minister about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Scotland in June.  The First Minister clarified that is a private visit at the invitation of the Conference of Edinburgh’s Religious Leaders and the Edinburgh Interfaith Association, amongst others.  The Scottish Government is not involved in the visit.  
It almost sounds apologetic. A "Yes, he's here, but it's now't to do with us."  Not "We welcome the fact that he's coming. He's an important figure in the world who stands for peaceful protest and human rights. I'm going to meet him. I know you don't like it, but that's the way it is. I hope that you'll reflect on the way your Government treats your citizens."

I feel quite ashamed that our First Minister showed himself to be completely devoid of spine in front of these people. Shabnum Mustapha, Amnesty Scotland's Director, said in January that there is direct evidence that raising the issue of human rights with China does reduce the amount of repression. Why did Salmond allow a full meeting to go by without doing so. It's not even as if he could have been thrown out - they were on his turf.

This is not the first time I've been ashamed of Alex Salmond. The way he sucked up to Rupert Murdoch made me many other Scots cringe.

I am, however, proud of my leaders, both in Scotland and London. Willie Rennie isn't the pandering sort and has spoken out vociferously on human rights. He's not been afraid to take on powerful bodies like the Catholic Church in support of equal marriage even if it means upsetting people.

Nick Clegg was happy to meet with the Dalai Lama even though the Chinese threw a bit of a strop about it.

Alex Salmond never really talks about the things that I care about - like poverty, children, human rights, equality. He often seems uncomfortable when asked about these issues. I'd much rather be part of a thriving union that does act on these things than an independent Scotland that ignores them because they might be a bit awkward. That's part of the reason I just don't get independence. I want a free, liberal society where everyone has a decent place to live and enough to eat and a decent education, where people aren't held back by their background. I want a Scotland that stands up against other places where governments abuse their own citizens. Those are my priorities and while they could be achieved as part of the union or by independence, I'm just not confident that all the people who are leading the calls for independence share my values enough to fight for them.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Was with you until you brought up independence.

You imply that an independent Scotland will automatically be an illiberal place. Ask Andrew Page that, or Lord Steel's wife.

Are you suggesting that if LibDems were part of a government formed in an independent Scotland (not impossible before the 2010 coalition implosion) it would automatically be illiberal ? Maybe don't answer that one considering the Westminster coalitions record.

And Westminster is the last place to look for a free, liberal society. How is that Lords Reform going?

The SNP's problem is they won't let go of the reins so an Independent Scotland looks like what the SNP Holyrood government currently looks like, when in fact it could be completely different.

With a proper democracy in Scotland, this is 100% more likely to happen than in the UK with FPTP and the Lords.

Caron Lindsay said...

Anonymous, I wasn't saying that an independent Scotland couldn't be a liberal place, just that the people who were cheerleading for it in the main didn't seem to care about liberal values.

What I'm saying is that Scotland can be a liberal society whether it's independent or not. It's the liberalism that's important to me and that's what I want to strive to make happen.

Look who it was who stood up for Lords reform. Labour when the crunch came decided to spoil rather than enact something meaningful. A two party SNP/Labour independent Scotland could be a very conservative place.

Andrew said...

Well, as I'm mentioned here I may as well comment.

I'm in agreement with Caron that this leaves Alex Salmond with some questions to answer. I don't quite understand how it wasn't possible to combine the government's furthering of economic co-operation with China and meet the Dalai Lama.

Of course this has nothing to do with an independent Scotland. Scotland has the potential to be many things and isn't limited by the lack of imagination from its political parties or their adherents.

I understand where Caron's coming from to a point. She sees a two-party SNP/Labour ascendancy and realises that does not necessarily make for a good future; at least not a liberal future. However, that is true whether or not Scotland achieves independence - the way to challenge it is through a liberal renaissance!

As someone whose prime political drive is the creation of a liberal society I find it quite frustrating that we tend to think in binary terms. What we certainly cannot afford to do is make decisions on Scotland's constitutional future based on our perceptions of the First Minister. As for Caron's logic...I suspect we won't find too many advocating liberal values among the Tories and Labour parties "cheerleading" the status quo in Better Together!

Barney Thomson said...

I got lost before Anon -

Quote - "This is what the note says about the Dalai Lama's visit:

The Ambassador asked the First Minister about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Scotland in June. The First Minister clarified that is a private visit at the invitation of the Conference of Edinburgh’s Religious Leaders and the Edinburgh Interfaith Association, amongst others. The Scottish Government is not involved in the visit."

So - it was a pastoral visit, not a political one, as I believe the Dalai Lama himself confirmed. No Government ministers anywhere in the UK met with Tenzin Gyatso during his recent visit.

When he visited the religious communities, the Dalai Lama did nor request a meeting with any political figures in the UK. Why should Scotland's First Minister be the only one in the UK to be criticised for not forcing his presence on this homophobic, pro-life, CIA-backed religious leader?

Ken said...

iHi Caron,

You say "Alex Salmond never really talks about the things that I care about - like poverty, children, human rights, equality. He often seems uncomfortable when asked about these issues. I'd much rather be part of a thriving union that does act on these things than an independent Scotland that ignores them because they might be a bit awkward.

So- do you think we are currently part of a "thriving union" that acts on these things? It has been argued that the reason that so many Lib Dem voters in Scotland voted SNP in the last election is that they were seen as better reflecting the desires you list above. You mention Willie Rennie for standing up for equal rights, but why not also applaud Alex Salmond for introducing the bill? When it comes to policy around council housing, nuclear weapons, NHS etc, then I would argue that the SNP have been far more 'liberal' than the actual Lib Dems.

Even if you argue that they haven't- an independent Scotland gives the opportunity for a party espousing these values to flourish rather than having to pander to a certain "Daily Mail" mindest elsewhere in the country.

So turn it around- wouldn't it be better to be part of an independent scotland that cares about poverty, children, equality, etc than a Union which doesn't?

Historically, there has been a Lib Dem power base in Scotland. Post-independence, I am sure that if an SNP government was as illiberal as you fear, then there would be a resurgence of Lib Dem support back to the party which best reflected their views. There is an unhealthy obsession with Alex Salmond-look beyond him, look beyond the current SNP government, and consider- in order for this country to adopt the liberal values you (and I) cherish, what is the best way forward?

Ken said...

Hi Caron,

You say "Alex Salmond never really talks about the things that I care about - like poverty, children, human rights, equality. He often seems uncomfortable when asked about these issues. I'd much rather be part of a thriving union that does act on these things than an independent Scotland that ignores them because they might be a bit awkward.

So- do you think we are currently part of a "thriving union" that acts on these things? It has been argued that the reason that so many Lib Dem voters in Scotland voted SNP in the last election is that they were seen as better reflecting the desires you list above. You mention Willie Rennie for standing up for equal rights, but why not also applaud Alex Salmond for introducing the bill? When it comes to policy around council housing, nuclear weapons, NHS etc, then I would argue that the SNP have been far more 'liberal' than the actual Lib Dems.

Even if you argue that they haven't- an independent Scotland gives the opportunity for a party espousing these values to flourish rather than having to pander to a certain "Daily Mail" mindest elsewhere in the country.

So turn it around- wouldn't it be better to be part of an independent scotland that cares about poverty, children, equality, etc than a Union which doesn't?

Historically, there has been a Lib Dem power base in Scotland. Post-independence, I am sure that if an SNP government was as illiberal as you fear, then there would be a resurgence of Lib Dem support back to the party which best reflected their views. There is an unhealthy obsession with Alex Salmond-look beyond him, look beyond the current SNP government, and consider- in order for this country to adopt the liberal values you (and I) cherish, what is the best way forward?

Anonymous said...

If you Caron and Williebhoy Rennie care so much about Human Rights, then why didn't you take up theissue of the Dalai Lama's persecution, discrimination and repression of the Dorje Shugden sect?

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails