Thursday, March 21, 2013

Scotland's Day of Destiny clashes with Liberal Democrat Conference

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond announced today that the Independence Referendum would be held on 18th September 2014.  Three and a half years of preparation and campaigning will come to an end and Scotland will decide whether its future lies within the UK or out of it. At the moment, the polls are looking pretty good for staying in the Union, but that is no cause for complacency. Every vote will have to be fought for across the whole country. It will be a very different sort of campaign.

You would think, wouldn't you, that when you were deciding on a date like that, you would check out that there was nothing else going on at the time? Like a major party political conference, for example. My first reaction when I heard the date was "When's Federal Conference?" Sal Brinton confirmed on Twitter that it's expected to be in Liverpool from 13-17 September.

Faced with that choice, Scots will have to stay in Scotland but that is not without its problems. Someone pointed out on Twitter that there could be election expenses implications if anyone mentions the Referendum publicly at the Conference. And will the Nationalists make a fuss if the BBC covers any of the Conference in Scotland? It will mean that Scottish Liberal Democrats don't get to vote on the elements of the Manifesto for the 2015 election which will no doubt contain plans for further powers for the Scottish Parliament after a "no" vote. It is far from ideal and probably a lot more complicated than we yet realise.

It is pretty disrespectful on the part of the SNP not to have considered this. They might not think some conference in England is important, but the fact is that many Scots have strong ties south of the Border and these things do matter to them.

It's unlikely that the Referendum date will change, especially as the SNP Government has an overall majority at Holyrood. Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour conferences are always held back to back and are agreed years in advance and venues secured. Whether they meant to or not, the net result is that the SNP has created some inconvenience for our party. We'll sort it out, but it's annoying that we have been put in this position.

We will just get on with it, but it's worth pointing out that if we had done this to the SNP, they would have been in every single television studio squealing outrage.

The most important thing, though, is that we get the issues properly debated. It's really important to show that being part of the UK really does give Scotland the best of both worlds. We know that Alex Salmond has been irresponsibly vague on whether he had legal advice on Scotland's future EU membership. We've had a leaked report by the Finance Minister which suggests uncertainty over Scotland's future oil revenues being over-ridden days later by the First Minster proclaiming that there would be an oil boom as I told you last week.   If they carry on like this, there'll be more truth in Grimm's Fairy Tales than in the Yes Scotland manifesto come the referendum.

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore told Scottish Conference this weekend that the SNP had deliberately twisted facts to suit their case, that they had chosen Independence Day even before they had announced the day we'd have to make our choice. The SNP claim that, in the event of a Yes vote they will be able to have all the arrangements for independence finalised by March 2016. That will involve getting all 27 EU member states to agree to admit an independent Scotland and would require speedier negotiations than the EU has ever shown itself capable of. If they are going to do it that quickly, what are they prepared to sacrifice in our name? Today, as the date was announced, Moore had this to say:
I am glad people in Scotland have now been told the proposed date for the referendum.
The debate about Scotland’s future has already begun and will only intensify, and that is something I look forward to.
I am confident when Scots go to the polls they will vote in favour of Scotland staying within a strong and secure UK family.
I shall be doing all I possibly can to make sure that they do just that. 


cynicalHighlander said...

My first reaction when I heard the date was "When's Federal Conference?"

Sums up the BritNats thinking party before people.

Adrian B said...

"expected to be" does not mean confirmed or booked, it means expected to be. Its not exactly new news that there would be a Referendum in the autumn of 2014.

Review the date and book it for a different week. How hard can it be?

Unknown said...

"We will just get on with it, but it's worth pointing out that if we had done this to the SNP, they would have been in every single television studio squealing outrage."

Given that the SNP hardly get a chance to put forward any points of view on the Biased Broadcasting Corporation and the mainly pro union mainstream media, I think this scenario would be highly unlikely!

Iain Ross said...

And you are supposed to be a Liberal Democrat??

This is a major decision about the future of our country (Scotland) and you are suggesting the date should be moved to take account of your party conference. Are you serious? Are you suggesting that your yearly conference is equal in importance to a vote that could end the Union?

You state that the “The most important thing, though, is that we get the issues properly debated” and then go onto list a set of half truths which you use to criticise the SNP, that is somewhat ironic. It is also interesting that you seem to focus on the SNP when in reality the cause of Scottish self determination is a broad based movement led by Yes Scotland of which the SNP is only one member.

Back to the issue in hand, why is it that all Unionists talk about why Scotland is better “staying within a strong and secure UK family” yet none of you can explain what that means and provide any positive arguments to support your assertion. The argument basically boils down to the old clique that we in Scotland are too wee, too poor and too stupid to manage on our own.

As a Scottish voter I want to hear why we are “better together”. List the reasons and ultimately explain to me why I would not want a Government in Scotland making decisions about Scotland instead of a Government in London calling all the shots? If you consider Scotland to be a country then where is the democracy in a system where we are outvoted 10 to 1? I do not hear you calling for a European super-state so why is it ok for us?

You can say what you like about the Yes campaign but they offer a positive vision for our country and if you care to open your eyes they have answers for all the “unanswered” questions. Just because you don’t like the answer doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and you do yourself a great disservice but continually trotting out a constant stream of negativity.

The Liberal Democrats claim to be a federalist party and apparently have been the party of home rule for 100 years. Despite this fact you cannot even tell us what you plan to do in event of a no vote and refused to engage when there was an opportunity to frame a question on Devo-Max in the referendum. I also notice that you gloss over the fact that the Electoral Commission as request that “both” sides outline their position before the Referendum. This is a really distasteful position for so called Liberal Democrats to hold.

Real Scottish Liberal Democrats?

pictishbeastie said...

I see you didn't publish my original comment,which wasn't libellous or abusive,so let's phrase it slightly differently and see if that meets with your "liberal" sensibilities! All I wanted to know was which "major political party" is it that's having it's conference around that date? Can't think of one myself!

Fourfolksache said...

Since the Liberal party, having betrayed Scotland, will get wiped out soon your party conference is somewhat irrelevant?


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