Monday, March 5, 2012

Willie Rennie and the art of timing

Let's see if I can get this straight -

1) Willie Rennie reminds us that the Liberal Democrats have been passionate Home Rulers for 100 years.

2) The Liberal Democrats are now in power at Westminster for the first time in 65 years, and in all probability for the last time for another few decades, given that electoral reform was defeated last year. Presumably, therefore, this is the golden moment for a passionate Home Rule party to actually do something about their passion.

3) It is universally accepted that an independence referendum is on the way, giving a passionate Home Rule party a unique opportunity to use the London establishment's fear of a Yes vote to secure some long-dreamt-of concessions.

4) Willie Rennie tells us that the Liberal Democrats will in fact wait until the bargaining chip of the referendum is gone, and until they no longer have any influence at Westminster, and only then "work with the SNP" to increase the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Great plan, guys. Someone who wasn't in the know would almost be forgiven for thinking that this whole "passionate Home Ruler" business was a bit of an affectation.


  1. I was going to say "bring back Tavish", but then it all came flooding back...

  2. Well, of course, if Alex Salmond chose to have the referendum earlier, then there would be more time to work with the SNP.

    That's hardly likely before the referendum, when the two parties are on different sides, is it?

    And what do you think the Ming Campbell Commission is all about if it's not developing a strategy for home rule - and devolving power from Holyrood to councils and communities? We're not hanging about developing our strategy on home rule.

    I want to see more actual detail on how we get to more powers after a no vote in the referendum, but I'm sure it'll come. I don't want the reactionary forces in Tory and Labour to think this is a good excuse for no further change, so we need to get signed up to something ahead of time.

    The mistake the SNP makes is to define us as a unionist party when we aren't and never have been. We are a federalist party, a party that believes in decentralising power, having decisions made at the lowest practical level.

  3. So Caron.

    You know there is a clear timetable.

    You have plenty of time to work with the SNP before it

    But you refuse to.

    Instead, you expect the electorate to trust you, YOU, the sell-outs you are, reneging on every promise you ever made!

    No, if the LibDems meant it we would see it in their actions.

    We don't

    Because tey, as usual, mean to lie to us to get elected then break their promise

  4. I am sorry to say that the Lieberal Democrats are politically inept-the AV referendum proved that conclusively-perhaps the "no" vote to that will lead on to something better, eh, Caron :-)

    The main thing I saw at the LibDem conference was the contorted, twisted, bitter face of Malcolm Bruce as he railed against the idea of a second question on the ballot paper because it might keep Alex Salmond in the game.....nothing, absolutely nothing, about what might be in the best interests of Scotland.

    The LibDems deserve all the electoral horror that has come, and is still to come, to them in Scotland.

  5. Long time lurker, forced to surface briefly to say ... well said JPJ2, I completely agree with you:

    "the contorted, twisted, bitter face of Malcolm Bruce as he railed against the idea of a second question on the ballot paper because it might keep Alex Salmond in the game.....nothing, absolutely nothing, about what might be in the best interests of Scotland."

    I was quite depressed that ordinary libdems actually applaided what Malcolm Bruce was saying.

  6. Caron, I see a lot unfocused, wishful thinking here. The people you have to work with to get Home Rule after the independence referendum are not the SNP.

    If the independence referendum is lost then the SNP will still be as powerless in Westminster as they are now and the people you need to get Home Rule are the Tory and Labour parties as they are the only ones who can push a Home Rule bill through Westminster.

    The Ming Campbell commission you mention is simply parochial in its outlook. Home Rule for Scotland cannot be planned for or implemented without reference to the rest of the UK as it is a unionist option and to set up a Scotland only commission to look at Home Rule is the mark of a party which has no real clue about what it wants or idea about the impact of Scottish Home Rule on the rest of the UK and no interest from its leadership in the question.

    However, I've never believed the Lib-Dems are either federalist or have any desire to see Scotland have more control over its own affairs.

    The word, "Federal", was the one word that Nick Clegg failed to use in his speech to the Inverness conference. If after a hundred years of thinking about Home Rule the Lib-Dems response to an independence referendum in two years time is to only now put a commission together to try and work out what Home Rule actually means in terms of financial, legislative and executive powers then it's obvious that it's a forced reaction to the SNP's success and there is not an innate desire within the Lib-Dems for a powerful Scottish Parliament. In fact its only purpose would appear to be as a blocking, "jam-tomorrow", move against a yes vote in the referendum.

    If the Lib-Dems had been genuine Home Rulers then they would have had a Home Rule proposal ready and waiting for use as a second option on the ballot paper years ago and would have regarded the independence referendum as a golden opportunity both for the Scots to vote on their proposal and for the Lib-Dems to get one of their fundamental policies in place driven by a mandate from the Scottish electorate which would override any Tory and Labour objections.

    James is quite right. If the independence referendum is lost what bargaining chip will the Lib-Dems use to force Home Rule, which I assume is something much more powerful than the current Scottish Parliament, through Westminster? With the threat of independence gone the Conservatives and Labour will simply abandon devo-plus, devo-max, Home Rule and anything else which involves more than a block grant and the current scope of the Scottish Parliament and they're the only ones who can put a Home Rule bill through Westminster.

    The Lib-Dems are in a cleft stick. Without the threat of independence to drive Home Rule forward with the other two unionist parties then Home Rule will never be more than a pipe-dream but if the threat of independence is genuine then Home Rule is another step towards its realisation. That's why the Lib-Dems have done nothing on Home Rule for literally decades.

    Once the threat of independence is gone how are you going to get a major reconstruction of the British constitution through Westminster as a minor party?

    In defining the Lib-Dems as unionist the SNP make no mistake as federalism is simply a rearrangement of regional government within the Union. The Lib-Dems refused to support an independence referendum in the last parliament and their oppostion to a yes vote in coming referendum is as hard line unionist as both the Tories and Labour.

    There is a simple test. If you're a nationalist you want a Scottish passport, if you're a unionist you want to keep a British one. Under that simple and reliable definition what are you Caron and what are the Lib-Dems?

  7. The question of timing makes me think about Michael Moore and his demands that the referendum is held sooner. 500 days is ample time we're told. Yet how many days has the Scotland bill, his baby now, being going through parliament? How many days will it be before the Scotland bill is implemented? Why isn't he leading by example, showing how quickly legislation can be rushed through parliament? Why is he dragging his feet over this? Or does he, like Willie Rennie, believe that 600 MPs deserve more time to consider the movement of some powers between Westminster and Holyrood than 500 million Scots deserve to consider Scotland's constitutional future?

    Doug his hit the nail on the head here. If the libdums were genuine, they actually would already have a fair idea what a federal UK, and Scotland's place / role within that, would be. The fact they are only now setting up commissions to look at it shows they don't have any real idea, proving the lie that is their claim to be the champions of home rule.

    There will be some who still buy into the idea of the Libdums being a liberal, progressive party who believe in federalism. They are to be pitied but perhaps one day, they will realise that, as with the labour party, the setting up of commission after commission after commission (we've had Calman, now the Ming one - what comes after that, the Kennedy one?) all looking at "Scotland's role within the UK" is simply a delaying tactic to make these arch-Unionist parties look as if they are "listening to Scotland" when they are in reality trying to put off the inevitable for another few trough filled years.

    After all, just how many commissions are really required to look at the powers Scotland requires. 2? 4? 10? Why, if it's now accepted that Calman was a failure (it must be if both liebour and the libdums are setting up their own commissions to do another calman), do they believe that yet another commission is a good thing? Just how stupid do they think the people of Scotland are?

  8. Caron do you really believe what you are saying?
    I think you are smarter than that. Pity about the lack of integrity!

  9. Scintillating (and devastating) response by Frankly to the Lib Dem "100 years" fantasy:

  10. Interesting link ratzo.

    It means it's the Centennial of the Lib-Dems/Liberals talking the talk but not walking the walk on federalism and Home Rule.

    They should organise a, "Succesfully avoiding Home Rule for a century", party.

  11. Both Nicol Stephen and Tavish Scott refused to enter into a coaltion with the SNP as they did not share the same aims and goals.

    It was okay to enter into a coalition with the tories though. Says it all really.