WHY DESTROY THE UNITED KINGDOM?

Why does the United Kingdom have to be destroyed?

Or, to put it another way: Why, Yes voter, are you voting to destroy the United Kingdom?

Or, put it this way: Why are you trying to destroy this political Union, which, despite its imperfections and room for change, has served the people of these islands well for over 300 years and continues to do so?

Whichever way you put it, it’s the biggest of the questions the Yes campaign fails to answer. Salmond and his fellow travellers duck and dive on the currency, oil, the EU, the monarchy and everything else, but they never say why they want to destroy the United Kingdom. Scots created it. The Jacobites wanted to take it over without destroying it. It is 307 years old, but would be 410, if James VI and I had had his way; but on 18 September it could be killed by Yes voters, if they win.

I want to know why. I am a proud Scot and proud Briton, but as a Scot living outside Scotland, I am disenfranchised through Salmond’s manipulation of the franchise to better his chances of winning and by Westminster’s craven surrender. As a Scot born and currently living outside Scotland, I would be denied automatic citizenship of the SNP and fellow travellers’ new Scotland, according to the notorious (because its production has compromised the Civil Service’s neutrality) 650-page White Paper. Also, being half Welsh and born and brought up in England and with Irish cousins, I am a product of the Union as well as being a citizen of it; and, I want to know why Yes voters are determined to destroy it.

We are told how rich and great the new Scotland will be. It will be a utopia for every taste: business friendly and neo-liberal, for business supporters of a Yes vote; a social democratic land of equality free of poverty, if you are on the centre left; a green Elysium, carbon-free and absolved from any effects of climate change, if you are a green; a chance to rule and change the doorplate from “First” to “Prime” and then maybe…, if you are one of the first minister’s acolytes; and so on. Whatever your utopia, a Yes vote will deliver it. All inconvenient facts will change to become convenient facts.

But, if that is what you believe, it will not happen on the declaration of a Yes victory. It will be at least two years later, in 2016 or later, on independence day that you can start to expect utopia.

Yet, the moment a Yes victory is declared the unity of the United Kingdom will be destroyed. There will be no period of grace for negotiations to get used to the idea and perhaps change your mind. It will happen then, at that moment of declaration.

So Yes voters, however noble or liberal, or constructive, or idealistic your intentions, the moment you cast your “X”, you need to know why you are destroying this Union and be able to live with the consequences. This Union has given us peace instead of war, freedom in place of oppression, faster improvements in living standards than in many countries, families and friends in all four nations of the Union. Why do you want to destroy all this?

We hear that it is because Scotland has to endure Conservative governments it does not vote for. That is true of everywhere in the United Kingdom except London, the south of England and the Midlands. Wales has never voted for a Conservative government. The North of England last did it in 1924. Scotland last did it in 1955, when over half the seats went Conservative. Northern Ireland last did it in 1970. As a Liberal Democrat, I have never had a government of my own party. That’s democracy. We vote, celebrate or live with the result and try again next time. If the United Kingdom is destroyed on 18 September, there will be no next time to try again.

We hear from the Yes campaign that no one can or should run Scotland but the Scots. I hope the Yes campaign is including incomers. Does the Yes campaign not know that since 1885, more and more decisions about Scotland have been made by Scots and for the shared decisions that affect all of the United Kingdom, the prime minister has more likely been a Scot, a Scots MP or of Scots descent? It’s the Northern Irish and the Welsh who lose out. Indeed, Scotland has more power than any other part of the United Kingdom. No part of England, nor England as a whole, has as much power as Scotland. Legislative devolution for England has never been tried. England is run by the Union government. In other parts of the world that would mean the territory was not ready to run itself.

We hear, usually from the first minister, that it is time for Scotland to take its place in the world. That shows either his ignorance or his contempt for the Scots people. Scotland has always occupied its place in the world. Scots have always held their heads up high. Scotland led much of the British Empire and was the imperial power as a founder of the United Kingdom that gave independence from the Empire. Scotland is not in the position of a colony, protectorate or dependency. With Scots as prime ministers, foreign secretaries, chancellors of the exchequer and in other senior positions in the United Kingdom, Scotland has often led the Union in taking its place in the world. Yet, the Yes campaign wants to destroy this United Kingdom.

We hear about the bedroom tax, English tuition fees, the English NHS and other policies considered objectionable by the nationalists that mostly don’t apply to Scotland. The general election next year is the chance to change policies. Why then destroy the United Kingdom?

I struggle to think of another state that has been destroyed by one of its larger members in such circumstances. It is impossible to think of one that has destroyed itself for no reason.

If there is a reason, tell us what it is, so that we can answer.

Whatever the reasons, Yes voters, be sure you know what your reason is and can live with destroying the United Kingdom, because if you win there will be no turning back.

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Posted in Better Together, Liberal Democrats, No campaign, Politics, Referendum, Scotland, Scottish Referendum, UK Prime Minister, United Kingdom, Yes campaign | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

VOTING YES IS NO ROAD TO UTOPIA

Contrary to what the Yes campaign wants us to believe, there is not a political party called Independent Scotland fighting a general election on 18 September, whose victory will answer every problem with a utopia to suit every taste.

It’s in the Scottish government’s White Paper and all the Yes campaign’s barnstorming speeches and all its shout-down-everyone-else contributions to televised debates.

It’s nonsense.

Voting Yes will not bring about utopia or solve any problems. It will create a whole heap of new problems and utopia will be delayed. Until independence actually came about at least two years after a Yes vote, Scottish politicians would not know the full extent of the possibilities before them, the problems they would face, the domestic and international pressures they would have to manage or how much money was available to pay for utopia after an independent Scotland’s inherited public spending had been accounted for.

Inside the United Kingdom problems and pressures are shared and each part of the UK is shielded from their full force – and London can always be blamed if there is not enough money for the devolved Scottish government’s plans.

Outside the Union, Scotland would have to face all this alone, weakened unnecessarily if the SNP carried out its threat to default on Scotland’s share of the UK’s debt. A Blazing Saddles threat, if ever there was one.

If the vote is Yes on 18 September, how long would it be before Yes voters realised utopia was deferred indefinitely?

Alex Salmond and the SNP and their fellow travellers would go on promising and blaming London and perhaps the other parts of the UK for the failure of the nationalist victory to deliver utopia.

Nationalism, whatever you call it, always goes like that. Soon there would be recriminations within Scotland. The Yes campaign has already shown its vicious intolerance of opposing views whoever expresses them.

The truth is voting Yes is a step in the dark. I can respect Yes voters who recognise that.

There can be no certainty about what would happen after a Yes victory. Scotland independent might be worse or better than now. No one can know now how it would turn out.

No one can know which party would form the government of an independent Scotland. A Yes vote would rob the SNP of its reason for existing. Its promises might count for nothing after a Yes vote if another party were voted to power in 2016.

The only certainty is that after a No vote, we will continue to work together in the United Kingdom for our different versions of social and economic justice in these islands, as we have for over 300 years. After a No vote, the Scottish Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative parties will deliver their promises of further devolution. They will offer policies in the general election next year on jobs, welfare, pensions, the NHS, overseas aid, the economy, education, enterprise and business, defence, security and so on that they can deliver, because the United Kingdom – that great Scottish creation – exists and together we work for all our futures.

Voting No is a vote of confidence in the future of the Scottish people and all the people of our Union.

Because, we are indeed Better Together.

Posted in Better Together, Liberal Democrats, Scotland, Scottish Referendum, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DOES THE YES CAMPAIGN LIKE THE SCOTS?

Does the Yes Campaign in the Scottish referendum even like Scotland and the Scots?

I have long had my doubts, but after Scottish Government Finance Secretary John Swinney’s confirmation that an independent Scotland would default on debt and First Minister Alex Salmond’s browbeating performance at the referendum debate on Monday, I am becoming convinced they do not.

Defaulting on debt if the rest of the UK will not give in to the SNP’s demands of a currency union, will make Scotland like Argentina. It will most likely prevent an independent Scotland joining the EU, the Organisational for Economic Co-operation and Development and the other international organisations that Scotland is already a member of as part of the UK.

Scotland would be isolated because the SNP stamped its foot when it couldn’t get its way.

For a currency union you need people to be in union with. But, the Yes Campaign is saying it doesn’t want to be in union with the rest of the UK. So, why should the rest of the UK want to be in a currency union with the people who had just broken the political and currency union that has served us all well for over 300 years?

As my teenage daughter, said: the Yes Campaign can’t pick and choose.

The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has said he is opposed to a currency union, because it would be bad for Wales and bad for the UK.

If you respect the people who disagree with you, if you respect the people whose support you need, you make an effort to understand and win them over by persuasion.

If you don’t respect them, you browbeat, denounce, and threaten, which is what the Yes Campaign, led by Alex Salmond, is doing to anyone who questions or disagrees, in Scotland, in the rest of the UK and beyond these islands.

That’s why I am becoming convinced that Alex Salmond and the Yes Campaign don’t much like the Scots.

Better Together does. Voting No to independence is a positive vote of confidence in the Scottish people, as Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie said in the Scottish Parliament.

It’s a vote of confidence in all the people of these united islands and in all we have achieved and all we will achieve together.

It’s a vote of confidence by people who respect and like each other.

Posted in Better Together, Scotland, Scottish Referendum, Uncategorized, Yes campaign | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PROUD SCOT – BETTER TOGETHER

I’m a proud Scot and a proud Briton.

Like many – perhaps most – Scots I am denied the vote in the referendum because of the naked fiddling of the franchise by the First Minister to stack the odds in his favour.

The question for me is not whether Scotland could be a success as a separate nation. I’m sure it could. Scots have made a success of the United Kingdom.

What success as a separate nation would be like is another question.

No one outside the First Minister’s inner circle can believe his fantasy visions of a utopian Scotland trouble-free in a daily more troubled world.

The question is whether it is a good idea to destroy a political union created by Scots that has brought peace, freedom and prosperity to the nations of Great Britain. In an increasingly interdependent world would it be wise or foolish to dissolve such a longstanding political and economic union. Who would benefit? Only the enemies of Scots and Britons.

On 18 September I hope Scots will vote resoundingly for unity, peace, freedom and prosperity throughout these islands and say no thanks to the “Yes” to chaos campaign.

We are Better Together.

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Justin Trudeau

Congratulations to Justin Trudeau of his election as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada/Parti Libéral du Canada. I look forward to him becoming Prime Minister in place of Stephen Harper.

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Di awn Cymru!

Di awn Cymru! Well done Wales! Six Nations’ Champions 2013!

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Time for something different

It is surely time for something other than austerity to solve the United Kingdom’s economic woes and the Budget in a few days’ time should not impose any more cuts on the circumstances of ordinary people.

Whatever politicians say when they find themselves in opposition, there has been consensus among the main political parties in this country and around the world that austerity is the answer to the recession and the debt crisis. Those who disagreed, like poor President Hollande in France, have been forced to make deep cuts by the realities of office. Some who agreed, like Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, have been freed to disown their former policy by the lack of responsibility of Opposition.

It is a truism that austerity bears down most on ordinary working families, the weakest and poorest, because they make most use of the public services austerity measures cut. The rich do not use public services, or not as much as the rest of us and probably do not rely on them.

The recession and debt crisis was not caused by those of use who use and rely on public services. It was caused by those who do not.

This does not mean that public spending can never be cut. That would be nonsense. It means that care has to be taken to protect those most vulnerable, to cut only where necessary and find alternatives for those most affected. It means schemes should not be set up in the first place without proper funding. The coalition has put in place protections and been right to cut or remedy schemes Labour set up without adequate funding – as with paying for NHS growth by increasing National Insurance.

Some of the government’s cuts, like ending Sure Start and regional development agencies in England, look like naked Conservative ideology or spite, rather than part of the solution to the nation’s problems. Some, like the cuts in the armed forces, police and education are downright irresponsible and dangerous.

Despite what the Prime Minister says , it looks obvious to most people that the burden of fixing the nation’s economy is being carried more by the poor and working people than by the rich. Middle earners in the public sector have had their pay frozen, but top earners’ bonuses have not been frozen and, despite his own failure, the Prime Minister opposed the European Union’s cap on bonuses .

This might be excused, if austerity was working. It plainly is not. Yesterday (9 March 2013), Robert Chote the chairman of the independent Office of Budgetary Responsibility wrote to the Prime Minister to say that austerity – “consolidation” – measures by the coalition and the Labour government have reduced GDP in 2011-12 by 1.4%. Economic growth has been weaker since 2010 than the Office of Budgetary Responsibility and most other forecasters expected.

It is time for a genuine one nation approach to solving the United Kingdom’s problems, one not driven by Tory ideology, albeit moderated by the Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrat ideas, albeit moderated by the Conservatives, might just do the trick, starting in the Budget in a few days’ time with the capital investment in housing and infrastructure called for by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

At the very least, the Budget should do no further harm to the lives of working families, the poor and the vulnerable.

Posted in Austerity, Budget, Debt crisis, European Union, Liberal Democrat ministers, Office of Budgetary Responsibility, Poverty, UK Government, UK Prime Minister | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment