When I up and joined the Liberal Democrats after the General Election some people were surprised and I suspect that some people felt let down that I had joined what is in the main a unionist party. As I said at the time I did this because I consider myself a Social Liberal, and I have no regrets in joining the party irrespective of the difficulties it faces in regaining any trust and my own views within it.
However, I remain a committed YES voter, nothing since the election has changed my mind, if anything I have become even more committed to the YES cause, but I will do this as a Liberal Democrat. I can’t speak for the Scottish Liberal Democrats but I can say that the Dundee Liberal Democrats have shown me that they are open to all opinion and accept different views on such huge issues as constitutional reform. I have felt welcomed and accepted and to me that says a great deal for the members in Dundee.
I have also been very interested in the recent polls that show the YES movement are now leading, early days but significant in such a short period of Conservative Government. The difficulties that both the Labour and Liberal Parties have may well result in a Conservative win as far ahead as 2020. Should that come to pass then I would imagine another referendum will follow quickly, what the result will be is anyone’s guess but if Scotland has suffered 15 years of the Tories I suspect it might well be a YES vote and that would not upset me.
For the Scottish Liberal Democrats any future independence campaign has to include a third question on federalism, anything less would be a betrayal of Liberal beliefs. I said after the referendum that I felt many people were more comfortable with the idea of federalism, that view hasn’t changed even if I continue to be a YES voter. In the meantime the Scottish Liberal Democrats have got to stand up for continued devolution and fight for the implied powers from the ‘ Vow ‘ being delivered to Holyrood, the Smith Commission is not modern Home Rule and that Liberal view has to be dropped. Gordon Brown says the ‘ Vow ‘ has not been delivered, whatever you think of Gordon Brown, and I don’t think much, we do have to accept that for once he is right.
Will the election today of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader bring about a change in fortunes of Labour in Scotland or the independence debate, will it further marginalize the Scottish Liberal Democrats! Time will tell, but in the meantime the Scottish Liberal Democrats have to put aside the SNP bad mantra and continue to show recent good opposition to the SNP in Holyrood. I don’t have huge issues with the record of the Scottish Government overall but I do think that they need good opposition to keep them on their toes as we have seen issues with Police Scotland, bursaries for students in further education, and recent concerns around the pressures on the Scottish Health Service.
As a country we are at a cross roads, we need to make the best of what we have and a Social Liberal message has a part to play in the future direction of Scotland, but in the long-term I remain a YES voter and a YES voter who is also a member of the Liberal Democrats.