The Problem for the Lib Dems

The problem for the Lib Dems, and esp in Scotland, is to become relevant again. The coalition did unbelievable damage to the party in Scotland, all be it the rot had started before 2010, the coalition and poor leadership make the journey back to credibility a very long one indeed here in Scotland.

I agree with many Liberals regarding Danny Alexander, in Scotland he is regarded as a Tory and a nasty piece of work, he is viewed as being Cameron’s press officer of bad news with a smile and has left the party with no real economic message of note. The Alistair Carmichael affair has been handled poorly, Willie Rennie’s continued SNP bad mantra and the Trident smudge do not make any electoral success coming anytime soon. If anything it looks increasingly likely that Carmichael might get recalled and the seat will be lost.

Jeremy Corbyn might be a place where soft Social Liberals move to in the elections next year for Holyrood. There are many who voted yes because of no third question on the ballot in the referendum and many joined the SNP, like myself, who are Social Liberals at heart. I joined the Liberal Democratic party from the SNP after the election, I would never have joined had Clegg remained leader, but I am under no illusion about how difficult it will be to get a Liberal message out there, even though we need that Liberal agenda more than ever.

We cannot, and must not, try to fight in the middle ground. Clegg poisoned the middle ground and I fear that Tim Farron might be making a huge mistake to try and position the party there, it is not a fix to the issues of trust and the lack of trust that people have for the party right now. I think we have to find common ground with the issues that Liberals believe in. Corbyn is right, most people are decent, and Tim is right, most people are Liberal. So we have to fight on the side of fairness, of decency, on what is right.

It is right to fight to remain in the EU, it is right to have and show compassion to refugees, it is right to promote policies that help people lift themselves up not punish them because they live in a house with an extra room, it is right to dump Trident, it is right to devolve power to the lowest point not just the powers that Willie Rennie and the Labour Party would devolve to weaken Holyrood, it is right to fight for a proper and lasting federalised UK. These are the only things that I believe will work in Scotland, Willie Rennie’s contention that the Smith Commission is modern Home Rule is rightly laughed at, we have to make sure that the federal option is on the next referendum ballot paper, because there will be another referendum and sooner than many think.

I voted yes in the referendum, and even had there been a third option yes would have remained my first choice, but I also accept that many in Scotland wish to remain in the UK. The only way that will happen in the longer term is for the UK to be federal and we in the Liberal Democrats have to put electoral success to the side if it compromises the Liberal message and agenda, anything less than that will kill the party off for generations. I am a social Liberal and believe that social Liberalism is the only way back for the party in Scotland, but we have to stick to it and not look for a quick misguided lurch to the centre, the centre is wishy washy and discredited.

Many in Scotland view the Liberal Democrats as wishy washy and untrustworthy, I totally understand that and even have some sympathy for it. However, there are good people in the Liberal Democrats, esp in Dundee, and the Liberal message is as important today as it has always been. We need to recapture the message of Beveridge, of Keynes and bits of Lloyd George if we are to recover as a party, we need to promote the Liberal message as being the inclusive, decent , and honest message that it is and that people can embrace and find relevance in.

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