Monday, 5 March 2012


The Liberal Democrats seem to me to be a little inconsistent in their requests for a more devolved Scotland, most particularly on the following matters which have been brought to my attention.

I wonder if their minds have been changed for them by their bosses in London, who have had their minds changed for them by THEIR bosses in London...the Tories?

The Crown Estates - In 1998 the LibDems proposed amending the Scotland Bill to devolve the Crown Estates to the Scottish Parliament. Now Michael Moore is saying they will oppose this.

European representation - In 1998 the LibDems proposed amending the Scotland Bill to allow Scottish Executive (now government) Ministers to have the right of statutory representation in the Council of Ministers. Now they are suggesting that they will oppose this.

Corporation Tax - In his submission to the Calman Commission on behalf of the Scottish LibDems the then leader Tavish Scott called for corporation tax to be devolved with "all revenues accruing directly to the Scottish Parliament". Now they are opposing this.

Excise duty - In his submission to the Calman Commission on behalf of the Scottish LibDems the then leader Tavish Scott called for tobacco and alcohol duties, along with fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, to be devolved with "all revenues accruing directly to the Scottish Parliament". Now they are signalling they will oppose this.

Broadcasting - In the LibDems' Steel Commission it was said that there should be much greater accountability to the Scottish Parliament and regular reporting from the BBC with a formal role for the Scottish Parliament in the charter renewal process. No positive response to the Scottish Government's similar proposals have been received.

Borrowing powers - In his submission to the Calman Commission on behalf of the Scottish LibDems the then leader Tavish Scott called for proper borrowing powers for Scotland and said they "should not be a one-way process, imposed by the Treasury and the UK Government on the Scottish Parliament ... [but] by agreement a new framework of rules as to how, when and to what extent, Scottish borrowing powers could be exercised." To date all they have allowed is a fastracking of the limited Scotland Bill proposals. 


  1. Spot on Cynical... It saves a lot of time and then they can all go down the pub. The mini-cab is waiting!

  2. It all makes sense if you understand the basic ethos of the Lib-Dem party:

    Scotland is British, praise the Union.
    Scotland is British, praise the Union.
    Scotland is British, praise the Union.

    Repeat ad infinitum.

    There are also two rules for the devolution of powers.

    Rule 1. Any power can be proposed for devolution to Scotland as long as the Lib-Dems don't have the power to assign it.

    Rule 2. If the Lib-Dems have the power to assign it Rule 1 applies.

  3. Thanks for explaining that, Doug. It makes all the difference to have you guys sort it out for me.

    I think I more or less have the Libs sewn up now.

    It's a pity, when they have really bright dynamic guys like Andrew Page that they seem so determined to allow the Tories to walk over them.

    Don't they know that the Tories are using them, and when they have finished with them they will dispose of them...for ever...down the drain?

  4. One, could I ask where they are signalling all of this? Because opposing devo-max as an option on the referendum is not the same thing.

    Two, the Liberal Democrats are a federal party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have their own conference where they democratically (i.e. one member, one vote) make their own policy on all Scottish matters - the Federal party have no power to interfere whatsoever. Nick Clegg might be able to visit Scottish Lib Dem conference but he's not even allowed to vote.

  5. George,

    In the Lib-Dem constitution it says:

    ARTICLE 5: The Policy-Making Process
    5.1 The Federal Party shall determine the policy of the Party in those areas which might reasonably be expected to fall within the remit of the federal institutions in the context of a federal United Kingdom.

    The determining of the powers devolved to Scotland are not going to be left to the Scottish region of the Lib-Dems because they will have an impact on the Westminster government, Civil Service and on England, Wales and Northern Ireland in general.

  6. Hi George:

    You can't dispute any of the points though. The Liberals were for, certain things before they were in power in London, and Moore now blocks them.

    If the things I mentioned were Liberal policy, but now they're not, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the Conservatives have veto'd them, or Moore has simply gone power mad.

    I actually agree with the federalist policy (but as a step towards independence). I believe that it wouldn't be long before Scots wondered why they were paying vast amounts so that a UK prime minister could play Boadicea striding the world, running wars and telling other peoples how to live their lives (wrongly as a rule).

    The mish mash that Blair left us was better than the status quo, as one can see from the difference in the way that we live here from England, but it was full of holes, not least the West Lothian question, and the fact that Scots tend to think of Westminster as the "English" parliament, which for much of the week, it is.

    So, if even I believed in it, what happened to the Liberal belief?

    And if devo max doesn't match it (because it is not equal, and England still wouldn't have a parliament) why are the Liberals not fighting for a federal UK?

    That would mean that in Scotland the Labour Party would be pushing for more powers (as yet undefined), and possibly sending powers back to David Cameron (imagine how weird that is); the SNP, Socialist Labour and the Greens would be for Independence; the Liberals for Federality and the Tories for NO CHANGE if you listen to Ruth, and More change (as yet undefined [a bit like Labour])if you listen to Call Me.

    That would make for an interesting contest. And perhaps a four question referendum.

    What say you?

    PS: I wonder if Lamentable knows she wants the same thing as Flashman!

  7. Doug: Thanks for that. Your intricate knowledge of the constitutions of parties and what that means in reality is, as ever, invaluable!

  8. I don't know about any of that stuff, I do know there's no point in debating anything that comes from the LibDems as they are politically impotent.

    There's just no point. Willie Rennie is a nobody, if Nick Clegg can't make an impact WR (who is even more of a political pygmy) has got no chance.

    We all know any argument for devo-max from any quarter will be the Scotland Bill and no more, and its a mess. Crucially, the libdems are now a Trojan Horse (or should that be nag) for the tories.

    Its another 'meh' from me I'm afraid.

  9. Since the Lib Dems have already pushed these policies as policy then it must already be federal policy. So why are they not still supporting them?

  10. It's funny though, Pa, that no one in the Liberals has seen that, the middle road is the one that, at present, is the most popular with the Scottish people.

    If they fought for this policy that has been in their DNA for 100 years, as Rennie suggested, they could make themselves relevant once again.

    You're right that in Scotland they have become a rump party. They don't even have a seat at the front and it by the generosity of the Presiding officer that they are granted a question every week at FMQs.

    If their option was the one the Scots wanted, they could maybe stage a revival.

  11. Anon:

    That is the 64,000$ question.

    If they have been a federalist party for 100 years, you'd think that they wouldn't need to think about it for a second.

    Out there and stand up for their policies. This is their big moment.

    But no. They are having a commission....again....

  12. Anonymous March 06, 2012 11:08 AM

    As far as I can make out none on the list mentioned by Tris have made it into Lib-Dem policy.

    I've searched on their website and in their 2010 Manifesto for anything which relates to that list in their policies.

    To be honest searching for the phrase, "Home Rule", on their website brings up a few speeches and press releases but no policies at all and Home Rule's not mentioned in their 2010 Manifesto.

    In 100 years they've prepared nothing and done nothing to implement Home Rule in Scotland. They haven't even got a definition of what Home Rule means on their website.

    The current consternation among the Lib-Dems is because after years of dining out on Home Rule and federalism they've been asked to front up with the goods and they have nothing to show.

  13. That, Doug, is the problem with being a party permanently out of power.

    You can propose any policy you want and know that you will never have to implement it.

    I suspect that was the reason they never beefed out their notion.

  14. Ah the Lib Dems. Their entire parliamentary party arrived in a mini! And I understand that there was plenty of elbow room at the Eden Court. So it seems that ditching everything hasn’t really done them any good. Let’s wait and see how many councillors they are left with in May.

  15. Tris,

    I asked where exactly the Lib Dems that they are opposing all these things that you list that were one their policies - as so far you've yet to provide a source to back that up.

  16. They could so easily get them back, Munguin, by supporting their own policy of federalism.

  17. Perhaps the answer lies in Europe though, the libdems federalist instincts have been usurped by their love of the EU.

    That being the case, they know a federal UK would have less clout on the EU stage perhaps? Not sure how it would work or indeed what they even mean by 'federal'.

    I'm not sure they do either.

  18. George:

    Most of this has simply happened and I have heard or seen things in the press, or been told about them, but I can find some links which will steer you in the right direction. I suspect if I had time I could find more, or better ones... but I'm pressed.

  19. The policy seems to be a kind of mix with localism, Pa.

    In that much I agree with it to a certain extent. Things should be decided at the most appropriate place. More power to councils, bringing the democratic decision making process nearer to the people it affects.

    Maybe George, whose opinions I respect (for those of you that don't know him he is the author of the Potter blog, and a tireless campaigner for decent treatment of disabled), will clarify these positions.

    I'm happy to be proved wrong.

  20. Maybe George wishes to ponder just how democratic his party actually is when we have the SoS and his friend the ex divorce lawyer Lord Wallace going on about the legality of the SG holding a referendum.

    Matt Qvortrup: It may not be exactly legal, but it’s not explicitly illegal either

    The point, of course, is that the courts really don’t like cases such as a possible challenge to the referendum and that’s why in this situation the UK government is probably wrong.

    The UK government doesn’t have a strong case, as the legal authority for a referendum is not cast iron. At the same time, the problem the Scottish Government has is that a referendum is not explicitly legal either.

  21. @tris "That, Doug, is the problem with being a party permanently out of power.

    You can propose any policy you want and know that you will never have to implement it.

    I suspect that was the reason they never beefed out their notion. "

    Who was it that said "Oh was some pow'r the giftie gie us
    Tae see oorselves as ithers see us"?

    I've got a copy of the SNP Manifesto 2007 in front of me. It's full of notions not beefed out.

    Abolish Council Tax anyone?

    Local Income Tax?

    Class size 18?

    Scottish Futures Trust?

    Abolish PPP?

    School building "beick for brick" as Labour's programme?

    50% increase in nursery places?

    Referendum on "independence"?

    Moder languages at the heart of the curriculum!!!!???

    Abolish student debt?

    I've hardly started....the list is endless.....

    Interesting that you should think the LibDems such a bunch of rotters for reneging on their few promises....

    the SNP?

  22. And who may we ask do you regard as the paradigms of electoral excellence?
    I think the pols tell us who the Scottish voters trust most????

  23. Braveheart

    You're first one there is the Council Tax.

    2007 Maniefesto, what happened

    Oh yes, minority Government, policy put forward and knocked back by the others, inc the LibDems who also had a Local Income Tax as a policy

    So, not for the want of trying

  24. The problem with the "Scottish" Lib-Dems is that they are funded and thus run from England - Just like the Labour party and now also the Tories.

    The fact is these three parties are in the pockets of the bankers - The people who really have all the power - So they just have to do what the bankers want them to do - The main reason you cannot get a fag paper between them when they get into power.

  25. tris,

    Just looking at the first one what I'm taking away is that you are, perhaps deliberately, failing to grasp what coalition means. Moore is the Secretary of State for Scotland. That means that it is his job to announce government decisions and defend them.

    That does not, however, mean that Lib Dems supported that position in negotiations (it could be a compromise or trade-off, for example) and just because Moore is a Lib Dem does not automatically make what he says Lib Dem policy.

    There certainly hasn't been any change in Lib Dem policy on these issues - I've attended every conference since the start of coalition bar one and there has yet to be any change in party policy passed by conference.


    The Scottish Lib Dems are not funded or run by London - other than to the extent that they get a certain proportion of the money donated directly to the Federal party. And before you jump on that, you might as well argue that the SNP government is funded and run by London as that's where the money they spend comes from.

    I don't want to be rude but it seems to me that quite a lot of SNPers seem to be quite deliberately ignoring fairly obvious facts for the sake of being able to spout inaccurate, negative lines and accusations. Contrary to what you seem to believe, Billy, just because some other Scots disagree with you on the question of independence (or other political issues for that matter) does not mean that they are following orders from politicians in Westminster.

    And, incidentally, many of the politicians in Westminster are also in fact Scots (Michael Moore, Charles Kennedy, Douglas Alexander, Gordon Brown, etc.)

  26. @Billy

    you say "The problem with the "Scottish" Lib-Dems is that they are funded and thus run from England "

    so it follows that yu believe that "The problem with the "Scottish National Party" is that they are funded and thus run by evangelical Christians"

    and, if you disagree with the second statement then you don't really believe the first....

  27. As you know a great deal of the 2007 manifesto had to be thrown out because it was voted down in parliament, Braveheart.

    Such is the life of a minority government.

  28. Fair comment CH.

    It's not a good idea to challenge something that enhances democracy, although as someone pointed out recently governments only have referenda if they are pretty sure that they can win.

    Which is why Cameron allowed the one he did on that daft AV nonsense. He knew no one would want that rubbish.

  29. Four: Yep, that's who the Scots trust. Certainly doesn't seem to be the Labour party under either Elmer or Lamentable.

  30. Correct Anon. minority government scuppered a lot of things.

  31. Billy. They also have to appeal to the relatively rich 38 million people who live in the South East of England, which is why the Labour party is by and large right of centre.

    No one gives a damn what Scots think. They are just a pain with some good shooting and loads of oil, which pays for imperialistic wars.


  32. Moore is the Secretary of State for Scotland. That means that it is his job to announce government decisions and defend them.

    Why should the Scots for his office if he is employed to impose Westminster's will?

    Representing Scotland's interests in the UK Parliament

    He is not following the remit we are paying for.

  33. That's a fair comment George, but why then is Mr Rennie, supposedly independent of any control from London, not pushing for a federal solution?

  34. Braveheart: I help fund the Scottish National Party, and someone farther away from an Evangelical Christian you'd have to go a long way to find.

    People of all religions and none fund the SNP.

  35. Scottish LibDem Manifesto 2003.

    • Support the abolition of the UK Cabinet post of Secretary of State for Scotland, believing it better that the Scottish Executive should further develop its role as a voice for Scotland in its relationships with the UK Government, through formal and informal mechanisms.

    Ermine calling!

  36. CH: He doesn't really represent Scotland's interest in the Cabinet. None of them ever has as far as I can remember.

    They appear to be there in the days of Labour, to make the Labour First Minister do what Tony Blair wanted him to do (it's in all the autobiographies).

    Since Gordon Brown HATED the SNP, and remember he refused to admit he was Scottish, insisting he was British from North Britain, the job of the SoS has been to make life as difficult as possible for the Scottish Government.

  37. LOL CH. I don't suppose the Tories would let them do that.

    They like the old fashioned colonial aspect. It's a bit like their India Office.

    I think that was set up when they stopped treating India as a commercial company.

  38. Tris, mr souter has given at least 1.5 million and the Archbish (surrogate tom farmer) has given just under a million.

    are you in that league?

    my point stands. If "funded by london" means "run from london" as you say, then funded by the religious right means run by the religious right.

    it's your logic, not mine. why deny it?

  39. @ Anonymous

    "... the Council Tax....what happened
    .... minority Government, policy put forward and knocked back by the others....."

    I just love the way you chaps "misremember" the facts...

    The abolition of Council Tax was never put forward. The tax was frozen awaiting the introduction of the (as you say stolen from Lib Dem policy)Local Income Tax.

    But the Nats had no thought through LIT (neither do the LDs). It was just another empty promise as above, not beefed up because the Nats never thought they would win.

    The LIT is a complicated mess. They couldn't get it on, never mind off, the drawing board.

    So. No proposal to abolish Council Tax was ever developed. Just steal the Tory Council Tax Freeze and make it permanent.

    So, I ask again, why din the LDs for broken promises when the Nats are so much more culpable?

  40. My financial situation is none of your business Braveheart.

    As for Tom Farmer, I remember being at a reception at Edinburgh Castle when Henry Mcleish, Helen Liddle and Tom Farmer were our hosts. Mr Farmer, it seems, was the star because of what he was doing to assist Mr Brown's new Deal.

    The fact that he was a devout Christian didn't seem to bother Labour then. God no. Helen Liddle was all over him.

    If the SNP is so affected by the religious right, isn't it strange that they haven't just buried gay marriage, which Christians seem set against, the way that Labour buried England's 1967 acts on the legalisation of homosexuality due to the intervention of the Scottish religious establishment. (A brief moment of Catholics and Protestants working together.)

  41. That's nonsense about LIT and you know it.

    It was not a Liberal idea as opposed to an SNP idea. They had similar but different ideas about it. Just like Labour and the Tories favour the rates and Council tax.

    On the basis that income tax is the most progressive tax that takes the poor out of paying anything at all, I suspect that Labour ought to have thought about it, but when someone else did, they immediately opposed it.

    I have a relative who pays around £100 a year in income tax, because her income is relatively small, but big enough to remove her from any rebate on council tax. Her council tax bill is around £1000.

    It's my guess LIT would mean her being around £900 a year better off. On the other hand some would be much worse off because they earn very high salaries. Labour looks after which section of society again?

    The main reason LIT failed was that the London government, under that great North Britisher, Gordon Brown, was determined, utterly determined, that whatever the SNP tried to do for the poor would be thwarted, because it would embarrass them. Why had THEY never done that... why would THEY not introduce it in England.

    So to save themselves embarrassment Brown made it impossible because he wouldn't let the social security continue to pay the rebate money to Scottish councils and the income tax people weren't to collect the tax.

    All I can say to that is 'bastard'!

    He did thousands of desperately poor people, people who sit cold in houses, people who buy the cheapest of everything, people who have to eat what is on offer at the supermarket, rather than what they fancy or feel like, the people I work with every day...he did them out of hundreds of pounds a year because he didn't want the SNP/Liberal scheme to work.

    A useless miserable failure of a prime minister who just wasn't up to the job, and who as a chancellor wrecked the British economy!

    Not to mention making a complete dick of himself by begging and pleading with Obama for meetings and press conferences to make him look more important than the French president and other European leaders (but most especially the French president) and being rejected was it 7 times, or 9 times? Obama had more important things to do, it seemed. Bloody right. He found the man depressing.

    If ever there was a political disaster, it's Gordon Brown... incidentally, what was it he called himself, A SON OF THE MANSE, wasn't it. Interesting.

  42. George W Potter - The "Scottish" Lib-Dems like "Scottish" Labour get funded from England to the tune of at LEAST 85% so do not give me your drivel about a proportion of your money as if it is somehow small. You get most of your money from England because there are hardly any of you in the country to fund yourselves - Here in Refrewshire you can count your membership on one hand - just like all the parties now mind you. Do not call me an SNPer as I am not a member of any party an certainly not the SNP.

    Braveheart - What a very stupid comparison comparing the SNP being funded by someone who is a member of a religion compared to kiddy-on Scottish parties with hardly any Scottish members being funded by another country.

    At least all the SNP's money is raised in Scotland. In no other country would you get people voting for - never mind joining - a political party funded by ANOTHER country and that INCLUDES England.

  43. “Moore is the Secretary of State for Scotland. That means that it is his job to announce government decisions and defend them.”

    How totally ridiculous is that? Are you seriously saying that he can ditch 100 years of Lib Dem party principals in order to implement “government policy”? In that case what exactly is the point of the Lib Dems in this government if they just roll over and do what the Tories say?

    What a thin veneer of Scottishness that is. I’d quite frankly resign rather than be used to implement policy that I don’t agree with and that my party didn’t agree with and that went against everything it has supposed to have stood for since time immemorial. And lets face it who would they get in to replace Moore? So if he showed a bit of teeth for Scotland like he is supposed to do who knows!

    That kind of nonsense argument really does not serve your cause very well and may go some way to explain why you have been obliterated in Scotland.

    It’s quite clear that Moore is not Scotland’s man in the cabinet but the Tory’s man in Scotland!

  44. That's something that people forget, Billy.

    Just because someone supports independence it doesn't make them an SNP person.

    The Green party want independence as do the Scottish Socialists, and many people who are Labour or Liberal supporters are also independence supporters. Possible even some Tories are independence minded.

    But maybe most of all there are people of no party who want their own country back, but don't support the SNP.

    The most important thing about the SNP and Scottish Socialists is that they don't owe any kind of allegiance in any way to London. Their best people stand for Scottish seats, which is why we have, like him or not, a first minister who could debate any of the other leaders under the table... and a cabinet likewise

  45. I think Munguin, if I were in Moore's position, that I would resign.

    It's not that he would have to go down the dole. He'd have his salary as an MP (£66,000 plus his redundancy money).

  46. Tris,

    Don't know where to start. Your state of denial is complete and classical.

    YOU said the LibDem were fundedd thus controlled from London

    I said, if that's the case the SNP's big funders are the religious right. So, by YOUR logic, the rligious right control the SNP. QED.

    The rest is just bluster.

  47. Tris

    The LIT was LibDem policy when they were just the Libs. They never implemented it because they never had the power and the Tories and Labour didn't steal it because they saw it as iunworkable.

    They were right.

    Apart from the matter of possible legal challenges, it is not easily collectable, returning a smaller % than Council tax. Add to this the paradox of a so-called local tax having the rate set locally while being collected and distributed centrally, the uncertainty over how it will be gathered and by whom, and the fact that it would not deliver enough money to replace the current income from the Council Tax and you have the proverbial pooches rising snack.

    Apart from that, it seemed like a good idea, which is why John Swinney used £100,000 of public money to oppose an FOI on it before last year's elections.

    BTW, the FOI showed it would leave about £300million short in the kitty vis-a-vis the Council tax,....

    it's a dead duck.....