Saturday 29 September 2012


There’s an interesting and thought provoking post from Andrew Page at Scottish Liberal. It is his analysis of Nick Clegg’s speech to what they somewhat strangely call the Federal Conference.

When it comes to matter Libdem, I think Andrew presents the most balanced views, praising what is praiseworthy, and debunking that which is not (although I also have huge admiration for George Potter and his uphill struggle to make sure that the Liberals, as a party, do the right thing by the sick and disabled, so big shout out to George here too).  Anyway, if you want to know what ACTUALLY happened in Brighton, this is the article for the  leader’s speech and there is another one on the SOS's and Willie Rennie's.

Coming back to this post, I was a bit concerned about Andrew’s observation that:

"Clegg hopes to convince voters that, with slow but sure signs of improvement, it would be wrong to trust Labour with the economy in 2015."

Because, from what I can see at the moment, that would probably mean a Tory government in 2015, and for all my criticism of what the Liberals have contributed to the current Westminster set up, I have to say that, rather like the Labour-Liberal coalitions of the Scottish parliament, the best stuff has been Liberal sourced (excepting Danny Alexander’s scheme to tax North Sea exploration).

But I cannot help but think that the Liberals will emerge as a very much reduced force in 2015, (unless Clegg can pull a rabbit out of his hat) and even if they were needed to provide a coalition partner for the Tories, whether under Cameron or Boris, their influence could only be very slight, much less than today.

The only thing that could possibly reverse the Liberals' fortune would be a real turn around in economic conditions and a consequent real and measurable improvement in people's standards of living. (Even at that I’m sure that Osborne would try to take any credit going for that to re-launch his campaign to replace Cameron.)

I don't see that happening in the next two years, and in any case, Cameron has made it clear that even when(if) things get better there will be no return to higher levels of public spending (suggesting that the cuts are more ideologically than economically driven). So, although things may get better, the likes of you and I won’t feel it.

Of course, my response to all of this is that with some luck and a lot of hard work, none of this will be our problem, and what we should be thinking about is which one(s) of the party leaders would be best to deal with when it comes to negotiations with the Scottish government.

If it is a Tory only government I suspect that they might not even have one MP here, and I’m not sure who will be left from the Liberals, but perhaps they would not feel it necessary in these cases to have a Scottish Secretary.

I guess Boris, just because he’s a prickly sort of person, would be the most difficult to negotiate with (although, given that he has told people often enough that Scotland is such a drain on the UK, he would surely be pleased to see the back of us).

Anyone else any thoughts on that? 


  1. Gordon Brown any one?

    How about Tony Blair, has he not hinted that he'd like to return to Westminster?

  2. All splendid suggestions!

    I'm particularly interested in the idea that Johann would be the prime minister of the UK and forced to deal with Eck on independence.

    Perhaps even more funny would be Gordon Brown. I so well remember what an unhappy chappie he was when he was interviewed about the SNP taking power in Edinburgh back in 2007.

    Sarah Boyak seems to have more in common with Eck than he does with Johann McThatcher.

  3. What we don't want is someone to the right of Thatcher nor anyone playing to the gallery. Not much of a choice is there?

  4. No, Marcia. I don't think so.

    Oh for some sensible politician to bite the bullet and deal with the situation, quickly and effectively.

    When independence comes the number of things to be discussed will be huge. it won't be easy. A mature person is needed. Seriously I think we have that in Salmond, but I can't think of anyone on the front line in London that would be able to bring that kind of maturity to the table.

  5. I'd just read that CH. I beggers belief.

    I wonder how Mrs Lamont's speech (which bears a strange resemblence to Mr Ball's speech), will have chnaged that polling.

    There is one way to raise the extra money we will need in 2 years time.

    Vote to save money on nuclear weapons; vote to save money on armed forces; vote to save money on the import of gas from Russia; vote to have oil taxes go direct to Edinburgh's Finance Ministry; vote to save money on foreign embassies and consuls; vote to save money on teh royal family (2 weeks a year in Holyrood); vote to not have to pay the House of Lords, etc, etc.

    And vote for a sensible government that will put Scottish people at the front of its agenda.

  6. Tris

    I don't think it really matters to be honest. Both sides are going to want what they can't possibly be entitled to so will end up in the hands of the lawyers with mediators from Europe or somewhere, either way it will take years.

    Clegg is finished, it doesn't matter what he does he is no longer relevant. It's not even just the student pledge, it's the fact that on the surface they gave up every principle for power and have allowed the media and Tories to protray them as the Tory poddles. If it's bad news role out the liberal. The party, I felt, was moving forward under kennedy and they shafted him big time. He was more popular than the party as a whole and they didn't like it. I consider myself Liberal by nature and in an Independent Scotland will probably join a Scottish Liberal party but not one under Clegg or Rennie. I could name others but I'm sure people get the point.

    Cameron I think could get a win in 2015 and will if Scotland votes for Independence. Some Tories might like Boris but I can't see any change before the election. Camerons big problem I think is actually Osbourne. He is so bad that he makes all of them look incompetent, I don't see Cameron allowing that to continue beyond another 16 months and then Osbourne will be moved to something or other.

    Miliband and Labour are just not electable. Add in Ed Balls and you have a circle of failure that for the most part the South East will not forget and the result will be, in my opinion, 20 years out of power possibly a little less. Scottish Labour are a mess but do have the Scottish media on their side so how bad they are is covered up to a huge extent. They would be dead now if we had an honest press, sadly we don't so it will be to excellent bloggers like yourself, wings over Scotland, newsnet etx to keep the truth and thought provoking articles out there.

    I suppose my earnest hope in Scotland is that Davidson, Rennie and Lamond remain in post as they are a benefit to the YES Campaign.

  7. Hi Bruce.

    Thanks for that thoughtful post. I’m with you on the Liberals. Most of my political instincts are liberal and many Liberal, so in an independent Scotland, my inclination would be to look for a party that embraced that philosophy.

    I’m inclined to agree that they are finished here now. And I too think that Kennedy was, or could have been a first class leader. I’m not on the inside track as far as his illness is concerned, and from your comments I suspect you know more than I do. My impression was that when Blair took the Labour party to the centre right, there was an opportunity for Kennedy to speak and act for people who were left without a voice. And he didn’t. I kept expecting to hear something from him and I kept hearing nothing.

    I think that the Liberals have probably made a difference to softening some of the policies of the Toffs’ party, but I completely agree that the impression is that they are as much poodles of the Tories as the UK is of the US. As for Rennie? He is completely useless. He had a chance, in what is a federal party, to distance himself from Clegg and the Tories, and he didn’t. He made himself a Tory in Scotland. Hmmm. How bright was that! It’s just as well he’s a list MP. I doubt that Fife would be interested in a Tory.

    Rev Stu suggested that they had gone as far down as they could go in Scotland. I’d venture to suggest that they could lose Orkney and at least one of their lists, which would bring them down to 3. I read yesterday that the UK figure might be as low as 10.


  8. Bruce:

    Whilst I’d agree that Cameron’s biggest problem is Osborne, I don’t think that by a long way it is his only one. His foreign secretary is a joke and so is his home secretary. Health, Environment, Justice, Work and pensions.... The list is endless when it comes to unpopular departments...even in England. But of course the pressing thing is the dire economy, and upon that everything hangs. So Osborne carries the can.

    I wonder why Osborne has been allowed to stay. Is it some sort of code that posh boys have to stick by each other? I think not, because otherwise Boris wouldn’t be making a nuisance of himself. Cameron’s loyalty to Osborne just has to be about something that Gideon knows... like, for example, that Dave was NOT, as he has suggested, absent on all of the nights where the Bullingdon boys smashed up restaurants. It’s probably not that for the obvious reason that Gideon wouldn’t be the only one to know that. But there must be something. A lover maybe? The kind that the country and the party would not accept?

    It’s hard to imagine them picking Boris to lead them. The Tories are ridiculous already, and Boris is a fun guy, but... come on, that is going too far for even them.

  9. Bruce:

    Miliband is certainly not electable.

    He comes over as some sort of senior prefect, partly because he has the good fortune in his 40s to look like he is 28, but partly because he doesn’t have fully formed ideas.

    The polls look good for him at the moment, but I suspect that the Tories are suffering because they are not sufficiently right wing for the English right. I think that the 9% that UKIP has been showing in the polls is likely to drop in a real election and that the Tories will pull back from Labour when people really stop to consider the thought of Miliband and Balls. A promise (?) to hold a referendum on Europe “in or out” will bring back all Cameron’s right wing supporters and knock UKIP for six. Of course he won’t keep his word. There will be problems; the offer will end up being some sort of renegotiation, which of course couldn’t possibly be allowed otherwise every country would want to negotiate on its own particular terms. Then Cameron will be able to blame it all on the EU. I think America wants the UK in the EU so that America has a voice there, and so that is how it will be.

    Still two and a half years is a long time. Things are reckoned to get much worse, probably worse than the younger ones of us have ever known. And I suppose that means that anything can happen.

    I’d be interested to see what Scottish Labour’s lurch to the right has done to them in the polls. Not a lot of good, I’d suspect. Clearly playing to the council workers in the west of Scotland, Lamont may have bought a few votes back there... “Oh goodie, we’ll get plenty more money to put up our pay and squander on daft policies, instead of trying to find ways to stop wasting money and concentrating on the things that matter”.

    Of course, Glasgow council doesn’t have to obey the Scottish government’s advice on council tax. It can put it up if it wants to. But seeing that Labour won the council on the promise of freezing it, I wonder if that is a credible idea.

    Lamont seems even worse that Gray, who was worse than Alexander, who was a lot worse than Jock... What can you say? A spiral into the abyss would seem to be appropriate. How many Labour leaders will Alex see off?

    Thank you for your kind words: in particular comparing this humble and slightly tabloid blog to the professional and clever Wings. It is true that the Scottish blogosphere is important in keeping some of the truth circulating throughout Scotland. A few of my favourites are ‘Scot Goes Pop’, ‘A Scottish Liberal’, and ‘Fazzledown’. But largely we talk to the converted. I don’t know if we change much, but we like to think we do... and getting a word of praise is certainly a huge fillip to the efforts. So, once again thank you.

    Finally, I couldn’t agree more with you that the pathetic opposition to YES in the form of the leaders of the Scottish unionist parties and the super smooth Toryesque Alistair Darling is a boon to us. Long may they stay in post.

  10. Tris

    Thanks for the reply, very insightful. It will be an interesting next few years. Away to read your thoughts on Lamonts speech today. By all accounts in contridicted the Welsh branch view of Labour and the Better Together mob pulled in around 900 this morning to listen to Lament and Curran.

  11. That must have been jolly in that big hall, Bruce. I suspect that Andrew Page, who has gone to Manchester this week, will probably comment on the terrible two.