Saturday 6 October 2012


It must surely be the silly season in politics. Johann Lamont has talked about abandoning one of the basic tenets of Labour's philosophy, Margaret Curran has described her leader, the English one, as Thatcheresque (although the rest of us were thinking that it was the Scottish one who fitted than description), and now Willie Rennie has shown his Liberal Democrats to be rather less than deserving of the name. 

It seems that the Yes Scotland campaign had asked, and were denied, permission to hire a stall at the Libdem conference. On hearing about this some members wrote to the Herald, in protest.  

My instinct in a situation like that would have been, 'least said, soonest mended', but Willie wrote back to them in terms more suited to President Putin than the leader of a Scotland's 4th party. "It is a matter of deep regret for me", he wrote, "that you have chosen to show me such disrespect in (sic) sharing your views with the media without speaking to me first."

Now, while protocol suggests that speaking to Rennie might have been the right thing to do, these members presumably have their reasons for ignoring it. It could be that they know from experience,  personal or vicarious,  that there is no point, or it might be that they don't respect his leadership and wished to embarrass him.  They certainly have done that.

And because of his reply, they have embarrassed him further by questioning "When did the Scottish Liberal Democrats become authoritarian?" and  "Since when does a member of a liberal party have to run things through central office?  Every single one of us signed it to stick up for liberal, open, pluralistic, democratic principles."

But there's more. Willie's letter also included these lines: "It could have detracted from our messages for the conference. Even without some kind of stunt on the day, their presence would have been a focus for the media. As we don't get many opportunities to promote our own message the last point is important. It is the clear wish of members that we promote our vision of a federal UK."
I don't understand that. It's not, as some have suggested, like the Better Together campaign asking for a stall at the SNP conference.  Clearly every person at an SNP conference is pro independence (although I hope that if BT asked to rent a stall the SNP would agree.) No, there are Liberals who are pro independence and this might have been an opportunity for them to find out more about the Yes campaign. In short it might have served a purpose.
If he worries that the focus of the conference would be a stall in the foyer, I'd suggest that he doesn't have much confidence in his conference content. 
As for not getting much chance to get his message across, I have to disagree. He gets far more time at FMQs than the size of his party suggests they are entitled to, and he is very skilled, more so than Lamont or Davidson, at getting comments, almost always carping at the SNP, into the newspapers.
But what I don't understand most of all is his statement that it is the clear wish of members that they promote federalism. 
If there was ever a time to be promoting a federal UK, it is in the build up to the 2014 referendum. But can anyone remember Nick Clegg or Willie Rennie calling for a second referendum question on a federal set up, or making any other serious demands that federalism be included in discussions?
If this is a serious demand, perhaps he'd like to explain his involvement in the Better Together campaign.


  1. Here's another view on Rennis. Don Vlad? :-)

  2. Forgot the link.

  3. I don't find it at all surprising that Willie Rennie doesn't want a Yes Scotland stall at the Lib-Dems' regional Scottish conference.

    The bit I can't understand is that five Lib-Dems wrote to the Herald in the belief that they weren't members of a hard-line unionist party with a hard-line unionist Leader in Clegg and hard-line unionist regional leader in Willie Rennie.

    It always surprises me that the Lib-Dems still claim to be federalists. Federalism is unionism so it's not outside the current thinking of the party but I've looked and looked and looked and I can't find a single policy on the Lib-Dems' website that even mentions federalism.

    To get a federal parliament you have to have a written constitution because that's what federalism is all about. Regional parliaments with constitutionally protected powers and there's no sign of a policy on a written constitution either.

    Anyone want to prove me wrong and post a link to a Lib-Dem policy which mentions either federalism or a written constitution for the UK?

    Lib-Dems love to talk about federalism but a federal UK is too much work and much too frightening for them to do anything about it. It's all devolution and Home Rule now because they can put that in a box labeled Scotland and put the lid on it.

  4. I think your last picture sums him up in look right, look smug, look left then look daft.

  5. tris

    they should of let them have a stall
    I would of and then let them get on with it......who cares the snp have lost it anyway

  6. I hope some of them set up a table on the pavement outside the hall. That should put wee wullies gas at a peep

    Best laugh I have had all day wullie thinking he deserves respect Maybe that wee taz could use wullies leg as a lampost

  7. Ha ha Splendido Juteman!

    Non così tanto un don… più un donette

  8. Well, I looked too, Doug, and I couldn't find anything about federal policies.

    I had an impression that Clegg recently said something about not being a federalist party, but a devolutionist party.

    But I could be wrong, or it could be that this was at the beginning of his relationship with Cameron and he didn't want to seem too out of line with what the boss said.

  9. LOL CH. Do you know, I didn't even look at the daft grin, I just saw the pics I was looking for with the four wise monkeys joined in coalition. The Tories paying for it and Labour (supposedly the most popular unionist party in Scotland), doing the talking.

    I thought Kennedy was supposed to be representing them, and Auntie Annabel the Tories. You would have thought that even if they aren't going to do much, they would have turned up for the launch and the photocall.

    Rennie does seem rather inept to put it mildly. But then he really hasn't got much in the way of experience.

  10. The SNP aren't contesting it, Niko.
    It's the Yes campaign. There are others involved:

    The Green Party;
    The Scottish Socialists;
    Labour for Independence;
    Liberals for Independence;

  11. Niko is hoping to get a job on the means testing board to make him feel relevant when he denies the poor access to basic services. What he and his unionist chums are unable(too thick), take your choice, that the Independence movement is a peoples movement only made possible by the SNP and when people move on mass seas will be parted as he likes religious analogies.

  12. Lordy CH. If he gets on the means testing panel I bet no nationalists will get a halfpenny.

    Niko: Another wee thought. Could we not go after the bankers and get them to pay us back all that money they owe us, rather than make Mrs McTavish carry her wee bank book and her pension notification down to be humiliated by a clerk at the council, so that she can get a bus pass, or a free prescription?

    And bill them for their bonuses for the last 5 years?

    Oh and put the tax back up to 50p in the pound for people on over £150,000 a year.


    Off topic, but I see that Cameron has YET another headache. having promised that he will legislate for gay marriage his chairmen from around England are telling him to U-turn on it (knowing, I suppose that he gets withdrawal symptoms if he doesn't U-turn at least once a week).

    Aspirin for Mr Cameron....

  13. Oh dear tris I will not elaborate but he can get that prescription on the internet according to my spam messages.

  14. Ha ha ha Anon. That is a really good idea.

    Well actually both of them are.

    I'm sure Taz is always looking for somewhere to go...

  15. You get them too CH?