Scottish LibDems need to rebuild trust

It seems like everyone has a cure for the Labour Party. It is a sign of the times for the LibDems that neither the mainstream media, nor social media, are much interested in what happens next for them. The encouraging signs of a post-election membership mini-surge have even been drowned out by Carmichaelgate. But although the LibDem collapse provides welcome opportunities for the growth of the Greens, there is still a need for a strong liberal voice on human rights and Europe. The difficulty is whether the LibDems are in any state to provide it. Continue reading

Imagine if the Scottish LibDems backed Home Rule

How did it come to this? Five years on from an election where the Scottish LibDems won a modern record of 11 seats in Scotland on 19% of the vote, they have been left with Alistair Carmichael, 7.5% of the vote, 47 lost deposits and struggling to be taken seriously. Getting into bed with the Tories was always going to be disproportionately difficult for the party in Scotland. And of course as David Steel has pointed out they played the coalition game catastrophically badly. Continue reading

The lies and smears of Project Fear are coming home to roost

Apparently we are all mad, or have joined a gnostic cult. No votes have yet been counted, but polls predicting 50% plus for the SNP have almost become banal. There is a risk that the SNP winning a majority of Scottish Westminster seats will seem an anti-climax. Whatever the final result, all pundits seem to agree that something extraordinary is happening in Scotland. And yet few on any side seem to have a clear idea of why. Continue reading

A reasonable Irish view on Scotland?

I suppose Mark Hennessy didn’t have much luck with timing in publishing his article. “Reasoned debate is the first casualty in post-referendum Scotland,” the morning after Nicola Sturgeon won the UK leaders debate largely because of her reasonableness. As someone who lives in Edinburgh and works in Dublin I didn’t recognise his portrayal of division and rancour in Scotland. It is true that Alex Salmond received several death threats during the referendum campaign, but the worst actual violence involved one egg. Mark might look at the water protests in his own glass house before he starts chucking stones. Continue reading

Winter is coming

The Conservatives are on course to form the most extreme right wing government of the modern era. It has been fun to speculate whether Miliband will refuse to govern with SNP support, or whether he can get away with pretending Scots votes don’t count. But if any of our political journalists could break away from the drip-feed of opinion polls and coalition chatter they might notice that the omens are all pointing to a Conservative election win. And this is not a caring Conservative Party. Continue reading

Who will be the next Secretary of State for Scotland?

It is great fun to watch various unionists in turmoil about the prospects of Scottish votes, through SNP MPs, playing a key role in who forms the next UK government and how they govern. The Deputy Chair of the Conservatives apparently thinks it will be undemocratic for Scottish votes to be counted. Miliband seems to have conceded that Scotland is lost to Labour, but proclaims that he will ignore the result. Continue reading

The dangerous lure of what is possible

The BBC was busy again last week promoting the line of the UK security services that they need even more extensive powers to be able to read and track all our email messages and online interactions. This might just be a double bluff given that the Snowden revelations show that GCHQ is hoovering up huge amounts of data illegally. However, it is more worrying if the spooks actually believe that this is something they should prioritise. Continue reading

The case against human rights

The sight of autocrats who deny freedom of expression marching through the streets of Paris is perhaps a good time to belatedly reflect on Eric Posner’s, “The Case Against Human Rights.” Posner correctly identifies the hypocrisy and lack of integrity of the US and Europe on human rights as a serious problem. However, it is somewhat ironic that his critique of the “top-down” approach of international human rights law is blind to the huge growth and effectiveness of grass-roots human rights activism around the globe. Continue reading

We won sovereignty

Arriving in Brussels to meet with colleagues who had questioned Scotland’s independence referendum was a useful moment of reflection. We did not win independence. But we did win the battle for Scottish sovereignty. Never again will it be in doubt that it is the Scottish people who will decide our future. Continue reading

It is not about Labour, the 2015 UK election must be about protecting Scotland from the Tories

Many of the articles which have been written in the aftermath of the independence referendum have been suffused with anger and frustration at the dishonest campaign of fear and smear fronted by the Labour Party. There was probably some value in getting that off our collective chests. But we now need a clear-eyed strategic focus on the future. And we must not fall into the same mistakes which Labour made in 2007 and 2011. Continue reading