By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has said that the UK Government’s priority in the event of a No vote would be to strengthen its presence in Scotland.
Speaking to the Herald newspaper, the Lib Dem MP said that Scots would need to be reminded that they were governed by Westminster and not just Holyrood.
In a statement which included a reference to the London Olympics, he said: “Part of the reason we are where we are today is we have allowed the Nationalists to hollow out the role of the United Kingdom Government in Scotland for the last seven years and in the same way the Olympics were about reminding people they had a British identity, the Scotland Office or the UK Government has to be there, reminding people they have two governments.”
Mr Carmichael said a No vote on September 18, should not be seen as “job done” and that Westminster could not afford ever again turn its attention away from Scotland.
“Once the vote is over we have to learn the lessons of how we came to be here,” said the Secretary of State.
“Part of that process has involved the UK Government not being sufficiently visible in Scotland and we can’t allow ourselves to go back to that in the future.”
The report also quotes a source close to Nick Clegg saying that the UK Government’s voice in Scotland needed to be “enhanced rather than diminished” if there was a No.
Carmichael’s statement has been seized on by pro-independence group Yes Scotland with the campaign saying it ‘undermines’ claims that the Scottish Parliament would have its powers strengthened after a No vote.
Yes Scotland Advisory Board member and Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Alistair Carmichael has let the cat out of the bag about Westminster’s attitude if there was a No vote – and undermines No campaign claims about more powers for Scotland. Rather than enhanced devolution, there would be a reassertion of Westminster’s authority.
“It is not possible to have both, and thanks to Mr Carmichael the UK Government’s attitude has now been laid bare.
“Alistair Carmichael used to say that the post of Scottish Secretary at Westminster was redundant and ‘indefensible”, but now the UK Government’s role is to be actually strengthened – and there is a real danger that the Tories could be re-elected next year, which is a risk Scotland cannot afford to take.
“That is a big reason why we need a Yes vote in September, so that Scotland will have the certainty of knowing we will get the governments we vote for every time – not Tory governments which we overwhelmingly reject.
“Given that the Tories govern Scotland with just a single MP here, it is the Westminster system which has hollowed out proper representative democracy in Scotland. The latest poll puts Yes support at 46 per cent – within touching distance of a majority – and we intend to win in September.”
Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins said Mr Carmichael had actually made a “compelling case” for a Yes vote.
He added: “The truth is that Westminster isn’t working for Scotland and a No vote would not change that. Only with the full powers of independence can we ensure that Scotland’s enormous wealth, talent and resources are used to create a more prosperous, fairer country.”