Independence to dominate 2011 elections as Tavish Scott reverses stance on referendum

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Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott has announced that his party are no longer ‘open minded’ on a referendum on Scottish independence.

The Lib Dem leader has signalled a complete shift on the party’s long held stance and is now suggesting that Scotland has ‘moved on’ and that Scottish independence is no longer an issue for the Lib Dems.


Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott has announced that his party are no longer ‘open minded’ on a referendum on Scottish independence.

The Lib Dem leader has signalled a complete shift on the party’s long held stance and is now suggesting that Scotland has ‘moved on’ and that Scottish independence is no longer an issue for the Lib Dems.

The Lib Dem leader now joins Labour in having changed their policy on an issue that the vast majority of Scots support, namely a free and open democratic vote on the future of Scotland.

This Lib Dem ‘mood swing’ brings them into line with the position adopted by Iain Gray’s Labour group who have also altered their stance on a referendum from ‘bring it on’ to ‘keep it away’.  It will also ensure that the Lib Dems in Scotland have no major obstacle to forming a coalition with Holyrood Labour after the 2011 Scottish elections.

With the Lib Dems in England joining with the Tories, the Scottish Lib Dems may find themselves opposing the very policies that their party are publicly endorsing South of the border.

The reaction of Scottish Liberal Democrats to this abandonment of this basic democratic principle will be interesting, given that the party hierarchy in England have also decided to embrace English Conservatism with an alliance between themselves and the Tories.

It may also serve to strengthen the SNP’s hand as they enter the 2011 elections.  The SNP are now the only major party advocating a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future.

Their message is sure to be ‘vote for us and be heard – vote for the others and be silenced.’

Meanwhile
Independence for Scotland is set to be a “major issue” in the SNP’s forthcoming bid for a second term in office, First Minister Alex Salmond has said.

The SNP leader said his party’s Holyrood election strategy would focus on the independence issue.

Mr Salmond explained that the SNP would combine independence for Scotland with the economy and stress that an independent Scotland could deal with the economic crisis without brutal budget cuts.

He said:
“It will be a major, perhaps dominating issue, in the election, not because it is about not giving the people a say in their own future, which is very important, but because we will be making the link to the economic crisis and saying if we have economic and financial powers then we can deal, not with all, but with the majority of this economic problem, which otherwise we have to deal with within a fixed budget.”

Mr Salmond acknowledged that the Scottish Government were “unlikely” to succeed in pushing the Referendum Bill through the Scottish Parliament next month, but promised “the people will have their say” about the issue at the ballot box in May.

The First Minister also spoke of the fortune an independent Scotland could earn from renewable energy over the next 50 years, adding: “I don’t want to see us again deploying a fantastic energy revolution in Scottish waters and finding out that somebody else gets all the benefits in revenue terms.”

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