By a Newsnet reporter
The deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg delivered his keynote speech to the party faithful at their Scottish conference in Dundee on Friday, but Mr Clegg’s speech was immediately ridiculed by the SNP who claimed the Lib Dem leader was in a “parallel universe”.
In his speech, Mr Clegg called on party activists to “turn their attention to winning”, despite the dire poll ratings that the party has been achieving in Scotland. According to the most recent poll, the Lib Dems look set to receive just 7% of the vote in Scotland should there be a Westminster General Election tomorrow.
At the last General Election in 2010, the party took 18.9% of all votes cast. If recent polling figures are repeated at a General Election, the party would be staring at an electoral wipeout of a similar magnitude to the drubbing they took at the Scottish election in 2011, which saw the Lib Dems lose 12 of their 17 seats, including all their constituency seats on the Scottish mainland.
In his speech, Mr Clegg claimed: “The Conservatives may have only one MP in Scotland but it is the Liberal Democrats that have put Scotland at the heart of the Coalition’s agenda.”
However he acknowledged that going into coalition with the Conservatives was especially unpopular in Scotland, saying:
“I know that the fact of going into Coalition with the Conservatives has been particularly controversial in Scotland.
“The legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s government lingers long in the memory here.
“People in Scotland know that the Conservatives can’t be trusted to deliver a fairer society. Not on their own anyway.
“With only one MP in Scotland, who honestly thinks that the Conservatives on their own will stand up for you?”
Hailing the party’s victory in the Eastleigh by-election as proof that the Lib Dems could still win, he told party activists:
“Get back out there. Tell our side of the story. And we will win again. On the door step, in town halls, in Holyrood and in Westminster.
“The Liberal Democrats are winning again.
“And we will win again in Scotland too.”
Mr Clegg’s speech failed to impress the SNP, who criticised the Lib Dems for allowing the Conservatives to take power and to inflict unpopular and unwanted policies on Scotland.
Commenting, Dundee West MSP Joe Fitzpatrick said:
“Nick Clegg seemed to be delivering a speech in a parallel universe. Neither he nor anyone else in the Lib Dems can simply pretend that they are not the ones who let the Tories into Government, when the Tories have just one MP in Scotland.
“The Lib Dems are just as responsible for the draconian cuts that are being forced on to Scotland as the Tories are.
“With the Lib Dems in Government at Westminster, the UK is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world, and 50,000 Scots kids are being pushed into poverty as a result of their unfair welfare cuts.
“That is the reality of being governed by the Lib Dems and Tories from Westminster – and even senior Lib Dem politicians are now admitting that policies such as the disastrous bedroom tax are not what you would expect in a decent and fair society.
“Instead of being tied to a Westminster system that gets it so badly wrong, we need decisions affecting people in Scotland to be made by those best placed to get them right – the people of Scotland themselves.
“The only way to ensure that happens is with a Yes vote in next year’s referendum for an independent Scotland.”