By Sean Martin
The SNP has urged any Scottish Liberal Democrats who intend to vote Yes in September’s independence referendum to speak out at the party’s conference in Aberdeen this week.
The call comes after respected Lib Dem figures Andy Myles and Denis Robertson Sullivan both declared their intent to vote in favour of independence on 18 September.
Myles was chief executive of the Scottish Lib Dems for five years from 1992 to 1997, a key figure in the Constitutional Convention which drew up the proposals for devolution and negotiated both the first Scottish Executive Labour-Lib Dem coalition in 1999 and the second in 2003.
He said his decision to vote Yes came after a period of “deep searching”, along with the realisation that the devolution campaign he played a key role in had failed to bring about the major UK constitutional reform he had hoped it would.
“After spending much of my adult life trying, genuinely, to improve the government in the UK, I have come to the conclusion that there is a much better chance of bringing power closer to the people in an independent Scotland,” said Mr Myles. “As a liberal, I believe that sovereignty starts with the people and is passed upwards. Devolution is, on the other hand, about sovereignty being passed downwards, however benevolently.”
He added: “None of the UK parties are even talking about what I consider to be federalism. I have come to the conclusion that the best way forward is an independent Scotland within the EU.”
Robertson Sullivan, who was part of the Scottish Lib Dems Executive at the same time as Myles, said his support for independence was based on a desire to see Scotland “stand on its own two feet” and rebalance the economy across the UK.
SNP MSP Chic Brodie said he was confident more Lib Dems would declare their support for independence and called on delegates attending the party conference in Aberdeen this week to make their feelings known.
Brodie, now SNP representative for South Scotland but who stood as a Lib Dem candidate in three general elections, criticised the Westminster branch for their role as junior partner in the coalition with the Conservatives. In a week during which new polling conducted by ICM Research showed Lib Dem support decreasing in relation to the European elections, Brodie added that Scottish delegates would be deeply dismayed by the actions of their Westminster counterparts.
“The party is paying a heavy price for propping up the Tories,” said Brodie. “For delegates who want to see further powers and a fairer Scotland, many of them will be coming to the realisation that a Yes vote is the only way to make this a reality. Making their voice heard among their colleagues will help others see that Scotland can, should and must become independent.”
The Scottish Lib Dem conference takes place at the AECC, Aberdeen from Friday 28 March to Sunday 30 March.
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