Referedum

My speech in Parliament this afternoon opening for my party in opposition to a second referendum on Scottish independence. It was my second appearance in this debate as last week I ground to a halt mid way through a memorised speech just moments after news of the attack on Westminster had filtered into the chamber. It wasn't pretty and the SNP have taken great delight in using the footage against me. So this in part, is for them.

Posted by Alex Cole-Hamilton on Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Video above of Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton arguing against another Referendum

Today the SNP backed by the Greens passed a motion asking for another Independence Referendum, which the Scottish Liberal Democrats have opposed. The Scottish Liberal Democrats believed that not only was this divisive, but meant that important issues such as education and the economy were being ignored by the SNP Government.

Dunfermline South Candidate James Calder has argued,

This is not what Scotland or Fife needs right now. People have had enough of the SNP’s divisive obsession with independence and instead want to see them get on with the day job of Governing. What is worse is there is no mandate for this – the SNP do not have a majority and the Greens had promised they would only support a referendum if they had a petition asking for it with a million signatures – so far we see no sign of this!

I would rather see our public services be dealt with first. In Dunfermline we have a schools capacity crisis brought on as a direct result of SNP policy of under funding Councils. We have roads and pavements falling to bits. We have Mental Health services seriously underfunded. Let’s get on with fixing our country. We need local Councillors, MSPs and MPs who will get on with their day job instead of obsessing about independence.

Willie Rennie

After a mere two and a half years, despite promises of the Referendum being a ‘once-in-generation’ event, the SNP and Greens are backing another divisive Independence Referendum. Willie Rennie and the Scottish Liberal Democrats are opposing this and instead is arguing in favour of a Federal solution.

During the debate in the Scottish Parliament today, Willie Rennie had argued the following:

I want to address the issue of this cast iron mandate. For the SNP their mandate for another referendum is based on the European Union. But now the SNP tell us they will not seek or guarantee membership of the European Union with their referendum.

They will use the EU to get a referendum even though their referendum won’t get the EU. And we know the reason why. They are cynically courting the one in three independence supporters who backed Brexit. So they will use pro Europeans to get a referendum but sell them out to win independence. It is low politics for narrow gain.

And then we have the Greens. It seems like from a different time but we recall their budget triumph where they secured funds that were going to be spent anyway and not a penny for the environment. Far from being a bold green budget it was a bland shade of beige. That was the first broken promise this year.

Now we have the verbal gymnastics of Patrick Harvie arguing that manifesto commitments don’t count anymore. What happened to this participative democracy? What happened to the million names of a petition? Where is the role of the people in deciding whether to have another referendum? Patrick Harvie’s idea of participative democracy is a few green members gathering on a wet Saturday afternoon in Perth to airbrush a manifesto commitment.

In just three months two manifesto commitments blown out of the water. The Scottish people will remember Patrick Harvie and his excuses.

Alex Salmond said the referendum in 2014 was a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the weekend he denied he ever said it. Despite it being on the record. We have it on YouTube. Then he denied he denied it despite that being on YouTube too. Then he dismissed the whole this as nonsense anyway. It was the fastest denial about a denial about a broken promise ever known.

‘How long is forever?’ said Alice. ‘Sometimes, just one second,’ said the White Rabbit. ‘Time is a relative concept, especially in Wonderland.’ Or, indeed, in Scotland.

The Liberal Democrats stated clearly in our manifesto that we would oppose another divisive independence referendum and that is exactly what we will do.

We have made great progress on reforming our United Kingdom. In just 20 years, we have created this Parliament, which is based on proportional representation and has been built on the foundations of human rights. It has gained more powers, including—most recently—powers over tax. We should be proud of what we have achieved together, through everybody in the Parliament working together.

I want to create a federal United Kingdom with power that is shared across the country, a written constitution, fair votes and an elected second chamber. Such reforms are on the way to making our United Kingdom even stronger. The campaign for independence undermines that chance and that momentum.

There is a positive case for the United Kingdom. The economic case for the UK is even stronger than it was in 2014, but it is not just about numbers on a spreadsheet; it is about the values that we share. It is about the compassion that has built some of the best charities in the world, such as Oxfam and Save the Children—British charities that are spreading compassion around the world. It is about the compassion that has built the second-biggest aid budget in the world—SNP members do not like that. It is about the compassion that has built one of the best health services in the world.

Shirley Williams and Willie Rennie chatting in Dunfermline

Shirley Williams and Willie Rennie chatting in Dunfermline

Liberal Democrat icon Shirley Williams came to Dunfermline on Saturday with Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats in order to campaign to save the Union.

With polls showing the campaign is neck-on-neck, Shirley Williams and Willie Rennie came to Dunfermline High Street to talk to ordinary voters about why it is so important to save the union.

Local Liberal Democrat activist James Calder said “It was fantastic to have both Willie Rennie and Shirley Williams visit Dunfermline to talk to ordinary voters. The reception they received was great.

I lost count of all the “No Thanks” stickers people were asking for. At one point we ran out! It seems clear to me that for most ordinary people in Fife, the priorities are the economy, health, pensions and education, not separating ourselves from the rest of the UK!”

Willie Rennie later tweeted “Great to have Shirley Williams join the #LibDemNo team in Dunfermline this weekend. Wish I had her energy!”

Vote No Thanks this Thursday to build a stronger Scotland within the UK family.