Scottish politics from a female, LibDem perspective
There’s a palpable excitement about politics in Scotland just now. Clichés are being bandied around about standing on the threshold of change. That we could be witnessing the beginning of a new era in Scottish, indeed British History.
I agree. But not about independence. That is an idea that we know from every opinion poll of the past seven years does not sit comfortably with the majority of Scottish people.
No what I’m excited about is the prospect of Federalism. A change in the relationship between Scotland and the other nations of the United Kingdom which brings more power to Holyrood, more control over our own affairs, more financial responsibility but maintains the security and strength of being part of the UK.
It’s an idea that is one of the core principles of being a Liberal Democrat. It’s something we’ve talked about wistfully for years but always seemed beyond reach. Until now.
By opening the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future we have discovered that actually most people in Scotland agree with us. Around 75 per cent of them according to opinion polls.
Now Sir Menzies Campbell is set to reveal exactly how his LibDem Home Rule Commission believes that change could be achieved and a new relationship forged between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
And it’s change that wouldn’t mean either swapping the pound for the Euro or trying to come up with some other new, untried arrangement.
We wouldn’t have to worry about whether the EU would allow us to be members or insist we join the Euro zone.
Neither would we have to worry about renegotiating the hundreds, maybe thousands of treaties that the UK has across the globe and start thinking about how we would set up embassies to represent our people when they travel abroad.
And we wouldn’t have to worry about the impact of independence on our pensions and whether we could afford the welfare state on our own.
No. Federalism offers us all the advantages of more control over Scotland’s affairs vested in Holyrood but none of the disadvantages of breaking up the UK.
Today we will find out the detail of what the commission’s plan entails but its a vision I already know enough about to want to see become a reality.
Perhaps when it’s widely publicised and becomes part of the national debate on our future the people of Scotland will agree that it’s an idea whose time has come.
CJ October 17.