Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scottish independence referendum revisited

Last week's article by Katy Gordon on Liberal Democrat Voice this week makes one fear that leading Lib Dems north of the border are still falling into Alex Salmond's trap of branding us with the 'Unionist' parties.

We now run the risk of being portrayed, with some justification, as a home rule party that insists home rule isn't an option in the referendum and as supporting votes for 16-year-olds but opposing it for the referendum. Those will be tricky positions to to explain to the electorate.

I have mentioned recently the very wise advice given by Dan Falchikov on this subject that the party would do well to heed. I note that my former Watford colleague Andy Canning, himself a formidable campaigner, is arguing in similar vein in the responses to Katy Gordon's article. He comments, with regard to the 2011 Holyrood election:

...the active hostility to the SNP led the Lib Dem leadership to totally misunderstand the feelings of the electorate and we were punished by a wholesale switch of the Lib Dem vote to the SNP lock, stock and barrel.

It seems to me that Lib Dems north of the border have such visceral loathing of Alex Salmond that many of them have lost their reason regarding how to fight back against him. But the new Scottish party leader Willie Rennie is an old pro when it comes to electoral strategy. Let's hope he will lead the party back towards rationality.

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