Further questions must now be raised about the competence of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland as one of its leading members urged a Scottish minister not to politicise the Royal Highland Show despite one of the party’s own MEPs launching the 'Rural Better Together' campaign at the very same show.
Further questions must now be raised about the competence of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland as one of its leading members urged a Scottish minister not to politicise the Royal Highland Show despite one of the party’s own MEPs launching the ‘Rural Better Together’ campaign at the very same show.
Following news that the SNP’s rural affairs Secretary, Richard Lochead, is due speak on the positive effects independence could bring when he addresses the Royal Highland Show later this month, the Scottish Lib Dem’s agriculture spokesperson, the former leader Tavish Scott, described the move as “regrettable”, declaring:
“The SNP’s decision to politicise this year’s Highland Show is regrettable. Taxpayers’ money is being used to give a nationalist a political platform to rubbish the UK.
“The Highland Show should be a platform for Scotland’s livestock and food – not for constitutional politics.”
However, Tavish Scott appears to forget that Scottish Lib Dem MEP George Lyon will lead a new ‘Rural Better Together’ campaign due to be launched at the very same show.
A spokesman for the pro-independence group Yes Scotland said:
“Clearly, Tavish Scott hasn’t yet heard that the No campaign is launching Rural Better Together, whose chairman is none other than his Liberal Democrat colleague George Lyon MEP, at the Royal Highland Show next Friday. Alistair Darling MP, that other well-known non-politician, will be officiating.
“To say this drives a combine harvester through Mr Scott’s plea for the event to be politics-free is something of an understatement.”
But what of the substance of the issue, namely whether independence would be good for agricultural Scotland? Declaring that “much more” could be done under independence, Richard Lochead has remarked ahead of his speech:
“As rural affairs secretary I have worked hard to use the powers of devolution to drive forward our ambitions for rural Scotland, for its communities and its industries.
“But we will be able to do much more with the powers which independence brings.
“I firmly believe that Scotland’s true potential has yet to be realised and that’s particularly true in rural Scotland, where we have fantastic assets and yet, too often, find ourselves unable to harness their full potential because of the limitations of devolution.
“The Royal Highland Show is a major highlight of the rural calendar and I believe it’s a fitting venue for us to outline our vision for what independence could mean for rural Scotland.”
It’s not a view shared however by Peter Chapman, former vice-president of the National Farmers Union in Scotland and now vice chair of Rural Better Together, who has concluded:
“As part of the UK we benefit from a big home market and our Ministers have the power to shape UK negotiating positions in Brussels. Many of those I speak to share my view that we do not want to put these things at risk.”
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