Lib Dems say no vote needed for greater devolution as Salmond suffers further poll blow

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has argued extra powers both could and should be provided to Holyrood without the need for a referendum.

 

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has argued extra powers both could and should be provided to Holyrood without the need for a referendum.

Announcing the veteran Lib Dem MP and former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell will next month be publishing the findings of his commission on Home Rule for Scotland, Rennie used the first day of the Lib Dem conference in Brighton over the weekend to argue:

“No matter what the result in the referendum, parties of all stripes need to work together to ensure Scotland doesn’t fall back but rather moves forwards to a future with more powers, more decisions, more responsibility at home. Home Rule for Scotland.

And we don’t need a referendum to deliver it either. If we are able to build a consensus which is endorsed by the electorate at the general election we can promptly move to deliver those powers in the confidence that they have popular support.doesn’t fall back but rather moves forwards to a future with more powers, more decisions, more responsibility at home. Home Rule for Scotland.

“We didn’t need a referendum for the Calman proposals expertly piloted by Michael Moore through the recent Scotland Act and we won’t need a referendum now.”

His comments followed further bad news for Alex Salmond as polling revealed the extent of opposition among Scottish teenagers towards independence.

As the SNP leader used a rally in Edinburgh to declare “the momentum lies with the cause of independence and equality for Scotland”, polling by the Mail on Sunday Scotland revealed, in a survey of almost 2,500 teenagers who will turn 16 or 17 in 2014, just 26% said they supported independence compared with 59% who opposed it and 16% who did not know.

The findings are likely to disappoint the SNP which has repeatedly called for 16 and 17 years olds to be allowed to cast a vote in the referendum, something which reports indicate David Cameron might be willing to accept as part of a deal on the format, timing and wording of the poll.

Declaring the findings were likely to blow a hole in the SNP’s strategy, Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale responded:

“The SNP has desperately wanted to extend the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds, not to improve democracy but because they believed that they would vote for separation. This poll blows a massive hole in their strategy.”

In attaching a caveat, however, Professor John Curtice, the polling expert at Strathclyde University, cautioned against suggestions the SNP’s calls for 16 and 17 years olds to be included in the franchise was a ploy to gain more support for independence.

He explained:

“It is too easy to extract the idea that lowering the age is some Machiavellian ploy to win the referendum rather than done out of conviction that the SNP believes this age group should be able to vote.”

A spokesperson for the SNP commented:

“While this in-house Mail on Sunday survey was not conducted by a polling company, and is not a representative sample, it’s great to see young people engaging in political debate, and thinking seriously about what kind of Scotland they want to live in – that’s precisely why the SNP believes that 16 and 17-year-olds deserve to be allowed to vote in elections.

“The SNP will engage positively with our young people ahead of the referendum, as we have a very positive message to communicate.

“It is only because many decisions are already taken in Scotland that we have been able to reintroduce free higher education, record numbers of modern apprenticeships, and a guaranteed job or training opportunity for all 16 to 19 year olds – and with the full powers of independence we will be able to achieve even more.”

Lib Dem Scottish secretary Michael Moore, meanwhile, will today meet Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, for a third meeting to finalise a deal on the mechanics of a referendum which he is confident will result in a single yes/no question being agreed to. It is expected he will provide an update to delegates when he returns to the party conference from Edinburgh tomorrow.

One Response to “Lib Dems say no vote needed for greater devolution as Salmond suffers further poll blow”

  1. Munguin

    The first thing to establish here is that Willie Rennie is
    not a veteran MP he is in actual fact a failed MP. Having won a by-election in
    Dunfermline and West Fife in 2006, he thought he had done such a bang up job he
    would hold on to the seat in 2010. He didn’t! The voters of Fife rejected him.
    So looking round for another gravy train he settled on the Scottish Parliament,
    but he did not feel the moral obligation to put himself in front of the voters
    of Fife again by standing in a constituency. Instead he made the much easier
    choice of lobbying the Lib Dem members of the Fife and Central Scotland Region
    and got himself propelled up their regional list to the top. And thus obtained
    a seat by default. He managed to become leader of what is laughingly called the
    Lib Dem group by being the last man standing at the 2011 Turkey shoot that was
    the Scottish Lib Dem cull.

    And now it turns out he is a fully paid up subscriber to the
    “jam tomorrow” brigade. That’s hardly surprising seeing as he has consistently
    gone against established Scottish Lib Dem policy in order to keep in with his
    ex-Westminster leader. Thus he was against Home Rule or Devo Max being on the
    referendum ballot, despite the Scottish Lib Dems being for a federal UK and was
    against 16 & 17 year olds getting the vote despite this being established
    Scottish Lib Dem policy for years. And now he has gone even further by joining
    Nick Clegg in being what Boris Johnson describes as a “natural Tory” by fully
    subscribing to the Jam Tomorrow doctrine. He seems to have forgotten that his
    coalition colleague David Cameron has already let out of the bag what Jam
    Tomorrow will actually entail and that is nothing at all. To think that folk
    thinking of voting for Independence would be happy with some woolly, half-baked
    scheme that he likens to the postage stamp of the Calman Commission is simply
    ridiculous.

    Kezia and Willie want to watch out putting so much credence
    in a poll conducted in house by the Daily Mail. Especially as unlike the Lib
    Dems the SNP actually do want to increase the franchise to include 16 & 17
    year olds because it is the right and democratic thing to do and not, like
    Willie, suspend their long held beliefs as a matter of convenience to suit
    their Better Together friends.

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