Liberal Democrats accused of ‘lurching to right’ to chase Scottish Tory votes

Why are the Liberal Democrats in Scotland voting against Clean Air Zones and community control?

Pictured: Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie MSP.

The Liberal Democrats’ have been accused of a further ‘lurch to the right’, after the Scottish party voted against a bill that would allow councils to run bus services.

Lib Dems in Holyrood voted against giving more powers to councils in the Transport Bill, which is backed by the Greens and SNP.

It follows Jo Swinson’s attempts to bolster ranks of Lib Dem MPs at Westminster with several ex-Tory MPs in recent months, including Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston, Sam Gyimah and Phillip Lee. Allen suggested at least 20 more ‘one-nation’ Tories would like to follow suit.

Scottish Greens transport spokesperson John Finnie said:

“In voting against the Transport Bill, the Scottish Liberal Democrats rejected Low Emission Zones in our cities, rejected giving our local authorities more powers and abilities to raise funds and rejected improvements to our bus services.

“That is because the party is prioritising winning Tory votes over localism and the climate emergency. Look at the way Jo Swinson, financially backed by fracking companies, has refused to work with other opposition parties in Westminster to stop Boris Johnson in a desperate attempt to woo Tory remainers to her party.

He said their commitment to stopping the climate crisis and helping communities ‘is in tatters’.

Scottish Labour are understood to have abstained on the bill.

Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP said:

“The Transport Bill was supposed to profoundly reshape Scotland’s transport system. Instead it will be overshadowed by an SNP-Green attempt to plunder driver’s pockets that will hit low paid workers hard.

“There are things to welcome here, such as measures to allow local authorities to establish their own bus companies and low emissions zones and to tackle pavement parking so it’s a shame that parliament was forced into voting on a bad law, designed to facilitate the Government’s budget deal with the Greens. That was a step too far for the Liberal Democrats.”

The law passed on Thursday, with 56 votes to 29, with 18 MSPs abstaining.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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7 Responses to “Liberal Democrats accused of ‘lurching to right’ to chase Scottish Tory votes”

  1. Patrick Newman

    I don’t see how it is possible for the Lib Dems to “lurch” to the Right after supporting the Cameron – Osborne government for five years and when their current leader was a fully paid-up member of the Austerity Hit Squad.

  2. Dave Roberts

    Lurid headline, no content. It’s the Greens. Chief Rabbi accused of being Jewish, rumours have it that the Pope is a Catholic. For f….s sake! How pathetic can this site get?

  3. Tom Sacold

    The old Liberals and now the Lib Dems have always tailored their campaigning in local areas to whatever will give them the most votes. They are an ideology-free zone. Which is why they can win to a point but no further. There is no collective cohesive set of ideas that back up their campaigns and that is why they always eventually come unstuck.

    The old Gladstonian classical libralism of free trade, free markets, etc. was taken over by the Tories many years ago.

  4. Dave Roberts

    Yes, that pretty much sums them up Mr Sacold.

  5. Alasdair Macdonald

    “Scottish Labour are understood to have abstained on the bill.” What a mealy-mouthed cop-out! Shame on you! “Scottish” Labour DID abstain on the bill – as you almost certainly know. “Scottish” Labour also joined with the Tories in OPPOSING the section of the Bill which grants Councils the powers to introduce workplace parking charges. The proposal emulates the successful scheme introduced in Nottingham by the Labour-controlled Council. “Scottish” Labour claims that such charges are a regressive tax on low paid workers. The real ‘regressive’ taxon working people is the building of many workplaces far from residential areas, which are ill-served by privatised and deregulated public transport, forcing many employees to buy cars. The ‘regressive’ tax is also the higher levels of air pollution experienced in less affluent areas which are usually on major roads or rat runs for the increasing numbers of cars of people in more affluent and less polluted areas travelling through them on the way to work. These areas also have a higher incidence of road accidents to children living in these areas.
    This is an example of the kneejerk oppositionism of “Scottish” Labour, which has resulted in its dwindling support and the fact that it is an embarrassment to the UK Labour Party of which “Scottish” Labour is but a branch office.

    As for the LibDems, I agree entirely with the tenor of the report and, unusually for me, to be in agreement with Mr Tom Sacold (if such a person actually exists and is not a Tory troll masquerading as a “Lexiteer” to attract working class people to abandon Labour).

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