By Sean Martin

The SNP has urged any Scottish Liberal Democrats who intend to vote Yes in September’s independence referendum to speak out at the party’s conference in Aberdeen this week.

The call comes after respected Lib Dem figures Andy Myles and Denis Robertson Sullivan both declared their intent to vote in favour of independence on 18 September.

Myles was chief executive of the Scottish Lib Dems for five years from 1992 to 1997, a key figure in the Constitutional Convention which drew up the proposals for devolution and negotiated both the first Scottish Executive Labour-Lib Dem coalition in 1999 and the second in 2003.

He said his decision to vote Yes came after a period of “deep searching”, along with the realisation that the devolution campaign he played a key role in had failed to bring about the major UK constitutional reform he had hoped it would.

“After spending much of my adult life trying, genuinely, to improve the government in the UK, I have come to the conclusion that there is a much better chance of bringing power closer to the people in an independent Scotland,” said Mr Myles. “As a liberal, I believe that sovereignty starts with the people and is passed upwards. Devolution is, on the other hand, about sovereignty being passed downwards, however benevolently.”

He added: “None of the UK parties are even talking about what I consider to be federalism. I have come to the conclusion that the best way forward is an independent Scotland within the EU.”

Robertson Sullivan, who was part of the Scottish Lib Dems Executive at the same time as Myles, said his support for independence was based on a desire to see Scotland “stand on its own two feet” and rebalance the economy across the UK.

SNP MSP Chic Brodie said he was confident more Lib Dems would declare their support for independence and called on delegates attending the party conference in Aberdeen this week to make their feelings known.

Brodie, now SNP representative for South Scotland but who stood as a Lib Dem candidate in three general elections, criticised the Westminster branch for their role as junior partner in the coalition with the Conservatives.  In a week during which new polling conducted by ICM Research showed Lib Dem support decreasing in relation to the European elections, Brodie added that Scottish delegates would be deeply dismayed by the actions of their Westminster counterparts.

“The party is paying a heavy price for propping up the Tories,” said Brodie. “For delegates who want to see further powers and a fairer Scotland, many of them will be coming to the realisation that a Yes vote is the only way to make this a reality.  Making their voice heard among their colleagues will help others see that Scotland can, should and must become independent.”

The Scottish Lib Dem conference takes place at the AECC, Aberdeen from Friday 28 March to Sunday 30 March.


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2014-03-28 07:26

There are an awful lot of federalists out there.Around a third of the electorate in Scotland.But there’s absolutely no interest in it South of the border where such decisions are made.Time to move on.Time to progress.
2014-03-28 08:15

A federal solution was what some members of the original Scottish parliament wanted back in 1706. But the English parliament didn’t want it then, and they don’t want it now. Hopefully more Libs realise that in the coming months.
2014-03-28 08:36

Pro-independence elements in all parties need to come out of the closet. As is reiterated ad nauseam, Scottish sovereignty is not the SNP’s property but the right of all Scots to reclaim. Federalism is now dead. It was constitutionall  y problematic a century ago now, given the imbalance in population and wealth between the UK “regions” is impossible.
2014-03-28 08:43

Strikes me that if the arguments for a federal UK are that strong, then they will endure and become arguments recommending a confederation of sovereign British nations between Scotland, Ireland, and rUK. – But let that be a Federation of consenting adults, agreeing equal and common interests, not a reluctant marriage of convenience where one party can forfeit another’s interests for the good of their own.

Personally, I think the Federal UK was a window of opportunity which closed some time ago. But, like devolution, it would never have been enough.
2014-03-28 09:22

I know of one local Lib Dem who asked me for a YES badge recently. He criticised the lack of internal debate in his party on the referendum. The NO vote is very soft. Their foot soldiers are unconvinced of the way their leaders are taking them.
mountain man
2014-03-28 13:20

The lib dems must realise that their fedaralist dream isnt going to happen .In my opinion its on a par with their b/t allies of jam tommorow.
2014-03-28 14:47

You would think that the Lib Dems would have learned something from their attempted reform of the “first past the post” Westminster voting system and their abandonment of House of Lords Reform.

It’s almost as if they hide from reality until they are humiliated.
2014-03-28 15:47

Independence, while retaining sterling and close links to the rest of Britain, is very similar to federalism anyway – but with massive advantages and less limitations.

I think many of the Scottish lib-dems now realize this.

Their party has been banging on about it for a hundred years, but no-one in England is interested.
The North West didn’t even want a limited regional assembly.

So if you believe in a federal Britain, voting YES will provide the closest practical solution.
2014-03-28 17:17

Chic Brodie’s call on Lib Dems at the conference to speak out may be pointless – very few supporters of independence have retained their party membership & there has been no sign of a “Lib Dems for Independence” group. On the other hand, “Liberal Democrat Voters for Independence” on Facebook is attracting an increasing readership. “Liberal Democrat Voice”, the main UK web site for Lib Dem supporters, is edited by followers of the party line but attracts sympathetic comments about Independence from a number of its readers, many of whom appear to have no Scottish connections
2014-03-28 18:05

Interesting isn’t it that just days after David Steel warned John Major not to come north just to attack the “Nats” his own leader Nick Clegg does exactly that at their Scottish conference. Does this not show a real lack of respect not just for Steel but for the Scottish people. Will they never learn? They will on 19th September.

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