How do we become the “guarantors of change”?
Willie Rennie in his speech to Scottish Conference talked about Liberal Democrats being “guarantors of change” when it comes to Home Rule or further devolution.
What I fail to see from Rennie is a vision of how to achieve this?
We have 5 seats in the Scottish Parliament, 11 Scottish seats in Westminster and are polling about 4% in Scotland according to the latest YouGov poll.
We can’t guarantee anything.
Ok, we’re in government in Westminster so at the moment have a small window of opportunity but if we have to wait until after the #indyref to push for anything further, then depending on when the referendum is, we might have less than a year to do anything.
We have the Home Rule Commission, which is due to report to Autumn Conference but again, how are we going to guarantee any proposals or any of the sentiments behind it, especially without a second question on the ballot paper.
The second question doesn’t need to be specific. In NZ, on electoral reform, they just asked if they wanted to change the voting system.
The SNP have the mandate to ask a question on independence but we can still ask that second question, that if the Scottish people don’t want independence, do we want change. That will keep the debate alive.
At the moment, we have the other 3 parties willing to work on something similar to our idea because they are scared of what might happen instead.
Alex Salmond is proposing devo-max or some or any kind of middle option in case people reject independence or we’ll vote for the status quo. Cameron and Miliband are proposing change, or a debate about change because they are scared that otherwise we’ll vote for independence.
Once those fears are settled by the independence referendum, what do we have? If there is a yes vote, we have independence.
If there is a no vote, Alex Salmond will continue to fight for change whereas Cameron and Miliband, what will they do? They are no longer scared that we’ll vote for independence if there is no change to the status quo and they are lukewarm at best to the idea of a federal state, so they won’t be pushing the debate, in fact most of them will see no reason for change, especially when we have other problems to fix like the economy.
How do we become “guarantors of change” then?
I would say, that whilst in the UK government we set up a commission into how a federal UK would look like and how we might go about setting one up considering the UKs devolved nature, preferably before the referendum so the Conservatives don’t have a chance to get cold feet.
The next step would be to push it at the 2015 election and if the Conservatives and Labour are making noises like they don’t quite believe in it, lets wipe the floor with them.
In the 2015 election campaign, lets show not just through our believe in federalism and constitutional change that we are the only party to vote for if you truly want the freedom to shape your own destiny.