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Letters / ‘Taking charge of our own country’

A letter to the Liberal Democrats.

The 2019 General Election was a disaster for the Liberal Democrats who lost out on their incompatible policies of seeking a referendum on remaining in the EU whilst opposing a referendum on independence in Scotland.

As a result, they are currently leaderless and with only eleven MPs at Westminster; brought low by high hopes and hubris.

I trust that they are taking stock of their situation. Where do they now stand on EU membership? Will their determination to oppose Scottish independence be their first priority, and, if so, how do they reconcile that stance with the clear desire of the Scottish people to remain in the EU and to do so by the now only option of firstly becoming an independent nation?

Is it not time for the Liberal Democrats in Scotland to support the Scottish people at this crucial stage in their history, as the Labour Party is showing signs of doing, and to re-engage with the positive position they took in the establishment of a devolved Scottish Parliament and finding again lost Federalist principles?

Alas, my reading of Alistair Carmichael’s column in the Shetland Times of 3 January 20/20 suggests otherwise, and, with all the caveats he makes about the process of independence, reinforces the view that the fait accompli south of the border should also be meekly accepted in Scotland.

I can only conclude, with heartfelt dismay, that the Liberal Democrats will neither support independence nor EU membership for Scotland. How liberal – how democratic!

Should we be surprised? The electorate in Scotland have not forgotten the Liberal Democrat coalition with the Tories and their complicity in the austerity programme they introduced, and can see through later Liberal Democrat attempts to distance themselves from it.

It also seems disingenuous of Alistair Carmichael to write in his column that he will “concentrate on the things which have been overlooked in recent years” and “how we support the vulnerable in our communities”.

I wish him well in that.  He can make a start in Shetland by consulting with the voluntary sector, the Citizens Advice Bureau and those who run the foodbank and then he might recognise the abject despair among not only those who receive support but also those who struggle to provide it.

So let us be under no illusions. We have a government who have introduced a series of harmful policies on welfare rights, immigration, drugs and public services which pose an immediate threat to the mental and physical health of the most vulnerable in society, and just for good measure and to rub our noses in it, have awarded a Knighthood to the architect of such cruelty.

And, it has to be realised, this is a deliberate strategy to punish the poor based on the belief that this would force them into work.  God help us when we live in a country where its government’s ideology is to deliberately harm its citizens who are struggling to survive.

For too long we in Scotland have had to endure governments we did not vote for, and, inter alia, suffer the indignities of universal credit, two child policy, the bedroom tax being foisted on us.

We must therefore take charge of our own country as the 2019 election has clearly exposed the fundamental differences between Scotland and England and we must be committed to achieve a fairer, inclusive society where the vulnerable are protected, not vilified.

And I say to the Liberal Democrats – rethink your position – your country needs you!

Peter Malcolmson