Two things this week have given me a big reminder of why I’m a Liberal Democrat.
Divisive nationalist agendas
Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have said they want to hold another Scottish independence referendum in the next two years. Despite Nicola Sturgon saying in 2015 that education would be her priority during this term, time and again the SNP have reminded us that they only really care about one thing — splitting up the UK.
What makes me most angry about this is the fact that Nicola Sturgeon knows all too well that she won’t get another referendum. This stance is pure grandstanding. She has made this announcement simply to placate the extreme nationalists in her party, simply so that she would get a nicer ride during this weekend’s SNP party conference.
She still didn’t get a nice ride, with the SNP’s fundamentalists pushing through proposals for an independent Scotland to scrap the pound and create a new currency. That would drive an even greater wedge between Scotland and its neighbours.
You would think that the lessons of Brexit would have sunk in. That leaving a successful (if flawed) union isn’t easy, even if you’ve been a member for 40 years, never mind 300 years.
Nicola Sturgeon on Scottish independence is no better than Theresa May on Brexit. Both spend their energies on unrealistic nationalist policies that seek to separate us from our partners, in a vain attempt to keep the peace within their own parties. Meanwhile, the real issues that ordinary people care about — health and education — are getting ignored.
Divisive Change UK
For those of us that know that society is better off when people work together, there are few places to turn. The Scottish and British governments have made separation their number one priority. And Labour can’t be relied upon to fight against it.
So the formation of the Independent Group, with the potential of creating more buzz in favour of remaining in the EU, was a briefly promising moment. But over time, Change UK (or whatever they’re called now) has become more and more of a horror show.
Their refusal to co-operate with other pro-EU parties threatens to split the pro-EU vote. In fact, an internal memo shows that their actual aim appears to be to “crush” parties with similar views to theirs.
So much for changing politics. Change UK seem set to create an open goal for pro-Brexit candidates, at the very time they should be demonstrating the advantages of working together.
Questions also have to be asked about the sorts of people this new party is attracting. Change UK’s main candidate in Scotland stood down after social media posts came to light featuring “offensive comments about black women and Catholics”.
It also makes you wonder how competent Change UK really could be, if they can’t carry out basic vetting of their candidates and their social media accounts.
As Jonathan Calder remarks, “the Tiggers have spent the week unbouncing themselves.”
The overwhelming impression the Tiggers give is one of amateurism. Everything had been done in a hurry and nothing has been done very well.
But then I suppose if you are parachuted into a safe seat, as so many Tigger MPs were, you are likely to acquire an exaggerated sense of your own skill as a politician.
By contrast, Liberal Democrat MPs have to work hard — ridiculously hard — and be good politicians to get elected to the Commons.
This has all reminded me why I’m a member. Only the Liberal Democrats can be relied upon to make the case for a more open, tolerant future as part of the EU and the UK.