Liberal Deliberations

Consider the Liberals of the field, they sow not neither do they reap, but never was Solomon in all his glory as arrogant as one of these.

Apologies for this misquotation from the Bible – think it should be “spin” not reap, but they actually do spin, if not in the Biblical fashion.

I was watching the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, followed by Politics Scotland with Gordon Brewer.

Jo Swinson, Leader, aspiring to be Prime Minister I think, was saying she would not enter into any pact with Johnson or Corbyn. Marr did not quite pin down how her tactics would work, but with 18 MPs it sounded fanciful – the SNP has 35 but we are off the table for her anyway. Gordon Brewer was also trying to get straight answers from Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberals, who wanted to leapfrog Labour in the Scottish Parliament. (Not physically!)

The Liberals have been around a long, long time – as Gilbert & Sullivan put it in Iolanthe “Every boy and every gal that’s born into this world alive, is either a little Liberal or else a little Conservative”.

It was quite common to drift back and forward between the two parties; when Winston Churchill became MP for Dundee he was elected as a Liberal, however by the time of the Second World War he was back in the Conservatives. (When he lost the Dundee seat the victor was a prohibition campaigner, Ned Scrimgeour; history tells us that Dundee was drunk for a few days after that victory.)

Also in the early days of the Scottish National movement, when independence was an embryo, members of the SNP could stand as Liberals; this practice ceased under the Chairmanship of the SNP by Dr Robert McIntyre.

During the Sixties there was a proposal for the SNP and the Liberals to campaign together in East Aberdeenshire with Ludovic Kennedy as candidate. There was a meeting in Aberdeen which I was invited to – I was Chairman of Peterhead Branch, which was the largest Branch in the constituency. Some years later I met up with some of these Branch members at one of the Conferences; after one meeting a friend of mine asked one of the delegates “Hoo dae ye no’ like Jim Lynch?”

The answer was “He met the Liberals”. When I heard this I burst out laughing; I never went to the meeting, I think the only reason I was asked was because I had a car. Anyway, the woman had hated me for years – what a waste of venom. Happy days!

We did welcome the fact when the Liberals adopted a candidate , because East Aberdeenshire was a safe Tory seat, held by Patrick Woolridge Gordon; his mother was the daughter of Dame Flora McLeod, Chieftain of Clan MacLeod. We thought that a Liberal candidate would split the Tory vote; we did not win the seat in 1970, but Douglas Henderson won it in 1974.

About the Liberals, during Harold Wilson’s rule they had a supply and consent agreement with him; I think that the SNP also had the same kind of agreement; Wilson only had a majority of 3, the Liberals had 13 and we had 11 . Wilson got our support as devolution was in their manifesto, but that’s a story for another Flag.

When the Scottish Parliament was opened the Labour Party did not have an outright majority so they teamed up with the Liberals, or Liberal Democrats as they had become. Labour had 56 seats, SNP 35 and Liberal Democrats 18. In 2003 the SNP seats dropped to 27 as other parties emerged, the Scottish Socialist Party, (Remember Tommy Sheridan?), the Greens and a Scottish Pensioners Party and the Liberals stayed the same I think.

In the 2007 Election a new voting system was introduced, inventor Douglas Alexander as I recall.

The election was a shambles, because they had the bright idea of doing the local government elections at the same time.

The result was SNP 47, Labour 46, Tories 17, Liberal 16, Green 2, Margo 1.

  • The final vote in that election was the Regional Vote for the Highlands which came on the Friday afternoon; when the seats were due for declaration this showed 4 Labour, 2 Tories and 1 Green. David Thompson in Inverness queried this result, and the Returning Officer rather huffily said he would check; an hour later he announced the result was 3 Labour, 2 Conservative and two SNP.
  • That is where our extra seat came from.

These things are what dreams are made of.

Alex thought that the Liberals would go in a coalition similar the one they had with Labour. However, they refused to even meet the SNP unless it gave up its policy of independence. As this was and still is the raison’ d’etre of the SNP this was ridiculous, Alex said no thanks! He then formed a minority government which the other parties expected to last a few weeks – it lasted 4 years!

Next came a Westminster election – 2010, which also left Labour needing allies. The SNP offered support but dealing with the SNP was anathema to Labour, so

David Cameron hooked up with the Liberals – “I agree with Nick” was the catch phrase of the time. The Liberals, always avid for a good thing and ditching principles fitted in very well with the Tories.

Come the 2011 Scottish Parliament election which surprised us all, with the SNP getting an overall majority which the voting system was designed to make impossible! The Liberals dropped from 16 seats to 5, as their voters did not like being made to look fools. They have not yet recovered from that.

After the Scottish Referendum in 2014, along came the 2015 Westminster election, where the SNP won 56 of the 59 Scottish parliamentary seats!

One Tory, one Labour and one Liberal were left.

Yet when Mrs Theresa May called a snap election as she was worried about her small majority the SNP lost 21 seats as 56 out of 59 had frightened the horses. Mrs May lost her majority and had to go cap in hand, or rather our money in hand, to the DUP in Northern Ireland forking out more than a billion as a bribe.

As we are in a peculiar situation just now the political headlines change by the hour, the Liberals are now planning to take control of Westminster, with Jo Swinson as Prime Minister, conveniently ignoring the fact that she is a Scottish MP, second class by Westminster rules, and not allowed to vote on English matters.

Incidentally she, and her Scottish pot-licker, the earnest, concerned Willie Rennie, promised a new EU Referendum, as they did not like the last one; they are also denying a new Scottish referendum, because they did like the last one, a democratic pick and mix! Do not know if that one survived their Conference I think I just saw her on TV saying that she would immediately move Section 50 if she was elected Prime Minister, which would mean no EU Referendum, very democratic. She also wants every SNP voter to vote for her – Sorry hen, but I’m spoken for.

You can understand my opening comments about the arrogance of the Liberals.

Ms Swinson is guilty of the cardinal sin of politics; you should not make promises you cannot perform. I suppose you get Westminster absolution.

More than myself have come up with David Steel at the Liberals 1981 “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government!”

Scotland’s Oil

On other important matters, Climate Change; I see a drive to stop Scotland’s oil production and leave the oil in the sea. The Scottish Government has already gone further ahead on this issue than most countries, but it will have to phase in the rundown with investment in clean energy sources. How strange that as we stand to get control we will be barred from the cash benefit of the oil. I note that Nicola made the comment that we would still have to get oil from other sources which might not be as clean as the present source; it was always my contention that the vast reserves in the Middle East could be affected by war. I see this week that oil facilities in Saudi Arabia have been attacked. Our industry is safer.


The recent decision by Glasgow City Council to forbid conflicting parades of Irish Republican Societies and the Orange Order has met with fierce opposition from the Orange Order. They have claimed discrimination; I see it only as a matter of time before they protest against AUOB, which has had many cheerful parades, with no hate-filled element.


Calls for action against Cybernats are becoming more strident; I have no time for the green ink brigade, and this type of communication is deplorable. The Cybernats are ostensibly pro Referendum and Independence, but I very much doubt if they are; any actions that give the Yes campaign a bad name is counter productive, so I believe the Cybernat is a Better Together plan. Actions which harm your own side is inexcusable – if we find any we should expel them publicly.


In his judgement on proroguing of Westminster, unanimous with the three of Scotland’s most senior judges, Lord Brodie made the point that the actions of the Westminster Cabinet was egregious.

Being only roughly familiar with the word, I checked my Oxford English dictionary and found it “Outstandingly bad; flagrant”.

I now wonder how the Supreme Court, only established after devolution, will judge?

Royal bias?

Footnote, just as we go to Press; David Cameron, stunned by a Yes poll ahead of the Scottish Referendum in 2014, asked Her Majesty to intervene on behalf of Better Together. We all saw her “non committal” remark outside Crathie Kirk, so she obliged one Prime Minister by making a political comment.

Is she doing the same in the Brexit scenario?