Nick Clegg’s promises of more powers for Scotland if it votes no in the independence referendum have been crushed by the abject failure of the Liberal Democrats in the European elections.
Wiped out in Scotland and with only one MEP left in England, the Liberal Democrats have been replaced as the third party of UK politics by UKIP. Even this description is to be kind to them, as they actually finished in sixth place by number of MEPs, behind the Greens and even behind the SNP, who only contested the Scottish seats.
It now looks increasingly possible that UKIP will replace the LibDems as the Conservative party’s coalition partner at Westminster after the next UK general election.
Clegg said he and his party would be the guarantor of more powers for Scotland, but he has no power, no influence and, as this video from 2010 shows, no track record of keeping what he holds out as heartfelt promises. Everyone knows about tuition fees, but listen to what he also says about votes for 16 year olds, which the LibDems held out against in the Scottish parliament over the referendum.
Given that the Liberals have been promising home rule for over 100 years, Nick Clegg is the worst possible guarantor of last resort on more powers!
So can we expect support for more powers from UKIP once they hold the balance of power in the UK? In their 2011 Scottish Manifesto they said that:
The Scottish Parliament would remain in Edinburgh, but MSPs would be eradicated in favour of Scottish Westminster MPs.
This essentially means closing the Scottish Parliament and having a Scottish Grand committee travel from London for a week a month to impose Westminster’s point of view on Scotland. Now I see why he is laughing!
NOTE: UKIP lost their deposit in every seat they fought in 2011 in Scotland.
As we have pointed out before on Business for Scotland only a YES vote guarantees more powers.
Business for Scotland has always made it clear that we support independence and democratic self governance as a means to an end and that end is to build a better, more prosperous, more confident and fairer nation than the one we are limited to as part of the restrictive partnership that is the UK. For us, the party that runs Scotland is of little importance so long as they are elected only by the people of Scotland, focused on the needs of the people of Scotland and not beholden to the needs of the overblown and politically, socially and culturally different mass population of London and the South East.
That said we have serious concerns about the fact that UKIP are now setting the political agenda in the rest of the UK and will have a major role to play in representing Scotland’s agricultural and fishing industries in the EU. Given UKIP’s rise in popularity there is now a great deal more uncertainty around the UK’s continued membership of the UK than with Scotland’s membership as an independent country. Scotland wants to stay in the EU, and it is now clear that to win the next election Labour and the conservatives will both have to firm up their anti EU credentials and commit to an in/out referendum. This means that if Scotland votes No in September we are increasingly likely to be ripped out of the EU after 2015 by the rest of the UK’s growing admiration for UKIP.
Voting YES gives more certainty on Scotland continuing in the EU than voting NO.