Letter to Alistair Carmichael MP, Secretary of State for Scotland
Scottish Independence Referendum 18/9/14
I write as an Independent Councillor for Kinross-shire, having been first elected in May 1999 as a Liberal Democrat (a party I left in 2008 over lack of support on community planning issues) and served my constituents continuously since then. I support, along with the Independent Group on Perth & Kinross Council, the ‘Better Together Campaign’ to oppose the separatist policies of the SNP and keep Scotland part of Britain and the UK. I campaigned for a devolved Scottish Parliament and my continuing liberal political philosophy supports the Federal solution for the British state, with a sterling interchangeable currency zone from the Channel Islands to Scotland (I enclose a joint letter written in December 2006 by the Liberal councillors in Kinross-shire then, which I suggest is still very relevant to this Referendum).
The SNP are extremely well organised and formidable opponents in this Referendum. They are also very centrist, controlling and corporate at both national and local level; in particular I would say in relation to promoting a national fire and police service (very clearly primarily a cost-saving exercise), planning controls with a local democratic deficit and a seemingly indefinite (9 years by the end of the present Government’s term) council tax freeze virtually imposed on local authorities, with resultant related cuts in services. I note also that although arguing for greater fiscal autonomy, they have never used the varying tax powers they currently have under devolution.
My experience to date of the ‘Better Together Campaign’ leaves something to be desired and I have had difficulty in liaison and acquiring campaign material for the team I have in place to help. I feel it is incumbent and urgent for the ‘No’ campaign to get better organised nationally and locally, if they are to win. The SNP play up their ‘positive future’ message and the apparently seamless transition from a 300 year old union to independence against the ‘project fear’ of the ‘No’ campaign, tending to label anyone who doesn’t share their agenda for independence as somehow unpatriotic towards Scotland.
Surely it is time to be more positive about the benefits (both past and present) to Scotland of being part of the UK. I would also urge the unionist parties to have discussions on a ‘home rule package’ they could agree to put on the table and deliver if a ‘No’ vote is secured. I believe this would be the best and wisest outcome for Scotland’s future.
Councillor Mike Barnacle
Independent Member for Kinross-shire
ps I also run an accountancy practice with clients on both sides of the border and do not wish to see separate financial services regulations applying.
Ruth Davidson MSP, Leader of Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland
Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of Labour Party in Scotland
Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of Liberal Democrats in Scotland
Gordon Banks MP (Ochil & South Perthshire)
Councillor Dave Cuthbert, Independent Member for Kinross-shire
Councillor Willie Robertson, Scottish Liberal Democrat Member for Kinross-shire