There’s hypocrisy, and then there’s Lib Dem hypocrisy. Or rather, in the words of the party leader Jeauw Sweynsen, heypaughrezeey. The party’s hypocrisy is many layered, complex, and internally lacking in anything that might vaguely resemble consistency, even when you try and listen to it from the back of a room full of people yelling at one another. So it’s rather like their party leader’s accent in that regard.
The brand new policy announced by the Lib Dems at their conference is that if they win a majority at the General Election – no laughing at the back there – they’re going to revoke Article 50. Now you might think that was a perfectly consistent stance from them. After all, they’ve been against Brexit since day one. However the option for the UK to unilaterally revoke Article 50 only exists in the first place because Joanna Cherry and Alyn Smith of the SNP, Andy Wightman and Ross Greer of the Greens, and Catherine Stihler and David Martin of Labour, together with lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC the director of the Good Law Project, went to the time and trouble of taking the UK Government to court to prove the point. The case was necessary because the British Government was asserting loudly and insistently that no such right existed. It took a court ruling to prove the contrary.
Who is missing from that list of litigants? That’s right, the Lib Dems fearlessly decided not to take part in the court case. The opportunists of the Lib Dems are just happy benefit from other people’s work without giving them any credit for it.
However flip-flopping is nothing new for Jeauw Sweynsen. She’s fiercely opposed to Brexit nowadays. Brexit is a bad thing that has only created division and upset. Today she’s quoted saying that former Tory PM David Cameron cannot be forgiven for calling the EU referendum. “No, I don’t forgive David Cameron for calling the EU referendum,” she told Lib Dem conference delegates. However she was quite happy to open the whole Brexit can of worms back in 2008 when she supported a motion put to the Commons which if successful would have brought about a referendum on EU membership. Wullie Rennie, who at the time was MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, also supported the motion. Jeauw stood up in the chamber of parliament and told the House of Commons, “In fact, the Lib Dems would like a referendum on the major issue of in or out of Europe.” Presumably she’s managed to forgive herself and Wullie.
The plan now for the Lib Dems is to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit outright, without another referendum. There’s no need for another referendum to overturn the result of the first one. There’s no need to implement the result of the first referendum to see whether it delivers what the voters were promised. Just vote Lib Dem, and a majority Lib Dem government will cancel the whole thing even though the First Past the Post voting system of Westminster would theoretically allow them to form a majority government on as little as one third of the popular vote.
But all this hypocrisy, rich and multistoreyed as it is, palls into insignificance when we contrast the Lib Dems’ attitude to the EU referendum with their attitude to the Scottish independence referendum. Unlike the EU referendum the result of the Scottish referendum was actually implemented. Scotland remains a part of the UK. Yet the Lib Dems and the other anti-independence parties have dismally failed to deliver on the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in 2014 in order to produce their winning result.
However not only do the Lib Dems refuse to concede that there is any need for another independence referendum, they have also stated that they would block one under all circumstances irrespective of whether voters in Scotland express a demand for one at the ballot box or not. The Lib Dems do not want to allow the electorate of Scotland to hold them and their pals in Better Together to account. The decision was made in 2014, and even if you were too young to vote then, you’re not going to be allowed to have a say on whether the UK that Scotland is a part of is really the UK that Scotland was told it was a part of. That UK that was a member of the EU. That UK that was a bastion of moderation, tolerance, and respect for minorities. You’re not going to be allowed to decide whether that really is the same as the Brexit Britain immigrant bashing UK that Scotland has turned out to be a part of. Not until Wullie Rennie shuffles off this mortal coil.
It doesn’t matter what the voters of Scotland actually want. Even if the voters of Scotland were to return 56 SNP MPs at the General Election to come. Even if the voters of Scotland were to elect an overwhelming majority of pro-independence MSPs in the next Holyrood elections, the Lib Dems say that they would still block any attempts to hold another independence referendum, indefinitely. They will do so even though they have but a fraction of the electoral support that pro-independence parties receive, and feel that they are perfectly justified in blocking the democratic will of the people of Scotland on the back of MPs from elsewhere in the UK. Yet this is a party which signed up to the Scottish Claim of Right, a document which states that the people of Scotland have the absolute right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. Apparently there was a caveat to that document in invisible ink which said “as long as that’s OK with Wullie Rennie and Jeauw Sweynson.”
Meanwhile there are reports that the Lib Dems in Scotland are in talks with the Tories about ensuring that the SNP don’t get a “clean sweep” of Commons seats at the next General Election. Just like they did in 2010, the Lib Dems are quite happy to preach opposition to the Tories, and then collaborate with them.
Voters are allowed to change their mind on the decision to leave the EU, because that’s a decision that the Lib Dems don’t agree with. Voters aren’t allowed to change their minds on Scotland’s decision not to become independent, because that’s a decision that the Lib Dems do agree with. The only referendum results that need to be respected are those that the Lib Dems support.
“It’s about giving people a choice,” said Jeauw during an interview on Sky News on Monday. But only if that choice is one that the Lib Dems agree with. Two faces aren’t enough for them, the Lib Dems are neither liberal nor democratic.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to email@example.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address email@example.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send the necessary information.
Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.
Gaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.