Lib Dems in referendum daze

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson today branded the Lib Dems’ claim that they will move for a vote against a referendum a “rush job” as the Lib Dem leadership tries to get a position through parliament before the party has the opportunity to discuss the issue.

The SNP also released key quotes and examples of Lib Dem support for referenda.
Lib Dem Chief Whip Mike Rumbles has previously spoken out against Lib Dem leadership adopting a no referendum position in 2007 without consulting the party.  In July 2008 Mr Rumbles said;

"I actually do feel that the leadership took that position because we didn't have a policy on it. The great thing about the Liberal Democrats is they're a very democratic party, and I do believe that this is a decision that I want our members to be involved in.

"I want to see a rigorous debate about this at our party conference. Our party members deserve and need to take that decision."

Lib Dem Conference next weekend is to consider its submission to the Calman Commission.
Commenting SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said;

“Mike Rumbles, Tavish Scott and the Lib Dems as a whole now look utterly ridiculous.

“They are failing on Calman, failing in Parliament and now they are failing their party.

“Mike Rumbles said he wanted the party to decide their policy – a party in which we know many members favour a referendum, as do the vast majority of Lib Dem voters – yet in Parliament he follows his leader and drops his principles at the door.

“The Lib Dems are desperately trying to rush their position through before the members can change Tavish’s mind – yet again – at conference.

“Tavish and the Lib Dem leadership must be worried that their party wants a referendum, because – unlike him – they actually want to be ‘very democratic’.

“Michael Russell challenged opposition parties to allow a free vote – for a party with no position like the Lib Dems, and with John Farquhar Munro actually backing a referendum, that is the only way they can go.

“The reality is that the more economic and financial powers Scotland has, the better able we will be to overcome the economic downturn.”

“The combined opposition look ridiculous in the run-up to this debate.  While they attack us over our fantastic record of policy delivery, they are also ganging up to try and stop us delivering on this manifesto commitment!  They will look stupid in the debate if they pursue this two-faced approach – and deservedly so.”

ENDS

Mike Rumbles MSP, reported in Telegraph: 3 Jul 2008
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/liberaldemocrats/224...

But he insisted it was for Lib Dem members to decide whether or not they backed a referendum, and not Mr Stephen, the former Deputy First Minister.

He said: "I actually do feel that the leadership took that position because we didn't have a policy on it. The great thing about the Liberal Democrats is they're a very democratic party, and I do believe that this is a decision that I want our members to be involved in.

"I want to see a rigorous debate about this at our party conference. Our party members deserve and need to take that decision."

Tavish Scott MSP, reported in Scotsman: 27 Aug 2008
"I am not intuitively against making sure that people have a choice and an opportunity to cast a vote on these things, but I believe it should be a strengthened Scotland within the UK."

John Farquhar-Munro MSP, Good Morning Scotland: 27 Feb 2008
"I think that it`s been debated for long enough. For many years we`ve been hearing about the possibility of independence for Scotland through a referendum - through the result of a referendum. I think the sooner it happens, the better, so we establish a position - clear the air as it were - and we find out whether we are going to go ahead with an independent Scotland or whether the status quo will remain."

Earl of Mar and Kellie, Lib Dem peer, spokesperson for Scotland and Assistant Lib Dem Whip in the House of Lords introduced the “Scotland (Petitions for a Referendum on Independence) Bill [HL]” in 2006(http://www.libdems.org.uk/people/jamie-earl-of-mar-and-kellie)

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds06/te...
“My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Before I go any further, there are some headline points to make about this short Bill. First, there must be a democratic path to political independence available at
all times. Secondly, the withdrawal from the United Kingdom would only be political; an end to the parliamentary union of 1707. Thirdly, the Bill specifically retains the Union of the Crowns in 1603, which is itself the symbol of the inevitable, at least in my mind, British social union. Fourthly, this Bill is both liberal and democratic, but it is not Liberal Democrat policy; at least not yet.”

·       A poll of LibDem constituency conveners by the Sunday Times (11th February 2007) found that 1/3 supported an independence referendum and 2/3 supported going into coalition with the SNP rather than Labour.

·       According to the YouGov Poll of April 2006 88% of LibDem voters agree that "The right way to settle the issue of independence is by a referendum of the people of Scotland, rather than in any other way"

* Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Livsey put forward an amendment for a referendum on more powers for the Welsh Assembly.
Source: http://www.libdems.org.uk/parliament/parliamentaryreport.html?id=5895&na...
* Liberal Democrats supported the North East Assembly referendum.
Source: http://www.libdems.org.uk/parliament/parliamentaryreport.html?id=2283&na...
* In 2003 Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell introduced a bill on referendums for local councils:
Source: http://www.libdems.org.uk/parliament/parliamentaryreport.html?id=5370&na...