Nick Clegg urges 'no' to Scottish independence

 

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has urged Scots to say "No" to independence before working to achieve more devolved power within the United Kingdom.

His comments to the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Inverness echo a plea by David Cameron last month, when the Prime Minister promised to consider granting more power in return for rejecting independence in a clear Yes-No ballot.

Today, Mr Clegg issued his own plea, telling delegates that the four countries of the UK share a culture, history and identity.

"We live side by side in towns and cities across the British Isles," he said.

"Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish people are together every day, in offices and factories, school classrooms and playing fields.

"We have rallied together in hard times. Our forefathers fought together and died together, just as brave Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish servicemen and women are fighting side by side in faraway lands right now.

"For centuries we have crossed each other's borders, married each other, raised families together. What Scot doesn't have any English, Welsh or Northern Irish in their family tree?

"I believe the bonds that bring us together are stronger than the forces that would tear us apart."

He said the independence referendum, which the Scottish Government wants to hold in autumn 2014, must be made in Scotland.

But the UK Government has called for the date to be brought forward, possibly to autumn next year.

Mr Clegg said Scotland is stronger when London and Edinburgh work together, highlighting previous efforts to secure more devolution through the Scotland Bill.

The Lib Dems are looking at how to extend power further through the Home Rule Commission, headed by Sir Menzies Campbell MP.

Mr Clegg continued: "We need to settle the independence question first.

"But if the Scottish people decide they want to remain in the United Kingdom, then we can get on with the business of giving Scotland more power."

The Lib Dem leader, speaking on the first of a three-day conference at the Eden Court theatre, touched on the party's poor results in the Holyrood election last May. Just five MSPs were returned to the 129-seat Parliament.

Mr Clegg said the election was a "painful experience", but congratulated the Scottish Lib Dem group for "punching above our weight".

He said the party has defended the rights of Scots to go to the Supreme Court, fought for funds for colleges and promoted same-sex marriage.

At council level, he said recycling rates are improved and budgets have been brought back "from a cliff edge".

Referring to the SNP's landslide victory at Holyrood last year, Mr Clegg said the balance of power has altered.

Defending the 305-year-old political union between Scotland and England, Mr Clegg said: "My hope, and that of our party, is that the people of Scotland choose to stay in the UK.

"As an Englishman I believe that our countries are much stronger together than they would be apart.

"That Scotland, like the other parts of the UK, has fared better in this global economic crisis than many of our European neighbours because we are part of one of the world's strongest economies.

"That we have all been protected from the worst of the recession by the credibility and low interest rates the UK Government has been able to secure and maintain."

Mr Clegg, while focusing on the constitution, also referred to his ambitions for a "green economic renaissance" for Scotland.

"We have a real vision for Scotland's future. I want nothing short of a green economic renaissance for Scotland," he said.

"A Scotland where green jobs fuel a thriving economic future, dockyards reopened as wind farm factories, wind and wave power providing the green energy of the future, Scottish universities developing new green technologies for Scottish companies to export around the world.

"With Scotland's young people trained in the skills they need to be at the heart of our green economy."

He also highlighted pension increases and the pledge to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000.

Looking to the next council elections, he said: "So we go into this May's elections with our heads held high.

"A record of fighting for local communities in councils up and down Scotland. A record of holding the SNP's feet to the fire in Holyrood.

"And a record of delivering real help for Scottish people in Westminster."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions