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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy