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Friday, February 17, 2006


I will answer Mr Fraser's points in order


It is true that I left Maryhill party as a result of their refusal to submit for debate 2 motions, One calling for action to encourage mass production techniques in housing & the other calling for several actions to improve our economic performance, primarily a reduction in business tax. Both had been previously submitted but not called (though the Enterprise one was on the Autumn preliminary agenda). I felt that I could not honourably work for a constituency so opposed to what I consider progress. It is a convention that a constituency party need not fully agree with a motion to be prepared to see it discussed.

I profoundly disagree with Mr Fraser's opinion, which he obviously still holds, that encouraging growth by tax reductions is so extremely "right wing" a policy that nobody within the party should even discuss it. I point out that this policy is precisely that proposed by Adam Smith & the founders of the party & that for Mr Fraser to call it "illiberal" is to make liberalism an entirely different philosophy from the originators of the term

Mr Fraser's claim that the motions were "badly drafted & not thought through" is in no way truthful. As said the Enterprise motion had already been preliminarily selected for debate at conference. Moreover both motions had had been drafted together with Debra Storr whose job is to ensure that motions debated are properly drafted. She can confirm that she pronounced both motions, after she had finished with them, as satisfactory for debate (though she thought the committee might choose to split the housebuilding one in 2). Indeed after she had finished I suggested that she should publish & put the notes on drafting that she had given us on the Scotlibdem site - she did this which contradicts her endorsement of allegations against me so demeaning of her own abilities. This was done because a previous draft of the Enterprise motion had been rejected by the Conference Committee on the grounds that "it did not call for a change in policy". Far from not being "thought through" the motions had been subject to extensive debate & revision within the constituency over nearly 2 years. Mr Fraser participated in the drafting meeting with Debra.

I accept that my annual membership ran out in April. I was not informed that Maryhill had decided in May that I should be expelled. Shortly after I quit the SNP adopted a policy of cutting business taxes to stimulate the economy, very similar to my proposal.

In a subsequent email correspondence with Mr Robert Brown MSP in which I suggested that it would be unwise for the Lib Dems to wholly abandon this classic liberal position to the SNP, particularly in light of the fact that it was being extremely successful in Ireland (Ireland's economy has grown by just under 20% since I originally proposed my enterprise motion -see ), He requested that I rejoin the party & re-present my proposal. This proves that he did not believe it had not been "thought through". After consideration I did this in July. I related this in my blog on 1st September describing Mr Brown only as "a senior member of the party" but I think his action in endorsing Mr Fraser's lies about my motions deprives him of any right to anonymity.

As Mr Fraser has eloquently proven, it would have been impossible to carry out Mr Brown's request as part of Maryhill. It should be pointed out that Maryhill itself has many members who do not reside in the constituency, which has been of assistance in their maintaining conference voting rights.

Indeed the extraordinary meeting which decided that cutting business taxes should not be submitted again, because it was "to right wing" to even be discussed, was arranged by Mr Fraser in the home of a member who lives many miles outside the constituency & takes no part in its activities but broadly supports Mr Fraser's opposition to traditional liberal economic policies.

I regret to say that, despite what, in honour, I must presume to be Mr Brown's efforts on behalf of the motion he asked me to present, neither motion has, yet again, been chosen by the Conference Committee. Indeed, as on every occasion since devolution, no primarily economic matter will be discussed. His influence in the party organisation must be much less than generally believed.

There are however 2 about bicycling. Of course bicycling might be a classic liberal principle - I don't know how many motions there were at the Liberal conference in 1906 about bicycles.

All motions submitted in the name of a local party require to be approved by that party. There is no such thing as "an understanding" that motions will be submitted as you suggest. This will only happen effectively if there is no objection to the matter in hand (regardless of what the topic is or how well the motion might be drafted).

Equally, there is an alternative route to having a motion submitted which is to get the support of (I think) 25 other conference delegates. You appear not to have attempted to do this.

That Robert Brown thinks the point is worth debating, or Debra Storr thinks it is well constructed is no reason for you to think that it should therefore be submitted on behalf of Maryhill local party. If they have an objection to it (and, again, it is irrelevant on what this objection is based whether that be for good, bad or indifferent reasons) and it is defeated in general meeting then it cannot be submitted.

Your grievances appear to be based on a misunderstanding of this process and perhaps an ignorance of the alternative route open to you to having a motion submitted. You also do place greater credence on the role that Robert and Debra play in the process - that one is an MSP and Chair of the Policy Committee and the other is an experienced member of the Conference Committee make not a jot of difference to the process of submitting motions.
An "understanding" is certainly not something on which I have a right to rely but I think a number of people who have put up motions would confirm that they have done so without having to convince their constituency that the idea is worthy of more than discussion.

The 25 members rule is a valid constitutional backstop but has not been used, certainly in recent years. The reason for this is that, taking Maryhill with three voting delegates as average, you would have to have the equivalent of all the voting delegates of 8 constituencies on board, in which case you would certainly no problem getting one of them to put it up. What I did instead was to rejoin in Kelvin constituency & they put forward both motions unanimously.

My grievance, particularly with Robert, is therefore not that he didn't get Maryhill to accept the motions but that, when Kelvin submitted them, he didn't get the Conference Cttee (with which both of them obviously do have a jot of power) to accept them (or even to have the decency to give a reason for rejecting which they are supposed to). The fact that both he & Debra have endorsed the claim that my motion was both "not thought through" & "badly drafted" when they know that (whatever the true reasons Maryhill did not accept it) this is not the case is also a niggle.

I apologise if some of what I said was unclear, it was written as an answer to the Executive of the accusations against me. I am labouring under the request of the Executive that I not fully publish the accusation against me which means I am replying to points they have, but you haven't, seen - in this case Mr Fraser's implication of disloyalty in joining Kelvin - to which, as I hope you see, I had not practical alternative if I wished to present the pro-growth motion Robert had asked me to.
sorry, but Robert and Debra are but two people on the conference committee. If, as a member of the Liberal Democrats, you think that the Conference Committee will simply agree to put the motion on the agenda on their say so then you have truly misjudged the nature of the Liberal Democrats. Any attempt to do so would be regarded, rightly, as a red rag to a bull and would be fiercely resisted.

I fear you are looking for a conspiracy where none exists. Perhaps you are out of line with mainstream Liberal Democrat views and need to accept this as fact
My main problem with them is that they endorsed the claim that my motion was badly drafted & not thought through rather than that they were unable to get it through committee. Nonetheless I will stand by my opinion that if Robert was unable, doing his damndest, to get it on the roster his influence is "less than generally believed".

"Perhaps you are out of line with mainstream Liberal Democrat views and need to accept this as fact" -
That is a good point, indeed it is the point I have been making throughout. For 3 years I have been trying to get the party, via the Enterprise motion, to at least discuss achieving serious economic success by the methods used by Ireland (low business tax & light government regulation). These are the methods of Adam Smith & are the principles on which the Liberal party was founded. If the Conference Committee is so opposed to liberal principles as to be willing to sacrifce economic growth (or so opposed to economic growth as to be willing to sacrifice liberal principles - I'm sure we both know members like that), with or against Robert, then indeed I do need to accept it as fact. Whether Robert did do his damndest & on which side is something he can answer any time he chooses. In any case they have a duty to say why any motion is rejected - something I am told they have failed to do in other cases as well. Meanwhile we still have room for 2 motions about bicycling.

If this is so they still have no right to accuse me of being "iliberal". The Scots party should, in honesty, say what they stand for (comparative economic decline) & cease calling themselves Liberal.
Regardless of the rights or wrongs of current policy, the works of Adam Smith are commonly recognised (and claimed) as the bedrock on which the Conservative Party was founded.

For most liberals, "low business tax" means paying even less when they do not currently pay a fair share, and "light government regulation" means allowing firms a free hand which would mean a diminution in employee rights and involvement.

A liberal principle would be fair business taxation not lower taxes.

In any event, supporting lower taxes is a policy and not a principle. The two are very different and it is the elevation of specific policy decision to matters of principle that have hamstrung or crippled both the Labour and Conservative Parties over the past number of decades. It also looks as if it is impacting on the SNP as well.
You are completely wrong as any history of the Liberal party will show. The Liberals were formed (or grew out of the Whigs) on the basis of support of free trade, laissez faire economics, & the policies of Adam Smith adopted by the Manchester School of economics as well as such things as liberty, free speech & a wider franchise. The Tories were founded to defend the upper classes, the Church of England, strong government & well, conservatism.

The Tories (& now the SNP) have since adopted Adam Smith in the same way that David Cameron adopted the word "liberal", which is pretty inevitable if the "Liberals" leave their successful principles lying around in the gutter for anybody to pick up. If they had not proven successful the Tories, of course, would not be interested.

That government should seek to collect as low taxes as it can, consistent with its duties, is indeed a principle & a very good one. Apart from the economic damage unnecessarily high levels of government waste cause a government with money to waste is bound to become overbearing. Overbearing government is something liberals are also, in principle, supposed to be opposed to.

By definition nobody is against "fair" taxation it is merely that Gladstone & Pol Pot would disagree as to what is fair.

If you are going to be standing for election at some time, as I suspect you will, I hope that you will have the courtesy to inform the electorate as to exactly what proportion of the national GNP you believe it would br "fair" for government to spend - in Scotland currently 54%.

It is to be regreted that these are matters which the party conference is consistently not allowed to discuss.
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