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Sunday, October 12, 2008


This is going to be a quick fisk of yhe Scottish Lib Dem leader's Conference speech yesterday. Years ago I fisked their policy motions in some detail long in advance of the conference, but then they stopped publishing them long in advance. Then I fisked them after they had been passed, but they stopped publishing the full motion, just the title. Then I reviewed the titles. This year they haven't even published the titles of the policy motions they are supposed to be debating. Note that legally the Conference of members & delegates is the sovereign body determining policy but now they aren't even allowed to speak out loud.

I remember when the party debated & passed, against the leadership's wishes, a radical motion calling for a Royal Commission to spend years discussing whether it would be wise to reduce the punishments for having a spliff. This was naturally denounced as the end of civilisation & something never even to be thought of by political "leaders" of all parties, including the Labour ones who eventually brought it in. Liberal Democracy sic transit gloria - Latin for put all the copies of the Constitution in a van & take them to be pulped.

Speech opens with 5 paras of naming bigwigs in the audience - omitted.

"..... Politics is the most fluid it has been for a lifetime. And we can prove that in Glenrothes; with Harry Wills as a great champion for Fife. Politics is indeed fluid, both main parties are deeply unpopular & the LDs should be romping it. We will indeed see what happens in Glenrothes but they placed fourth after the Conservatives in deeply anti-Conservative Glasgow East

People should be turning to us. The Labour campaign is only about saving Gordon Brown. The SNP campaign is only about Alex Salmond’s ego. True they should

The tectonic plates of Scottish politics really are shifting. To take advantage of the changing political climate, we must move outside our comfort zone - away from the Holyrood bubble. We must engage individuals, families and communities about the problems that they face in their daily lives. And we must provide the big ideas – the practical solutions – that will make life easier for them. That would be nice

Last week I went to Scottish and Southern Energy in Perth. They told me that the number of red reminder bills they are sending out is up 30% as people are finding it tough to heat their home. Indeed & who is it supports us having electric bills 4 times those in nuclear powered France? Which Party's leader said that "nuclear is the easy answer" & that it must at all costs be destroyed because the public would never put up with subsidising windmills if they couldn't be scared by an artificial electricity shortage? The last Scottish LD leader that's who.

In 1992, Bill Clinton famously told the world, ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. And that’s what people are telling me everywhere I go in Scotland. They’re worried about their job. People in Scotland expect us to respond to their fears on the cost of living. And we have to do it right now. & the LudDims have refused to have a conference discussion on the economy since devolution started, though they did have 2 on bicycling at one conference.

Our economy is facing a serious downturn. One hundred thousand jobs building houses are at risk. The banking crisis threatens tens of thousands more. Energy costs up by half; Food costs up by 30 pounds a month; Inflation the highest for 16 years. Now people are worried about their mortgages and keeping a roof over their heads. We can’t turn our backs. We've got to find ways to help people out. How cynical. The LDs have been in power in Scotland for years. They are as responsible for this as anybody.

It’s the measure of a political party that it can respond to urgent new demands. That’s why Liberal Democrats insist that the Scottish Budget has to change. People want to hear what we can do for them. People are tightening their belts. It’s right that Government does as well. The SNP, for all their faults, have been cutting the bloated spending the LDs left them making 2.5% efficiency savings - not the world but better than promising the world.

Families are feeling the pinch. They are having to make sacrifices just to make ends meet. We Liberal Democrats will respond to that. Across Britain, Liberal Democrats will give tax cuts for people on low and middle incomes. But I know we can do more in Scotland.

We should use the Scottish Parliament’s power to cut income tax by two pence in the pound. Saving the average Scot more than three hundred pounds a year. Putting money back in the pockets of people who need it most. And it forms the centre of the radical plans we will bring to the Scottish Budget. We do it not because we’re hung up on ideology. We take action because it is the right thing to do. Right now. We’ll help those on low and fixed incomes even more when we scrap the unfair council tax that they hate so much. What a bunch of corrupt liars. This is the party who 2 1/2 years ago said that cutting taxes was as a matter of principle "illiberal" & "too right wing" to even discuss. Every MP, MSP & Councillor knows this & knows that this promise is a cynical lie which if they ever got power they would break instantly, as they did with their promise of a referendum on the EU treaty.

..... We’ll take action to drive the green-collar jobs that form the future for Scotland’s economy. We will bring new investment to marine renewable energy. This moron is an economic illiterate. The idea that Scotland can survive with subsidised environmentalism as the only or even prime "future of Scotland's economy" is pure lunacy.

You might have heard of the Saltire Prize for energy – it’s smallest prize in the world. The SNP announced it nearly two years ago. It has been launched on at least eleven occasions. They’ve gone to America and set up a self-help group for it. The SNP boast that it is the biggest prize there’s ever been. No, it’s the smallest. The smallest number of winners. They say it’s like the Nobel Prize. But people win the Nobel Prize every year. Nobody has won the Saltire Prize. Moron again, or else fraudster. He has absolutely no idea how prizes, X-Prizes & otherwise, work. You get prizes for winning not for entering. The Saltire Prize is for producing a "commercial sea turbine". You don't give a prize for just saying you would like a go. Well ok you do if the objective is to distribute money to your eco-pals but not if you want to achieve something.

Back in the real world Scottish marine energy companies can’t wait much longer. They need support for Research and Development to create the world-beating energy ideas in Scotland. Even the Republican petrol-heads in the USA have set up a marine energy research scheme. Ireland already has one. Scotland used to have one - until the SNP killed it off. And that’s a demand I now make for the Scottish Budget. Bring back research support for marine energy in Scotland. Do it now, before Scottish companies have to pack up and give up. Do it now before someone else wins the technology for the 21st century. Do it now because he is clearly convinced that a "commercial sea turbine" isn't going to work & the objective isn't to do anything but to hand out money to his supporters.

.....The SNP can’t be trusted with Scottish Higher Education. Hundreds of thousands of students already know that. They were told before the election that the SNP would dump their debt. Then they found out they were just going to dump the policy. Then it turns out they were going to dump students completely. Well, I have been to campuses. I can tell you that students are going to dump the SNP. This would be a fair point rather than a cynical lie if he hadn't already promised to gut government spending to fund tax cuts.

Now the top priority for the SNP is to pass new laws to forbid any student from buying a bottle of beer or a spoonful of sherry for a trifle. Sherry trifle the standard diet of most students

....I want a Scottish Budget to work for families, individuals and businesses Anybody not among those? More money & lower taxes guaranteed for everybody then . We will ask the Government at every parliamentary committee: “How does this line of spending meet the urgent economic needs of Scotland?” We will insist that every proposal for extra spending meets the tough test: “Does this put more money in the pockets of families and individuals right now?” So no money whatsoever for investment, even in porkbarreling for sea turbines them - clearly at least one of the statements is a lie People expect us to work together. But if the SNP’s top priority is to spend tens of millions on new quangos; or the Tories want to dream up new spending gimmicks; we’ll tell them that their plans will simply have to wait. Interestingly enough no mention of Labour with whom they shared power & never persued spending cuts in this way or practiced the "bonfire of the quangos" promised then. Same old lies then.

The Liberal Democrats are the party with the ideas to help people out in difficult times. The LudDims are, as a statement of undeniable fact, the party that expel & drive out people for having ideasTax cuts into people’s pockets right now.Is officially to right wing to even consider until focus groups told them telling this lie would be populist Fair local tax locked into the Scottish system. Renewable energy – supported not squandered. In government their target was £1 billion a year in Scotland squanfered on windmill subsidies Top level skills for a permanent place in the economic premier league. And practical help for small business before it’s too late for too many jobs No mention of what they are & the SNP & Tories have already cornered the market on cutting business rates.

.....The show is over. And Labour’s show is over. Their curtain is coming down. We have had it all over ten years from Labour: morality; comedy; tragedy; mystery; farce; bloodshed; But now we have had enough. Let’s face it: if the answer to the question is “Peter Mandelson”, then you are asking the wrong question. That's not a bad line whatever it means

And what else is on offer? If there is anyone in this hall, who ever thought, that being a small, independent country would be any more use than a chocolate fireguard when the economic heat comes on, I’ve got only one word: Iceland. Almost fair

.....As the world faces recession or depression, the SNP set up summits on seagulls and chose to use Parliament to debate Non-Native Invasive Species. I was excited about that one. I thought it was something to do with Vikings. But more of their programme is doing actual harm to the economy. Did I already mention that the LDs have held 18 conferences (2 a year since Devolution) without discussing the economy.

....And the construction industry is really worried. The Institute of Civil Engineers have gone public: “Smaller engineering contractors”, it says, “are being hit hard by delays in public project awards.” The real thing hurting contractors is the disgusting degree of government bureaucracy that ensures the new Forth Bridge will cost £4.2 billion, rather than £314 million which is the inflation adjusted price of the previous one, or £40 million which is the price the Norwegians cut equivalent tunnels for or the regulations that prevent housebuilders building. None of the parties, other than the Greens have been so overwhelmingly supportive of such useless regulations as the LudDims, though, to be fair, none of the others are guiltless either.

....If the other parties forget what they are there for, we will not. Indeed what you stand for is Ludditism, opposition to traditional liberal values, that cutting taxes is as a matter of principle "illiberal" & that you support fuel poverty & thousands more hypothermia death among pensioners - undeniable fact

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