THE leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, has publicly distanced herself from “intemperate” comments by party grandee Lord Lang who said independence would “dishonour” the memory of those who gave their lives for Britain in the First World War.
The peer made his comments leading a debate in the Lords on the implications of an independent Scotland.
The former Tory Scottish secretary said: “For generations, Scots and English have lived alongside each other, sharing a British heritage. They fought shoulder to shoulder in the battles of the past three centuries and still serve together today; we all take pride in that.
“Must they now, both Scotland and England, disavow that shared history? Would that not dishonour the sacrifices, made in common cause, of those who died for the United Kingdom, a nation now to be cut in two if the present generation of Scottish nationalists have their way? I earnestly hope not.”
Ms Davidson said: “Lord Lang must speak for himself. I deplore all intemperate language in this hugely important constitutional debate, whatever the source.
“I believe everybody in Scotland, no matter their views on the referendum, will come together throughout the year to commemorate those who fought for their country in the First World War.”
But Lord Lang of Monkton was backed by one of his former opponents, former Labour Scottish secretary Baroness Liddell.
Opening her speech, Baroness Liddell said: “Your Lordships’ House may not be aware that the noble lord, Lord Lang, has already been under attack for having the audacity to mention the First World War. He has been under attack from a Mr Keith Brown, a member of the Scottish National Party and a member of the Scottish Parliament.
“That kind of attitude shames me as a Scot. Like many members of your Lordships’ House, I lost someone in the First World War. I lost my great uncle.
“It is a sign of the contempt with which those of us who believe in the United Kingdom as a family are treated that such attacks are made on the noble lord, Lord Lang.”
Seizing on Ms Davidson’s comments, SNP Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil claimed Lord Lang “took the No campaign to a new low”. He said: “As Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson finally distances herself from the dishonour caused to her party and the No campaign by Lord Lang’s ill-judged and offensive remarks, it is all the more extraordinary that Scottish Labour peer Baroness Helen Liddell has come to his support.
“Now that Ruth Davidson has disowned Lord Lang’s remarks, Johann Lamont ought to distance herself from what Helen Liddell has said.”
The debate included a maiden speech by former Scottish Conservative leader Baroness Goldie who said the partnership between England and Scotland was relevant and a success.
“Don’t think that the independence referendum is Scotland’s business alone,” she told peers. “Wherever you live in the UK, if you value it, then we all need to step up to the plate to keep it.”
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, a former secretary of state for Scotland, also warned separation would have a major impact on the defence of both countries.
He also asked: “What of the British Army and the other armed services. Are we to say, as Alex Salmond proclaims, to the men and women, the Scots, who fought in Afghanistan and fought in Iraq bravely with a Union flag on their shoulders, you have got to choose between the British Army and Alex’s Dad’s Army?”