For many of us, these constant attacks on Westminster show a lack of respect for who we are - Christine Jardine

I was taken aback this week at my reaction to the First Minister's confirmation that we all have to get back on the referendum merry-go-round.

I was not surprised. I did not feel either angry, determined or even upset.

I felt let down. Frustrated. Resigned.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There are so many people with whom I want to work to make lives better that I now fear I will spend 18 months arguing with.

Good people, with whom I share so many beliefs and ambitions to overcome the challenges we face as a society will now be lined up against me in an argument which can only damage us all.

We know that. We have been there already and so many of the wounds left by 2014 are just beginning to heal. Friendships rekindled.

But, sadly we have been given no option.

Oh there have been assertions that this time we will have a respectful debate, but they were no sooner made than Angus Robertson MSP was questioning whether the views of elected MSPs from other parties mattered.

More people in Scotland voted for politicians who support the UK than for those who don’t, writes Christine Jardine.
Read More
My petrol light is a reminder it's not just my car running on empty - Christine ...

Not just a stunning lack of respect for individuals but for the very basis of our democracy itself.

Just two weeks after I talked on these pages about the need for unity to get us through what is now a cost of living emergency, my hope that the First Minister might listen now seems laughably misplaced.

Over the past five years I have had the immensely fulfilling privilege of working with colleagues from both sides of the ‘nationalist divide’ at Westminster on issues on which we share common purpose.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Medicinal cannabis, campaigning to give the people a final say on Brexit, pressing the Tory Government to do more and more quickly on the cost of living.

We have pulled together for the refugees from Ukraine and worked for justice for women born in the 1950s who lost out when their state pension age was changed.

And we have enjoyed a laugh together in the evenings.

So often on those green benches, I have wished we could just put the nationalism aside and work for the common good.

Because when we work together for Scotland, for all of the people of the UK we can achieve so much more,

And then a few days ago I saw a tweet from an SNP activist and former candidate for whom I have a lot of respect but which simply confirmed that everything had, of course, changed.

She set out what she was no longer prepared to accept. Things she’s done debating.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And one of them was the Conservative Government’s right to have a say in whether we have a referendum.

Do I agree with the Conservative government? Very rarely. But that idea that somehow they have nothing to do with Scotland and its people is, for me, unacceptable.

Because I have news for the Scottish Nationalist Party, a lot of people in Scotland did vote Conservative.

Around 25 per cent of them in fact voted in 2019.

And more people in Scotland voted for politicians who support the UK than for those who don’t.

But they persist with the argument that we didn’t vote for this government, and we didn’t vote for Brexit.

I didn’t vote for either, but I’m not moving to France. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Democracy doesn’t always deliver what you want, but governments don’t last forever. Even if it sometimes feels like they do.

There were 1,018,322 votes cast for Brexit in Scotland yet they have been erased by the narrative of one type of nationalism.

All our voices need to be heard and respected.

Which, when the nationalists attack Westminster, they do not do.

Because that institution is as much part of Scotland’s political heritage and influence as Holyrood is.

Three of our last five Prime Ministers have been at least part Scottish. Tony Blair was born and educated in Edinburgh and David Cameron’s father was a Scot.

Two of the last four chancellors were Scottish. There is not enough space in this newspaper to list the names of Scots who have served the UK and brought benefit to all of us.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And there are not just the 59 Scottish seats in the current parliament which bring a Caledonian influence to proceedings.

Many of my colleagues representing other part of the UK originally hail from north of the border.

So to constantly try to undermine Westminster is to attack something of which we are an integral part, important influence and beneficiaries.

For many of us it shows a lack of respect for who we are.

Who I am, who many of us are, is entwined with the history of the UK, good and bad, and it is woven through our identity.

There is an invisible but unbreakable thread which connects me with my family in England, and with my great grandparents who came here from Ireland. I can travel few places in the UK where there is not a reminder of family or connection.

The Jubilee brought back memories of the family now gone who put their lives on the line for later generations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

All of that is part of who I am.

And I will not accept that somehow makes me un-Scottish or either less or more committed to the well-being of my fellow citizens.

Over the next eighteen months I am sure we will be subjected to endless assertions about currencies, economic strength of the UK, trade deficits, the European Union, foreign policy, nuclear weapons and all of them have their place.

But for me there is only one argument that counts.

In my heart I am Scottish and British. Always have been, always will be.

No referendum will ever change that.

Christine Jardine is the Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West


Hide Ad
Hide Ad



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.