Leader: Scottish parties should be detached from Westminster

THERE is a danger in inferring too much from one by-election and it is in that context we must consider Labour's success in retaining the Inverclyde Westminster seat.

For Labour the result proved they have not been completely marginalised by the SNP. It may be contrary or canny - exploiting the best of both parliaments - but voters will vote for the Nationalists in the Scottish parliament but for Labour at Westminster.

Coming second is a decent result for the SNP, but given the effort the Nationalists put in they must be disappointed they did not come even close to winning. However, it is only a small setback in the grand scheme of things and it will not effect the party's overriding aim of securing a "yes" vote in an independence referendum one way or another.

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The party with most to think about is the Liberal Democrats, and yesterday one of their elder statesman, Ross Finnie, described the result - fourth with just 627 votes - as humiliating and suggested voters distrusted the party's UK leadership. Mr Finnie was correct to identify disaffection with Nick Clegg and his colleagues in Westminster as his party has been hit hard by their joining the UK coalition.

However, the problems of fighting Scottish elections and combating an SNP Scottish Government affect all the unionist parties.

It is surely time for the Lib Dems, Labour and the Tories to move with the spirit of the constitutional times and declare their independence from London. We have home rule politically. What we now need is home rule for our political parties.