LIBERAL Democrat leader Tim Farron has hit out at the “ugliness” of some parts of Scottish nationalism as he called on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP to “take the chip off your shoulder”.
Farron claimed the SNP administration in Edinburgh had “failed the Scottish people” as he attacked their “sticking-plaster solutions” to problems in the NHS and education.
With the First Minister also warning that June’s European Union referendum could trigger a second vote on independence if Scotland votes to remain part of the EU but the UK as a whole opts to leave, Farron also demanded the SNP “start pulling the finger out” in the campaign to remain.
The Liberal Democrat leader condemned the “grievance” politics of the SNP.
He told his party’s Scottish spring conference in Edinburgh: “There is sadly an ugliness to some elements of Scottish nationalism which many of us in the rest of the United Kingdom simply don’t see. We saw it during the referendum, with SNP candidates and campaigners alike seemingly determined that no other views than their own should receive a hearing.”
But he added: “Our message to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP is clear – it’s time to take the chip off your shoulder. Let’s put grievance and division behind us and focus on the things that really matter for Scotland.”
Farron later said he would share a platform with Sturgeon, Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
The Lib Dem leader warned that a vote to leave could result in “the loss of access to a market worth £80 billion a year, the ability to work with others to tackle climate change” and would also damage the UK’s international standing.
And he said: “My sense is the Nationalists should stop talking about what would happen if we lost the referendum and start pulling the finger out and do something to help us to win it.”
Farron was making the final speech of the party’s two-day Scottish conference in Edinburgh. Scottish leader Willie Rennie promised to go into the Holyrood election with a bold agenda as he attempts to revive its fortunes.
Among the policies backed by delegates was Rennie’s penny for education – a proposal to increase income tax by 1p to raise £475m a year for a transformational investment in Scottish education.
They also endorsed changes to drug policy that will ensure addiction is treated as a health issue, a plan to put the treatment of mental and physical ill health on an equal basis in law, and increasing the proportion of NHS funds allocated to GP services to help address the recruitment crisis. Councils would also be given the power to set local taxation.
Rennie said: “This is a big, bold agenda that will help ensure that Scotland is fit for the future. Our manifesto for the Holyrood election will be unashamedly liberal and forward-looking. The contrast with the SNP’s record is stark. They will cut £500m from local authorities and hammer education spending. We will make a transformational investment in education.
“Liberal Democrats will give councillors new powers over local taxation and end the bullying that has seen councils threatened with millions of pounds in financial penalties.”
SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said: “The SNP will be making a positive, progressive argument for Scotland’s place in Europe over the coming months – Tim Farron should ditch Project Fear and make the positive case for EU membership.”