Lib Dems: No vote would bring Scots ‘real freedom’

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg addresses the conference in Aberdee. Picture: PA
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg addresses the conference in Aberdee. Picture: PA
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VOTING No to independence would bring Scotland “real freedom”, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael claimed today.

He told the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Aberdeen that the referendum on September 18 could be “cathartic” for Scotland.

It came after he dismissed comments by an unnamed UK Government minister, who said “of course there would be a currency union” in the result of a Yes vote.

In his speech, he said: “A positive vote to stick with the UK family will not only provide certainty and stability for Scotland, it will unplug the constitutional blockage and open the way to real progress for people.

“No more arguing over numbers and projections but real freedom to innovate and improve people’s lives.”

Mr Carmichael said from 2016, the Scottish Parliament would have new powers to set income tax and to borrow to invest. He said: “We need the debate to begin on how those powers will be used.

“We need to start talking again about how we improve healthcare and education and the environment here in Scotland.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie warned that a vote for independence was now a “distinct possibility”. In an interview, he said: “I think there’s a possibility that Scotland could be independent in September.”

And former leader Tavish Scott has called on Labour to bring out its big guns to defeat independence.

He warned the SNP were wooing traditional Labour voters in poorer areas and said “big hitters” like former prime minister Gordon Brown and ex-Cabinet ministers Lord Reid and Lord Robertson, as well as the Lib Dems’ own Charles Kennedy were politicians who could appeal to these groups.

He said former chancellor Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, was doing a good job, making the intellectual case for staying in the UK, but he was not reaching the crucial voters.

Recent polls have shown the gap narrowing as the Yes campaign gains ground. One survey found as many as 45 per cent of voters believed UK ministers were bluffing when they insisted there would be no currency union after a Yes vote.

Meanwhile, the Deputy First Minister has welcomed reports that a pro-union government minister believes there would be a currency union.

The minister, understood to be at the heart of the pro-union campaign, said: “There would be a highly complex set of negotiations after a Yes vote with many moving pieces. The UK wants to keep Trident nuclear weapons at Faslane and the Scottish Government wants a currency union – you can see the outlines of a deal.”

Nicola Sturgeon said: “This was supposed to be the No campaign’s trump card, but as the polls show it has backfired badly.”