Liberal Democrats in Scotland could find themselves punished at the polls by their Westminster colleagues’ decision to act as “pallbearers at the funeral of the health service and public sector,” former First Minister Henry McLeish has warned.
The party’s Scottish voters “may wish to demonstrate their concerns about the Conservativerun coalition at Westminster and the damage their policies are doing to any self-respecting Lib-Dem supporter,” McLeish wrote in his exclusive column for Holyrood magazine, adding: “The Lib Dems in the Conservative Coalition are acting as pallbearers at the funeral of the health service and the public sector in England.” The implications of this political fall-out could be “considerable” for the make-up of the next Scottish Parliament, he argued “The balance of advantage in a number of Holyrood constituency and list seats could be altered and, while the Lib Dems could lose seats, this may be less important to the final overall result than a movement of votes to either the SNP or Labour in key battleground seats,” he wrote.
Despite some “clever concessions” won from the SNP Government in the last session, the Scottish Conservatives are also in “deep political trouble” unless they change their ways, he added.
“The Scottish Conservatives have never recovered from the Thatcher years, etched so indelibly on the minds of the Scottish people. They seem incapable of ending their ambivalence to devolution, ditching their Conservative and Unionist baggage, telling David Cameron that they want a fresh start, cutting loose from London and confirming they want a new and modern party in Scotland.” McLeish wrote that there is a place for such a modern rightof- centre party in Scotland.
“Surely there must be a role for a modern right-of-centre party in Scotland. The recent spectacle of Michael Forsyth ranting at a Conservative fringe meeting suggests they do need energised and transported to the 21st century.”