As the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale in the Scottish Parliament Elections last Thursday, I would like to thank all those who voted for me and the Scottish Liberal Democrats - either by post or in person.
In the lead-up to the election, and on the day itself, we saw further polarisation of voting intentions - all swirling around the constitutional question of a second independence referendum. Depending on your viewpoint, this was the primary concern - or opportunity - that trumped all others. All parties converged on the theme of recovery - something we the Scottish Liberal Democrats put foremost in our campaign from the outset - yet all the while the constitutional stand-off was set to dominate at the ballot box.
This was reflected in the outcome - a great day in constituencies held by our highly-regarded incumbent MSPs, but slim pickings for Scottish Liberal Democrats elsewhere.
It's clear that a significant proportion of our country now embraces nationalism - separatism, independence, partition - call it what you will. And I know that this is embraced - on the most part - with the best of intent. When we witness one affront after another by the unchecked wielding of power in Downing Street, the post-Brexit reallocation of UK powers, and the chumocracy that has become commonplace in Westminster, it can hardly be surprising that we Scots have had enough.
Not every vote for the SNP or Greens is a vote for another referendum, let alone independence. Nicola Sturgeon was unwavering throughout the campaign in portraying the choice as being between her government and Boris Johnson, which of course was never really the case. It simply suited her purpose to present it that way. Yet everyone knows the SNP is all about independence and will stop at nothing in its pursuit. So this sizable electoral result - just short of an overall majority of votes, and just short of an overall majority of seats for the SNP, cannot be ignored. To do so would leave a democratic deficit that should be intolerable for anyone calling themselves a liberal or a democrat.
If we are ever to reunite our divided country, rather than sowing division and grievance, it is imperative that we should seek out creative, rigorous and proactive constitutional change. For some people, that will automatically mean an IndyRef2, but that is far from the only answer, and doesn't in itself bring unity. It is also something that should not be embarked upon lightly, without robust proposals, debate and scrutiny. I trust the people of Scotland to make informed choices – when informed choices are presented - and that is what must now be enabled.
In the end, whatever our future constitutional arrangements are to become, the enlightened voter in liberal democracies will always seek out liberalism, in some form or other.
I look forward to a day when we can look past the politics of division, when we stop dividing our country, and start recognising that we have more in common than divides us.
AC May, Scottish Liberal Democrats
For over a year, we've been complying with restrictions and staying safe. Yet anyone with antibodies - produced following infection - would suddenly have more rights.
What message would that send? The old and the vulnerable are rightly getting priority on vaccines, yet the young - far less likely to get ill or die - would remain restricted, unless tested regularly.
Would it even be even practical? £37billion spent on test & trace, relying on self-isolation and it did us little good - would a vaccine passport app be any better?
They are in fact ID cards by the back door. Our country has a long tradition of liberalism - opposing the assumption that others can demand identification from us when going about our daily lives, in our own communities, towns and cities.
Being stopped - either by police or by unregulated bouncers and asked for 'your papers please', is not how we do things in the UK. Sure, there are scenarios where licenses apply - age restrictions to purchasing products that require to be used responsibly. Even driving a vehicle, we are required to have the licence, but not to carry with us or produce it on-demand for the purpose of driving.
Travelling to-and-from other countries, we are used-to carrying a passport, and having vaccinations where required. Yet that is very different from carrying such ID in our own country, going about our own business. This is why the term 'Passport' has been used - it's more acceptable to the public – rather than the term 'ID Card' or 'Proof of Identity'. It's a disingenuous move to make the introduction of it seem more acceptable.
- Who would even enforce it?
- In which age groups?
- Would it need constant updating with vaccine boosters?
- Would you lose your rights until you get a booster?
- Would you lose it if you got a positive test, and if so, how would that happen? When would you get it back?
- When would it end? At what level of transmission?
- What about new strains?
- Would we keep them for when another virus comes along in future?
No, instead we need proper test, trace & isolate, providing options and funding for those actually infected, allowing them to properly isolate in dedicated hotel space, with proper PPE, screening, testing and operational procedures in-place, supported by trained staff, ready to spot a deterioration in someone’s health and needing further treatment. Sufficient sick-pay to allow people not to have to work during this period of recovery. This would allow people voluntarily to isolate, protecting their families and cohabitants from further infection.
Never again should we pour of billions of pounds of public money into the coffers of private IT companies, to produce some other useless app with the potential to be misused in sinister and illiberal ways.
Please find below our latest leaflet, which we'll be doing our best to deliver in print to households in Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale
AC May, Candidate for Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale, describes what the Scottish Liberal Democrats are about.
“I recognise animals as sentient beings and pledge to do more for Scotland’s animals in the next Parliament: more to ensure the highest standards of welfare for companion, wild and farmed animals, so that all of Scotland’s animals can enjoy a good life; more to protect animals in Scotland from cruelty and exploitation; and more to support people responsible for animals and educate the public about animals’ needs.”
Candidate - Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale
Scottish Liberal Democrats