Scottish Lib Dems win anti-independence vote, call for new Holyrood powers

by Stephen Tall on March 6, 2009

As anticipated on Lib Dem Voice here, the Scottish Lib Dems’ call for a referendum on Scottish independence to be postponed until at least 2011 – the date of the next Holyrood elections – received a substantial majority last night. The FT reports:

Labour and the Conservatives backed a Liberal Democrat call for the SNP to ditch its plans for an independence referendum, and the amendment was carried by 72 votes to 47. …

Mike Rumbles, the Liberal Democrats’ chief whip, said Thursday’s vote was a “reality check” for the SNP. “They need to ditch the referendum and ditch it now,” he said. “The nationalists need to respect the clear will of the Scottish parliament, swallow their pride and realise that they should be promoting economic recovery, not their obsession with separation.”

Meanwhile the BBC notes Tavish Scott and his colleagues have drawn up “radical plans to shift control of most taxes to Holyrood” ahead of the Scottish party’s conference next week:

The Liberal Democrats are showing signs of impatience with the Calman Commission which is reviewing Holyrood’s powers. Mr Scott wants Holyrood to assume control of policy on drugs, firearms, and energy.

In addition he wants to increase the Scottish Parliament’s financial clout – with borrowing powers plus control over a basket of taxation including income tax, corporation tax, fuel duty, tobacco and alcohol duty and property stamp duty.
Armed with those powers, Mr Scott wants Holyrood to cut the burden of taxation to revive the economy.

“I strongly believe the Scottish Parliament needs to be accountable and needs to have the range of taxation powers which allow the government of the day to make real decisions which can help,” he said.