Votes for the Liberal Democrats will send a message to stop yet another divisive independence referendum from the nationalists. With the Scottish economy teetering on the edge of a recession, the performance of Scottish education dropping down the international rankings and mental health services failing to deliver, the last thing our country needs is another divisive and distracting independence debate.
After the 2014 independence referendum, Liberal Democrats in the UK Government established the Smith Commission to bring Scotland’s five biggest parties together to agree what further powers should be assigned to the Scottish Parliament. We will deliver on the promises made to the people of Scotland to decentralise power and establish a UK Constitutional Convention, tasked with producing a full codified constitution for the UK on federal lines, to report within two years. This will deliver for people in Scotland an empowered and accountable Scottish Parliament in a strong and secure United Kingdom.
To do this we have already ensured that the Scottish Parliament will raise in tax half of what it spends in its budget, with radical new powers giving it the ability to respond to Scottish priorities.
Just as this election is a chance to change the direction of the country, it is also a chance to reset the priorities of the SNP Government and focus on making our country the best again. For ten years, SNP ministers have been obsessed with independence at the expense of everything else. There is no greater evidence of the toll this has taken than in education. Scotland used to have one of the best education systems in the world but now it is just average. It recently recorded its worst ever ranking in reading, maths and science.
We need to invest in education to help people achieve their potential, open doors and build a high-wage, high-skill economy. Providing young people with a world-class education will underpin our country’s economic future. None of this will get done by SNP MPs obsessed with independence.
This is why we will oppose a second independence referendum and oppose independence. Scotland benefits from being inside the UK and EU single markets. Each is worth billions of pounds and supports tens of thousands of Scottish jobs. Under the Liberal Democrats inclusion in those single markets will continue.