Lord Campbell of Pittenweem has been asked to refresh the Liberal Democrats’ plan for federalism as the debate about Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom hots up. Ming Campbell is a former Leader of the UK Liberal Democrats, and MP for North East Fife, he retired from the House of Commons in 2015.
He has been tasked by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie with re-examining and refreshing the party’s approach to reform of the United Kingdom to address the failures of the status quo and give Scotland and the nations and regions of the UK a bigger say on the future of our joint endeavour to recover from the pandemic.
Willie Rennie said:
“The status quo has fractured, and the failures of the United Kingdom must be addressed if we want our future to flourish. I want a constitutional environment that allows a thousand flowers to bloom but the centralisation that hoards power in Whitehall and Westminster is snuffing that out.
“Reform of the UK with federalism means that the nations, regions and communities of our country can have a bigger say with the Westminster veto curtailed. Power is best exercised when it is shared and connected with people.
“That means we need Scotland to have a bigger say, with formal joint structures that spreads power out from Westminster. That means reform of our voting system and the House of Lords and forging a written constitution.
“We have seen during the pandemic the benefits of devolution and also joint decision making through the four nations approach. Bringing power together when necessary has enabled joint decisions to meet the challenge but the flexing of that approach for each part of the country has allowed for a diverse approach when it suits the circumstances of the threat. But sadly we have also seen damaging squabbles and point-scoring between the Scottish and UK Governments.
“That’s why I have asked Ming Campbell to follow up on his previous excellent reports on federalism to look at reform of the UK and how we can make it work better.”
Lord Campbell of Pittenweem said:
“I relish the opportunity to refresh the work I led for the Scottish Liberal Democrats a decade ago. That work shaped the successful reforms that were ultimately delivered through the Smith Commission. Now the task is to reform the United Kingdom’s governing architecture to make our country more suited to the modern need.
“While the Prime Minister seems either content or oblivious to the risk of separatism, we see indications that other parties are sympathetic to our approach and that there is momentum building to reform the United Kingdom. Under the influence of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Labour are exploring reform once more, which presents an opportunity for our two parties to work together and with others of like mind. In English cities, regional mayors have fought hard for their communities and held the feet of national politicians to the fire. There is a mood for change consistent with our proposals throughout the United Kingdom.”