Former Liberal Democrat chief executive Andy Myles backs Yes
The chief executive of the Scottish Liberal Democrats from 1992 to 1997 revealed today why he’ll be voting Yes in September’s independence referendum.
Andy Myles was a key Lib Dem negotiator in the Constitutional Convention that drew up the proposals for devolution, and was part of the team which negotiated the first Scottish Executive Labour-Lib Dem coalition agreement in 1999, and again in 2003.
Despite being one of the contributory architects of the devolution project, he says he is now convinced that independence is the best way forward for Scotland.
He said: “After spending much of my adult life trying, genuinely, to improve government in the UK, I have come to the conclusion that there is a much better chance of bringing power closer to the people in an independent Scotland.”
Mr Myles, who became Special Adviser to Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen in the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition government from 2005-2007, said that he had reached his decision to vote Yes after a period of “deep searching”.
He continued: “As a liberal, I believe that sovereignty starts with the people and is passed upwards. Devolution is, on the other hand, about sovereignty being passed downwards, however benevolently.
“I campaigned for a devolved parliament because it brought power back closer to the people, and I thought it might shake-up the UK constitution and lead to major reforms. I now see that this was a naïve hope or belief.
“I can see no evidence that it will lead on to a modern British federation, where Scotland is a genuinely equal partner with the other parts of the UK. None of the UK parties are even talking about what I consider to be federalism. I have come to the conclusion that the best way forward is an independent Scotland within the EU.”
Mr Myles said he looked forward to settling the debate so that the people of Scotland could concentrate, with fewer constitutional distractions, on tackling important issues such as ending poverty, learning how to distribute the common wealth more fairly and “saving ourselves from the horrors of climate change”.
He added: “These are the things that I want to focus on. I think it will easier to do so after September 18 in a newly independent country.
“I want to live in an ordinary country, where the constitution is written down and largely accepted, but can be amended. I accept that such amendment should require very significant effort, but it should be possible.
“So I am forced in September to ask myself a simple question: Will I get to a written, amendable constitution quicker by going with the continuing UK or an independent, sovereign Scotland? I think that voting Yes is the surest way of getting to this benign position.”
Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins said: “Gaining the support of Andy Myles is an illustration of the ever-growing appeal of a Yes vote to a wide cross-section of the community.
“Across the political spectrum, Yes now has backing from Labour people, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Greens, Scottish Socialists and even some Conservatives, as well as the SNP - and the thousands of others who, like me, have no party political affiliation, and realise that placing Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands is something we can, should and must do.”
Unfortunately the Liberal Democrats wouldn't allow Yes Scotland to attend their Scottish Conference which starts today (Friday 15th March) in Dundee. That's a shame as we would have welcomed the opportunity to answer any questions their members may have had.
Not to be put off we have organised a small virtual...
"The problem for Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leadership in general and the other No parties is that the people of Scotland have heard all their fine talk before. Yet the evidence is clear that a discredited and dislocated Westminster system is simply incapable of delivering what Scotland wants and needs.
There are many reasons why Lib Dems gathering for the party's Scottish conference this weekend will be attracted by the idea voting and campaigning for Yes. As former Scottish Lib Dem Chief Executive, Andy Myles, says: “the best way forward is an independent Scotland”.
Another senior Liberal Democrat, who helped negotiate the first Scottish government coalition agreement, is giving his support to the Yes campaign. Denis Robertson Sullivan, a former treasurer of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, says he has no doubt that independence will be good for Scotland and the rest of the UK.