Carmichael urges ‘real leadership’ from Sturgeon

Isles MP and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael arrives with his family to cast his referendum vote at the polling station in Evie Primary school, Orkney. Photo: Frank Bradford
Isles MP and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael arrives with his family to cast his referendum vote at the polling station in Evie Primary school, Orkney. Photo: Frank Bradford

The UK government is delivering on its pledge to devolve further powers to the Scottish parliament, according to Scottish secretary and Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

And he said that calls being made for a second referendum were “entirely inappropriate” and ran the risk of dividing Scotland.

It is one month since the nation went to the polls and voted  in favour of retaining the union.

Mr Carmichael has used the landmark to say the Westminster administration, which debated constitutional matters in the House of Commons this week, has “hit the ground running” on devolution.

He called on First Minister-in-waiting Nicola Sturgeon to adopt a similar approach and show “real leadership” in making things happen. She will be formally endorsed as SNP leader at the party conference in Perth next month and Mr Carmichael said: “Nicola Sturgeon will take the reins at a time where most Scots are moving on with their lives after the long and passionate referendum campaign. We have hit the ground running and are already working hard to deliver the further devolution which we promised.

“During the referendum campaign we set out a timetable for the devolution of further powers and we’re not only meeting it, we’re beating it.

“I would call on Nicola Sturgeon to show genuine leadership and accept the result. There have already been cries of reneging on the more powers vow even though the Smith Commission hasn’t even proposed anything yet. The betrayal bandwagon is already getting dusted down.

“This is simply not good enough. The Scottish people have made their democratic decision and it must be respected.

“I appreciate the emotional intensity of the campaign but the UK government respected the victory of the nationalists in 2011, recognised the will of the Scottish people and took measures to devolve the power to hold the referendum. Both sides signed the Edinburgh Agreement in good faith and it is that good faith which we need to see from the new First Minister.”

On 18th September, with a record turnout of almost 85 per cent, 2,001,926 voters in Scotland backed staying in the UK – nearly 384,000 more than voted for independence.

Mr Carmichael added: “The referendum gave us a decisive result. This was the most democratic decision we have ever made in Scotland. More than 3.6 million people voted. One question was put to the electorate and the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland answered by saying they want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

“We are now working to build a stronger Scottish parliament. Calling for a second referendum and reflecting on what could have been is entirely inappropriate. The Scottish government wanted to divide the United Kingdom but if they carry on as they have for the past month then they risk dividing Scotland.”


Add Your Comment
  • Robert Sim

    • October 18th, 2014 12:28

    This sounds to me like a statement designed to deflect attention from the fact that the Unionist parties are falling out with each other and can’t agree over the so-called “extensive new powers” to be devolved to Scotland. The fact is that the SNP is co-operating fully with the Smith Commission and was the first party to submit its proposals to the Commission. To any fair-minded person, that is a constructive approach.

  • joe johnson

    • October 18th, 2014 14:40

    I agree with alistair carmicheal. Calls for a second referendum is just silly. Its true, the U.K government did respect the SNP victory in 2011 and respected that the Scottish people voted for a party that wanted to hold a referendum on independence. A referendum was held and a majority wanted to remain part of the U.K. there will be more powers for the Scottish Parliament and it is a process that wont happen overnight. Remember when scotland voted overwhelmingly for a Scottish Parliament in 1997, the Scottish Parliament opened 2 years later. In this case of more powers being devolved, it will take months.

    • Mat Wallace

      • October 19th, 2014 20:32

      The Unionist politicians who speak about the referendum result as being ‘decisive’ and a ‘democratic decision’, seem happy to ignore the fact that an unsubstantiated promise was made in the last few days of the debate that swung the decision from a ‘Yes’ to ‘No’ result. (You may remember Gordon Brown speaking of ‘home rule’ akin to ‘federalism’)

      I’m pretty sure had there been a Devo Max option on the ballot paper, the majority of Scotland would have voted for it, but as we all know we were denied that opportunity by David Cameron and his coalition friends – aka Alistair Carmichael!

      Had the Yes Campaign made an equally rash promise of say, paying off a chunk of peoples’ mortgage if they voted Yes, the Better Together campaign would have been up in arms and threatening legal action. Yet the Yes campaign is expected to get back into its box, when nobody knows what the substance of the game changer promise actually is, and when, if ever, these wonderful new ‘substantial powers’ will be delivered!!!

      If there is another referendum, it will not be because the SNP want it, it will most likely be because the Unionist parties failed to deliver on their promise. The most likely scenario would be that the SNP, in their pre-election manifesto, would offer the Scottish people the opportunity of having referendum, but it would still be up to the will of the Scottish people to go with it, and that is democracy in operation.

      Cameron did not want the Scots to get Devo Max, and it was only introduced when the Unionists were about to lose the vote, when there was no substance to it and when it could not be properly debated for the people to decide – hardly democracy! So as well as being disingenuous with the Scottish people during the referendum debate, the Unionists politicians are now desperately striving to talk down the possibility of another referendum, and the reason for that is very simple: the Unionists will have failed to deliver and the Scottish people will know that Westminster’s bluff has been well and truly called.

  • John Jamieson

    • October 19th, 2014 9:24

    Who’s calling for a second referendum ?

  • Douglas Greig Young

    • October 19th, 2014 15:41

    Nicola will possibly not be requiring advice from Mr Carmichael anytime soon on “leadership”.

    Along with Mr Salmond they are the most trusted politicians in the UK by a mile.

    The 500% rise in SNP membership in Shetland since the referendum is not down to “sweeping nationalism”, but a desire by more and more of the Scottish electorate from both Yes and No to seek a more socially equal society for future generations.

  • Andy Holt

    • October 20th, 2014 17:37

    In the interests of mathematical accuracy and just for the record Douglas; a 500% rise of how many actual members, please?

    • Robert Duncan

      • October 21st, 2014 14:09

      Before the referendum they had around 25,000 members.

      The last figures I saw, reported at the start of this month, stated they had over 100,000 members. Mr Young’s suggestion that they now have 125,000 does not seem entirely unreasonable.

  • ian tinkler

    • October 22nd, 2014 8:53

    Douglas,The 500% rise in SNP membership in Shetland since the referendum? (since Salmond went) may be not down to “sweeping nationalism”, but perhaps because Salmond has been forced to stand down. Nicola is a more attractive proposition, but lets face it, she could hardly do worse than the discredited Salmond.

  • joe johnson

    • October 22nd, 2014 11:02

    To be honest, if I was a yes voter I would feel more comfortable with Nicola Sturgeon in charge then Alex Salmond. Salmond gave me the creeps, never trusted him.

  • Harry Dent

    • October 22nd, 2014 11:31

    “We have hit the ground running and are already working hard to deliver the further devolution which we promised”

    Who writes this rubbish for Mr Carmichael? Darling or Cameron?


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