The Prime Minister is joining in the efforts of the campaign for a No vote. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

David Cameron: “We do not want this family of nations to be ripped apart”

The Prime Minister’s last-minute plea to Scotland.

David Cameron has written an emotional piece in the Daily Mail calling for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom. Its headline is: “Our Union is precious. Don't tear it apart”.

Here are some extracts:

It’s difficult to put into words what our United Kingdom represents. This is the group of small islands in the North Atlantic that have punched above our weight for centuries – and we’ve done so together.

When the world wanted representation, we gave them democracy. When they wanted progress, we had the Scottish enlightenment and the industrial revolution.

When slavery bound innocent people, we abolished it; when fascism threatened freedom, we defeated it. A hundred years ago, our boys went off to war together – and they did so as comrades, united by purpose and hope for a better world.

As individuals and as nations, we have done extraordinary things. This is the special alchemy of the UK – you mix together Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and together we smash expectations.

. . .

This week, the No campaign set out more detail on this. Power for Scotland over how much money it borrows, what taxes it raises, how it spends that money – all agreed by November, all put into draft legislation by January. This is the package that Gordon Brown outlined on Monday. It is one I wholeheartedly support. Because we know that brighter future for Scotland rests not only on staying in the UK, but also on having significant new powers.

. . .

The United Kingdom is a precious and special country. That is what is at stake. So let no one in Scotland be in any doubt: we desperately want you to stay; we do not want this family of nations to be ripped apart. Across England, Northern Ireland and Wales, our fear over what we stand to lose is matched only by our passion for what can be achieved if we stay together.

It is a clear, impassioned article – qualities the Better Together campaign had been missing until the former PM Gordon Brown embarked on his tour to save the Union this week.

It comes as Westminster’s three main party leaders are abandoning their parliamentary duties today, in order to prioritise the fight against Scottish independence. Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are all going on a No vote trip to Scotland, in a last-minute attempt to persuade Scotland to stay. So far, all three leaders have kept a relatively low profile in the campaign, which is why I wrote yesterday that this show of their nerves today is a bad idea.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

0800 7318496