Scotland politics

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael condemns 'divisive nationalism'

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Media captionAlistair Carmichael says nationalism is "divisive and exclusive and we should have none of it"

Scotland's only Lib Dem MP has insisted that Alex Salmond, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump all speak the same "divisive" language of nationalism.

Alistair Carmichael made his accusation during a speech to his party's Scottish conference.

He told the Perth gathering that it was now time to "get angry" about the rise of nationalism.

Meanwhile, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg urged the party to believe in itself.

He said it was vital to have self belief in order to be ready for the "next tough chapter in our political journey".

Mr Carmichael was the only Lib Dem candidate to retain a Westminster seat in the 2015 general election.

He told the conference: "Alex Salmond will tell you that all he wants is for decisions about Scotland to be made in Scotland.

"How is that different at its heart from Nigel Farage wanting to take back control?

"Or even Donald Trump wanting to do deals, great deals, that put America first?"

Mr Carmichael went on to say that nationalists talk about values but ascribe them to a particular country or people.

He said everyone remembered the "misty eyed rhetoric" during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum of "Scottish values of community, inclusion and even compassion".


By BBC Scotland's political editor Brian Taylor

It must have been a good lunch. Certainly, Nick Clegg mentioned it more than once. He had, apparently, been indulging in soup, fish and perhaps a little chèvre with sundry Liberal Prime Ministers. In Brussels.

His point - other than to trumpet the culinary splendour of Belgium - was to remind delegates at the Scottish Lib Dem conference in Perth that they are not alone.

Ok, they may not get invitations to enjoy Bruxellois nosh. But they should rest assured that their cause is not entirely moribund, swept aside by a tide of raw populism.

No, Liberalism was alive - if not entirely well. "Courage mes braves!", was the tone from Mr Clegg. (Told you he enjoyed that lunch.)

It was rather a thoughtful contribution by Mr Clegg. Discursive, analytical, anecdotal. Dare I say it (oh, go on, dare, dare), it had a touch of the elder statesman about it.

Read more from Brian

But he questioned: "What does that mean? Do they really believe that all Scots hold these values? Or that only Scots can hold them?

"Maybe if you don't hold them then you are not quite Scottish enough.

"Whatever it means it is divisive and exclusive and we should have none of it."

Mr Carmichael said Scotland had the misfortune to have two nationalist governments - "a Scottish Nationalist Government in Edinburgh and a British Nationalist Government in London".

The politician criticised both Theresa May's Conservative government and the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party.

He said the "nasty party" Tories were "back in business with a vengeance" in light of the Brexit result last year.

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Media captionNick Clegg: "We hold our own fate much more in our hands than people sometimes allow."

The keynote speech of the afternoon session came from Mr Clegg.

He insisted that "liberalism was not dead" despite the "many obituaries" which say it has been "walloped and destroyed" by populism and the increasing polarisation of politics.

Mr Clegg added: "These are dark times for liberalism on both sides of the Atlantic, there are huge convulsions going on in the developed democratic world, but the thing we must be aware of more than anything else is despair and defeatism.

"However much we are told that the momentum is with our enemies; however much we are told that populism is sweeping all before them; however much we are told that an era of politics of identify, chauvinism and nationalism is where all the action is, and that the liberals and the liberal democrats across Europe who hark and hanker for a better more tolerant and more open past, are being left behind by events - that is not true.

"We hold our own fate much more in our hands than people sometimes allow.

"So, self belief is essential for the next tough chapter in our political journey, but it is a political journey we should undertake knowing that we have good liberal friends across Europe."

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