Ex-Liberal Democrat candidate quits party on indyref and gender views
A FORMER candidate for the Scottish Liberal Democrats and ex-convenor of the party in East Lothian has quit the party over its stance on a second Scottish independence referendum and its support for gender recognition reforms.
Stuart Crawford represented the party in the Haddington and Lammermuir by-election in 2019 before again standing for election in last year’s council elections.
He was unsuccessful on both occasions and has now resigned from the Lib Dems after outlining “serious misgivings over the direction the party is travelling”.
Mr Crawford, who lives in Haddington, told the Courier that there were a number of reasons for his decision.
The former East Lothian branch convener, who was previously a member of the SNP and a defence spokesperson for the party, said: “First of all, I believe that our stance on a second Scottish independence referendum – that we oppose it in principle – is quite wrong.
“There is a broad range of views within the party on this topic and, anecdotally, I suspect that perhaps as much as a third of the membership may have voted ‘Yes’ in 2014.
‘Far better to be neutral’
“Party policy is to oppose Scottish independence and support the Union, which is fine, but I don’t think we should be against a referendum being held per se, which seems to me to be undemocratic in the extreme.
“Far better, I think, to be neutral on whether a referendum should be held or not and then campaign vigorously for the Union if that’s what party policy is when the time comes.”
Mr Crawford, who spent 20 years in the military, also felt that the party was “quite wrong” to support the Gender Recognition Bill as it passed through the Scottish Parliament.
The 68-year-old said: “I understand that whilst women (adult female humans) make up 52 per cent of the general UK population, the transgender community might constitute roughly 0.3 per cent.
“Why such a tiny minority group should warrant such disproportionate attention is beyond me.
“I believe the party’s stance here is broadly misogynistic, dangerous to women and girls’ welfare and safety, and quite wrong, and certainly at variance with the majority of the wider membership and the electorate as a whole.
“This has been a very big mistake.”
‘Clear and robust party policy’
The father-of-three also claimed that support from party headquarters was “virtually non-existent” and it was “detrimental” to members’ morale.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Liberal Democrats thanked Mr Crawford for his service to the party but pointed out that the issues he had raised had been party policy at the time he had stood for election.
He said: “We’re sorry we’re going our separate ways, but the things he has cited have been clear and robust party policy for several years and he has stood for our party in full knowledge of that. Nevertheless, we wish him well.
“Alex Cole-Hamilton [leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats] visited East Lothian and helped Mr Crawford campaign at last year’s local elections, as he has around the country, securing the Lib Dems’ best result in Scotland for 15 years.”