Interview with Councillor Sandy Wallace of the Scottish Libertarian Party

The Scottish Libertarian Party a pro-Brexit and pro-Independence for Scotland, has recently reached an important political milestone.  Back in April we interviewed Tam Laird the party leader.  Now we are delighted to interview Aberdeenshire Councillor Sandy Wallace a first elected politician for the Scottish Libertarian Party.

Sandy thank-you for your time.

You represent Stonehaven and Lower Deeside on Aberdeenshire Council.  Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be a councillor and about your ward?

I was the Councillor for Lower Deeside, where I live, from 1999-2007 under old one member FPTP rules. I was not re-elected when it went to multi-member STV wards at a time when the Conservatives went through a Hague/IDS/Howard period of being unelectable. I was talked into standing again by a close friend, Alex Johnstone MSP, who sadly has since died. The Conservatives won a mini landslide in 2017, which English readers will recall from Alex Salmond losing his seat in the GE a month after the Council elections. The ward is 20% Lower Deeside, rural farmland but in reality an upmarket dormitory for Aberdeen, then 80% Stonehaven, a gorgeous seaside harbour town. In England it would be rock solid Tory but we have tartan Tories to fight it out with 

“I sit on the Communities Committee, which is Policing, council housing and social work. That is my opportunity to ask the police how their pointless war on drugs is going”

You sit on the Aberdeen Community Planning Board, The Regulation of Private Renting Sub – Committee and the Sustainability Committee, among others.  What are you able to achieve in these roles, and what are the main challenges facing Aberdeenshire Council?

I have achieved the square root of bugger all which is why I flounced out of the Conservative Party. They have no interest in smaller government. Sustainability is enjoyable, mostly I draw attention to BS, and point out that the fluffy policies the council has merrily adopted actually have consequences. Planning has been fairly heart-breaking and was the camel back-breaking straw for me the council is run by anti-business NIMBYs. Gypsy Traveller Committee is good fun, the Chair likes having me there because I can give a pro-business and liberty perspective on the idea that perhaps we should stop trying to give gypsies services they don’t want but maybe just leave them alone to live on land they themselves own. I sit on the Communities Committee, which is Policing, council housing and social work. That is my opportunity to ask the police how their pointless war on drugs is going. Have they managed to bully anyone into choosing to give up drugs by threatening to take their kids into care or have them evicted? Yes, sadly, I have been reduced to that level of behaviour. The main challenges are that we have no money left and can’t get our head around doing less. 

You had been a Conservative Councillor prior to moving to the Scottish Libertarian Party.  What made you leave the Conservatives and what first attracted you to the Scottish Libertarians?

I did not join the Conservatives because I agreed with them, I joined because they seemed to be the party with the most chance of coming my way., They had dropped their stupid support for Clause 2a ( Clause 28 in England), dropped the poll tax and opposition to devolution. I had hoped they could continue the journey. They didn’t, but nobody else did either, so I have not been proved wrong. I am a very wet libertarian, I would say a Whig, a fanboy for Dan Hannan and Doug Carswell. Joining the Libertarians is my public expression of anger at the lockdown.

We speak at the time of Covid.  How have you personally found the lockdown and what do you think of the Scottish Governments handling of the crisis?

Personally? I am one of the many people living the dream. Detached home, garden, financially secure, 80% salary on furlough, granted a pass for university work based on earlier marks. Who cares about the kids in the gig economy whose future is being squandered. Of course in reality, I am livid. Johnson looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights, but while Sturgeon is following identical policies, her motivation is totally different. This is what she dreamed of, an authoritarian regime that destroys people’s lives then calls them selfish for grumbling about it.

“The idea of letting somebody have a birthday party for a ten-year-old now seems like anarchy. We need to have birthday parties for ten year olds. With a magician. And a whole buffet of finger food that all the parents just sort of graze at”

As we move into 2021 what would you like to see done to help the economy and society recover?

It is a huge task because even if you lifted all restrictions tomorrow, 25% of people would still choose to follow some of them and every time you don’t buy a coffee, that is somebodies job at risk, and with it, perhaps her ability to stay in college. It honestly needs changes that are tantamount to revolution. The idea of letting somebody have a birthday party for a ten-year-old now seems like anarchy. We need to have birthday parties for ten year olds. With a magician. And a whole buffet of finger food that all the parents just sort of graze at. And car sharing. We have put society back 25 years, the only solution is to put government back 25 years.

The Scottish Government is introducing a new Hate Crime and Public Order bill.  Can you give us your thoughts on this legislation?

My thoughts are barely printable. This is Humza Yousaf’s pitch for leadership when Sturgeon goes, his vision is a soft-focus form of fascism like Singapore or Malaysia.

If you we’re able to get more Libertarians on to Aberdeenshire Council what would you like to see done differently, how would you change the council?

Well if you mean Councillors of a libertarian frame of mind, most of what we do is defined by the Scottish government, so a tax and services cutting budget is not actually feasible. I would like us to run the planning system with a presumption in favour of development, whether it meets policy or not, unless there are actually constraints such as sewage.  A neighbour with a bad attitude is not a constraint. a planner thinking the building is ugly is not a constraint. I would like us to seek to delist half our listed buildings so that people could afford to maintain them, including all the bridges the council actually owns. I would like us to regard the equalities agenda with the contempt it deserves, given that it is the bastard child of people who belong to parties that are actually institutionally racist

“I would like to see Scotland governed very lightly, more of it by local authorities than the Scottish government, with local authorities raising nearly all of their own revenue so answerable to the voter for value for money”

The party is both a pro-Brexit and pro-Independence for Scotland.  What would be your vision for the future of Scotland.  How would you like to see it governed in say 5-10 years?

I voted for the winning side in both referendums. I hope to see that the democratic mandate honoured. I would like to see Scotland governed very lightly, more of it by local authorities than the Scottish government, with local authorities raising nearly all of their own revenue so answerable to the voter for value for money. The UK government can carry on worrying about defence and foreign affairs, ideally not being involved in any foreign wars. More important than that, however, I would like to see us being a tolerant nation, one that welcomes economic migrants and treats asylum seekers with compassion but a bit of suspicion.  I would like anyone who claims to be offended to be asked ” so what?”

Are there any thoughts you would like to leave our readers with?

I think George Foreman was a better fighter than Muhammed Ali, new Taylor Swift is as good as old Taylor Swift and John Stuart Mill should be core reading in states schools especially the bit where denounces the very concept of state schools 

Sandy can be found on twitter at https://twitter.com/Boogieeck and on https://vote-2012.proboards.com/.

The Scottish Libertarian party can be found online at http://scottishlibertarians.com/, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ScoLibertarian, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishLibertarians/.

Podcast Episode 40 – Scotland Special with guest Alasdair Stewart

We are joined by Alasdair Stewart, the former Chairman of the Croydon Conservative Federation, for a discussion of Scottish politics. We discuss the SNP Government’s response to Covid, the Highers Results scandal, minimum drinks pricing and the new Scottish Hate Crime Bill. We then consider the new Scottish Tory leader, the demise of the Labour Party and the prospects for the 2021 Holyrood Elections and a potential IndyRef2.

Also see our article on the Scottish Libertarian Party http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/interview-with-tam-laird-leader-of-the-scottish-libertarian-party/

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Interview with Tam Laird, Leader of the Scottish Libertarian Party

Formed in 2012 the Scottish Libertarian Party is separate from the Libertarian Party UK and with good reason.  Being both pro-Brexit and pro-Independence for Scotland, gives the party a key different priority.  Tam Laird the party leader is a former infantry soldier and lives in Edinburgh.  We speak to Tam about the campaign for liberty in Scotland.

Tam thanks for giving us your time…

Can you tell us about your journey to becoming the leader of the Scottish Libertarian Party?

I think probably my journey from Authoritarian to Libertarian is a more interesting story, but let’s not answer a question I wasn’t asked. At the beginning of my association with the Scottish Libertarians I had no interest in joining let alone hold office. That’s not a reflection on the movement it’s an indication of my attitude towards politics in general. Completely disillusioned, agnostic and cynical. It seemed no matter who I voted for, I ended up with the government and government is a cancer. So I hadn’t even voted for about 16 years. I was convinced by John Watson, who was Secretary at the time, to stand in a local by election. It seemed to me it was not so much about gaining votes as it was a good way of getting the libertarian free market message out. I was elected Deputy Leader soon after and was Deputy when I stood in the Edinburgh Central constituency against Ruth Davidson in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016. After that election, due to his extensive overseas business commitments our previous Leader was persuaded to step aside and I was voted in.

Could you in a couple of sentences tell our readers about the party?

We are a party of principle committed to free markets, free speech and individual rights and liberties. Accordingly we believe that self-determination is a fundamental individual right. For more information on policy and our full constitution check out our website.

“it’s not just a matter of Scottish Independence. What drives it is our belief in the right to self-determination all the way down to the individual. We support English independence. If Yorkshire, Cornwall or even Milton Keynes wanted to be independent we’d support it”

The party is pro Scottish independence.  What drives this and what sort of Scotland would you like to see once independent?

Echoing my previous answer, it’s not just a matter of Scottish Independence. What drives it is our belief in the right to self-determination all the way down to the individual. We support English independence. If Yorkshire, Cornwall or even Milton Keynes wanted to be independent we’d support it. Whether it’s a good idea or not is a matter for those constituents. What we’d like to see is a Scotland that absolutely protects the individual rights and liberties of each person. In fairness that’s a long way from what the Scottish National Party (or as I call them Sturgeon’s Notionalist Party) is even capable of delivering if they had the will. Which they don’t. It’s worth mentioning that there are many party members who fear Scottish Independence as a precursor to an authoritarian socialist state under the SNP. I respect that, and those individuals are free to vote accordingly.

“A good start would be to NOT have a Central bank. Have competing currencies on a national level exactly the same as we have it on an international level. Anyone who wishes should be able to start a bank and issue their own currency. It’s called a free market”

The Scottish government’s budget deficit and what currency an independent Scotland would use were major questions from the independence referendum.  How would your party address these?

I think the first step is to reduce the tax burden on individuals and business. In tandem public spending has to be cut back massively. Starting from the top. It’s pretty pointless cutting back on subsidies to the vulnerable in society if you are going to give out generous corporate welfare to the likes of Amazon. Unfortunately the SNP have convinced many Scots, especially the young, that free education, healthcare, housing are all God given rights. That’s tough to roll back.

I think the currency issue is a bit of a red herring. We can use any currency we like. We can use Rupees if we like provided someone else will take them. The issue, I suppose, is the currency of ‘last resort’ but it’s not an issue that can’t be solved with a will do so. A good start would be to NOT have a Central bank. Have competing currencies on a national level exactly the same as we have it on an international level. Anyone who wishes should be able to start a bank and issue their own currency. It’s called a free market.

We have now left the EU and are in the transition period.  How do you think Brexit is going and what position would you like to see us in with the EU come 1st January 2021?

I think the way Theresa May handled it was a shambles. Which is to be expected as she was not a believer in it. It should have been No Deal = Good Deal from square one. The way the opposition parties handled it was nothing short of disgraceful and even treasonous. I hope by January 21 the EU is a distant memory. May it implode from within and die a horrible wasting death.

You ran in the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections in Edinburgh Central.  How did you find the experience, and do you have any interesting stories from the campaign trail?

It was an interesting, and slightly surreal experience. It couldn’t have been that bad as I’m determined to do it again in 2021. I’d advise anyone running to go to the count and keep an eye on the adjudication of “spoiled ballots”. I spotted about 6 that were absolutely fine and couldn’t get to the bottom of how they ended up in the spoiled ballot pile. Before heading onto the platform for the return results, I jokingly quipped to Ruth Davidson that it wasn’t too late to join the SLP. She replied that “there’s a libertarian streak in us all”. I hope she makes it a wee bit wider next time. It would be nice to be able to see it manifest. I won’t hold my breath.

What’s your party’s plan for fighting elections and getting the message of liberty out to the electorate?

We plan to fight as many council and parliamentary by elections as we can. The former cost very little or nothing, and get the party name on the ballot papers. We also plan to field as many candidates as possible in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2021.(Provided it goes ahead in view of Covid) Ideally I’d like to fill all the regional lists and additionally have a candidate in at least four key high profile constituencies.

In a hustings for the 2019 general election you said “Well okay, I can only speak within my own family. I know some people in my family who use food banks and they’re at it. And that’s just a fact”.  “But I do think the answer to poverty is more jobs.”   How did that go down in the hall, and with your family?

Could have worded that one better. But I stick by it. In fairness I was referring to extended family. Haven’t had anything back, but then getting upset would be tantamount to admitting you were the guilty party. I think there was a some incredulity in the hall, but I articulated what a lot of people know and think but won’t say. The Daily Record appeared to try and do a hit piece, but if so it backfired as most of the feedback I got was positive.

“laws prohibiting government from interfering in private life and business. Provided there is no harm, injury or loss. If so it’s a matter for the police, not the government”

Other than Independence and Brexit, if you could introduce, repeal or change 3 laws what would they be?

I’m not keen on introducing laws, but I guess a law prohibiting government from using force or coercion to collect taxes would be a start. Also laws prohibiting government from interfering in private life and business. Provided there is no harm, injury or loss. If so it’s a matter for the police, not the government. I’d repeal any laws that infringed on the right to freedom of association. It’s difficult, because what you really are asking is what I would do if I was an absolute monarch. The reality in a democratic system is it’s almost impossible to get things done without a huge majority Even then it’s tenuous. As we have seen with the Brexit farce that played out over two years.

Lastly how do you think the governments of both the UK and Scotland are handling the Covid-19 crisis, and what would you like to be done to help the eventual economic recovery?

I think the governments are handling the crisis as only government can. Disastrously. I think Boris had the right idea at the start, then he did a Thatcher and blinked. Look, I’m not an expert epidemiologist, but many who are have questioned the wisdom and efficacy of the lockdown. I agree with them. I think in the end the economic fallout will be far more devastating than the virus itself. What would I do? I think I’d have started by not promising mass bailouts to everyone. Also I wouldn’t have allowed an economy to become so bankrupt that it couldn’t survive this crisis. I’m not optimistic about the outcome. There’s nothing the government is even planning to do that can put this right.

Perhaps we could start by telling Richard Branson to sod off?

The Scottish Libertarian party can be found online at http://scottishlibertarians.com/, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PartyScottish, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishLibertarians/.