THE LIBERAL Democrats must make the emotional case for the union to win back Scottish votes.

Layla Moran, who is in the running to be the party’s next leader, also said the work of the Scottish LibDems should be mimicked nationally if they are to succeed in the next elections.

Ms Moran, a former maths and physics teacher is hoping to replace Jo Swinson as the party’s next leader and beat rival Ed Davey to the top job.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald ahead of tomorrow’s virtual Scottish husting, she said: “

In general elections we've had mega disappointment. Actually, you could even argue that 2010 wasn't great because we lost seats.

“All credit to the Scottish party for bucking the trend though. When we lost seats in England, actually we held or increase seats in Scotland and that's all credit to Willie Rennie and the amazing team under him. The Lib Dems have not just survived they've thrived [in Scotland] but we also need to recognize that the national party is a drag.”

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Ms Moran said in the next election, under her leadership, the party would “have to find a way of stopping the SNP from using the next election as a way to tear the country apart.”

She explained: “ Instead, it could be used as a way of deepening federalism, which is what I believe, and would continue to advocate. From our inception we spoke about federalism, the USP of the Lib Dems is our local approach to politics.

“At a time when people are trying to sow divisions between Scotland and England I would argue this is the time that we should have even closer cooperation.

“ Coronavirus has shown us that actually, we can work effectively together.”

Ms Moran said it was “a real shame” that Boris Johnson chose not to meet Nicola Sturgeon when he visited Orkney on Thursday, and added: “Why isn't he meeting Nicola Sturgeon to talk about the big issue of the day? Instead they are politicking, they need to grow up.”

As with other anti-independence parties, the LibDems will need to decide how to approach the constitutional question ahead of the next poll.

Ms Moran said she believes taking the emotional approach to having a united kingdom should be the way forward for her party, explaining: “If we are going to fight the Tories effectively and also if we're going to fight the SNP effectively, the Liberal Democrats need to make that emotional argument for the union.

“The way we do that is by really appealing to people's sense of working together, as we have.

“We've always had a completely consistent message on this as liberals. If you want to tackle the big issues of the day, the best way you do that is by finding your friends and working with them.

“I care about the care homes in Scotland as much as I care about care home in England. I care about the ability for every person to thrive, no matter where they are in the United Kingdom, and by spreading out that wealth by looking after each other, it speaks to a deeper value.

“That emotional case is not being made loudly enough. The constitutional question needs to be bigger than what Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson are using against each other.

“He’s saying ‘I give you all the money, you should be grateful’ and she's basically saying ‘Well, we're going to go out on our own and look, we're doing so much better actually.’

“It's not one or the other.”

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On Russia, which has dominated the political agenda in the last fortnight, Ms Moran said she would condemn anyone appearing on Russian state-funded media, such as RT or Sputnik, but fell short of saying she would ban her own MPs from doing so.

She explained: “I don't know, mainly because I don't like banning things.

“Russia Today and Sputnik are awful and the Russian regime definitely doesn't need any more help with airtime. The Lib Dems shouldn't be helping them.

“I would suggest that if there is someone in the party who wants to do it that they'll be spoken to , to explain why it's a terrible idea and then they just wouldn't do it.

“I'm generally not one for banning things unless you've had a conversation where you try and get them to see since first.”

The MP said she has turned down invitations by RT to appear on the channel, and said former First Minister Alex Salmond should no longer be involved with the broadcaster.

She said: “If he was in my party I'd be feeling very, very embarrassed. It shows an extraordinary lack of judgment from any politician to be doing Russia Today let alone taking money from them. It's ridiculous that its happening.”

Ms Moran will find out if she has succeeded in her leadership bid after the party’s voting closes on August 26.