Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Willie Rennie gets the biggest cheer of the final Scottish Leaders’ Debate

Seriously, I’m not joking.

See for yourself.

I thought he would do well, but I wasn’t quite expecting cheering, and rapturous applause for him.

On this occasion, it was his answer to a question on a second independence referendum which got the audience on his side. He said that the Parliament and Government needed to concentrate on the neglected issues like health and education, to concentrate on making Scotland the best country in the world again. You can’t do that, he said, while having a groundhog debate about independence. He told Nicola that she was the one being anti-democratic by refusing to accept the result of the poll just 20 months ago.

“When you don’t get the result you want, you just want to do it all again.” he shouted in an exasperated tone that had the audience with him.

I somehow managed to pass the BBC’s rigorous selection test, which consisted not just of an online questionnaire but also a phone interview. Here I am, on the right, in the blue dress, behind moderator Sarah Smith as she introduces the debate, captured on my friend Jade’s tv.

BBC Leaders' Debate

The debate was, rather bizarrely, held in the opulent surroundings of Hopetoun House in South Queensferry. From there, you can just about see where Willie Rennie rocked the political establishment by winning the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election in 2006. I arrived to discover that there was no internet signal. Being offline for four whole hours during  waking hours is almost unheard of for me, but I somehow managed.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough signal to tweet that for some reason the BBC didn’t trust us to walk a few feet from the place where we registered to the ballroom where the debate was being held. They hired a bus to take us over. I kid you not. You could walk it in less than a minute. The ballroom is more used to hosting weddings than political theatre. There was certainly plenty of drama.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

WATCH: Obama’s final White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Obama’s rocked all of his 8 speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. This year is full of occasions that will be his last in the White House. It took me a while to warm to him, but he’s certainly been one of the best US Presidents of my lifetime. He hasn’t got it all right, by any manner of means, but his tenacity in getting his healthcare reform through despite everything the Republicans threw at it was particularly commendable.

Anyway, this speech doesn’t quite have a Lion King moment, but the bit where he has a go at Prince George was hilarious.

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Nick Clegg tells the inside story of how the Conservatives put party before country

A couple of polls have suggested that Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservative Party might just edge ahead of Labour to become the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament. That is a truly horrible thought. Just imagine it, the timid, illiberal, centralising SNP opposed by David Cameron’s representative in Scotland. Their leaflets don’t push the fact that they are Conservatives. They are trying to make their campaign all about Ruth, as if she is somehow the saviour of the union. That, of course, is an argument that does not stack up, as this video from the Scottish Liberal Democrats shows.

It was the Scottish Conservatives who pretty much kept the SNP in power during their first term of minority government.

Do we really want them, with their contempt for benefit claimants, nonchalance about inequality and poverty and disregard for human rights and civil liberties, as the official opposition to an SNP government that is already so fiscally conservative and illiberal?

Their claim to be the only ones who care about the union has been shown up to be a pile of hogwash by Nick Clegg. In an article originally published in the Times and now on the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ website, he said:

As the Holyrood elections get closer and closer, I have become increasingly bemused that Ruth Davidson and others have sought to claim that the Conservatives are somehow the authentic opposition to the SNP.

It jars starkly with my experience when governing alongside the Conservatives in Coalition in Whitehall for five years.

In that time, I witnessed an odd ambivalence in the Conservative Party towards Scotland: indifference one minute; confrontation the next.

My party frequently disagreed with the Conservatives on Scottish issues, which was perhaps unsurprising since the only Scots around the Coalition Cabinet table were Liberal Democrats.

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LDV Top Tip: If you’re going to accuse your opponent of negative campaigning, don’t call him names

Edinburgh Western’s SNP candidate Toni Giugliano has been telling anyone who’ll listen that his Liberal Democrat rival Alex Cole-Hamilton has been fighting a negative campaign. He certainly went to town on that particular theme when interviewed by a Herald journalist who was writing a profile on the seat.

The first words in the article are Giugliano’s:

“HE’S spineless,” says the SNP’s Toni Giugliano of his Liberal Democrat nemesis Alex Cole-Hamilton. “He’ll do and say anything to get elected.”

The problem is that in Scotland these days, any criticism of the SNP is seen by them as negative campaigning. Holding the Government and elected representatives to account is a vital part of any healthy democracy and the SNP’s record in West Edinburgh has given cause for concern. The current MP, who narrowly defeated our Mike Crockart last year, resigned the SNP whip pending an investigation over property deals. She took 9 months to open an office in the constituency.

The main features of Alex’s campaign have been first and foremost to promote him as the candidate, to outline Lib Dem policies like the penny on income tax to invest in education, improving mental health care, meeting our climate change targets (important as two of the roads in the constituency are the most polluted in Scotland) and putting local accountability back into policing. Thirdly, it’s to emphasise what people know only too clearly from last year – that the constituency race is between Alex and the SNP. Fourthly, it’s to hold the SNP to account on its record locally and nationally.

You can tell that he’s getting somewhere when the Press and Journal highlighted Alex as one of the candidates to watch across Scotland.

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Would you quit your job to join the Liberal Democrats?

It would take a pretty big leap of faith to give up a job so you could leave one political party and join another which you felt better reflected your values, but that is exactly what Cllr Amanda Broom from Yeovil has done. She worked as caseworker for Yeovil’s new Conservative MP Marcus Fysh and was so upset by the Government’s actions that she decided she could no longer remain a member of the Conservative Party.

From the Yeovil Press:

Cllr Broom has stressed that her decision to join to the LibDems was nothing to do with her working relationship with Mr Fysh – but more concerned with “not being comfortable supporting” Conservative policies at a national level.

In a prepared statement Cllr Broom said: “I have been increasingly concerned over the current Government’s direction of travel to the right and the potential impact of these policies on my ward members – in particular – those on low pay, long term ailments or disabilities.

“I am also disappointed with the Government’s lack of foresight with regards to sustainable environmental policies including renewable energy.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Roaming charges reduced from tomorrow thanks to the EU

There is good news for smartphone users heading to the continent this bank holiday weekend. From tomorrow (April 30th), new EU rules will cap the cost of using your phone when abroad in Europe at 4p per minute, 2p per text and 4p per MB of data (excluding VAT), around four times cheaper than current limits.

Three UK’s rate is dropping from 16.6p per minute, 5.2p per text and 17.4p per MB to 4.3p per minute, 1.5p per text and 4.3p per MB. Tesco Mobile has announced it will drop roaming charges altogether in more than 30 European countries between May and September this year. From July 2016, all phone companies will be required to scrap roaming fees for phone users travelling within the EU.

That’s good news for my brother-in-law who is currently in Mallorca to compete in the marathon cycle ride, the Mallorca 312 tomorrow. That’s 312 km, a lot of it on the massive mountain ridge that covers the west of the island. I thought my leaflet delivery schedule for the next few days was punishing, but this is quite some feat of endurance, so  good luck, Jamie and team-mates.

This adds to a growing list of reasons to vote to remain in the EU. It maybe isn’t the biggest, but it does show that the EU is working to break down unnecessary barriers for the benefit of its half billion people.

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Farron makes pitch to centre left voters – support Lib Dems for good local councillors and effective opposition to Tories

Farron in Edinburgh Western 28 April

At about 8:45, Tim Farron made a flying visit to Alex Cole-Hamilton’s campaign HQ in Edinburgh Western. He did notice that the SNP office next door was  already in darkness.

The visit had an additional bonus for us as the campaigns staff from Scottish HQ pitched up yesterday afternoon and pronounced the place not tidy enough to receive the leader and proceeded to tidy it up for us. No doubt we won’t be able to find anything this morning.

Tim was highly impressed with what he’d seen, which is definitely a compliment given the amount of campaigning that goes on on his patch.

He also told us of his visit to Cardiff Central and candidate Eluned Parrott where he visited a refugee centre and played football with some of the refugees.  We know how strongly he feels that we should be doing more to help refugees from conflict and particularly those children already in Europe. He told us how he’d just been speaking to one of the “Windermere Boys”, a group of young men who were welcomed to the Lake District after being rescued from the death camps at the end of World War 2. They had gone on to build successful lives for themselves, serving the community in many ways, too. Helping people in these desperate circumstances is, Tim said, the least we can do.

This morning, he is visiting a nursery in Cowdenbeath with Willie Rennie, with the challenge from us that he has to at least match Willie Rennie being interviewed on a slide at our manifesto launch.

First, though, he was up early to be on both Radio 5 live and the Today programme to talk about the Lib Dem local election campaign. He made a very clear pitch to centre left voters, asking them to lend their vote to the Liberal Democrats. For that, they’ll get a brilliant local councillor to represent them locally and the appalling Tory government would be held to account He emphasised how the Liberal Democrats had shown more gains in votes and seats in local council by-elections since last May than anyone else. 

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJonathan Ferguson 3rd May - 2:02pm
    Thank you for your comment, Geoffrey Payne. The tone and style of this article is perhaps quite unconventional in a general sense; and I would...
  • User AvatarDavy Nook 3rd May - 1:37pm
    How does one "disenfranchise" someone who does not have a franchise?
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 3rd May - 1:19pm
    But Nick, that mainly explains why the doctors support the strikes. What's so wrong with accepting the contract? Doctors have a duty of care to...
  • User AvatarTom Papworth 3rd May - 1:16pm
    I am surprised this is constitutionally controversial. Parliament does and always has defined who can and cannot vote. It would be odd if the High...
  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 3rd May - 1:12pm
    I really object to the language in this article. Historically Liberals do support an ethical foreign policy and that notably includes William Gladstone. It is...
  • User AvatarPsi 3rd May - 1:09pm
    Jayne Mansfield “It has worked because people no longer have to suffer the appalling racial abuse and open hostility of my youth” Perhaps I am...