Category Archives: News

EURef: Peace, Prosperity, People – my speech from village hall debates

I’ve spoken for Remain and the Liberal Democrats at over 50 debates in this campaign – in villages halls, church halls, schools, pubs, universities, a science park and even one on a beach.  A lot of party campaigners have been doing this.  Everyone who is prepared to speak for our cause in public deserves a big thank you.

I like to speak without notes so I did not think there was a copy of my speeches as delivered.

Lewes May 2016 speaking cropped

But a kind supporter surprised me yesterday. She recorded one of my speeches, …

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The Referendum Pledge Challenge: Week 2 winners

The Referendum Pledge Challenge has been in full swing for a couple of weeks now and parties across the UK have been embracing it and earning themselves some serious cash.

As you will have heard we challenged every local party to use their pledge cards, make calls and knock on doors all with the express aim of entering data into Connect so we can contact voters on polling day and, ultimately, increase turnout.

Some of last week’s winners have continued to press on and have once again found themselves on the leader board.

This week’s worthy prize winners are:

Edinburgh West who will win £1,000 for a tremendous effort and marching ahead in the race to enter contacts.

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Rennie: EU Vote will define our country for decades to come

Willie Rennie has been travelling round Scotland on town centre tour over the last few days, urging voters to vote to remain in the European Union.

Here he is in Perth:

In his final pitch to voters he said:

Voters going to the polls tomorrow will be doing more than simply putting a cross in a box. They are taking a decision over the values that will define us as a nation for decades to come.

Open and outward looking or insular and closed. Ambitious and hopeful or timid and cynical.

We have a choice between building on the progress that we have made as part of the EU, or leaving and going it alone. The EU has helped protect human rights and workers’ rights. Our businesses sell their products all over Europe, supporting jobs here in Scotland and across the UK. Crime does not respect international borders and the EU helps our police work with other forces across Europe to keep us safe.

Tomorrow we can choose to work together or walk away from international cooperation that has helped keep the peace in Europe for more than five decades. We will choose to work together or walk away from something that has given us billions of pounds in trade, millions of jobs across the UK and has helped bring thousands of criminals to justice.

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The most brilliant event of the EU Referendum

strip the willowI’ve found this EU Referendum really difficult. It’s been a horrible, nasty, divisive campaign with the most uncomfortable racist and nationalist overtones. I can’t remember which of our lot said it, but they were right that the dog whistle has become a foghorn. The thought that within 48 hours, our country might choose the path of isolationism and blaming of the others, believing a campaign based on lies  is not doing anything for my anxiety levels.

This afternoon, however, there was bright spot.

Outside the Scottish Parliament, the folk group Lau held a ceilidh flashmob to call for a Remain vote. I heard about it yesterday on Facebook and I was gutted that I couldn’t go. I asked Hannah Bettsworth, the awesome almost graduate, former co-President of Liberal Youth Scotland and occasional Liberal Democrat Voice contributor to go instead. She initially demurred, but curiosity eventually got the better of her.

The Strip the Willow is the most bonkers, potentially lethal Scottish ceilidh dance. It basically involves lots of spinning at great speed. There have been times I have thought I was going to end up on the next island while dancing it.  It’s fast and fun.

Here, Jamie Ross from Buzzfeed and Lib Dem Scottish Parliament supremo Matthew Clark show people how it’s done. Matthew is the one with the grey trousers and black jumper.

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LibLInk: Edward McMillan Scott: Turkey’s EU membership will remain in the EU’s deep freeze, no matter what Leave says

The Leave campaign continue to peddle the lie that Turkey is about to join the EU.

This is not going to be happening any time soon despite the disgraceful leaflet which shows the 76 million figure and an arrow going straight from Turkey to Britain (and actually in Scotland, the arrow pointed to Scotland).

Former Liberal Democrat MEP Edward McMillan has outlined the issues surrounding Turkey’s application in an article on politics.co.uk.

Turkey has always been a divisive issue for the Tories, whose Ukip tendency see Turkey’s membership as the final nail in the EU’s coffin. I witnessed this for several years in the 1990s, when I was the European parliament’s spokesman on Turkey’s accession bid. Leading Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has waded into the Warsi resignation debate this week. He says he asked her to join Leave and now claims she declined, although his friend, Ukip MP Douglas Carswell, told the Huffington Post that Hannan had indeed recruited her.

But internal Conservative politics aside, the fact remains that Turkey’s entry into the EU remains a very distant prospect. The EU’s response to Turkey’s often blunt courtship has traditionally been: “We don’t think either of us is ready for this yet, but let’s keep working on the relationship”. However, recent thuggish behaviour by President Erdogan’s hoodlums against any dissent to his corrupt regime has made even EU diplomats use much stronger language.

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LDVideo: Paddy: Don’t let other people determine your future

In a video for the European Movement, of which he is President, Paddy Ashdown urges people to make sure they vote, and vote Remain tomorrow.

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Baroness Julie Smith writes…The European Peace Project

Peace: the single most important reason for the creation of what we now call the European Union, and the reason it remains so crucial. The European project arose from a clear vision: to make war in Europe ‘materially impossible’, to create enduring peace in a continent long ravaged by war. It is almost impossible to imagine now the devastation that plagued our continent for so long. And that is thanks to the visionary ideas of its founders. A spirit of reconciliation and mutual cooperation among the six founding members was crucial to ensuring Immanuel Kant’s idea of perpetual peace seemed to be a reality.

Of course, many would argue that is NATO that has kept the peace in Europe. It has certainly been important in securing the borders of its European members. During the Cold War the European Community as it was initially known could rely on an American security blanket to protect them from Soviet threats. Yet, within its own borders it was the mutual trust that developed as a result of pooling sovereignty in the areas of coal and steel and then across a wider set of economic policies that ensured member states began to see each other as partners and allies, not potential invaders.

For generations now we have lived secure in the knowledge that our fathers, brothers and sons will not be summoned to fight for our country. Military engagement by the state and by individuals signing up is voluntary, not forced. We have the EU to thank for that.

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