Tag Archives: Scotland

LibLink: Willie Rennie: SNP obduracy on using tax powers shows party is no champion of progressive politics

Willie Rennie’s ambition for better education and health services in Scotland has been clear and so has his ambition to use the tax raising powers given to the Scottish Parliament. His plan for a penny on income tax for an almost half billion investment in education to introduce the Pupil Premium, extend nursery education and reverse cuts to college and schools funding.

The SNP, having squealed blue murder for years about not having enough powers to do anything, fails to use them when they are given them.

Willie often says these days that the SNP “talk left and walk right” and he has written a damning critique of the SNP’s approach in the Herald.

As it was a Liberal Democrat Secretary of State who delivered these new tax powers, it is perhaps not surprising that we were the first to propose using them to transform education in Scotland. By putting a penny for education onto income tax bands, we would raise £475 million a year.

Willie’s proposals have brought outrage from SNP and Tories alike. Finance Minister John Swinney said he would rather sacrifice public sector jobs (which in turn affects the most vulnerable) than raise tax rates. The Resolution Foundation says a tax rise is progressive. Willie challenges the SNP:

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Rennie to SNP: Are you conservative or progressive?

Willie Rennie will challenge the SNP in a parliamentary debate on their budget this week to actually use the powers that are coming the Scottish Parliament’s way and raise the rate of income tax to pay for a £475m investment in education. The SNP, of course, are holding out for independence and have no intention of showing that the powers they have can make a huge difference. In their 9 years in office, they’ve not even used the tax-raising powers that came to Scotland with devolution in 1999.

Willie’s penny on tax for education is a bold move. Saying you’ll put up taxes is a risk for a party in our position, but this is no time to play it safe. Anyway, just from talking to people, I think that there is a sense that you get what you pay for and if you want world class public services, you need to put money into them.

Willie said:

Liberal Democrats will be using this debate to challenge the SNP to show whether they are conservative or progressive, whether they’ll keep talking left but walking right.

Liberal Democrats are the only ones calling for Parliament to actually use the new powers we’ll get in April. Why wait? There is no point in sitting around, twiddling our thumbs, when we could make a real difference to the life chances of Scots.

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Rennie: Only a strong team of Lib Dems can champion our civil liberties

Speaking at the party’s North East Scotland Regional Conference this morning Willie Rennie told members that over the last five years it has been the Liberal Democrats that have been the powerful guarantor of civil liberties in the face of the illiberal SNP, and that will continue in the next Parliament.

This is the latest in a series of strong messages that Willie has been laying out in the last couple of weeks. The party has put a massive emphasis on civil liberties and education (what a surprise for a liberal party) in this Parliament and has an admirable record of persuading the SNP to change policy whether it’s on stop and search, armed police, nursery education or college places. So, Willie is saying we’ll actually use the tax powers the Parliament has to put a penny on income tax to pay for education and that we’ll continue to defend our freedoms. I also liked the quick summary of our values that he did the other day:

I want liberal-minded Yes voters to know they can vote for the Liberal Democrats because Scotland needs strong liberal voices in parliament to stand up for investment in opportunity through education and good health, to guarantee our civil liberties and to protect our environment. We need a strong outward-looking, internationalist, altruistic, tolerant, reformist, pro civil liberties, pro-Europe, pro-environment, pro-business party in Scotland. You don’t get that with anyone else and Yes voters as well as No voters should back us if they want that platform.

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Another vindication for Alison McInnes on civil liberties as regulation of facial recognition technology recommended

There has been a pattern in this Holyrood Parliament of Scottish Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes finding out the SNP on some major civil liberties fail (armed police, excessive use of stop and search, including of children), the SNP just not getting it and then Alison being absolutely vindicated.

Today, that happened again. Last year, Alison highlighted the dangers of unregulated use of facial recognition technology by the Police after discovering that over 335,000 people’s images were retained on a police database.

A report today makes a number of recommendations to regulate this practice. The SNP Justice Secretary had previously dismissed Alison’s concerns.

The report concluded that there is “a need for improved legislation and better independent oversight around the police use of biometrics in Scotland, an independent Scottish Commissioner to oversee biometric databases should be established, as was introduced in England and Wales in 2012 when the Liberal Democrats were in the coalition government and a statutory code of practice governing the use of biometric data should be developed.

Alison said:

This review vindicates the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ campaign highlighting the inadequate safeguards governing the use of our biometric data and in particular facial recognition technology.

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Willie Rennie’s penny on tax for biggest investment in Scottish education since devolution

Willie and ACH on nursery visit

Finally, someone is actually planning on using the new tax-varying powers given to Scotland. Willie Rennie has made a big announcement on education this morning. He intends cleaning up the mess the SNP have made in education with 4 radical measures, paid for by a modest rise in income tax which will not affect anyone who earns £19,000 a year or less.

That £475 million investment will include the Lib Dem Pupil Premium, already successful in England and, thanks to Kirsty Williams, in Wales. That’s all about giving extra money to disadvantaged kids in school. Then there’s investment in nurseries and colleges, as well as a reversal of the SNP’s education cuts.

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Willie Rennie to make major announcement on education tomorrow

It’s 99 days to go till the Scottish election and Willie Rennie is making a major policy announcement tomorrow. He will be launching his “plan to save Scottish Education.”

He’ll be visiting an Edinburgh nursery tomorrow where he’ll be laying out what is being described as a “bold, costed plan.”

He is expected to say:

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: Scottish Tories are a referendum themed tribute act, draped in union flag, singing Rule Britannia

Willie Rennie has written a scathing attack on the Scottish Conservatives for the Scotsman newspaper. He accused Ruth Davidson’s party of being nothing but a “referendum themed tribute act.”

In contrast, he set out a strong statement of the values the Liberal Democrats stood for:

I want liberal-minded Yes voters to know they can vote for the Liberal Democrats because Scotland needs strong liberal voices in parliament to stand up for investment in opportunity through education and good health, to guarantee our civil liberties and to protect our environment. We need a strong outward-looking, internationalist, altruistic, tolerant, reformist, pro civil liberties, pro-Europe, pro-environment, pro-business party in Scotland. You don’t get that with anyone else and Yes voters as well as No voters should back us if they want that platform.

The Tories are trying to portray themselves as the true guardians of the union, trying to characterise Labour and Liberal Democrats as flimsy at best because we won’t chuck independence supporters out of our parties.

Willie says that the Tories and the SNP are feeding off each other and trying to continue the independence debate when Scotland’s focus needs to be on its own public services:

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