Tag Archives: Scotland

Willie Rennie announces Lib Dem leadership team – with a majority of women

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has announced his leadership team which contains the 5 MSPs and 7 women from outside Parliament. Some of them will be well known to LDV readers.

Willie said:

Scottish Liberal Democrats have punched above our weight over the last five years at the Scottish Parliament and the team announced today will help ensure that we continue to lead the agenda.

Our party is full of talented people and I am delighted that senior party figures outside of Holyrood will play a leading role in driving our policy agenda forwards for the next five years. They have contributed a huge amount to the communities they serve, from councillors to campaigners, and bring a wealth of experience to the team.

This gender balanced team will provide strong liberal voices inside and outside parliament. These appointments will put the Liberal Democrats in the strongest possible position to grow over the next five years.

The team includes:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton’s maiden speech: EU is most important charter for freedom the world has ever seen

There is a reason I have spent so much time and energy over the past decade trying to get Alex Cole-Hamilton elected to the Scottish Parliament. I hope the video of his maiden speech this morning will help you understand it too.

I had pretty high expectations, if I’m honest. The subject, the EU, is one of his strong points. Last year he won best speaker in the Charles Kennedy Memorial Debate on our continued membership of the EU. Alex managed to exceed even my lofty expectations today.

He paid tribute to his immediate predecessor and to Margaret Smith, who, as Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh West until 2011, had played such a huge role in getting Free Personal Care through.

On Europe, he highlighted the role of the EU in preserving the peace. Only the last two generations of his family have been free from the losses of European war. As well as preserving the peace, the EU helps us tackle the challenges facing our world which know no borders, like climate change and human trafficking, he argued.  The case he made for the EU was persuasive, inspiring and optimistic.

The full text is below:

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It’s Willie vs Goliath in Holyrood

This afternoon, MSPs will choose the new First Minister of Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the largest single party will not be unopposed, though. Willie Rennie, on his fifth anniversary as Scottish leader, is standing against her. Willie is a massive optimist, but I doubt even he expects to get more than a handful of votes. We won’t have a Wales scenario in Edinburgh. However, it is important that someone lays down a marker that the SNP, which no longer has a majority, has to work to make its case to Parliament. Nicola Sturgeon’s comments that she expects Parliament to respect her mandate are not the sort of comments you would expect from a leader without a majority. She has to show a bit of humility and respect for Parliament.

This will not be the only time when the Liberal Democrats will lead the opposition to the SNP, as we did so often in the last Parliament. On Thursday, Sturgeon presents her list of Ministers to the Parliament. Under its standing orders, Parliament can only reject any new names. It can’t pass judgement on any of the people already in post. Willie Rennie has appointed Mike Rumbles to be Business Manager (or chief whip). This is a role that he took during the last period of Holyrood minority government from 2007-11. His experience of the Parliament’s procedures will be helpful.

The Liberal Democrats have been horrified at the total muck-up the SNP has made over payments to farmers. During the election, Tavish Scott slammed the SNP for seeking to charge interest to farmers on emergency payments made to them while they sorted out their IT system. It seems incomprehensible that Parliament should not even get a say as to the performance of the Minister responsible. The Parliament has an opportunity to assert itself and reject that Minister. The Press and Journal reports:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton’s first week in Holyrood

It’s been a wee while since we’ve had a brand new Parliamentarian. Here’s how Alex Cole-Hamilton, who gained Edinburgh Western from the SNP last week, spent his first week in office.

Monday

Outgoing Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick instituted a 3 day induction for new MSPs so that they weren’t just thrown in the deep end. Here’s Alex enjoying his new office:

BBC Scotland were there filming. Watch from around 14 minutes in to see him have a wee bit of a jazz hands moment:

Tuesday

We always knew Alex would be a hard-working constituency MSP. On election day, the Post Office closed a vital Post Office with no notice. Alex was quickly on the case supporting local residents and explaining why this was such a problem for the community:

It’s terrible. The other closures in the area were carried out with the assurance that the office at Duart Crescent would remain open. If you are elderly, infirm or have kids it is too difficult to get down the hill to St John’s Road.

A post office is the surrogate hub of the community and much more than just somewhere to pick up your pension. It is the only slice of social inclusion available to some of the elderly residents. As we close these counters it is another barrier to their involvement in society.

I am sure we have all heard anecdotes of people raising the alarm as someone has not collected their pension for a couple of weeks. That will all be lost if this is a permanent closure.

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Rennie calls for Minister for Mental Health

Willie Rennie and therapetWillie Rennie, seen here seemingly enacting a scene from Lady and the Tramp with a therapet during the election campaign, has called on Nicola Sturgeon to appoint a dedicated minister for mental health when the new Scottish government is announced next week.

A major part of the Liberal Democrat election campaign was a call for a step change in the way mental health services are supported.  Willie said that this appointment would send a clear message that the Scottish Government is taking mental health issues seriously:

Mental health spending has been cut as a share of the overall NHS budget every year since 2009 and too many young people still wait more than a year for urgent treatment.

Everywhere I went during the election people came up to me to say how important they felt it was to hear a political leader speaking out on mental health. It has been kept as a Cinderella service for too long.

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LibLink: There’s no way to deny it, the Lib Dems are on the rise again

Last week’s election results show that, overall, the Liberal Democrats are fighting back argues Tom Brake in an article for the Huffington Post.

Our party made the most gains in the English local elections, increasing our share of seats more than any other party, now having 45 more, passionate Councillors working hard for their communities.

We strengthened our support in the liberal heartlands of Eastleigh and Cheltenham. We dominated the results in Southport, Cumbria and in Watford, where we took control of the council. And we gained seats in cities like Hull, Rochdale and Manchester thanks to my fantastic former colleague John Leech, who will provide the only opposition to Labour there.

Up and down the country we’ve seen the green shoots of liberalism grow up in communities disillusioned with an impotent Labour party dubbed as the worst ever Government opposition, and a heartless Conservative Government imposing ideological cuts to valued public services.

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Rennie: It’s time for answers on China deal

During the election, the Scottish Liberal Demcorats raised questions about a trade deal signed between the SNP Government and Chinese companies with dubious human rights records.

Willie Rennie has now stepped up his quest for more information by tabling  a series of parliamentary questions.

During the election it emerged that the China Railway Group, who own one of the companies involved, had been blacklisted for investment by the Norwegian government’s oil fund over corruption allegations and criticised by Amnesty International over forced evictions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The First Minister admitted that due diligence was not completed on the businesses involved in a deal that it is claimed could be worth up to £10bn. Scottish Government officials failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests from journalists on the deal ahead of the election last week.

Willie said:

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    Lauren Keith Very good article , well done. Eddie Agree with you on new and more tangible policies, not on the leadership.Tim is here to...
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    As a new resident in the UK with voting rights I am keen to see both sides of the debate given exposure and robust examination....