Tag Archives: Scotland

A trio of embarrassments for the SNP

This week has not been a good one for Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson. For the third week running, the Sunday Times has reported on property transactions which are now being investigated by the Police. The solicitor who acted for Michelle Thomson’s company in many of these transactions was struck off last year. You can read the whole judgement in that matter here. It is also worth reading Labour blogger and solicitor Ian Smart’s commentary on the allegations contained within it.

Today’s paper highlights (£) a couple who had to sell their house after the husband was diagnosed with a bowel tumour which left him unable to work.

The inquiry is now likely to look into a transaction in 2009 that is unrelated to Hales. It involved a property firm linked to Michelle Thomson that arranged for her husband Peter to buy a flat in Edinburgh.

The sellers, Garry and Sandra Kelly, claim £32,000 was deducted from the purchase price of £105,000 to pay off a loan they say they never had. On Friday, this newspaper alerted Police Scotland’s financial crime unit to the transaction.

The transactions are now under police investigation and, earlier this week, Thomson stepped down from her role as the SNP’s business spokesperson and temporarily resigned from the whip. However, it appears that even if there were no illegality, the accounts from the people whose houses were bought by her company are damaging on their own. From today’s Sunday Mail:

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Does Scotland need Home Rule, or just to use the powers it has?

Siobhan Mathers, Scottish Liberal Democrat activist, former (and, I hope, future) parliamentary candidate and policy convener argues in today’s Sunday Times (£) that it’s time that Scotland got a full home rule settlement. She sets out what she means by that:

I will use the fiscal definition that Scotland under home rule should raise what it spends — self-sufficiency — and the sovereignty-focused philosophical definition of Steel: “The principle of home rule is different from devolution. Under home rule, sovereignty lies with the Scottish people and we decide when it is sensible to give powers to the centre on issues like foreign affairs and defence.”

She says that there is no point waiting for the UK to sort out a federal structure for itself because it’s just not going to happen any time soon and that it’s in Scotland’s “enlightened self interest” to pursue full home rule to see off the demand for independence:

It strikes me as an act of misguided altruism to wait for the constitutional laggards, our bedfellows in the UK. Yes, it would be nice to help sort everyone else’s problems in how they relate to the constitutional parents in London, but it is not a priority for many.

During an air emergency, passengers are advised to put on their own oxygen masks before helping others. I would argue that Scotland’s relationship with Westminster is at such an emergency point and we need to pursue enlightened self-interest by focusing on our own problems first.

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Do not abandon us


Of the three Unionist parties, it has fallen to the Liberal Democrats to save encircled Scots fending off the militant hard leftists of the SNP frontline infantry. The Conservative and Unionist Party is useless in Scotland, and the once-paternal Labour Party has gone from noble guardian angel to patronising champagne socialist to near-death this May. Unionists have a ramshackle current incarnation: one MP per Unionist Party. SNP high command could not have believed their luck in May by not getting the grand slam all Scottish seats landslide; with three MPs, one from Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats, the “bad things come in sets of three” mantra writes itself. The plan now must be to prove that the Union cannot work. “Look, the only three Unionists cannot even work together, they’re so tribal,” the SNP will no doubt say in the coming months. Political POWs actually make for better propaganda than a full landslide massacre.

The Liberal Democrats are now destined for a faceoff with the SNP. The Tories had ruined themselves in Scotland years ago. Labour morphed into the “Red Tory” Party. Now, the Liberal Democrats are the only brand left.

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In full: Willie’s story

We gave you the preview yesterday, now here’s the whole thing. The Scottish Liberal Democrats have finally found some production values in a very well produced Party Political Broadcast:

The transcript is below:

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Preview: Scottish Liberal Democrats Broadcast: Willie Rennie’s story

Scottish Liberal Democrat party broadcasts have previously been in the, shall we say, Blake’s 7 school of production values. That’s not to say that there wasn’t great content, but it came across as homely.

Well, all that’s changed with the new broadcast being aired tonight.

Here’s a tiny snippet. You’ll be able to watch it on tv and on here later.

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Willie Rennie on “dark, secretive” Better Together and “despicable” Cameron

Willie Rennie has gone to town on the Better Together pro-UK campaign in an interview for the Sunday Herald. He described it as “dark” and “secretive.”

Labour had a dark campaigning style. It was very secretive. Everything would be last minute. You would never be told much about what was going on until it happened. We all suffered. The Tories and ourselves suffered more, but some in Labour were out of the loop as well.”

You mean an inner circle ran everything? “Yes. It was Blair and Rob . People like that were making decisions and had this addiction to secrecy.

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The Borders railway is a massive Liberal Democrat achievement – why are we not shouting it from the rooftops?

This weekend the first journeys take place on the new Borders railway. Originally shut in 1969 under the Beeching cuts, it was rebuilt thanks to the Scottish Liberal Democrats in Government. Trains will now run again on a 30 mile stretch from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank.

It was Liberal Democrat transport ministers Tavish Scott and Nicol Stephen before him, who fought the battles within the Scottish Executive on this against Labour’s distinct lack of enthusiasm.  In fact, one of their MSPs tried to wreck the project by putting an amendment for it to only go as far as Midlothian but that was defeated. Special Adviser at the time Sam Ghibaldan has been talking on Facebook about the fight the Liberal Democrats had to get the project up and running:

I’m really delighted the Borders Railway is up and running. When the Lib Dems were in the Scottish government we had to battle to get the Borders Railway through against Labour and civil service opposition. One particular incident that sticks in my mind is being told by the then head of the transport division (shortly after the railway had been included in the 2003 coalition agreement), that that made no difference as the project was not one of the agreed transport priorities. Which it turned out had been set pre devolution….

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Jim Hume MSP: SNP risks making GPs an exclusive service that many can’t access

I was interested to see this report in today’s Scotsman which featured Labour and the SNP slugging it out over cuts to GP training posts. People are finding it more and more difficult to get an early appointment with their GPs. You would think that the service that is the most common way for us to access the NHS would be better funded, but primary care now accounts for just 7.8% of healthcare funding, down from 9.8% in 2011.

It is causing a fairly massive amount of concern. You’d think that they’d want to discuss it in Parliament.

Oh wait – they did, but the Scotsman didn’t feel the need to talk about the debate initiated by Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume just yesterday afternoon.

Jim warned that the failure to recruit and train sufficient GPs risked the service becoming inaccessible to many people. He cited a survey carried out by the Scottish Liberal Democrats which showed that 4 in 10 respondents found their workload unmanageable and a third would choose a different career path.  An SNP MSP typically intervened to blame Westminster for increasing contributions to public sector pensions. In fact, it was day to day work concerns that upset GPs most:

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Willie Rennie: Lib Dems are for aspirational Scots with a social conscience

In a speech to the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in Aberdeen yesterday, Willie Rennie claimed the radical centre ground for the Liberal Democrats, talking about Labour and the SNP fighting it out on the left, while the Conservatives move further to the right. He outlined a position that championed social justice while making sure that we lived within our means.

Willie now finds himself as the oldest political leader in Scotland at just 47 years old. Nicola Sturgeon is 46, Ruth Davidson 36, Patrick Harvie 42 and Kezia Dugdale 33. It’s certainly different from when I was growing up when most political leaders were in their 50s and 60s and the President of the USA was in his 70s.

The challenges for the Scottish Liberal Democrats are obvious. Standing firm in our own space and talking in a unique way about our issues is very important in post-coalition Scotland. I say standing firm, and not finding our own space as we have always been a radical centre ground party which champions individual freedom. Willie looks back to Gladstone, Asquith, Lloyd George, Russell Johnston, David Steel and Charles Kennedy as liberal inspiration.

There’s an interesting turn of phrase about our years in government:

There are some things I would soon forget about our time in government but our decision to put country before party for economic recovery is not one of them.

He then goes on to talk about the good things we did in Government and indeed the changes in SNP policy that his own parliamentary group of just 5 MSPs have driven.

Here is Willie’s speech in full:

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Christine Jardine selected to fight Aberdeenshire East for Holyrood election

Christine jardineChristine Jardine put up one hell of a fight against Alex Salmond in the Gordon constituency this year. She got 1500 more votes than Malcolm Bruce had 5 years earlier and is in a very clear second place to challenge the SNP in the future.

She has now been selected to fight the Aberdeenshire East constituency in May next year for the Scottish Parliament.

The Ellon Times has the story:

A delighted Christine said: “Its very humbling to know that people are prepared to put their faith in you. I had a lot of support in the general election – 19,030 votes – and, while it’s clear we have a lot of work to do, I know those people, and the many others who have joined the party, are looking to us to repair the health service, improve education and protect jobs.

I am determined that the next Scottish Government will give us here in the North East a better deal on health, education, housing and more.

I’m a Liberal. I believe politics is not about nations or states it’s about people, about individuals and should always put them first.

Nobody should have to travel to another town to find a GP, or to the central belt for an operation or wonder if their child will have a teacher when the term resumes.

Those are the things I want to change. That I will work to change and I will ask the electorate to help by making me their next MSP.

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Willie Rennie backs all women shortlists

Willie Rennie has announced that he supports the use of all women shortlists and quotas to improve the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ appalling record on gender balance. He is to lead a group which will draw up specific proposals for the 2019 European, 2020 Westminster and 2021 Holyrood elections.

The Scottish Party looked on in shock when members in the North East did not place highly effective Justice Spokesperson at the top of the list when it was selected at the end of last year. Since then, and particularly following the General Election, there have been strong calls for much stronger action on gender balance. Willie has consulted widely within the party and he announced his plans at the Scottish Party’s and Scottish Liberal Democrat Women’s Everyday Sexism Open Mic event in Edinburgh yesterday.

The Working Group to be led by Willie will consider all options including:

•         All women shortlists

•         Making gender a part of the party’s electoral strategy

•         Quota systems

Willie said:

I have lost patience with the current system and its inability to ensure proper representation of women.  It is now time to take the necessary action to deliver change.

A fresh start for the Liberal Democrats requires us to change.  We need to be more reflective of the people we seek to represent and to perform at our best we need to deploy our best people to make the case for our cause.

Despite an abundance of talented women the party has been unable to put enough in positions to get elected.   It is difficult to make the case for opportunity for everyone when only one of our parliamentarians is a woman.

Twenty years ago my party agreed in the Constitutional Convention to work towards a gender balance in our Scottish Parliamentary representation. Yet since the Scottish Parliament was created we have elected no more than two women at the four elections to Holyrood.   I determined to finally deliver the commitment made to the Constitutional Convention.

Encouragement and organisational support is simply insufficient to overcome the barriers to electing women.

That is why I will lead a working group to finalise proposals to put to the Spring Conference of the Scottish Liberal Democrats that will break down those barriers and increase the representation of women Liberal Democrats in Parliament.

It is my intention that the new arrangements will be in place for the European Election in 2019 and will also apply to the 2020 General Election and 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Election.

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LibLink: Jim Hume MSP: Out of sight, out of mind? Why the SNP need to get serious on mental health

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has been writing on the Scottish Liberal Democrat website about the crisis in mental health care in Scotland, where they haven’t had a Norman Lamb in power transforming mental health provision.

In Scotland during the last 5 years, over 4000 people were treated outside their own health board. Jim says that’s not good enough:

Despite the number of patients being discharged from psychiatric hospitals in Scotland falling dramatically in the past decade, hundreds of patients are still facing being treated away from their families and communities.

There will always be some patients who need to be sent to specialist clinics outside of their health board for treatment. But it is clear that mental health units across the country are struggling to cope with demand on their services.

We know that sending patients out of area can isolate them from their support networks, including friends, families and their community care team.

The life-changing nature of such a move means it could also have implications for the civil liberties of an indidividual – which must be considered under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (ScotlandAct 2003.

It can be detrimental to a persons recovery.

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How to Beat the SNP


I don’t know when the SNP will be toppled, but I am confident it will happen eventually. I also seriously doubt people will flock en masse back to Labour, a party that took Scotland for granted for years and, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve the return of unwavering support. There will be a gap that we could perceivably fill, but we have to earn the right of that space, not make Labour’s mistake of taking it as a given.

Here are some things I have been trying to keep in mind over the past few months talking to SNP voters:

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Jim Hume MSP: Scottish mental health units ‘struggling to cope’

From the Scotsman today:

More than 4,000 patients have been sent for mental health treatment outside their health board area in the past five years, according to latest figures.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures through parliamentary questions, have warned that mental health units across Scotland are struggling to cope with demand.

The figures show that, in 2013-14, a total of 799 patients were discharged from a psychiatric hospital in a different area from where they live. This compares with 793 in 2012-13 and 855 the year before that.

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“Opportunity, community, sustainability and an open mind.” Willie Rennie’s liberal values for today’s Scotland

On Sunday night, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie made a speech in St John’s Church in Edinburgh. He talked about his vision of liberalism and what it means for today’s world. He looked at the consistency of liberal values in practice through the ages and quoted Charles Kennedy on finding the way forward from the history books.

There’s nothing particularly new in there, and I’m not sure about this “militant for the reasonable person” phrase. Reasonable, is, after all, a very subjective phrase. I’m sure Nigel Farage thinks he’s being reasonable, but generally liberals find what he says deeply unpleasant. Nor am I sure about militant. Maybe that’s because I remember the Labour lefties in the 1980s. We liberals are passionate, certainly, but militant? I’m not so sure. I prefer his summary of liberal values – opportunity, community, sustainability and an open mind. Those are very consistent themes for him and he’s been talking about them ever since he became leader. What he now needs to do is show how these values underpin all our policy ideas.

I also liked the bit where he praised the Church’s strong support for equal marriage, saying that they had shown that tolerance, faith and love were “comfortable allies.”

He also talks about how he and Tim Farron come from similar backgrounds and have similar perspectives on liberalism. He ended with a list of things that his small team had done. What he needs to add when he does that is to say how these have actually persuaded or provoked changes in SNP government policy. It’s not a bad record for a small team of 5 MSPs out of 129.

Here’s his speech in full. What do you think?

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Rennie tackles Justice Secretary on allegations that Police Scotland spied illegally on journalists

Today’s Sunday Herald reports that Police Scotland has illegally spied on journalists to try to identify their sources, citing the Interception of Communication Commissioner’s Office:

However, IOCCO last month revealed that two unnamed forces had breached the revised Code since March 25.

It said: “Two police forces have acquired communications data to identify the interactions between journalists and their sources in two investigations without obtaining judicial approval.

“These breaches were identified during our inspections. In these cases the normal RIPA process was used and the data was approved by a designated person.”

In one of the cases, a force acquired the data of a newspaper’s suspected source and of a former police employee believed to be acting as an intermediary.

Willie Rennie has been quick to seek answers from the Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson. He wrote:

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Opinion: My problem with Scotland’s “Named Person” plan

The other day I commented on a Facebook post about areas we share with the SNP, mentioning my concerns about the SNPs plans for every child in Scotland to have a “named person” who is their point of contact with the social services. Caron Lindsay mentioned that Euan Davidson had written for this site in support of the measures, and invited me to post a response. I made sure I had the facts right (some of which I had to be corrected on but didn’t change my overall view) and got started. To the best of my understanding, the named person would be someone the child could contact if they had a problem that they needed confidential help from. It could also be to obtain information on subjects that may be either too sensitive or too awkward to discuss with parents. I agree with what is trying to be achieved here, but I don’t think this is the way to do it. Here is why.

On May 15th 2015, I finished my final secondary school exam. I was finished school. I was an adult? I would never have a teacher again. Lecturers, sure, but I would never again be in the situation where I would have to ask someone if I was allowed to go to the bathroom. Some of my teachers I would miss more than others because I had grown to trust them enough to act in the same way around them as I would around my friends. Some teachers I still showed restraint around, as if I was an employee of theirs. You would think that my guidance teacher, whom I was supposed to approach with any problems, would belong to the first category. This was far from the case.
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LIbLink: Willie Rennie: We need the facts on the M9 tragedy

Ten days ago, a small blue car crashed just off the M9 near Stirling. A call was made to the Police reporting the incident. Nothing was done for three days. The driver of the car, John Yuill, was already dead. His partner, Lamara Bell was still alive but, sadly, she too died on Sunday.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is one of the MSPs for the area. He has called for a comprehensive and wide-ranging enquiry to which all police staff should be free to contribute without fear of repercussions. He is concerned at attempts by the Chief Constable to pre-judge the existing smaller scale enquiry. Sir Stephen House apologised for Police Scotland’s failures but made it sound as though the fault was down to an individual. That seems to me to be grossly unfair to a member of staff. We know that pressure on staff has increased as control rooms have been closed and we need to look properly at the impact that these measures have had on staff wellbeing and their ability to provide the service we need from them. 

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Alistair Carmichael wants Orkney and Shetland to control their share of the Crown Estates

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TAlistair Carmichael has tabled an amendment to the Scotland Bill which would devolve control of the Crown Estates revenues to local level for Orkney and Shetland and, interestingly, the Western Isles. The Independent has the story:

Mr Carmichael said that the SNP administration is “in practice and instinct a highly centralised government” and did not want “devolution downwards”. Under his plan, the islands would have their own commissioners deciding how Crown Estate land is run.

He added that the Crown Estate owns and manages the seabed, which is of great importance to islands that rely heavily on the fishing industry, with salmon and trout farms. Mr Carmichael said these farms have to pay a percentage of their turnover to lease these areas, which is “a tax by any other name”.

This should present a challenge to Angus Brendan McNeil, the SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar which includes the Outer Hebrides, because he should support the extra revenue for his local community. He won’t, of course, because the SNP likes to keep everything nice and centralised in Holyrood. Even if he violently disagreed with their policy, he would be forbidden from criticising it in public thanks to particularly draconian standing orders by which nationalist MPs have to abide.

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Opinion: In defence of the Scottish Government’s plan for named persons for every child

I am writing this article after becoming increasingly frustrated at the tone and level of debate with which many people in our party are subjecting the Scottish Children and Young People’s bill and in particular the provision for a “named person” for every child.

Many of you will be asking what a “named person” is. If you choose to listen to the Daily Mail, the Christian institute and an assortment of other hysterical social conservatives this represents the introduction of state sponsored guardians whose mission in life is to spy on families and enforce political correctness. However I choose not to listen to these groups. I choose to listen to the countless social workers, teachers, child protections professionals, youth workers and other professionals who are backing this legislation.

What this legislation actually does is provide for a single point of contact for every young person from the ages of zero to eighteen so if ever that young person requires support from services or a welfare issue is raised by professionals, these organisations are operating in tandem rather than working in isolation. This will operate in a similar manner as health visitors supporting mothers and infants. For the vast majority of young people the named person will be a midwife then a health visitor followed by their primary school headteacher and finally their secondary guidance teacher.

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Willie Rennie and Greens’ Patrick Harvie support launch of Open Rights Group Scotland

WR  at ORG Scotland LaunchScottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie and Greens’ co-convener Patrick Harvie both attended the launch of Open Rights Group Scotland yesterday. Immediately after First Minister’s Questions, they gathered in a smoke-filled Garden lobby (the cafe was having an indoor barbecue to celebrate the start of the Summer holidays) to talk to journalists and pose for photographs.

As the SNP Government ramps up its plans for a National ID database that’s more powerful and intrusive than anything Labour ever came up with, and as Edinburgh plans to integrate all its CCTV systems, there is a lot for the digital rights organisation to do.

Willie Rennie said:

The way in which we work, socialise, buy products and use services has changed dramatically since the digital revolution.

But government and politicians have responded at a snail’s pace and have failed to ensure the rights of citizens, consumers, journalists, businesses and children are protected online.

I am delighted to be part of the launch of Open Rights Group Scotland. It will help drive digital rights up the agenda in Scotland so that we can build a fairer society which enshrines civil liberties in every part of our lives.

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A row with a Labour MP and a wonky crystal ball

Facebook is now giving you more reason to waste time on it by reminding you what you posted on this day in previous years. I’m mostly enjoying it. A random bit of cheek from the much missed Andrew Reeves made me laugh and cry yesterday. Today I was reminded about a post on my own blog from five years ago.

Tom Harris, then MP for Glasgow South had been whinging something chronic about the (then) new IPSA, the body which administers parliamentary expenses, set up in the wake of the scandal. I wrote a post in response which said, basically: Tom, you have a point, but this is how public services generally treat ordinary, often vulnerable people. I then went off on one giving many examples of such horrors.

There might be some who take a bit of perverse pleasure in seeing MPs being treated like that. I’m not one of them, although I have no objection to them having to provide documentary evidence of things. You try claiming benefits or tax credits without providing supporting documents and see how far you get. Most MPs, as I have repeatedly said, are good people – but then so are most people who deal with the Department of Work and Pensions, the UK Border Agency and HM Revenue and Customs – and nobody should have to put up with poor systems and bad service.

One thing IPSA hasn’t done yet is lost any confidential data, unlike HMRC under Labour where the details of Child Benefit claimants went missing.

I do have a slight concern about the way in which one MP spoke to the IPSA officials (apparently interns, who have no power in the organisation) when asked to file his children’s birth certificates:

It is not yet known whether the IPSA official in question is even physically capable of performing the act the MP then requested of him, or even if it is legal within the United Kingdom.

.I wonder if this is a bit of poetic licence on Tom’s part but if a benefit or tax credit claimant had spoken to a Government official like that, they would have suffered some fairly severe consequences and perhaps been denied service, however understandable the grievance. I also think Tom would be the first to stand up and defend the relevant Government agency in that instance.

Tom was none too pleased and took me to task in the comments:

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Opinion: Fighting for sex workers’ rights in Scotland

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 11.01.01So, here we go again! Another bid to introduce the Nordic Model of criminalising the clients of sex workers has been launched this week in Scotland. This time it comes from a group called End Prostitution Now; a campaigning organisation made up of some very familiar faces and backed by Rhoda Grant MSP whose last attempt to introduce this legislation failed in 2012. Advocating for sex workers’ rights in Scotland can sometimes feel like playing Whack-a-Mole; every time we successfully argue against one campaign to make sex work more dangerous, another pops up almost immediately – perhaps having undergone a slight rebrand, but always essentially the same as the last.

On Monday, End Prostitution Now’s spokesperson Jan Macleod (whose widely-discredited research on the matter has been described by academics as “violating fundamental principles of human research ethics”) appeared on Scotland Tonight to defend the proposals. When challenged on the dangers caused by the Nordic Model in practice, she claimed that Googling brought up mixed evidence and stated that it was difficult to know which sources to believe.

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Opinion: An off-hand economic miracle, courtesy of new SNP Parliamentarian Tommy Sheppard

Last Sunday on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour the subject turned to the Scotland bill and the SNPs abandonment of their call for full fiscal autonomy.

About 05:20 minutes into this clip you can hear this exchange:

Carolyn Quinn – ‘Well Tommy isn’t it the case that the IFS say that if full fiscal autonomy is implemented now it would deprive Scotland of £8billion in revenue’

Tommy Sheppard MP – ‘That’s an academic estimate based on doing absolutely nothing to change the way the economy is run in Scotland.’

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Opinion: ‘Scotland – where now?


The referendum is over and has settled nothing. The election has raised more questions than answers. And the Conservative Government’s first Queen’s Speech has set the direction of travel, while leaving the specifics nicely vague. What we do know is that plans for ‘English Votes for English Laws’, barring Scottish MPs from voting on whatever the executive decides are England-only matters, will see Scottish Votes for British Laws made increasingly irrelevant. We also know that further devolution to Scotland is going to happen, but not if the offer can satisfy the SNP’s short term ambitions.

So where are Liberal Democrats in all this? Our historical commitment is of course to Federalism, which differs from devolution in that the members of a federation usually cannot be abolished by their federal government, and that such members are usually equals – each state has the same amount of control over its own affairs, and the same relationship with the federal government. Not so with devolution, which has led to the creation of several assemblies in the UK, each with differing powers and responsibilities.

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Daily Mail: on how Charles Kennedy was “hounded” by the SNP in run-up to the election

You’ll not often find me linking to the Daily Mail. It’s even less likely that you’ll find me praising anything on its pages. However, I have to make an exception for one article today.

Guy Adams outlines in some detail the sort of abuse Charles Kennedy and his team were subjected to from supporters of the SNP, both online and in the street.

He quotes Charles’ campaign manager, Conn O’Neill at length. He described returning back to Charles’ cottage the morning after the election:

It was a Friday morning, when the rubbish gets taken out in and around Fort William,’ recalls Kennedy’s campaign manager, Conn O’Neill.

‘When Charles got back to the cottage, he discovered his bins upturned and left at the end of his driveway. It seemed as if someone had gone through them and spread the contents everywhere.

‘There was litter all over the place. Most of it ended up strewn over the field across the road.

He also quotes Candy Piercy, but she didn’t actually talk to them. It may be that he took that quote from our article on the day the SNP candidate took a posse to Charles’ office in Fort Williams and shouted at the staff because he didn’t like something from Charles’ Facebook.

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Opinion: Ending mental health inequality

I joined the Liberal Democrats partially due to the importance that has constantly been put on mental health issues by the party. I have suffered from extreme depression and have ended up in A&E due to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. A couple of weeks ago I was officially discharged from psychiatry and I’m using my voice – as it’s a loud one – for those who are suffering and have lost their voice due to mental health concerns.

Over a month ago I wrote to the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, about her apparent lack of understanding when it comes to mental health concerns. On a radio show involving young voters she claimed that Scotland did not have the same issues as England when it came to mental health parity because in Scotland they already had the same legal status. She even went as far to say to one voter on the panel:

If you don’t think we’re doing enough then I have to convince you we are doing enough.

This could not be further from the truth. That’s why I wrote to her. I wrote that the CAMHS targets are not being met. They say that no child should wait longer than 18 weeks for a referral. Only 78.9% are being seen within that time frame. If you up the limit to 26 weeks only 7% more are being seen. That means that of those who are needing referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services 14% are not being seen within half a year! I’ve included the link to these statistics at the end of the post for those interested. I’ll just copy and paste the response I was given:

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MSPs reject Assisted Suicide Bill – read two compelling speeches from Lib Dems McArthur and McInnes

I was sad that Holyrood rejected the Assisted Suicide Bill yesterday, but I was heartened by the fact that support for such a measure is growing and I think the debate will continue.

It was also good to see that it was conducted in such a respectful and sensitive fashion.

I thought you might like to see the two speeches our MSPs made, one on each side of the argument from Alison McInnes and Liam McArthur. Both were brilliant, thoughtful and liberal. If I had been persuadable, Alison’s speech might have done it.

Alison McInnes:

I come to this debate as a liberal and

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Last chance to convince MSPs on Assisted Suicide Bill

From the Facebook page of my friend Anne, reproduced with her permission:

My mother was riddled with cancer, according to the Coroner, when she planned her successful suicide in 1972 at the age of 54. She waited for her first grandchild to be safely born, chose a day my brother and doctor wife were visiting so that my father wouldn’t find her, left notes around the house re unfinished business (including knitting for her grandson), went to a spare bedroom and took sleeping tablets writing a note as she fell asleep. It was the only way she could make sure the family didn’t watch her die a slow and painful death.

Under the new legislation, she could have met her grandson and we could have said our goodbyes. I have waited over forty years for this – please don’t make me wait any more.

Tomorrow the Scottish Parliament debates the Assisted Suicide Bill. This Bill would give terminally ill people the right to receive assistance in ending their lives within a very tightly regulated procedure as set out (from the My Life, My Death, My Choice” website) below:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Alison McInnes finds yet another Police Scotland civil liberties infringement

Police Scotland have been caught uploading custody shots of people who may not ever even be convicted or have even been charged to the national police database and then searching it using facial recognition technology. Over 600,000 photos of almost 335,000 people are involved.

The facial recognition technology can be used to cross-reference images of suspects from crime scenes with images of individuals kept on the database. However, experts have also raised concerns the system could be abused.

There is currently no framework to stipulate the circumstances in which the technology should be used – meaning it could be used to identify people from football matches or political protests. Fishing expeditions such as these could lead to potential wrongful accusations.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes found this out through Freedom of Information requests. She said:

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