Tag Archives: Scotland

The Brexit White Paper- Big Holes in All the Wrong Places…

I have now had a chance to read the Brexit White paper. I’ve read hundreds of these things in my time (not healthy I know!) and this one appears to me nowhere near as bad as the press reports would have led me to believe in terms of its general structure or presentation. More clarity does indeed emerge and some objectives can be gleaned amid the bland generality and optimistic objectives.

Unfortunately the paper suffers from four major weaknesses:

– The tendency to suggest that because there is a mutual interest in succeeding between the UK and the EU, say for example on passporting of financial services, that there is therefore an identical mutual interest. In fact it’s clearly far more important to the UK than the EU on sheer weight of interest and numbers. This tendency to elide common interest into identical interest is a major weakness. Ironically, this flippant blindness is very similar to the SNP/Scottish independence campaign’s approach to UK relations post-separation.
– Environmental protection- this is an obvious common and pan-European need to manage effectively- from transboundary air pollution to illegal waste shipments, from common carbon emissions trading schemes to marine planning. However the environment is barely mentioned- an astonishing absence considering that for example, workers’ rights get a chapter to itself, that future food, farming and marine policy will be up for grabs in the largest change in 50 years, that the bulk of UK environment law (80%+) is founded on EU law, and that environment is most at risk from the aggressive free trade open economy ideas that the government has floated.

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Finding out that mental health progress was worse than we thought – one of the reasons Scottish Liberal Democrats voted against the SNP’s budget

You English were so lucky to have Norman Lamb and before him Paul Burstow as Health Ministers with mental health in their portfolios. In Scotland, we haven’t made the progress you have – even though I know that yours is nowhere near enough. We don’t have the parity between physical and mental health that Norman Lamb and Nick Clegg drove through, even in principle.

During negotiations on this year’s Scottish Budget, Willie Rennie discovered that the mental health situation in Scotland was much worse than even he had thought. He told activists yesterday at the Kickstart training day in Perth:

Look at the terrible record of this SNP Government on mental health.

They let the share of the budget spent on mental health drop by their own admission for years.

The SNP let its mental health strategy lapse in 2015 with no replacement in place.

Young people still have to wait more than a year for treatment.

It became clear during our budget discussions with them that the SNP Government is much further behind on mental health even than we feared.

The SNP were simply unable to make the changes to their budget towards what we know is important for mental health. We wanted a doubling of services for young people, comprehensive support at GP surgeries and comprehensive cover.

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Can anyone tell me what is wrong with this story in the Independent?

This is the picture of a story from the Independent.

It concerns shocking figures unearthed by Scottish Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton which show the terrible lengths of time people can wait for discharge from hospital in Scotland for “health and social care reasons”, There was one example where one person had to wait for almost a year and a half.

 

Alex said:

In November I asked the First Minister about a constituent of mine who had spent 150 nights in hospital due to delayed discharge.

Nicola Sturgeon described the situation as unacceptable.“What then are we to make of patients in hospital for up to 500 nights, perhaps because carers can’t be found to visit them at home or there isn’t a care home place available?

Under the SNP, 1,000 beds were lost from Scotland’s hospitals during the same three years. Our under-pressure NHS can ill afford delayed discharges on this extreme scale.

Our social care spokesperson, Karen Clark added:

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Tributes to Gordon Aikman

There is a real sadness across Scotland today at the loss of a wonderful young man. Gordon Aikman was the Research Director of the Better Together campaign when he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in the Summer of 2014. We all hoped that he would defy the odds and, like Stephen Hawking, still be there in his 70s. Sadly that was not to be as his death was announced this morning.

I only met him a few times. The first was at some reception organised by our Conference commercial people in Edinburgh a few months before he was diagnosed. He was very funny and friendly and someone who was very easy to get along with.

It says so much about him that his reaction to such a terrifying and horrific diagnosis was to do something to help those who came behind him. His Gordon’s Fightback appeal has, to date, raised almost £540,000. He did more than raise money, though. He put his research skills to good use and presented the First Minister with an irrefutable case for the provision of better care for MND sufferers, with more specialist nurses.

My heart goes out to his husband Joe Pike and his close friends including Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

All of Scotland’s political leaders, and some others, paid tribute to him today.

In a statement, he added:

This is incredibly sad news. Gordon was a generous and determined gentleman. My thoughts go out to Joe, Gordon’s family and friends.

His contribution during the independence referendum campaign was both intelligent and joyful. I have great memories of working with him. He has left a great legacy that no one will forget.

Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale is a close friend who has personally raised more than £20,000 for the appeal:

In her statement she said:

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Willie Rennie’s masterclass in what to do when you say something you shouldn’t

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was interviewed today on Sunday Politics Scotland. Like Tim Farron earlier, he made some excellent points on the issues of the day.

This week, it looks as though the SNP could fail to get their budget through. The SNP does not have a majority at Holyrood. The Greens are pushing them for a 60% tax rate, which finance minister Derek Mackay has ruled out. Willie has been talking to Derek Mackay for weeks now and has made clear that unless he is prepared to put in significant investment in mental health and education, then the Liberal Democrats won’t support it.

Willie made that point very clearly in the interview, coming across very reasonably. You can watch the whole thing here towards the end of the programme.

It was when he was asked about the possibility of an election, that he made a wee slip of the tongue, though. We know that he loves campaigning. Remember the fun he had in last year’s election.. Unfortunately, rather than saying “I love campaigning”, he said “I love myself.” Believe me, those of us who work closely with him will make sure he never hears the end of that one.

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WATCH: Scottish Liberal Democrats Broadcast: A fair, decent and tolerant Scotland

In Scotland, we didn’t take the national PPB because it is important to get our message across that we are the only party in Scotland fighting for Scotland to stay in the UK and the EU. Watch Willie Rennie explain why:

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One union liberalism

So now we know what Brexit means. Other than the famous tautology, it means we’re out of the Union, out of the market, out of the travel area, out of the customs union, everything. To cut a long story very short, it means I feel lied to.

Far from governing in the interests of both Remain and Leave voters, this government’s Brexit objectives leave pro-Europeans with no stake in the proceedings that will define this United Kingdom perhaps for the remaining duration of its existence. Worse, we are being asked to meekly unite behind the most trenchant version of the opposing viewpoint available.

A bitter enough pill for an individual to swallow, but in summarily rejecting any compromise at all, this government is also dismissing a substantial majority view formed in a nation backing European partnership.

Liberal Democrats in Scotland have been making a virtue out of being the only party in favour of two Unions, the only pro-EU, pro-UK party. Given the ascendant and hegemonic views of the SNP and the Tories, the probability of retaining both unions is low. Those parties hold power and will remain in power throughout the negotiations as no elections are due between then and now. By the time we get a chance to propose having cake and eating it to the electorate, it will be too late. There will be no cake.

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