Tag Archives: Scotland

Rennie: Liberal Democrats have the momentum

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has  declared that momentum has given the Liberal Democrats the upper hand in the snap general election.

Since the announcement on Tuesday of a snap election 8,000 people have joined the party with membership more than double than what it was before the election in 2015.  The party also raised £500,000 in just 48 hours.

In an email to members, Willie wrote:

Nobody was expecting the announcement on Tuesday but the calling of the general election has given the Liberal Democrats real momentum. A staggering  8000 new members joined the party in the 48 hours after the election was called as people have flocked to us in a bid to change the direction of this country. No other party has seen such a surge.

The upcoming election comes on top of the 30 council by-elections that the Liberal Democrats have gained since last year, including in Scotland. And who could forget that historic by-election victory in Richmond, overturning a Tory majority of 23,000 to be the voice against the Conservative hard Brexit.

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It’s Friday, there’s an election on, there must be a funny story about Willie Rennie and livestock

You just need to Google “Willie Rennie and pigs” to find the funniest moment of last year’s Holyrood election campaign. 

Well, there’s another election on and Willie put the past behind him and went to see some lambs.

So far, so cute:

What could possibly go wrong?

Apart from the odd unfortunate camera angle.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton to chair Scottish Lib Dem General Election Campaign

One of the party’s best ever campaigners has been chosen to chair the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ General Election campaign. Alex knows a lot about winning seats from the SNP after sensationally grabbing Edinburgh Western from them last year.

Alex  said:

I’m honoured to take on this important role for my party. We have a great grassroots organisation that is hungry for victory.

We have the wind in our sails and a hugely motivated activist base, keen to bring the party back to strength.

I can’t wait to get my teeth into the campaign.

Willie Rennie explained why he had chosen Alex:

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Damning PIP report shows culture of fear and mistrust – Olney

The virtual ink was barely dry on Geoff Crocker’s harrowing piece about his son’s PIP interview when a comment from Sarah Olney on the damning report by the Independent Reviewer of the PIP implementation, Paul Gary, popped into my inbox.

The report is highly critical and outlines that the fundamentals are just not working.

A key conclusion of the Review is that public trust in the fairness and consistency of PIP decisions is not currently being achieved, with high levels of disputed award decisions, many of them overturned at appeal

My findings point to the need to build very considerably on current action to improve the way PIP is administered, continuing the direction of travel proposed in the first Review. They include recommendations to improve the way the right type of evidence is obtained, used and tested in assessments; to strengthen transparency; and to broaden audit and quality assurance in assessment and decision-making.

In other words, there’s not a lot that’s going right.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve gone through the stress that Geoff describes just going for the interview. Then you find that you have been denied PIP. Then you have to endure the further stress of an appeal just to get the help that you desperately need to get on with your life, to work. PIP is not a luxury. It’s there to help people with long term conditions with the extra costs that these pile on.

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Willie Rennie goes all Alice in Wonderland AND uses the F-word

Have you ever thought that what Parliament really needs is a few more Alice in Wonderland references?

This afternoon the Scottish Parliament started a two day debate on whether to call for a Section 30 order, the device that would enable them to hold a second independence referendum. Theresa May has said that “now is not the time” in much the same tone of voice as she said “brexit means brexit.”

It’s funny, because, as Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles pointed out today, they’ve managed to clear 2 days of parliamentary time for this (although the length of the debate was something we agreed with) at a week’s notice and put so much effort into setting it all up, yet we’ve gone 445 days without a mental health strategy. Priorities, and all that.

I started watching the debate as Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale started speaking. Of all poisoned chalices, hers is the biggest. She’s one of the most caring, articulate, engaging politicians I’ve come across, yet she’s lumbered and with and constantly undermined by Corbyn. During the last referendum, I watched her speak particularly to women’s groups and she was fantastic at putting across a positive case for the UK. She and Willie Rennie are both very good at that but they were both sorely under-used on the national stage.

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Here we go again…

 

We all know about the announcement from Nicola Sturgeon. Some have written here in support of Liberal Democrat leadership figures maintaining a staunch unionist position, to the extent of wishing to block an independence referendum in the first place. Others have written in support of the Liberal Democrats crossing the divide and actively backing Scottish independence this time around.

I have made no secret of the fact that in 2014 I was a reluctant Yes voter. I am also open about the fact that in the next referendum, the only thing that will have changed for me is my increased certainty that independence is the least worst option on the ballot, in the wake of Brexit. However, many others within the party will be similarly convinced of their position behind a No vote.

In the wake of the recent Northern Irish election, I remember reading a Mark Pack article asking what lessons Liberal Democrats could learn from our Northern Irish sister party, which had enjoyed a strong result. The Alliance Party exists as a cross-community endeavour to defend and advance liberalism, tolerance and understanding across sectarian and nationalistic divides. Crucially, it does so without declaring either the British union or a future reunion of Ireland as the correct context to achieve those goals in.

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Cole-Hamilton: Greens have no mandate to call for second Scottish independence referendum

This week, the Scottish Parliament will vote on whether to seek a Section 30 order, the device in the UK Parliament’s power that would give it the right to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. The SNP Government is expected to win with the support of the Greens. However, Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has made it clear that the Greens do not have a mandate to call for a referendum given that the three conditions in their manifesto have not been met. He has challenged Greens leader Patrick Harvie – who could easily merit being called “Pushover Patrick” for voting with the SNP on these critical issues, to explain his actions.
Alex  has asked Mr  Harvie why the party has turned its attention away from public service reform, back-tracked on its requirement that opinion polls should indicate support for a new referendum, and scrapped its requirement that a million-strong petition should be the trigger.

Alex said:

The Scottish Greens had three criteria to allow a referendum from their manifesto. None has been met.

The Greens have no mandate for a referendum. They should respect that and decline to vote for a referendum at Holyrood next Wednesday.

Scottish Liberal Democrats had a manifesto commitment against a referendum and we will stick to that.

With education performance slipping, the mental health strategy abandoned and the economy sluggish, Scotland needs its Parliament working on these issues instead of a referendum.

Alex has written to Patrick Harvie saying:

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    Dizzying and exciting. I do hope HQ systems withstand the strain of all the new members.
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