Tag Archives: willie rennie

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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Dunfermline: 10 years on

I know exactly what I was doing 10 years ago tonight – knocking up in Rosyth, getting people to the polls in the Dunfermline by-election. There was a really good feeling in the air. Earlier in the afternoon, I’d been out and about in Dunfermline and people were beeping at us as they drove by, or giving us thumbs up signs. It started to feel as though we might pull off an historic victory in Gordon Brown’s back yard. The BBC certainly didn’t. When they initially announced the result, their graphic said “Labour hold” around a live feed of Willie Rennie talking about the political earthquake that the voters of Dunfermline brought about.

Willie has put a video on Facebook showing some images of the night:

Ten years ago today I won the Dunfermline and West Fife By-election. A surprise but wonderful victory. Inspiration for the battles ahead. Here's a little trip down memory lane.

Posted by Willie Rennie on Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 9 Comments

Willie Rennie: Why I need you to back me on diversity

Willie Rennie has made clear that he wants to see a more diverse team of parliamentarians elected at all levels over the next 5 years. Today, he has emailed Scottish Party members to set out the case for them to back his plans at Scottish Party Conference in three weeks’ time.

His email is copied below:

In periods of adversity organisations have opportunities to renew, refresh and reorganise to prepare for future successes. For the Scottish Liberal Democrats that opportunity is to build a team of candidates in winnable seats that is more reflective of society.

It cannot be a mark of a system of equality and opportunity that only five of the thirty six new parliamentarians in the last twenty years were women. Yet that is what our current system has produced and I am determined to change it.

Our conference in Edinburgh later this month will have a choice. We can try, yet again, to achieve more balance amongst our future parliamentarians with the same system that has delivered white, male dominated parliamentary groups since the war (No, I’m wrong. It’s forever).

Or we can back the proposals that I have developed with a group of wise and experienced campaigners. These campaigners were sceptical but have now developed a package that will get results. Sheila Ritchie, Sophie Bridger, Fred Macintosh and Jo Swinson were all against such action in the past. In fact many spoke up at conferences against such measures. The motion we will debate has been crafted by them and has their endorsement.

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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.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

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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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.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 16 Comments

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:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments
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  • User AvatarMick Taylor 14th Feb - 4:47pm
    Eric was a great Liberal, who I knew from 1960 onwards as he was a friend of my late parents. He championed causes he believed...
  • User AvatarLorenzo 14th Feb - 4:17pm
    Rsf7 Very good arguments .I in a million years would not have proposed the policy , not because it is daft , it is not...
  • User AvatarRsf7 14th Feb - 3:59pm
    @malc I think I'd prefer they got community service and were forced to work cleaning the streets rather than sitting around for 12 weeks at...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 14th Feb - 3:56pm
    Sorry about the double negative! Nobody is perfect, least of all the Lib Dems!
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 14th Feb - 3:54pm
    Mark, You are deluding yourself if you don't think our party has no internal problems. As for all party members being 100% behind the Yes...
  • User AvatarPaul Hunt 14th Feb - 3:50pm
    Eric was an inspiration for so many Liberals and he will remain so. He was a stalwart supporter of the Orpington Dinner at the National...