Tag Archives: willie rennie

What Willie said…..when he stood for First Minister

Willie Rennie’s candidacy for First Minister in the Scottish Parliament this week attracted some comment in the press. Andrew Liddle in the Press and Journal was very complimentary:

While it was clearly going to end in defeat, it also offered up a golden opportunity for Mr Rennie to expound his platform.

True to character, it was an irreverent move, not a devious one.

Here is Willie’s speech – he combines exactly the right mix of self-deprecating humour and statesmanlike vision.

“Ohhhh dad. You’re not are you?”

Those were the encouraging words from my unimpressed 12 year old son when he heard on the radio this morning that I was standing for First Minister.

I told Stephen that I had been inspired by a women nationalist leader who stood up against the odds.

But unlike Leanne Wood I won’t be relying on UKIP votes today.

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Some reflections on #IDAHOBIT

Today is the annual International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia as we saw from Team INtogether’s post earlier.

The party has been marking the day in various ways. We’ve been tweeting up a storm. Liz Barker and Jonny Oates recorded this video:

There’s been a series of lovely graphics:

Norman Lamb has resubmitted his motion calling for people who want gender neutral passports to be able to have them. Recently, I saw on social media a teacher who has transgender and non binary pupils under their care object to these proposals. Imagine how that makes their pupils feel and how confident they would feel about that teacher to support them. That brings me to what’s been happening north of the border.

Willie Rennie took time out of his short-lived campaign to be First Minister to emphasise the need for all teachers in all schools – that’s the denominational ones, too – to be trained to ensure that all Scotland’s schools are inclusive environments for learning.

He said:

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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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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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Willie Rennie, dare and Prince Charles in the same sentence. What could possibly go wrong?

You can’t really imagine it, Dave, Jez, Angus Robertson, Tim and all the Westminster leaders all lined up waiting to meet some VIP and suddenly one says to the others  “I bet you £100 you won’t say (something slightly unexpected) to said VIP. For a start, if Jez or Angus actually did it, the Daily Mail and the Sun would be screaming outrage and horror for at least a decade. There would probably be a constitutional crisis.

It’s not quite like that in Scotland. There’s a lot more genuine banter between the party leaders. Last year, they all made out on Twitter that they were going to watch Andy Murray play in some major match rather than bother with First Minsters’ Questions.  They also organised a shoe shopping trip for charity.  But last night it took a slightly different turn.

MSPs had just attended the “Kirking of the Parliament” with Prince Charles and were waiting to meet him in the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The party leaders were lined up first. Labour’s Kezia Dugdale dared Willie to ask the Heir to the Throne what he’d bought “yer maw” for her birthday.

Now, Willie has form for saying slightly unusual things to famous people. He has this habit of just treating them like everyone else. He suggested to the Dalai Lama that he watch Rikki Fulton’s comedy programme Scotch and Wry, which is one of the funniest things Scotland has ever produced. Anyway, Willie even sent him a DVD.

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Rennie calls for new rural affairs secretary after SNP CAP payments disaster

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said there is no way that the First Minister can keep Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead in his post following repeated delays to vital EU payments.

Farmers and crofters have been hit by extended delays to Common Agricultural Policy payments as a result of the failure of a Scottish Government IT system. Mr Lochhead was informed of potential problems with the £178m IT system before the referendum but waited for months before warning farmers that payments could be delayed.

It also emerged during the election campaign that farmers receiving support from an emergency Scottish Government scheme could face punitive interest charges.

Willie said:

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Rennie: Opposition must be broader than narrow Tory agenda

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says that opposition to the SNP at Holyrood must be on a range of issues far broader than a narrow Tory agenda. For a start, I’d suggest, neither Tories nor SNP are known for their commitment to civil liberties. The absence of a commitment to fight the Tories’ Snoopers’ Charter in the SNP manifesto is significant. Before you say “that’s Westminster”, note that the manifesto talked a lot about Trident. It’s notable that when SNP MPs had a chance to kill off the Snoopers’ Charter a few weeks ago, they bailed.

Since the election Ruth Davidson has highlighted a limited range of issues as her priorities for the new parliament.

Willie said:

Of course the issues that the Conservatives have highlighted are important. But opposition to the SNP needs to be far wider than a narrow Tory agenda.

On issues like tax there is more that unites the Tories with the SNP than divides them. And on issues like justice they are more likely to chase cheap headlines than push for reforms which help cut offending and reduce the number of Scots who are imprisoned. On education there is no indication that they will press for the urgent investment that is required to make our schools the best again.

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