Tag Archives: willie rennie

Tim Farron in Scotland: Scotland’s parties can embarrass Tories into action on migrant crisis

Tim Farron was up in Scotland today, on his first visit since becoming leader.. He hosted a roundtable session in Edinburgh with the Scottish Refugee Council, Amnesty and the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group. Issues discussed included devolution and refugees, making asylum work for women and what political parties could do in the UK and Scotland to campaign for fairer treatment of vulnerable refugees.

Here they are having their discussions:

Amnesty’s Scottish Director welcomed the meeting:

After the meeting, Tim said:

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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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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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Willie Rennie puts us all to shame – is it time he challenged Farron?

Willie Rennie certainly is a pretty good role model for a healthy lifestyle.

This is the sight that greeted me when I arrived at Scottish Lib Dem HQ for a meeting yesterday morning.

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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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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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Willie Rennie on the roar of the Ginger Rodent

Never forget what Chris Grayling said to SNP MP Pete Wishart on Tuesday night. Here’s the exact quote from Hansard:

Let me also say to him and his colleagues that I regard their presence in the House as a great asset. I would much rather have them than 57 Liberal Democrats.

That would have nothing to do with the Liberal Democrats spending five years making life very difficult for the Tories and stopping them from brining in the sorts of measures that give to the rich while taking from the poorest and youngest at the most difficult stages in their lives as they did in yesterday’s budget.

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Willie Rennie wins in North East Fife

Many thanks to Robin Bennett from Ceres in North East Fife for sending us this from the Scottish Highland Games Association website:

Running from the scratch mark in the 1600 metres handicap Scott McDnald, Central AC thrilled the crowds as he worked his way through he field before going on to snap the worsted in 4:28.42., the previous weeks Newburgh winner Dean Whiteford took 2nd place with Jordan Taylor, Hawick in 3rd.

McDonald was thwarted in his bid to land a double when he had to settle for he runners up spot in the 3000 metres handicap behind none other than LIb Dem leader Willie Rennie, the latter, who was receiving a start of 600 metres from the backmarker battled on gamely to hold off all challengers, the rapidly closing McDonald finished 2nd with Amy Armstrong in 3rd. One local worthy added ”it’s a long time since there was a Lib Dem win in North-East Fife”!

There is a cracking photograph of a very happy looking Scottish Liberal Democrat leader.

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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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Willie Rennie: We have lost someone special

This tweet of mine led to several requests from people outside Scotland to see Willie’s email, so here it is.

But you have been warned. Willie so often gets it absolutely right when he does this sort of thing and this is no exception. Get yourself a cup of tea and a tissue.

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++ Breaking…Willie Rennie: I hope that fair minded people will give Alistair Carmichael a second chance

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie has just issued this statement acknowledging the seriousness of Alistair Carmichael’s actions but saying that the Orkney and Shetland MP deserves a second chance.

I have discussed the serious nature of the publication of the Scotland Office document with Alistair Carmichael. He fully understands the impact it has had on his reputation. He deeply regrets his actions, has accepted responsibility for his error of judgement, apologised to Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador and declined his ministerial severance payment.

I have known Alistair for almost thirty years and have worked closely with him in parliament for almost a decade. I have always been impressed by his energy, dedication and professionalism.  He has served Orkney and Shetland for fourteen years and has been elected on four separate occasions.  It is clear to me that recent events are an aberration.

As a liberal I believe that people deserve a second chance.  I hope fair minded people would agree that Alistair Carmichael should be given that second chance.

Yesterday, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party Executive met and gave Alistair Carmichael its support. He has my support too.

Alistair will now get back to his job representing Orkney and Shetland.

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Rennie: Scottish Liberal Democrats are listening

It’s 4 years since Willie Rennie became Scottish Liberal Democrat leader this week. He was elected in the wake of a crushing electoral defeat and he celebrates this anniversary in the wake of another one. That is despite him regularly being credited with landing some real blows on the SNP administration at Holyrood with not even 5% of MSPs. Let’s just look at some of the accolades he and his small team have received.

Within weeks of him becoming leader the journalists were full of praise:

A doughty campaigner, with an unpatronising down-to-earth style, Mr Rennie may grow into an impressive leader, building a level of credibility… The Herald

Amid what was… a general air of gloom, there was one bright spark.  This was the performance of Willie Rennie, the new leader of the much depleted Liberal Democrats, whose brief sojourn in the Commons seems to have at least taught him how to frame decent questions, on this occasion about Mr MacAskill’s outrageous behaviour.”  Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph (not a known fan of the Liberal Democrats, to put it mildly)

“The former Scottish Lib Dem chief executive has made a decent start and showed he wasn’t afraid to throw a punch”  Andrew Whitaker, Scotsman

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Rennie and Williams back “brilliant communicator and outstanding campaigner” Farron

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie, and Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Kirsty Williams, have today endorsed Tim Farron to be the next leader of the federal Liberal Democrats.

In a joint statement, they said:

Thursday’s results were devastating for the Liberal Democrats.

Our pain is eased by the knowledge that our liberal gains in government will endure.

Despite our loss our party remains optimistic, hopeful and confident about what we can achieve on behalf of Britain.

However, we now have to earn the right to be listened to again.

To move forward we need a fresh start. With that in mind we call on Tim Farron

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A message from Willie Rennie

This message came out from Willie Rennie to all Scottish members this afternoon. As ever he strikes the right tone:

Scotland has lost liberal giants. Our Members of Parliament were local champions with powerful liberal voices. They enriched the political debate of our country.

I am sad for the loss to our party, to their communities and to the politics of our country. I know they will make a contribution to rebuilding our strength.

We can proud of many of our achievements in government. We brought stability, unity and decency in tough economic times.  Getting the economy back on track and doing it fairly, the biggest tax cuts ever for workers, the green investment bank, big childcare expansion, big pension increases, ending child detention at Dungavel, a multi-billion pound international budget guaranteed and more powers for the Scottish Parliament are just the start of a long list of achievements.

We have an ongoing duty to the people who voted for us to promote liberal values.

That duty is even important in the face of a Conservative majority at Westminster, already planning to bring back the Snoopers Charter that we blocked in Government.

And in the Scottish Parliament the job goes on with the centralising and often illiberal agenda being pursued by the SNP.

We will heed the lessons and message of the election result.

It has been a body blow to our party but that over 2,000 new members have joined the party in just one day gives me great hope.

Thank you for your tireless support throughout this and every campaign. That we came so close to victory in many seats is a testament to your campaigning efforts.

Our vision for Scotland is hopeful for the future, founded on opportunity and liberty for all. It is a positive prospectus.

A year from now we have an opportunity to grow. The Scottish Parliamentary Election campaign starts today.

Best wishes,

Willie Rennie MSP

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Willie Rennie accuses Conservatives of trying to pull the UK apart

For the third time in ten days, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has hit out at the Conservatives, accusing them of putting party before country and risking the future of the United Kingdom they say they want to keep together.

Their actions are very different, though. Last week, Michael Fallon talked up the entirely ridiculous suggestion of a deal between Labour and the SNP on Trident with the aim of persuading swing voters in middle England to vote Conservative. They also sent their Scottish leader campaigning in North East Fife, a seat they know that they can’t win. Willie Rennie said at the time:

Just the other day the Scottish Conservative Leader was visiting North East Fife claiming they can win.  It’s a seat the bookies say is a close race between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.  The Tories are also rans.  The only result of their reckless actions would be to divide the non-SNP vote and let the SNP win.

Yesterday, Willie described the Conservative plans for English votes for English Laws as “unstable and reckless.”

We agree that there does need to be a stronger voice for England in parliament.

But we will not entertain a Conservative attempt to gerrymander those votes in order to give the Conservatives a majority say on these important matters when they don’t command a majority of peoples’ votes in England.

Like all other forms of devolution in the United Kingdom any change must be based on fairer proportional voting, not Tory plans to create a majority by the back door. The Conservatives unstable and reckless reforms threaten to undermine the future of the UK.

And, finally, today, he condemned a Conservative poster being shown in England, saying that the Tories have joined the SNP in trying to pull the country apart.

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Willie Rennie takes his son to work

Willie Rennie’s campaign theme today was all about the support Lib Dems offer families. Note the impressive absence of the awful phrase “hard-working families” from any of his utterances.

He also had his son, 11 year old Stephen, with him as he and Alan Reid visited a nursery in Argyll and Bute as part of a Take your child to work day.

Here are the pair setting off from home:

And once there, Stephen really got into the swing of things and was totally undaunted by all the attention:

Willie outlined all the things Liberal Democrats would do to help families:

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Willie Rennie launches Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto for a “Decade of Opportunity”

Edinburgh West is clearly the place to launch your election manifesto these days. However, when Willie Rennie, Mike Crockart and Jo Swinson launch the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto it won’t be in a massive venue surrounded by an audience of cheering party supporters, it’ll be in the heart of the community, in a small business, in South Queensferry.

Ironically, it’ll be almost exactly opposite the spot across the Firth of Forth in North Queensferry where he gave his first interview as Scottish leader in May 2011.

Last year, Willie talked about a “sunshine strategy” and it looks like he’ll be getting plenty sunshine and 15 degree temperatures for the launch.

Willie said:

Liberal Democrats are driven by our ambition of creating opportunity for all.

Our prospectus to the people of Scotland is proudly Liberal Democrat. Standing on the record of progress in government and vision of the future.

In just five years we have got the economy back on track and done so fairly.  We are now closer to our ambition of creating opportunity for everyone.  But with wins for the Liberal Democrat in this election we can make it a decade of opportunity.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for children by investing in education especially in the early years.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for everyone by investing £800million in our NHS and bring mental health care to the fore.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for workers by creating even more jobs and cutting their taxes too.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for Scotland by delivering more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

These are Liberal Democrat ambitions because they build a stronger economy and a fairer society, in a stronger Scotland.

It is a positive offer to create a decade of opportunity for everyone in our country.

The manifesto can be read here.

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Willie Rennie: Look at the things we got right, not the thing we got wrong

Willie Rennie has given a candid interview to the Scotsman about the prospects for the Liberal Democrats and our record in government. Given the tuition fees question, he is apologetic but asks people to look at the whole picture:

Saying sorry isn’t a tactic,” he insists. “People who are annoyed with us will be annoyed with us, but they deserve an apology. Some will never understand or forgive. They’re entitled to do that. My only plea to them is look at all the things we’re getting right, not just the thing we got wrong.”

Repentance and sincerity are unnatural political bedfellows, but convincing Scotland’s electorate you mean what you say should be easier for a Fifer with a buzzcut than an Old Etonian.
There’s quite a sympathetic approach – the journalist suggests that he is a genial, robust and consensual presence at Holyrood, a bulwark against the SNP’s more illiberal instincts, but the party’s baggage hangs over him.
It could be understood if Willie were to try to put some distance between the Scottish party and them in Westminster, but he doesn’t, not just because it wouldn’t be credible, but because he wouldn’t do that to colleagues:
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Rennie: Michael Moore is the sort of guy who gives politics a good name

Yesterday’s Ashcroft Poll for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk showed Mike Moore to be in a very tough three way fight with both the Tories and the SNP. It should be pointed out that the poll did not mention his name. If it had, the likelihood is that it would have boosted Mike’s rating significantly. However, Willie Rennie has changed his plans for today and headed for Galashiels to give Mike some additional support

The thought of a House of Commons without Mike Moore in it upsets me greatly. This is the guy who negotiated the Edinburgh Agreement with Nicola Sturgeon making sure that the referendum happened fairly. He then played a massively important role in the Smith Commission to bring people together and produce a credible package of reforms. It was his piloting of the Scotland Act through Parliament in 2012 that shows that statesmanship to the full. At the end of 2011, the Bill was under threat from Labour peers playing games in the Lords and from the Scottish Government who referred to it as a “dog’s breakfast.” Mike managed to turn that around and ensured that from next year, Holyrood, for example, can set its own income tax rate. It’s a really significant reform that has been forgotten about in the referendum and its aftermath.

It’s worth remembering how, in 2012, John Rentoul compared him to James Bond and said that he was as “skilful at judging politics of Whitehall as he is the mood of Scotland.

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Willie Rennie loses patience with the Conservatives, saying they put party before country

Let me take you back to 7 am on 19th September last year. In Scotland, we’re emotionally drained after a brutal 2 year referendum campaign. After some real fears that the result might go the other way, No campaigners were relieved rather than triumphant.

Then David Cameron comes out of Downing Street and starts picking a fight with Labour, trying to paint the opposition as anti-English and talking about English votes for English Laws. That was the moment that you needed a Prime Minister to bring the country together, not exacerbate divisions.

Since then, the Tories and the SNP have been doing this strange harmonious dance. Alex Salmond has been trolling Middle England talking about various demands he’d make in the event of a hung Parliament. The Tories have fed that fear with their posters showing a pathetic looking Ed Miliband in a smug looking Alex Salmond’s pocket. That, of course, suggests to me, as I wrote at the time, that David Cameron thinks he’s been in Nick Clegg’s pocket these past five years. Michael Fallon’s insinuation that Ed Miliband would do a deal with Nicola Sturgeon to get rid of Trident is fanciful in the extreme, but it all seeks to scare swing Tory voters. You just wonder what “secret Ed/Nicola pact” the Tories will come up with next. Compulsory Gaelic lessons? Installing Alex Salmond as News Editor of the BBC?  Making a deal with the Loch Ness Monster to crash the Stock Exchange (as a friend of mine suggested on Facebook)? The list is endless.

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The two most talked about things from last night’s Scottish Leaders’ debate and two things the press got wrong about Willie Rennie

At Wimbledon, you generally, if you’re lucky and it hasn’t been raining, get a day between matches. This isn’t the case for Scotland’s political leaders. After a two hour marathon on STV in Edinburgh last night, Nicola Sturgeon, Jim Murphy, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie head to Aberdeen where they will face another hour of debate, joined by the Greens’ Patrick Harvie and UKIP’s David Coburn. The moderator will be BBC Scotland’s James Cook, who took a bit of a pasting from cybernats for daring to suggest that he’s had SNP sources tell him that a Tory Government would be the best option for their independence cause.

Last night’s debate took place in the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. The format was a bit weird. There was a 20 minute session at the start where the moderator, Bernard Ponsonby, had a chat with some people in the audience and then put some questions to the leaders. Then they each had a 10 minute session on their own, giving a statement and taking 8 minutes of audience questions. That dragged a bit, to be honest. Then there was a 45 minute Question Time style free for all. It wasn’t as relaxed and well-behaved as the one at Glasgow University last month, but there were a few noteworthy moments. The most talked about on social media was the man in the crowd wearing a false moustache. Who could it be?

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What’s happening on P-30, Tuesday 7th April?

Before anything else, I’m going to abuse my editorial privileges on this site to wish my wonderful niece Emma a very happy 18th birthday. Unusually, she has already had her first vote, in the referendum on independence last year. She’s an amazing young woman who organised her mum’s surprise 40th birthday party last month and made sure that we all fulfilled our roles to her satisfaction. That unfortunate incident when she was a week old and I put an outfit on her back to front has led her to develop quite a perfectionist streak. Did I say she was amazing? So, Happy Birthday, Emma.

And now back to more routine matters. The election campaign continues today with Nick Clegg  travelling to Montgomeryshire to focus on mental health with candidate Jane Dodds. They will visit a local mental health charity to promote our plans to provide the extra £8 billion the NHS needs over the next Parliament and our prioritisation of mental health.

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The cuteness of the lambs….

Everyone’s arguing today about who is responsible for the raising of the tax threshold, a policy the Conservatives railed against at every opportunity but are now trying to claim as their own. This has been around as a Liberal/Liberal Democrat idea for a very long time. Malcolm Bruce told me last year that he had introduced it as a policy way back in 1997. Its current incarnation came to fruition in 2009 thanks to Liberal Democrat member and (then) Women Liberal Democrats Executive member Lizzie Jewkes who persuaded the leadership to adopt it as policy. It was passed at Conference in 2009.

But the Mirror has this afternoon revealed another instance where the Tories have snaffled our idea and passed it off as their own in the most dastardly fashion. Remember these pictures of David Cameron down some lamb snuggling over the weekend? Well, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie had done that four days before.

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This is everything a leaders’ debate should be – with one of the best put-downs ever

Last month, Scotland’s four main party leaders debated each other for Glasgow University’s Politics Society. Willie Rennie, Jim Murphy, Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon spent an hour and a half discussing everything from austerity to Trident to drugs policy. They did it with loads of thoughtfulness and bags of humour. It makes me very optimistic about the tv debate between these four on Tuesday night and the subsequent one with Greens’ Patrick Harvie later in the campaign. Unfortunately, UKIP will also be taking part in that second debate and given the horrid comments by their MEP about an SNP minister, that could really sour the atmosphere.

It’s actually a very good watch and relevant to people across the whole UK. Willie Rennie was very strong on the economy, highlighting how France had tried the sort of policies that Nicola was advocating and these simply hadn’t worked.  When Nicola Sturgeon implied that her party represented Scotland, he very effectively called her out. Another highlight came when he invited Ruth Davidson to write a joint letter with him to Theresa May asking her to release the drugs policy review that Norman Baker said the Tories had blocked.

That drugs question, by the way, saw an open admission that three of the leaders had taken Cannabis.

You can watch the whole thing below:

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What’s happening on P-36, Wednesday 1st April?

Shared Parental Leave is the theme of the day as the big yellow battle bus heads for East Dunbartonshire and a nursery visit.Parents of babies due on or after this Saturday will be able to choose how they share 50 of the 52 weeks of parental leave. The only stipulation is that mothers have to take the first two weeks after the birth.

This is a policy that ticks all the stronger economy, fairer society and opportunity for everyone boxes. Nick will be visiting the nursery with the minister who introduced the measure, Jo Swinson, in her constituency.

Also in Scotland, Willie Rennie gives a speech to the Scottish Police Federation. Police officers in Scotland have suffered from the actions of their senior managers in recent years. Their Chief Constable and his colleagues have been caught out telling untruths to Parliament over armed police and stop and search on several occasions. Officers are also reeling from a target driven culture that places the emphasis on form filling and targets rather than just doing the job.

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LibLink: Willie Rennie MSP: Liberal Democrats nail their green credentials to the mast

It’s WWF’s annual Earth Hour tonight, between 8:30 and 9:30. Many of us will be turning our lights off to show that the planet and its environment is a priority and to show that we want our government to take it seriously. I noticed that this year it clashes with Channel 4’s docudrama thingy about the Coalition. When I moaned about it on Twitter, people reminded me about Channel 4 + 1.

WWF Scotland have asked the country’s political leaders to contribute a blog post to explain what Earth Hour means for them. Willie Rennie’s is here. He starts off by saying why Earth Hour matters:

 In our busy day-to-day lives this huge event forces us to stop and think about the future. Raising awareness of the climate challenge we face. Setting out concrete actions we can take to protect our environment. Ensuring that our children live in a fairer, greener society.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party to have nailed their green credentials to the mast, and set out how our radical agenda will be delivered in a way that is both credible and affordable.

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Holyrood magazine interview with Willie Rennie: “the Scottish Lib Dem leader, in stark contrast to his counterpart in London, seems near universally liked”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie gave an interview to Holyrood magazine ahead of the party’s conference in Aberdeen. The first few paragraphs told us that he was talkative, he smiled a lot and that he was “near universally liked.” We just wish that translated into poll ratings.

Alistair Carmichael described him as a “force of nature” on Friday and anyone who has seen the energy with which he campaigns from Shetland to Galloway will agree.

He doesn’t get everything right as his baffling response to the question about the difference Nicola Sturgeon brings to the role of First Minister shows, but he made  a solid defence of the party’s record in government and showcased the party’s USP – a strong commitment to civil liberties. There’s stuff in here that people across the UK will find useful.

The interview took place in the wake of the vote on the SNP’s plans for a super ID database. Willie had called for this measure to be done by primary legislation, not snuck in by committee, a clever move which secured the backing of Labour, Tories and Greens.

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The Herald: “All power to the Lib Dems for standing up for our liberties”

Willie Rennie - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsHerald columnist Ian Macwhirter is not known for writing nice things about Liberal Democrats. In fact, I think it actually causes him pain to do so. It is always welcome when someone who is not your biggest fan says nice things about you. He was very complimentary about Willie Rennie the other day. As someone pointed out on my Facebook when I posted this originally, “All Power to…. is not the most civil-liberties friendly headline, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.

As James Baker wrote a few weeks ago, the Scottish Government were trying to sneak in plans for what is effectively a massive ID database capable of even more surveillance than that set up by Labour. Once Willie got to hear about it, he set about questioning it and used a rare Liberal Democrat opposition day debate in Parliament to highlight the issue. He called for the creation of such a database to be the subject of primary legislation. He was never going to win, because, you know, SNP overall majority and all that – and they don’t take kindly to rebellion or even criticism from their parliamentarians – but he inflicted a bloody nose on the Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Macwhirter wrote:

I think now we have an answer to what the LibDems are for: they’re the only major party, Greens aside, that really takes issues of civil liberties seriously, as we saw yesterday with their debate on the Scottish Government’s plans effectively to create a national identity database.Leader Willie Rennie’s motion to stop the measure being rushed through without proper parliamentary scrutiny succeeded by 65 votes to 60 in the Scottish Parliament after an intelligent and thoughtful debate; a rare occasion on which Deputy First Minister John Swinney was sent back to think again

We need parties that keep a vigilant eye on government. Labour has never quite got this privacy thing having been, for most of its existence, a party very much of and for the big state. The Tories are supposed to be the party of the individual but their law’n’order populism, hostility to immigration and preoccupation with state security have made them suckers for any agency – police, spooks, tax authorities and so on – that wants to snoop into our affairs.

The Tories seem to recognise threats to civil liberties when in opposition. Their spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP is opposing the latest plans from the Scottish Government as “identity cards by the back door”.

The SNP are similarly schizophrenic. They opposed the introduction of a national identity database in 2005 when it was proposed by Tony Blair’s Labour government. But once the Nationalists got into government they started succumbing to the same pressures to tighten up all round and, of course, to praise our wonderful police, as Nicola Sturgeon did last week.

That would be the same wonderful police, by the way, whose senior management are, for the second time, being hauled back before a parliamentary committee for failing to deliver what they said they would. On both stop and search and armed police they have not kept their word and their chief constable has not shown an acceptable attitude towards scrutiny.

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Willie Rennie’s message for International Women’s Day

Willie Rennie doesn’t have a fancy video, but he this is his message for International Women’s Day.

Liberals across the world are driven by an ambition to see a fairer, more equal society. The bedrock of which must be equality of opportunity.

I’m proud that Liberal Democrats have used the responsibility of Government to drive our ambition of equality even further forward. Shared parental leave, free childcare and flexible working are all measures taken forward by Liberal Democrats which will enable more women to have the equality of opportunity they need to get on in life.

But we still have much more we need to do. That is why Liberal Democrats have led efforts to end FGM, where millions of women are still at risk across the world. We want to end FGM within a generation.

We can be proud that in Holyrood, the leadership of our political parties better reflect our society. But I take a personal responsibility in ensuring my party does all that it can to remove the barriers which prevent women from representing their peers in parliament. I hope that this is a personal responsibility of all leaders, be they party leaders or business leaders.

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Open Doors: The Sequel – All four versions of the second Lib Dem PPB of 2015

We brought you the first in the Open Doors series of broadcasts at the end of January. Here is the second in which Willie Rennie’s scarf tying doesn’t improve, Kirsty Williams speaks Welsh and there are lots of good reasons to vote Liberal Democrat with much more policy detail.

Feedback about lack of appropriate accents has clearly been listened to and they have slotted in different comments from each person to each version so you really do have to watch them all.

England

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarStevo 27th Aug - 9:51pm
    To democratise the political and economic realm so that everyone can fulfill their potential. Also, the Adam Smith Institute is crazy.
  • User AvatarStevo 27th Aug - 9:42pm
    Let's think of an analogous argument: There is loads of competition in the MP3 player market. There is much less competition for minicab companies. Therefore,...
  • User AvatarStevo 27th Aug - 9:34pm
    How many are working class? Non-Oxbridge or Russell Group?
  • User AvatarStevo 27th Aug - 9:30pm
    It's a joke that we're even participating in this rotten system. Don't nominate any more and fight to elect the Lords and scrap the honours...
  • User AvatarSesenco 27th Aug - 9:10pm
    I see danger lurking round the corner. It has been widely stated that during the last Parliament unelected peers had too much influence over how...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 27th Aug - 8:57pm
    @Will "The undemocratic unelected Lords do not represent the people of Scotland so they should be mindful to keep their noses out of Scotlands business."...