Tag Archives: willie rennie

And the biggest threat to the Union is….Ruth Davidson

If short-term party political advantage is the aim of the game, then you can understand why the Scottish Tories have chosen to play the unionist card in the Scottish election. Ruth Davidson knows that Tory economic and social policies do not win elections (or even the runner-up spot) in Scotland. She must despair at her colleagues supposedly running the show in London who are tearing themselves apart on Europe and rapidly abandoning any claim to economic competence or social conscience.

Instead, she has put the independence question at the front and centre of her party’s Scottish programme. This is a headline currently on the “Herald” website:

Ruth Davidson: SNP wants to keep wounds of independence debate open.

I did a double take when I first spotted the story because at first glance I didn’t take in the “SNP” part. Of course, if you read it without the “SNP” it still makes perfect sense. Every time Ruth Davidson harps on about the union – and she does it an awful lot! – she is poking at the scab.

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WATCH: Two very different interviews for Willie Rennie

Scottish Lib Dem Leader Willie Rennie faced two very different interviews this week. The first was with STV political editor Bernard Ponsonby.

Willie said he thought we were going to grow because of our record as the strong liberal voice and because of our positive, uplifting plan for Scotland with its transformational investment in education and investment in mental health.

Before he was able to talk about all these plans though, he faced quite a grilling over coalition mistakes (he said the Bedroom Tax was one which should never have happened) and over Alistair Carmichael (he said he would still vote for him despite his mistake, which was an aberration and out of character for the Orkney & Shetland MP).

Ponsonby gave him a really hard time over tuition fees in Scotland. Liberal Democrats were responsible for their abolition, against coalition partner Labour’s wishes. He tried to make out that us supporting the Graduate Endowment – which was not a tuition fees, which didn’t go to pay for lectures or learning but simply to enable more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to go to university – and then voting to abolish it (when circumstances allowed) was inconsistent. Willie managed to get across that the Liberal Democrats had been the drivers behind free education.

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LibLink: David Steel: We need liberalism more than ever

David Steel has written an article for the Scotsman explaining why liberalism is needed more than ever in the face of both domestic and international challenges. He praises both Tim Farron and Willie Rennie and urges liberals to “re-assert themselves and support them.”

His comments about the SNP also struck a bit of a chord with me. It’s not just that they stitched up the Scottish Parliament with their majority, giving themselves control of the committees so that they couldn’t be effectively scrutinised, it’s their general attitude to politics. They are reminiscent of Labour in the ’80s and ’90s, with such a sense of entitlement to power and objection to even the mildest, most evidence based criticism. Yesterday, we had three shouty nationalists in the space of a couple of hours in our office. Clearly such intimidatory tactics are designed to spook us. Actually, we enjoy the fact that they are clearly rattled by the scale and success of our campaign. It is very like the days in Derbyshire when Labour thugs would shout at you as you delivered leaflets and it’s sad to see that kind of politics.

Anyway, back to David’s article. He wrote:

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Willie Rennie’s most embarrassing moments – and his favourite films

In London, they have the taxi thing, but in Scotland, the BBC are doing a Leaders’ Lift Challenge. As they travel up the lift in what I presume is their Glasgow HQ, people get on and ask random questions.

Here’s Willie Rennie’s. The answer to “Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?” is very sweet. And we find out about the transgressions in his past. Stealing apples, indeed.

This comes out as a BMG opinion poll had two bits of potential good news. First of all, 51% backed the idea of a penny on tax for education, which is the party’s key policy in this election. On hearing this, Willie said:

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How the Scottish Liberal Democrats are winning this campaign

This morning I headed into Edinburgh at the crack of dawn to take part in a panel on Radio Scotland show Good Morning Scotland.

I got a bit of a shock at the station as there was hardly anywhere to park, which I hadn’t expected for that hour. The reason became clear when I got to the platform and saw lots of people in running gear, heading into town for the Great Edinburgh Run.

I have to say it is much easier to be discussing your election campaign when your leader is on the form of your life and when voters are repeating your campaign messages back to you on the doorsteps and you are winning the campaign with fantastic events involving seals, planes, canoes and happy children in a soft play area. You can listen to what I had to say here from about 1 hour 41 minutes in.

People like the optimism, boldness and fun of our campaign. They like the penny on tax for education, investing from nursery to college. They like the investment in mental health that we’d bring. They like Willie Rennie. He had people in Alloa, not the most ardent Lib Dem stronghold, come up to him yesterday and tell him they were voting for us for the first time. It feels better out there than it has for a long time. I’m not going to make any wild predications, but I think it is reasonable to think that it is possible for us to send a bigger contingent to Holyrood than we currently have. We need to build on the early success of the campaign over the next three weeks.

I wanted to concentrate on us and the good things about our campaign, but if I had had the chance to talk about the others, I’d have taken the SNP to task on their utter timidity. They have been going on about getting more powers for Scotland forever. Now they have them, they are barely using them. It’s like giving them a Ferrari that they won’t ever get out of second gear. 

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The “trailblazing, hell-raising rule breaking Rennie”

Another Friday, another day Willie Rennie wins the internet.

I don’t think there has ever been such fun at a manifesto launch ever.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats’ manifesto is centred around opportunity in so many ways. Children are at the very heart of it, so it seemed appropriate that the event took place in a soft play event in Edinburgh. And if you are going to go there, you need to get into the spirit of the place. You can’t afford to look too stiff and sober. And Willie didn’t.

The team got three specific things right. First a bit of humour, reminding everyone how you won the internet last week too.

And, let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a treat to imagine hard-nosed political hacks being asked to wait in a room like this:

Finally, if you have a leader who can do a 3 second pitch while going down a slide, then that’s a talent you have to exploit.

Jamie Ross from Buzzfeed absolutely loved it:

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Scottish Liberal Democrats to launch manifesto – a plan to make Scotland the best again

Willie Rennie will today unveil the party’s “bold, positive and progressive plans to make Scotland the best again” as he launches the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto.

He will set out ambitious proposals for a transformational investment in education, a step-change in mental health services, the protection of our environment and guaranteeing Scots’ civil liberties.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Willie said:

Scottish Liberal Democrats offer an ambitious, positive and uplifting programme for Scotland.

The Liberal Democrats are back to our best. Scotland should be the best again too.

Our programme for Scotland is ambitious and progressive. We are offering the biggest investment in education since devolution, new plans for mental health services, new laws to guarantee our civil liberties and new investment so we can exceed our climate change targets.

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