Willie Rennie MSP’s New Year Message: 3 vital issues we must tackle in 2013

Saltire - St Andrews Flag - Scotland - Some rights reserved by byronv2After the merriment of Christmas, New Year is a time to look forward. A time to set new goals and ambitions. A time to confront those things that we have put off in previous years.

For most, this will mean eating less and exercising more but as a nation we are confronted with far greater challenges than losing a few pounds.

The welfare state was constructed and sustained with the goal of eradicating what Beveridge called “the five giant evils of society” – squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease.

These were the challenges facing a country emerging from war and confronted with a society eager to move on but shackled to issues holding it back.

The challenges faced by Scotland today are of a different time, but are no less great than the trials faced by our parents and grandparents.

Scotland must resolve to confront the three great evils that face us in a new century – a demographic time bomb, the advance of climate change and the stubborn pervasiveness of poverty.

In the next 25 years, the number of households in Scotland headed by someone over the age of 65 is projected to increase by 60%. If the actuarial tables are right, my hill running days will be over and I will be one of over 1.5million Scots collecting a pension, using care services and nursing my worn out knees!

The challenge that this presents us as a country is not one that can wait another year. The start that has been made to shifting our budget priorities away from reactive to preventative spending is welcome and the Scottish Government deserves praise for the Change Fund it has set up to address some of these long-term issues.

There is still time to defuse the demographic time bomb, but this year we must go further and faster with measures that spend money to save money.

The next great evil of the modern world is climate change. Much has been made of Scotland’s world leading climate change legislation but 2012 was the year we missed our first target.

In 2013, we must do better. Tackling climate change cannot be left to next year. It cannot wait another year.

We need investment in insulation for homes, schools and hospitals, we need to accelerate the development of market-ready renewable energy and we need to continue to develop the culture of recycling.

Finally, the enduring challenge of poverty. In his 1942 report, Beveridge called it squalor and although that label has become less frequent in the last 70 years, the shame that we feel for its presence in our country has not.

Inequalities in health and educational attainment are on the up, but short term political advantage is often put in the way of longer term gain for the country as a whole. 2012 has been a year when every issue, large or small, has been seen through the prism of the independence referendum. We can’t afford to let this go on.

The three evils facing us in the modern world must be confronted in their own right. The population is not going to get any younger, the ice stop melting or deprivation evaporate overnight no matter what the result in 2014.

It’s time to get serious with these issues. I resolve to play my part. I hope you do too.

* Willie Rennie MSP is leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/32409 for Twitter and emails.

One Comment

  • Seventy years on Beveridge is still relevant. We have taken giant steps toward tackling those five giant evils but fact is that they have not been eradicated,
    If I was running the party I would have The Beveridge Report taken off the shelf, dusted down and edited to bring it in line with the 21st century: having done this I would have the revised edition incorporated into the Liberal Democrat manifesto for the 2015 election

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 1st Dec - 4:16pm
    Phyllis Sky News is wrong, just as the BBC was wrong today reporting that and just as Laura Kuenssberg was wrong last night saying we...
  • User AvatarManfarang 1st Dec - 4:15pm
    Israel has conducted air-strikes against Syria but Israel and Syria are technically at war with each other. Airstrikes against Syria by other countries are still...
  • User AvatarGarth Shephard 1st Dec - 3:56pm
    Austin Rathe writes, "if I had a vote, I’d probably oppose the action that is being proposed. Instead I’d want to vote for a much...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 1st Dec - 3:51pm
    Has it been approved yet by NICE ?
  • User AvatarPhyllis 1st Dec - 3:48pm
    Too late for this discussion. Sky News reports that Lib Dem MPs are supporting Cameron. Decision made.
  • User AvatarPaul Reynolds 1st Dec - 3:36pm
    For an excellent debate among international lawyers about the meaning of UN Resoution 2249 please see http://www.ejiltalk.org/the-constructive-ambiguity-of-the-security-councils-isis-resolution/