Author Archives: Baroness Ros Scott

Ros Scott’s closing speech to ALDC Kickstart

The newly elected President of ALDC, Baroness Ros Scott, closed the ALDC Kickstart event yesterday afternoon. She has kindly made available the text of her speech…

I hope that you have all had a wonderful weekend.

These are the most difficult and unpredictable political times that I can ever remember. There’s no way of knowing what the backdrop to next May’s elections will be.

But some things never change.

When I joined in 1991, I was a community campaigner in my home town of Needham Market. The only political party who were really engaged with the community were the Lib Dems, and that’s …

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Baroness Ros Scott writes…Up for the new challenge

Liberals from across Europe have been meeting in Budapest for the annual Congress of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe,  including a sizeable delegation of Lib Dems led by Party President Sal Brinton.

ALDE has 55 member parties from across the continent,  49 members of the European Parliament, 5  European Commissioners and 7 Prime Ministers. There’s also a local government group in the shape of Committee of the Regions, and a network of Liberal Mayors.

A recent decision to trial an individual membership scheme has gone from strength to strength, with over 1,500 joining up already.

On Saturday, after a intense campaign, I was lucky enough, and honoured, to be elected as one of the new Vice-Presidents of ALDE,  which means serving as a member of governing body, the Bureau.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 7 Comments

Suffolk Liberal Democrats – building a stronger Party for a brighter future

SuffolkSo, we’d got all of these new members, and they were still flooding in. It was just what we had wanted over the years, a whole new bunch of enthusiastic Liberal Democrats keen to do things. And yet, there was a nagging doubt in my mind, a memory of new, keen people in the past who had come, been confronted with a tradition of doing things a certain way, or given a pile of leaflets, and who had then drifted away. This time, it was going to be different.

But, in Suffolk, where distances are greater and members rather more spread out, it wasn’t enough for the Local Parties to be left to run their own events, we wanted something that would bring people together, old and new, from across the county, but which would help all of our members to engage in all of the work of the Party, and to allow us to tap their skills and enthusiasm.

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Baroness Ros Scott writes… Campaigning over recess

Despite what you hear in the press about a “zombie” Parliament, life in Westminster has been pretty busy for the Lib Dem team in the House of Lords. We’ve secured important improvements to the Counter Terrorism legislation, used the Deregulation Bill to reintroduce Sarah Teather’s provisions on retaliatory eviction, introduced measures dealing with revenge porn, and done battle with the Tory dinosaurs seeking to derail Michael Moore’s Bill intended to enshrine the principle that 0.7% of our wealth goes to the poorest overseas countries.

But this last week we, like the Commons, have been in recess, and many of us have been out and about campaigning with colleagues seeking re-election in May. And why wouldn’t we? Not only are we committed to our Party and its success, but many of us have been elected as Councillors or MPs and know how important an extra pair of feet can be! Some of my colleagues fought unsuccessfully for years to be elected to Parliament, and in doing so, laid the groundwork for their successors.

For me, recess means being at home in Suffolk where we are busy not just supporting our neighbours in Colchester, Cambridge, Norwich South and North Norfolk, but defending council seats in all-out District elections. For me, this one is personal, as it was winning Needham Market ward in 1991 which started my political career, and I want to make sure that the hard work of our current team is recognised.

Posted in Campaign Corner | 1 Comment

Ros Scott writes… The spirit of philanthropy

Christian Aid Week collector, WaterlooThree hours passed in the House of Lords yesterday without a single party political point made by any of the 21 speakers taking part in the discussion. The occasion for this unusual occurrence was my debate on the contribution made to society by the voluntary and charitable sector, held as one of three Liberal Democrat sponsored debates taking place yesterday.

Charitable giving from the public has held up remarkably well despite the long recession, although we should all be concerned that what my colleague Baroness Claire Tyler …

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A postcard from… Yerevan

The decision of the ELDR Bureau to hold the Spring Council meeting in Armenia sparked a good deal of debate as to how far the borders of Europe extend. No such ambivalence could be seen in the hundreds of predominantly young people we saw at an outdoor celebration of Europe Day.

This small country, a shadow of its historic past, manages to be on good terms with near neighbours Russia, Iran and Georgia. The relationship with Turkey to its east have been hostile since the deaths of more than a …

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

A postcard from… Oulu

Oulu, Finland’s 7th largest city, lies on the same latitude as Iceland, the southern tip of Greenland and Fairbanks, Alaska. It is however in central Finland and there’s an awfully long way you can travel north.

Students across the country are celebrating penkkarit marking their graduation from school with processions through the towns involving music, playing tricks on your old school and the throwing of sweets to the watching crowds. This ceremony is about a hundred years old and goes back to the time when the few students who …

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A postcard from… Chennai

Here in the LDV office, we’ve received another postcard from Baroness Ros Scott. Typically, she’s arrived long before the postcard did…

The failure of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament is a good example of just how difficult Parliamentary business can be in India. The Lok Sabha is directly elected on a constituency basis, but with regional loyalties such a strong determinant of voting, thirty-four political parties are represented, as well as nine independents.

If you think that two party coalition is tough, consider for a moment the job of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose ruling Congress Party governs as part …

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A postcard from… Mumbai

Baroness Ros Scott has been away visiting family for the past fortnight, and has let us have some thoughts on what she has found there…

As a politician, starting the day with newspapers and coffee is a habit that is hard to break. Indian newspapers are a joy, with their old fashioned use of English – “the altercation ended in fisticuffs”, “the ruffians were apprehended” and a diet of celebrity gossip and above all, politics. All Indian media give detailed blow-by-blow accounts of the machinations of politicians in the national and state governments and, although there’s a lot going on, …

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Ros Scott’s campaign diary

During the general election campaign we will be running a series of diary pieces from party president Ros Scott. To kick off here’s her campaign diary of this month so far:

1 April

I’m fed up with waiting for Gordon Brown to call the election, so I’ve started without him.

Maundy Thursday saw me up bright and early to catch the 8.35 train to Sheffield for my first official visit of the campaign. I met up with Paul Scriven, leader of the City Council, and our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) in Sheffield Central. Paul is both a highly effective council leader and …

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Ros Scott writes … Party President’s report to members, January ’10

In the two months since my last report, the election campaign has started in all but name.

After a phenomenal amount of work by the manifesto team – led by Danny Alexander, the party’s policy unit headed by Christian Moon, and the Federal Policy Committee – we have now established the broad outlines of our campaign:

  • Reform of the tax system to create a fairer base,
  • introducing the pupil premium to give all children a fairer start in life,
  • creating sustainable housing and jobs and
  • political reform to bring in a fairer voting system, and

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Ros Scott writes… Party President’s report to members, November ‘09

The two months since the party’s last Federal Executive have, as usual, been pretty busy. In that period I have visited local parties in Aldershot, Altrincham & Sale, Winchester, Islington, Sutton, Wycombe, Amersham & Chesham, Swindon, Gloucester, Stroud, Cheltenham, East Dunbartonshire, Glasgow North, Edinburgh Pentlands, North & Leith, West, Ochil, and Consett. I have also attended the North West and West Midlands Regional Conferences.

The two meetings of the party’s Chief Officers Group which I have attended are reported separately to FE, but I wish to highlight the work done to develop the business plan and budget which were …

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Ros Scott writes… Party President’s report to members, October ‘09

October was a month which began for me in India and ended in Cairo. I had been invited to India by the Indian High Commission along with a small delegation of Parliamentarians who are “Liberal Democrat Friends of India”. We were led by Lord John Alderdice through a week’s visit which was split between Delhi and Pune and included a number of meeting and visits to reflect India today, politically, socially and economically.

I was in Cairo for three days to attend the Congress of Liberal International, which is held every 18 months. The Lib Dem delegation is led by the Party President, but all the work is done by the Chair of the International Relations Committee, who is Robert Woodthorpe Brown. It’s a pretty humbling experience to hear from campaigners who risk their life and liberty for working to make democratic change in oppressive regimes, and certainly puts domestic politics into perspective.

In between the two, Parliament resumed after the summer recess, and I’ve been busy in the Lords with voting, select committee work and a few speeches. The expenses issue continues to rumble.

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Ros Scott’s Report of the Lib Dem Federal Executive held (26th October 2009)

Our usual practice at Federal Executive (FE) is to have a round up of current issues, presented by Nick Clegg, followed by a Q&A. In Nick’s absence we heard from the Chief Whip, Paul Burstow, and the new Chair of the Campaigns and Communications Committee (CCC), Willie Rennie.

Paul Burstow updated FE on the issue of Members’ expenses, outlining progress on the Legg Report and the Kelly review (due to be published 4th November), neither of which had finished. He emphasised that work on a Lib Dem Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians would be finalised once these two pieces …

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Ros Scott writes… Party President’s report to members, September ‘09

September is the transition month from the quiet of the summer recess to the hustle and bustle of Regional and State Party Conferences, although the past month was still pretty busy.

The month started with a weekend series of visits in the West Midlands, first up being an early evening members’ meeting in Stratford-upon-Avon on the Friday, hosted by local PPC and Chair of the Parliamentary Candidates Association, Martin Turner. The next morning, stopping only for coffee with Martin to discuss some issues related to candidate recruitment, selection and retention, I was off to West Worcestershire to meet the victor of the District by-election that week, before heading to Malvern for a dinner with members.

Richard Burt is our PPC there, and is optimistic about his chances of pulling off a victory against the Conservatives. Sunday saw us head to Hereford to meet Sarah Carr, who is fighting hard to retain Paul Keetch’s seat, although boundary changes have been less than kind.

The next week saw me in Bedford, where the unexpected death of the independent mayor has given us an opportunity to gain only our second directly elected Mayor. David Hodgson, a long-time stalwart of the Party

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Ros Scott’s Party President’s report (August ’09)

July is usually a busy month in Parliament, as there is a rush to complete things before the long Parliamentary recess. This July has been no exception, and there were some long sessions, particularly in dealing with the Parliamentary Standards Bill, a rushed piece of legislation which has needed a considerable amount of work in terms of amendments, in order to make it workable.

As an aside, I have been in discussion with the Electoral Commission on the question of another piece of legislation, the Political Parties and Elections Bill. I am concerned that the burden of bureaucracy placed upon Local Party Treasurers is disproportionate to the amounts of money involved, and am pleased that my suggestion that Local Party Officers be included in the consultation process has been adopted by them.

The work of the Select Committee on Communications, which is currently carrying out an inquiry into the British film industry, does have its upsides – this month in the form of a visit to the Harry Potter film set. It is entirely coincidental that Daniel Radcliffe, whom I met on the visit, publicly declared his support for the Liberal Democrats the following week.

The end-of-term reception for Liberal Democrat peers, hosted by our Leader there, Tom McNally, was graced by the presence of a number of our candidates in target seats, who were in London attending valuable training in support of their ongoing campaigns, as well as by members of our teams in the Commons, the European Parliament and the London Assembly.

I think that it is important that I continue to find time for non-Presidential work.

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Ros Scott’s Federal Executive report (July ’09)

The Federal Executive met on 13 July in an atmosphere somewhat less frenetic than at its previous meeting (18 May). Since then, Chris Rennard has resigned as Chief Executive, and I updated FE on how the process of appointing an interim Chief Executive had been determined and applied.

The successful candidate, Chris Fox, was in attendance and I can announce that he took up his new duties with immediate effect. In October, the FE will discuss the process by which a permanent replacement will be appointed. In carrying out this process, my confidence in our senior management team has been reinforced.

It was decided that the FE should write to Chris Rennard to thank him for the work he had done, and for the commitment he had displayed in his role, a point highlighted by Nick Clegg as part of his report.

In that report, Nick commented on the expenses crisis and its impact, on his stance on Afghanistan, before highlighting the work done by Meral Ece on the launch of the New Generation Initiative, part of efforts to support and develop members from under represented communities. He emphasised the importance of the Norwich North campaign, noting that our Autumn Conference holds great potential, as Conservatives begin to doubt whether Cameron can lead them to a Parliamentary majority and Labour continue to falter.

Posted in Op-eds, Party policy and internal matters and Party Presidency | Tagged | 17 Comments

Ros Scott writes… Party President’s report to members, May ’09

It has, to say the least, been one heck of month.

At the start of May, I was in Vancouver, attending the Executive meeting of Liberal International where I gave a speech on the topic of The challenges facing Liberalism over the next decade. We also met up with the Canadian Liberal Party Convention where they celebrated the election of Michael Ignatieff as their Leader. The international theme continued later in the month with the launch of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Poland.

Back home, the Telegraph expenses story broke and, with events moving along with amazing rapidity, led to the resignation …

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Ros Scott writes about Chris Rennard’s resignation

I first met Chris Rennard in the run-up to the 1999 European elections, when I was the number two on the East of England list. Of course I knew who he was, a campaign legend, whilst I was just starting my career in politics. Then, as now, he was a source of wise advice, exceptional strategic judgement and personal support.

Chris has worked for the party for 27 years. His political activism began in Liverpool where he delivered half of a focus round because his mother wouldn’t let him cross the main road! The Liberal cause has motivated Chris ever since. …

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Ros Scott writes… A New Year’s Message from the Party President

Readers of Lib Dem Party President Ros Scott’s Because Baronesses are people too blog will have already had the chance to enjoy her New Year message. Ros has kindly agreed to let LDV share it with our readers, too…

Firstly, I would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year, and hope that you enjoyed the Christmas break in the company of family, friends and loved ones.

For me, the year starts with a new job, a key one in building a stronger, more vibrant, more successful Party, and I’m really looking forward to the next two years as your President. I’ve spent the past two months planning and organising, meeting with key Party officials and leadership figures, and talking to some of my distinguished predecessors to gain an insight as to their perspective on the job.

I intend to hit the ground running, dividing my time between the two key elements of the job, internal party management, mostly based in London, and meeting and enthusing activists and members across the country.

The year starts with a key meeting of the Federal Executive, and I’d like to welcome all those who will be serving, especially those who are new to our work. Their fresh thinking will hopefully complement the experience of those returning for another term.

I’ll be attending Party events this month in:

* Brentwood and Ongar
* Bury St Edmunds
* Canterbury
* Thanet North
* Yeovil

I’ll also be campaigning in Wales and will start February by attending the joint conference of Devon & Cornwall and Western Counties in Taunton.

The diary is already filling up as far ahead as the Autumn, but if you want me to visit your Local, State or Regional Party for an event, to campaign or to help a recruitment drive, let me know. My aim will be to combine a number of events in the same weekend, so that I can make the most effective use of my time, and hope to work with Regional and State Parties to make this possible.

We have key elections this year, although I can’t remember a year when they were anything else.

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How I’ll improve Lib Dem membership – Ros Scott

One of the roles of the President is to be the bridge between the members and the centre. That’s why I’ve promised to:

  • Keep in touch with the membership through email bulletins, my blog, LD News and Party mailings.
  • Use e mail and electronic voting as a means of consulting members.
  • Attend one conference each year in every English region as well Scotland and Wales.
  • Campaign in elections at all levels and regularly visit local parties.
  • We need to evaluate what we offer members – too many feel they are “focus fodder” or a source of donations. We need to create a …

    Posted in Party Presidency | Tagged | 2 Comments

    The Presidential Platform (2): Ros Scott for President

    Liberal Democrat Voice has offered each of the three candidates for the post of Party President three platform pieces on LDV during the contest to make their case to party members. How they choose to use these platforms is entirely up to them. This is the second of Ros Scott’s contributions.

    I am delighted that Vince Cable has chosen to put his full weight behind my candidature – on Monday the whole party will receive our manifestos and ballot papers and I am looking forward to hearing more of their views, and meeting as many local parties as possible around the …

    Posted in Party Presidency | Tagged | 34 Comments

    The Presidential Platform (1): Ros Scott for President

    Liberal Democrat Voice has offered each of the three candidates for the post of Party President three platforms pieces on LDV during the contest to make their case to party members. How they choose to use these platforms is entirely up to them. Today it’s Ros Scott’s turn.

    In my view, one of the key jobs of the Party President is to represent the views of members and activists to the Leader and to the paid executive.

    Very few people join our Party out of any sort of tribal loyalty. People join because they believe in what we stand for and …

    Posted in Party Presidency | Tagged | 8 Comments

    Ros Scott: can you spare 5 minutes for my online survey?

    People often ask me how I got involved in politics.

    Putting down roots in Suffolk after many years of moving around, it was a revelation to me to see how a community really works. I became increasingly involved as a community activist and saw at first hand the great work done by my local Lib Dem councillor.

    All political parties are now talking about localism, but for us is it part of our DNA. We need to ensure that we keep faith with our localist instincts and our natural inclination towards small and accountable decision-making.

    I’ve always believed that our …

    Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 17 Comments

    Lords reform one year on

    A year on from a House of Commons vote on Lords Reform, we asked Baroness Ros Scott about the prospect of the Commons getting its way.

    When I was asked about going to the Lords, I was warned that I might not be there for long.  That was 8 years ago, and I’m not convinced that we’re much nearer to reforming the Lords than we were then.

    There is a general consensus in the Commons that something needs to be done to democratise the second chamber, but a range of views about exactly what that should be.  Voting on the Cunningham …

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    Opinion: Labour miss the point on communities

    I spent last week in Westminster, where in the Lords we spent Thursday afternoon debating the Government’s recently published “Action Plan for Community Empowerment”.

    It’s hard to know which pair of words is the more depressing “Action Plan” or “Community Empowerment” Their Lordships certainly failed to be either empowered or active. Apart from the mover – my noble Friend Lord Greaves – and the front benches, there were 2 backbench speakers plus one Bishop making his Maiden speech on the subject. There were twice as many speakers for today’s other two debates, on China and on missile defence.

    Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments

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