Category Archives: Scotland

The Lib Dem week in Scotland

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWelcome to our weekly roundup of what the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led by Willie Rennie, have been getting up to. They’ve covered a pretty extensive array of issues from health to housing to police spying to local services to cuts to college places.

McInnes says there are still questions to answer on police spying

After a senior Police Officer gave evidence on the police spying scandal to a Holyrood Committee, Alison McInnes says that his answers were not satisfactory:

The guidance on accessing communications data is very straightforward. Police Scotland’s account of how this came about is nowhere near as clear. We were told this morning that senior officers had raised concerns over applications to access communications data but they seem to have gone through regardless.

These were serious breaches and we need understand what went wrong here. Months after the first reports that Police Scotland had hacked communications data unlawfully, we are still no closer to a full account of how we got here.

NHS in crisis

Jim Hume has been highlighting many issues where the NHS in Scotland is falling short. First, his research showed that Scotland was facing an acute GP shortage as GP training places were not being taken up:

The fear must be that the extra training places announced by the First Minister last year will not help encourage more students to enter primary care or relieve the huge pressure on local GP practices. With dozens of training posts left vacant this year, SNP ministers must explain how they will ensure uptake of these and the 100 extra places they have announced. Welcome though they are, more training places will do no good at all unless there are doctors to fill them.

The SNP Government have not published a key review of mental health services. Jim said:

First we were told that the report would be published in the summer. Then that it would be published before Christmas but still we have seen nothing. What on earth is going on?

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The Lib Dem week in Scotland

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWelcome to our weekly roundup of what the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led by Willie Rennie, have been getting up to. This week, our MSPs have had a lot to say about flooding, policing, A & E waiting times “Thatcherite” testing, housing and fostering. Oh, and Alex Cole-Hamilton and Edinburgh West are back, bigger than ever.

The week started with Willie Rennie’s Bright, green, liberal vision:

I will set out why four key liberal values should be at the heart of the next parliamentary session. They are that every individual should be free to achieve their potential, that we should stand with the weak against the strong, that power is safer when it is shared and that we are trustees of the world and must pass on a sustainable legacy.

Flooding: when will the SNP Government help?

Alison McInnes criticised the Scottish government’s lack of response to the flooding in the North East:

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The Lib Dem week in Scotland

Welcome to our weekly roundup of what the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led by Willie Rennie, have been getting up to.

The plight of 50,000 children on housing waiting lists

Jim Hume highlights the tens of thousands of children on housing waiting lists in Scotland. This is an area entirely devolved to the SNP Government. Jim said:

It’s unbelievable that someone has been on a council house waiting list since the end of the Second World War. The lack of housing available for social rent in this country is a disgrace and Ministers should be ashamed of themselves. The SNP has muddied the waters on housing by backtracking on election promises and Scots and their children are paying the price.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats believe children need the best start in life. This cannot be achieved if there is uncertainty about whether they’ll even have a roof over their heads. Last week we discovered 30,000 children have been homeless on Christmas Day over the past three years. When you put that figure with the tens of thousands of children currently on housing waiting lists, it paints a very bleak picture for young people needing support as they’re grow up in Scotland.

Projects such as the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which is funded by the Scottish Government, are bringing properties back into use but not at a rate that will actually make much of a difference.

These kind of schemes need more funding so that they can stop being a drop in the ocean and start having an impact. How many more thousands of children will be left languishing on waiting lists before the Scottish Government recognises there is a housing crisis in this country?”

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Europe Referendum: News Round-Up 1

In a new series for Lib Dem Voice readers, I will be reporting a summary of the latest news from media in the UK and abroad about Britain’s referendum on its future in Europe.

Brexit Risks Damaging Sterling, Investment and Trade

Highlighting the economic damage that holding the referendum will to do, quite apart from the damage of Exit itself, The Wall Street Journal notes that  the pound has fallen to an 8-month low against the dollar and reports that:

“Investors also remain wary… as a possible withdrawal could discourage investment flows that have supported the pound.”

Sir Victor Blank, former Chairman of Lloyds Bank and Trinity Mirror, writes in the Telegraph about the danger to British business of Brexit and benefits for jobs, investment and trade that come from being in Europe.

Also posted in Europe / International, Europe Referendum and News | 2 Comments

Devo-max for Scotland: what Lib Dem members think

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

On Thursday, the Smith Commission published its recommendations on how to take forward the promise made by all three party leaders to deliver extensive powers for Scotland in the event of a No vote.

As my co-editor Caron noted then: “Federalism was never going to come out of this. It couldn’t, given that you need the co-operation of the rest of the UK to do that. We need to keep campaigning for a proper UK wide constitutional convention after the election.”

Before Lord Smith had reported, though, we tested the water in our survey. How happy were Lib Dem members, most of whom are English, about the priority being afford to the Scots?

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams – Scottish independence result will have ‘colossal impact’ on Wales and UK

rally kirsty williams 1Kirsty Wiliams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has added her voice to those calling for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom. Here’s an excerpt of what she had to say at BBC Online:

I firmly believe that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. We all benefit from a stronger economy, greater national security and a powerful international voice that would be hard to match as separate states.

However, Scotland must have more powers to determine its future. To simply do nothing in the event of a No vote cannot be an option. It’s clear that the constitutional make-up of the entire UK will have to change even if the No side wins.

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Saltire hunting

imageOne of the superb, and very enjoyable, things about Liberal Democrat Voice, at the moment, is that there is excellent coverage of the Scottish debate. This is helped by having a Highlander co-editor, the great Caron Lindsay. There are about two interesting posts a day about Scotland at the moment in the run-up to the referendum.

As honorary photo editor, or “photo-fairy” as I encourage the team to call me, this leaves me with a bijou problemette. At the height of our powers here at LDV Towers, we like to illustrate each post. But there are only so many Scots photos one can lay one’s hands through the good offices of Flickr/CCL.

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Jo Swinson launches “Scotland should stay!” petition

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TJo Swinson, Lib Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, is inviting those who “think Scotland should be stay part of the United Kingdom” to sign a petition saying so ahead of the independence referendum on 18th September. Here’s the text of the email circulated to party members last night:

In just over a month my fellow Scots and I will cast the most important vote of our lives.

I’m hoping there’s a resounding vote for Scotland to stay as part of the

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64% of Lib Dems say Scotland is ‘Better Together’ with the rest of the United Kingdom

imageLib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Two-thirds of Lib Dem members opposed to Scottish independence

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Michael Moore MP writes… Scotland’s place in the world

scotlands futureIt is the duty of the government of any state to safeguard national security and to protect its people, territory, economy and interests from internal and external threats.

If Scotland votes to leave the United Kingdom in September, there is no doubt that there would be major challenges for the national security of both Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The size and scale of our armed forces means the UK is considered a partner of choice by many countries around the world, delivering a geopolitical influence that few states …

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Better Together lets some of Willie’s “sunshine strategy” burst through

Better Together, the cross-party campaign for retaining the United Kingdom, must have been listening to LDV’s co-editor, Caron Lindsay (always a sensible precaution, we find…). Just a few weeks ago she cautioned against the deluge of negativity that seemed to be the No campaign’s main message:

Charles Kennedy was bang on last week when he said that the pro-UK campaign needed to be more positive. He could do with being a bit more explicit about what he thinks they should be saying. And then he needs to sit Alistairs Darling and Carmichael, Danny, Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader and Nick down and tell them. For the sake of the UK, they need to listen. Better Together is in desperate need of an injection of wit and warmth and not much time to do it in.

Here, then, is the new Better Together advert. Maybe not much wit, but a whole lot more warmth:

better together ad

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Opinion: The Scottish independence referendum – a lack of wisdom in the pro-UK camp?

September 14th "Welcome to Scotland"In September 2014, the Scottish public will vote on independence from the rest of the UK. As of mid-April 2014, the opinion polls suggest that the pro-UK camp is ahead, but over the past few weeks the pro-independence camp has been fast catching up. Why?

One reason seems to be the spat between the London-based UK administration and the Scottish National Party (SNP) over the role of Britain’s sterling currency. All three main UK national parties stepped in behind a sudden policy of non-cooperation with an independent Scotland …

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Who’s afraid of Scottish independence?

Saltire - St Andrews Flag - Scotland - Some rights reserved by byronv2The last month has seen the ‘Yes Scotland’ independence campaign take a battering.

First, Mark Carney raised doubts about Alex Salmond’s plans for a post-independence currency union between Scotland and the remainder of the UK.

This warning was echoed when, with more naked partisanship, George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls teamed up to state they would each refuse to form such a currency union.

And then last Sunday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hammered in

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Scotland’s place in the UK 

As the Referendum date quickly approaches, I was glad to have the chance to speak in a House of Commons debate last week on Scotland’s place in the UK.

As part of the United Kingdom we have fantastic economic opportunities through the single market, greater security due to having a seat at the top table at NATO, and the ability for Scotland to punch above its weight internationally due to the UK Foreign Office network around the world.

It …

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Willie Rennie on Lib Dem prospects in Scotland in 2015: “I know all 11 seats can be won.”

William RennieScotland’s Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie is interviewed in today’s Times by Magnus Linklater – who describes him as “resolutely cheerful”.

On Cowdenbeath…

Listing a load of reasons why he shouldn’t be in good spirits, he asks Willie specifically about the Cowdenbeath by-election, where the party trailed in fifth:

“We weren’t surprised by it. We didn’t put a lot into it, and if you don’t do that, you don’t get it back. We had lost our deposit at the last election, with something like 3 per cent, so we didn’t have

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Vince on Scottish independence: RBS would ‘inevitably’ move to London

It’s not often we hear from the Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable on constitutional matters. But today he appeared before Parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to discuss the implications for business of Scottish independence, ahead of September’s referendum. Here’s what he said (via the BBC):

RBS would “inevitably” move its headquarters to London if Scotland votes for independence, UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has claimed. Mr Cable told a committee of MPs that the bank would want to be based where it was “protected against the risk of collapse”. …

William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East, asked

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

A Stronger Economy 

Last week, I welcomed the announcement of the strongest GDP growth figures since before the financial crisis began in 2007, with the UK growing by 0.7% in the last financial quarter and 1.9% throughout the whole of 2013.  Growth is vital for our prosperity so this is a really important development.

We have also seen the inflation rate dropping to 2% from a peak of 5.2% in September 2011, decreasing unemployment and both the World Bank and the IMF indicating …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Free Childcare

My colleagues in the Scottish Parliament have been making the case for extending child care provision in Scotland for some time. So the fact that from August 2014 thousands of two-year-olds in Scotland will be entitled a free childcare place for 15 hours a week is excellent news for families across the Borders.

This means that we now catch up with the situation in England where the Liberal Democrats have helped to deliver a similar plan for two years now. The …

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LibLink: Caron Lindsay – It’s time to get real people involved in the indyref debate

LDV’s Co-Editor, Caron Lindsay, has written for The Herald newspaper about 2014’s Scottish independence referendum. She’s a bit bored with the same old politicians serving up the same old rehearsed lines. She wants real people to start having their say:

Let’s have the next debate around the kitchen table with some ordinary people. Take my friends Anne and Stevie as an example. The referendum is on her birthday. If we become independent, that’ll happen on his. She’s pro UK, he’s pro independence, albeit with a slightly different and quirkier vision than that presented by the SNP. They care deeply

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LibLink: Willie Rennie – St Andrew’s Day: A proud Scot making the positive case for remaining within the UK

Over at the Endeavour Public Affairs blog, Leader of the Scottish Lib Dems Willie Rennie marks St Andrew’s Day, 30th November, by reflecting on the importance of Scottish identity … within the UK. Here’s an excerpt:

It is because I am a proud Scot that I want to see a constitutional settlement which gives us the best chance to get on in life. 2011 was the first year where the number of people aged 65 and over was higher than the number of those aged under 15. When it comes to providing stability for pensions, welfare and our economy

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Mike Moore rocket look of wonderment croppedLiberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Apprenticeships Campaign

Over the last few months, I have been campaigning to encourage local businesses to take on apprentices. I have visited many businesses across the constituency to see how they have managed to create very successful apprenticeship schemes.

As part of this ongoing campaign to increase apprenticeships in the Borders, last week I visited Hawick Cashmere to meet the apprentices there.

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David Steel on the Scottish referendum and reforming the House of Lords

David Steel 200Yesterday evening, Lord David Steel delivered a lecture on Lords reform and the forthcoming Scottish referendum. He called for a wide constitutional overhaul, including reforming the House of Lords into an indirectly elected chamber.

Speaking earlier to Scotland Tonight, he called for a grown-up debate about whether Scotland wants to be a separate nation or not. He rejected David Cameron’s assertion that an independent Scotland would be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that fuel bills will come down, saying such comments obscured the real issues of the campaign.

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

As local MP, I am determined to do as much as possible to boost job opportunities for young people here in the Borders.  I believe that apprenticeships offer a great opportunity for businesses and young people.  They are not just for the traditional trades but can be in anything from marketing to business administration and customer service.  Apprenticeships help businesses reduce recruitment costs, lower staff turnover and improve productivity.

Over the last few months, I have been campaigning to encourage local businesses …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

A New Phase

Last week I was very grateful for all the very kind comments I received locally after finishing as Secretary of State for Scotland.

It was a huge privilege to serve as Scottish Secretary for over three years. The constitutional debate reached a rather critical point in that time and I am proud of the part I played in it as part of the government so far. I intend to continue to contribute, if from a different vantage point.

Delivering more powers …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

A Year to Go

These are exciting times to live in Scotland. In less than a year’s time, people the length and breadth of Scotland will make a choice that will affect our nation’s future forever.  This is an absolutely defining moment and a once-in-a-lifetime choice. That’s why I hope people will think carefully as they prepare for the vote.

I firmly believe that Scotland will be stronger, more secure and more prosperous if we remain as part …

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Susan Leslie selected for Dunfermline by-election

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Scottish Liberal Democrats have today announced that Fifer Susan Leslie has been selected as their candidate for the Dunfermline parliamentary by-election.

The selection was formally announced by Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP in his speech to Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow.

Susan Leslie is a university lecturer who was elected as a councillor in 2007.

Speaking after the announcement, Councillor Susan Leslie said:

Willie Rennie and Jim Tolson got things done for local people and stood up for the area. That’s what Dunfermline will get if they elect me as the new MSP for the area.

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Michael Moore MP with apprentices Cameron Collins and Mark Tully at Mainetti 30 08 13 Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Jobs campaign

I recently launched a local jobs initiative as part of the Liberal Democrats’ ‘A Million Jobs’ campaign.

Apprenticeships are a really effective way of tackling youth unemployment because they enable young people to develop the training, skills and experience they need to enter fulltime paid employment. They also benefit businesses who gain value …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Surgeries and Shows

Over the past fortnight I have held my annual summer advice surgeries during which I have visited around 50 villages and communities across the Borders. These are an opportunity for me to hear the concerns of my constituents and are a highlight of my work as local MP.

In recent weeks I have also attended the annual rideouts, Common Ridings and Shows which take place across the Borders. This year’s have been as entertaining as …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Wimbledon

First of all I want to say a huge congratulations to Andy Murray for winning Wimbledon last weekend – the first British man to do so since 1936. It was a fantastic match and as Scots and Brits we can be extremely proud of his achievement.

Queen’s visit to Abbotsford

It was a great honour to attend the official re-opening of Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, by Her Majesty the Queen last week after its multi-million …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Royal Highland Show

Mike Moore et al at Royal Highland ShowIn the Borders we have a strong and successful farming industry with local farmers trading their products throughout the UK and abroad and constantly innovating and developing their businesses. Every summer I always attend local rural shows and events in the Borders which are an opportunity to meet with local farm businesses and discuss the work they are …

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  • User AvatarMichael BG 25th Sep - 1:55am
    @ Nick Baird There are 1.44 million people unemployed all of which are looking for a job and don’t have one. There are about 2.3...
  • User AvatarJoeB 25th Sep - 12:59am
    It is only a decade since we had 8 Mps and 5 London Assembly members in London. The first Mayoral election in 2000 contested by...
  • User AvatarJack Graham 24th Sep - 11:45pm
    Oops, got that back to front. 'As you sow, so shall you reap'
  • User AvatarJack Graham 24th Sep - 11:42pm
    There is not a snowballs chance in hell of getting PR. Since we had one for the AV vote, there would have to be a...
  • User Avatarpaul holmes 24th Sep - 11:14pm
    Very brief opinion poll blips don't count for much. The Alliance in the early 1980's polled at very high levels for rather longer than one...
  • User Avatarpaul holmes 24th Sep - 11:09pm
    Just because a policy is self evidently (to you and me!) needed, does not mean voters will be motivated to vote for it. I think...