Cowdenbeath by-election gets underway as Willie Rennie and Jade Holden visit nursery

The Cowdenbeath by-election caused by the death of Labour MSP Helen Eadie takes place on 23 January. This week all the parties have launched their campaigns. One of these is very different from all the others.

Liberal Democrat candidate Jade Holden visited a local nursery with Scottish leader Willie Rennie on Thursday. This was particularly appropriate given that childcare is such an important issue. As we reported on Tuesday, Willie had to hastily re-write a speech after the Scottish Government went some way to doing what he had been pressing them for for months – to match Nick Clegg’s extension of nursery places to 2 year olds.  It’s an0ther example of how, even in opposition, even with a much depleted parliamentary group, Scottish Liberal Democrats are managing to deliver some good stuff. Willie had previously persuaded the government to save college places, leading to praise from NUS Scotland at a time when students weren’t really praising the party.

So, Jade and Willie hit Cowdenbeath and talked about stuff that mattered. Jade said:

The benefits of quality early years care are clear. Providing more nursery places for 2 year olds is good for children, good for families and – with more parents able to return to work – good for our local economy. That is why Liberal Democrats in government have led a massive expansion of free care for 2 year old children in England.

After months and months of pressure from Willie Rennie the SNP finally caught on and followed the Liberal Democrat lead. Local parents should not forget that just last week the First Minister claimed that he could not help families in Scotland until after the referendum.

This is a good start but we know there is more work that needs to be done. Our plan to extend free care to 40% of two year olds would help around 1700 children across Fife.

That is the sort of action that Cowdenbeath needs at Holyrood. As an MSP I would help Willie Rennie deliver for people here and always put my constituents’ needs ahead of the constitutional debate.

This snapshot of local paper The Courier’s coverage on Friday says a lot about the quality of the campaign so far.

Jade and Willie at nursery

On the left, there’s a fab photo of Willie and Jade being engaged and talking about things people care abut. The story on the right is just sterile bickering between the SNP and Labour over some tweets the SNP candidate made 2 years ago and about which not one voter in Cowdenbeath will give a damn.

The SNP’s own launch photos looked a bit weird. We see Alex Salmond looking out a cafe window, the candidate almost out of sight behind him and everyone else minding their own business. The Tories’ photo had their leader and the candidate with a very unhappy looking pensioner who seems to be trying to get away from them.

The Liberal Democrats will be concentrating on how the party is delivering in Scotland and across the UK. We have a fabulous, talented young candidate and a positive story to tell. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Every by-election has the potential to leave us better of in some way and this one is no exception.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Paul In Twickenham 12th Jan '14 - 9:35am

    The SNP photo looks like some wacky Scottish version of Nighthawks. And the Tory photo made me think of the “Run Away!” line in Monty Python and The Holy Grail. But this is clearly a two horse race. The saving grace for the Liberal Democrats is that since the previous election happened in 2011 and so post-dates the collapse in LD support, it’s possible to spin < 3% as inevitable for "not natural Lib Dem territory".

  • Anyone have a view on the impact in Cowdenbeath of John Barrett’s well written piece?

    John Barrett, who was Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West between 2001 and 2010, had an article in The Scotsman yesterday, in which he said –

    … … the fact that the party I joined over 30 years ago bears little resemblance in policy terms to the Liberal Democrats now in government at Westminster. I have not changed my views on opposition to university tuition fees, Trident nuclear missiles and the construction of new nuclear power stations. 
    More recently … the defeat of the government over military action in Syria was something I welcomed. I was stunned to see those party grandees who were at the heart of opposing going to war in Iraq now advocating military action – before inspectors had completed their work. My, how times have changed. 
    In Scotland, I was at a Lib-Dem conference when it wholeheartedly opposed the bedroom tax, with not one MP in the room speaking up in favour of government policy, while it still remains something my party in government at Westminster supports. No wonder the public in Scotland drifted away in large numbers from the party at both the last set of Holyrood and council elections.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Jan '14 - 11:27am

    John Tilley, John B’s piece is very good & I am saving it up for a Lib Link later.

  • Bill le Breton 13th Jan '14 - 9:18am

    Would that be May 8th 2015, Caron 😉

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