Michael Moore writes… An ambitious liberal agenda

A year ago I thought I travelled a lot on the campaign trail in the general election. With a constituency of about 1,500 square miles it was of course a necessity.

But this year I really know how long that trail can be.

Supporting colleagues across Scotland in the build up to the Parliamentary election on 5th May, I have covered over 1,500 miles in ten days. Many others have done the same, or indeed more, but I doubt many have seen the spectacular contrasts in scenery and political geography that I have enjoyed in that time.

Scottish Liberal Democrats are fighting hard on many fronts. Sure, the backdrop of the tough, necessary decisions taken by the coalition is more challenging than we have been used to. But Tavish Scott and his colleagues are setting out an ambitious liberal agenda nationally and locally. Tavish is leading with great energy and around the country activists and supporters are working harder than ever.

As one of the key driving forces behind the Scottish Parliament, the underlying principles that guide devolution are in our DNA. So, while the other parties want to centralize decisions in Edinburgh, we are opposing the creation of a national police force, national fire board and plans to scythe the number of health boards.

We’re no fans of bureaucracy, but we see real dangers in taking the decisions about public services in remote centralised organisations that lack local accountability or fail to understand the differences between rural and urban Scotland.

And unlike Labour who failed to tackle the unfair pension system while in office, we have underlined our commitment to fairness by establishing innovative new ways to use devolved powers to support pensioners with their council tax bills.

Nor have we forgotten the importance of business. Our focus on new jobs in the private sector sits alongside that determination to keep things local in the shape of regional development banks geared to helping Scotland’s diverse business community.

Over these past few days I have seen the opportunities and challenges facing the country and the party. In the far north, I have seen how the Liberal Democrats have championed the jobs potential of one of the country’s leading lithium ion battery factories in Thurso and the energy potential of marine renewables in Invergordon. In Aberdeen I have seen focused grass roots campaigning on rail links which the SNP has ignored. In Glasgow and Fife I’ve discussed the challenges of the job market with young apprentices, while in Musselburgh our commitment to support carers is welcomed. Closer to home in the Borders our focus has been about keeping services local and making sure we support key local businesses.

Very different places, very different issues. But across Scotland the unifying themes have been the Liberal Democrat commitments to business, fairness, the environment, local accountability. And a lot of hard work.

Michael Moore MP is Secretary of State for Scotland.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Scotland.

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