Tag Archives: Alex Cole-Hamilton

Lib Dems mark World Mental Health Day

10th October every year is World Mental Health Day.

This is a cause that is very close to Lib Dem hearts. We were talking about it long before it became mainstream. We understand the impact of poor mental health and when Norman Lamb was health minister in England during the coalition years, he did so much to improve access to mental health care, particularly for young people.

In Scotland we have never been lucky enough to have a Health Minister who actually gets it. And things are getting worse.

A GP gave evidence to a Holyrood Committee this week saying that referrals to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service were being rejected.

The feedback is actually very very consistent, that there is a big yawning gap. Obviously GPs offer universal services and holistic care and I think one of the advantages that we have is that we work very closely with our health visitors and our family and it’s often the whole family that are involved when a child or adolescent has a mental health problem.

But the feeling is still that the bar for referrals is very very high. GPs and I include myself in this, say that they will “think three or four times”, and I’m quoting there, before even considering a referral, and we have high levels of referral rejections.

And I think the other thing about referrals is that we know how damaging it can sometimes be to the person referred and their family if they get a rejection because they’ve often tried lots of other things before they get to us.

In a panel on mental health at the joint Scottish and Welsh Conference yesterday, GP and 2022 Council Candidate Drummond Begg talked about the need to prioritise mental health because the brain was the most important organ in the body.

Alex Cole-Hamilton highlighted that over 40,000 calls to a mental health helpline in Scotland were abandoned.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish Conference

Full of ideas, passion, sincerity – watch Alex Cole Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish  Conference:

He delivered it from his home to the online event.

There were a few more policy initiatives – a commission on a just economy led by Jeremy Purvis to report to next year’s Autumn Conference:

If that great liberal William Beveridge could see us now, he would think his transformational work at the end of the war had been for nothing. We are the inheritors of his legacy and we need to do something about it. That is why I am today announcing a Commission for a Just Economy, to re set our liberal vision for Scotland. This will be chaired by Jeremy Purvis and will present recommendations to our conference in a year’s time. This will be rooted in liberal values, like social justice, sustainability and above all human rights.

A railcard with a 50% discount to encourage people back on to public transport and a package of measures to tackle the climate emergency:
Dramatic cuts in rail prices to encourage rail usage.
Ripping up the SNP’s signed agreement with Heathrow airport
Using powers over air passenger duty to tackle people who fly more and fly further.

He also talked about his supported for Liam McArthur’s bill to introduce assisted dying:

if there is a movement in the political firmament that exists to safeguard human rights, then it is ours. But we live in country where legislation guarantees rights that cover every aspect of your life, apart from one and that is your departure from it. Too many Scots are denied a good death, wracked by pain and indignity.

I want to know that if I am terminally ill and in agony beyond the reach of palliative care that I could say “this far and no further” and be supported to end that suffering in comfort and dignity.

I am so proud that my good friend and colleague, Liam McArthur is stewarding the Assisted Dying Bill though parliament in his name. A Liberal parliamentarian, who may finally allow Scotland to join the ranks of other progressive nations that already offer their citizens this final act of compassion.

Some of you may disagree with me. And you know what, that’s fine. I only ask that if we disagree on this or on other things, that we disagree well. Because one of the things that I love about our party is its plurality.

He argued that the SNP’s proposed National Care Service is a really bad idea – you need to increase wages and improve conditions for workers instead:

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Scottish Lib Dems call for measures to end the drug deaths emergency

In an emotional debate this afternoon, the Scottish Liberal Democrats passed a motion on ending Scotland’s drugs deaths emergency:

Speaker after speaker talked about the need to see the people not the numbers.

New leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, whose professional life before politics was helping disadvantaged young people, showed how important this issue was to him by proposing the motion. His speech was so effective, compassionate and caring.

Culture spokesperson Joe McCauley talked about the deaths of two of his family members.

It was a such a powerful and emotional speech.

I spoke about my friend Tracy, and her son, Nathan, who died in March at the age of 20 from an overdose of street valium.

It is so important that we reaffirm our commitment to treat drug use as a public health issue, and ensure that people caught in possession of drugs are referred for treatment and help, not put through a justice system that isn’t working.

If the justice system worked to deal with these issues, Nathan would have emerged from court and prison in better shape than he went in.

Just two days before he died, he was arrested. The day before he died, he appeared in court. He wasn’t offered any help with his issues.

Tracy told the Daily Record last month:

I begged police to make interventions with him when he was a teenager, to get him out of the way of drug dealers.
“But the bottom line with them was always the same.
“They never discussed diverting him to treatment or doing anything other than arrest people.”

“I just feel that if we had arrived at where we are today and there were proper professionals who understand trauma able to speak to him, he could have had a fighting chance.”

She feels that if the changes that Dorothy Bain announced last month had been in place a year ago, Nathan would be alive today.

After the motion passed, Alex said:

Scotland has the worst drug mortality in Europe. Nearly four times the rate of our neighbours in England and Wales. We cannot continue to witness this epidemic destroying lives.

“Despite the focus of an entire ministerial portfolio, additional investment and interventions like the rollout of naloxone, people are still dying at the same terrifying rate. That is the legacy of years of prior government inaction.

“Government must be open to learning from international best practice. It is why I have written to the Director General of the WHO to ask for a specialised taskforce, made up of leading experts in drug mortality, to analyse and mobilise against this particularly Scottish epidemic.”

And our spokesperson for the drugs death emergency Ben Lawrie said:

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Lib Dems react to “empty” announcement on drugs policy change

This week, a landmark announcement from the Lord Advocate means that people caught in possession of a Class A drug could be given a warning rather than prosecuted and instead referred to support services.

From The Guardian:

Individuals caught in possession of class A drugs in Scotland could be issued with a police warning rather than facing prosecution, in a significant policy shift announced by the country’s new lord advocate as a direct response to the ongoing drug death crisis.

Dorothy Bain, who was appointed to the role in June, said the decision to give police discretion over class A drug offences did not amount to decriminalisation but told MSPs there was “no one size fits all response” to dealing with drug addiction.

She added that the policy did not extend to drug supply offences and that neither offering a recorded police warning nor reporting a case to the procurator fiscal prevents an officer referring a vulnerable person to support services.

Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton says that this is not enough to address the crisis:

Scottish Liberal Democrat requested this statement back in June, and I was grateful to see her here today, despite the empty answer.

The government has insisted for years that diversion has been an important response, but we’ve just discovered today that it only happened 57 times in 2017/18.

The number of people imprisoned for possession only is the same now as the number we saw decade ago. The SNP are failing to turn policies into practice once again.

Thousands of children are affected by parental imprisonment and drug misuse. It is time the SNP starts acting and effectively supporting these families.

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Lots of new hope in Scottish Party Political Broadcast

It’s a new era in Scotland, so a brand new Party Political Broadcast is going out as you read this.

It is a thing of beauty. Enjoy.

If the words “new hope” mean nothing to you, you haven’t been watching closely enough.

A lot of this was filmed at his leadership launch speech on 20th August.

We love the ending:

“If you want a party that is dedicated to fighting the climate emergency with ferocity without the baggage of nationalism, come with us.”

“If you want a party that is focused on human rights at home and abroad, come with us.”

“If you want a party that

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to #ldconf offering #newhope

: Yesterday, Alex-Cole-Hamilton gave his first speech as Scottish Leader to Conference. It was delayed, despite being pre-recorded. Some technical hitch meant that we had to vote to allow the agenda to change so they could sort it out.

Watch here:

Filmed outside Holyrood in the sunshine, he paid tribute to his predecessor Willie Rennie and other Scottish Liberal legends Jim Wallace, Jo Swinson and Charles Kennedy.

He talked about how the party under him will offer new hope to a Scotland whose public services were struggling due to SNP neglect even before the pandemic.

“We are a people trapped between flags” he said of the SNP’s Scottish Nationalism and Boris Johnson’s Brexit nationalism.

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I regret my involvement in the Salmond Enquiry says Alex Cole-Hamilton

Alex Cole-Hamilton is conducting his early interviews as leader with considerable skill.

There’s a lot of core messaging around the Lib Dems being the alternative to the clash of nationalisms, to the SNP ruining public services and how we offer new hope. We Lib Dems will get utterly sick of these things at some point but we aren’t the target audience. The rest of the public doesn’t hang off every word our leader utters like we do. Well, we don’t really but we pay more attention than most people.  By the time we have heard what he wants to say eleventy million times, it will just be starting to resonate with the voters.

So, he has got the knack of throwing in something new in every interview. It keeps us interested and gets noticed by the wider public.

In today’s interview, with Scotland on Sunday, he reflects on the Salmond Enquiry, on which he was the Lib Dem representative. This was the cross party committee set up to investigate the issues around the complaints process in the Scottish Government used when women complained about Alex Salmond’s behaviour towards them when he was First Minister. Our Alex says that he now regrets his participation.

It was high pressure. I mean, it took up so much oxygen, so much time. But also, I’d been supporting a complainer privately who approached me, and I could see what every twist and turn of it was doing to her.

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UPDATED: Boris leaves Nicola isolated on vaccine passports

According to the Sunday Times (£), Boris Johnson may be about to ditch his controversial plans for vaccine passports in England to access nightclubs and other large indoor venues.

On Tuesday, the prime minister will announce plans to try to keep Covid under control over the winter. He will say that he has abandoned the proposed compulsory certification scheme, which would have forced venues to check people’s vaccine status.

Johnson tore up the proposals after scientists said vaccinations would be an effective first line of defence against a winter wave of the pandemic. But the move also represents a significant concession to Tory backbench rebels who had complained that enforcing vaccine passports would create a group of second-class citizens.

Liberal Democrats opposed the idea on principle on civil liberties grounds and also on practical grounds. The hospitality industry was raging about having to enforce them, it was going to be nigh on impossible to get one if you had had one vaccination in England and another in Scotland and it wouldn’t have been effective anyway given the spread of the Delta variant amongst double vaccinated people.

Alistair Carmichael described them as a “counterproductive illiberal gimmick” in an article for Politics Home to tie in with his urgent question on the issue:

Would you trust this government – this Prime Minister – with personal data of this sort?

We have never been a “papers please society” and if that is to change then at the very least we must be allowed to debate that change.

Once we cede the principle that it is acceptable for the government to regulate in this way not just where we can go and those with whom we can go then we will be at the top of a steep and slippery slope.

As history repeatedly shows us, when people give more powers to government to regulate their lives, governments are never swift to hand them back.

As an aside, when he asked his Urgent Question in Parliament, he had one of the lines of the year:

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Senior Lib Dems mark 9/11 anniversary

Senior Lib Dems have been reflecting on 9/11 and its aftermath:

 

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Scottish Lib Dems oppose vaccine passports

Today Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scots attending big outdoor and indoor events from later this month will need vaccine passports to get in – unless they are exempt because they can’t have the vaccine.

The BBC reports that you will have to show evidence of vaccination or exemption to access:

  • Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues.

  • Unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience.

  • Unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience.

  • Any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.

So, does this mean if I want to …

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Alex Cole-Hamilton announces new, young spokespeople team

Alex Cole-Hamilton has announced the spokespeople team he thinks will bring “new hope” to the party and to Scotland.

One of the most striking things about Alex’s team is that it is very young. I am positively ancient in comparison to all but about four others. It is fantastic that of the 18 spokespeople, 4 are in their 20s, and are members of the Young Liberals. They are Molly Nolan, who really closed the gap in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross in May. She is such a powerful advocate for our rural communities. Ben Lawrie, one of the youngest councillors in Scotland will be holding the Government to account on its handling of the drug deaths crisis. Joe McCauley, who stood in Glasgow in May takes on culture and Jack Norquoy, the youngest spokesperson at 22, speaks for young people. An Orcadian, now living in Edinburgh, he understands the issues they are facing in rural areas as well as in our cities.

Alex said:

Scotland needs new hope and this team can offer it. They are crackling with talent and ideas, ready to inspire people. We will focus on the issues that matter to people across the country every day, from the NHS to the climate emergency. We will oppose the centralising SNP and stand up for human rights at home and abroad.

“Over the coming weeks I will be setting out a series of proposals to give people new hope, from the environment to the future of our communities and the prospects for young people. Scottish Liberal Democrats have so much to offer the people of Scotland.

I was surprised and delighted to be asked to return to the role of Social Security spokesperson which I had until 2019, before moving to Housing and then Equalities.

Alex phoned me when I’d nipped into Morrisons last Saturday afternoon and I took his call standing next to a stack of lager. Fighting poverty and inequality is so important to me and we need to use every single power we have in Scotland to make life better for people who are really struggling to put food on the table and heat their houses. I’m thrilled to be working with Wendy Chamberlain, who has the DWP Westminster portfolio.

The team in full is as follows:

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Heartbreak, humility and humour – Alex Cole-Hamilton talks to Matt Forde

A wee treat for your commute today, or to have on in the background while you work from home.

New Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton was the guest on this week’s Political Party podcast hosted by Matt Forde.

It’s a brilliant chat, incredibly serious and moving in places, absolutely hilarious in others. At the start, Matt Forde warns us that it includes Alex’s account of a man who died by suicide in front of him a few years back. It’s one of the reasons he has been so persistent in questioning the Scottish Government on their lack of a suicide prevention strategy or lack of mental health support.

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Wendy Chamberlain: Lib Dems stand for people politics, not grievance politics

This weekend, we’re publishing all the speeches from Alex Cole-Hamilton’s launch event. Here’s Wendy Chamberlain MP talking about

I am so excited to be here with you all today, because today is a new beginning with a new generation of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, exemplified by Jack Norquoy, and under our new leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

I’ve been a member of this party for only six years. I always joke that I joined crying at Nick Clegg on the Telly in the aftermath of the General Election result of 2015.

That was the start of my journey. If you had told me that I would be an MP for the party within 5 years of joining, I would have laughed very loudly. But this is what this party does, it welcomes with open arms.

Having served in the police until 2011, I could have joined the party then – after all Scottish Liberal Democrats had always had my vote. Watching Nick Clegg, and hearing the core liberal values he espoused, it hit me.

Scotland couldn’t afford to lose those values, or the opportunity to vote for representatives who held them. And that the Scottish Liberal Democrats needed more than my vote, they needed me and others to get involved.

Autumn 2015 – I find myself making my first contribution at a party conference: introducing my now dear friend, Willie Rennie, as he made his then Leader’s speech. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be standing here as North East Fife’s representative in Westminster, and our party wouldn’t be where it was today as it now looks forward beyond the last decade with Willie at the helm.

Across Scotland, where we have representation whether at Council, Holyrood and Westminster, people see the benefit of having a Scottish Liberal Democrat representative. We work hard to get elected – knocking doors all year round, on the phones checking in on the vulnerable during the early stages of the pandemic, delivering leaflets to get our message across as we need to as a smaller party.

Because without those hard-working community campaigners – people like Alex, people like Willie – we can never deliver that change that we want to see in Scotland.

Liberal Democrats need the people of Scotland. And the people of Scotland need Liberal Democrats.

I know we sometimes feel we might be small – but when we work together, we are can be a mighty force.

I saw that in my first campaign, in 2016 – helping get Willie elected in North East Fife; and seeing Alex elected here.

You saw it just a couple of months ago – in Chesham and Amersham where the Liberal Democrats took out a chunk of the Tory Blue Wall. No other party is placed to do that.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton: Liberals see the best in things. We celebrate diversity and nonconformity and if something isn’t working we try to fix it or we fight for reform.

One sentence to sum up the Liberal Democrats:

Liberals see the best in things. We celebrate diversity and nonconformity and if something isn’t working we try to fix it or we fight for reform.

Here, in full, is Alex Cole-Hamilton’s first speech as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. It was a belter that brought a tear to my eye. He started by talking about Maddy Planche, the young activist who introduced him. Another couple of decades and we might well be holding a big rally when she takes over the leadership.

Alex paid tribute to Willie Rennie’s 10 years of service, highlighting his achievements in getting more mental health support, expanding childcare and ensuring that disadvantaged kids get more money in school.

Then he set out the reasons Lib Dems offer new hope to Scotland. In a powerful section he invited people who shared our vision to come to us.

If you want a party that will fight the climate emergency with ferocity but without the baggage of nationalism, come with us.

If you want Scotland to make things again and capture the imagination of the world, through industry and innovation, come with us.

If you want to live in a country which offers the best education in the world, which values its carers and those they care for, then come with us.

If you want a party that stands for human rights at home and abroad. One which fights for the women fleeing Kabul and protects young people from gay conversion therapy, come with us.

If you are affected by the mental health emergency come with us.

If you are worried about state intrusion or big centralising government then come with us.

Come with us and I promise you, that Liberal Democrats in the villages and towns of Scotland will show you the meaning of the word hope once again.

 

Read the whole thing here:

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WATCH as Alex Cole-Hamilton takes over as Scottish Lib Dem leader

Alex Cole-Hamilton will shortly be confirmed as Scottish Liberal Democrat leader as he was the only candidate when nominations closed.

At an event in Edinburgh, Alex will formally take on the role He’ll be introduced by his Edinburgh West colleague Christine Jardine MP and there will be other speeches from, among others, his best mate Cllr Kevin Lang who’ll be looking ahead to the local authority elections next year, Molly Nolan, who stood in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross at the Scottish Elections and young activist Maddy Planche.

You can watch live here.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton: It is time for Scottish Government to kickstart a new era of drugs policy radicalism

Days after the release of tragic drug deaths statistics, Scottish Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has written an open letter setting out a series of radical proposals to tackle the ongoing epidemic of drugs deaths.

Statistics released on Friday show that 1,339 people died of drug-related deaths in 2020, an increase of 5% from 2019.

Alex is urging the Scottish Government to:

  • take radical steps with the prosecution authorities and the Lord Advocate to help establish heroin assisted treatment and safe consumption spaces.
  • establish new specialist Family Drug and Alcohol Commissions to help provide wraparound services and to take a holistic approach to those reported for drug offences, learning from best international practice such as that in Portugal.
  • Divert people caught in possession of drugs for personal use into education, treatment and recovery, ceasing imprisonment in these circumstances.
  • Adopt the principle that individuals and families shouldn’t have to pay for the care and treatment of those at risk of death from drugs or alcohol.

Alex’s open letter is long, but worth reading in full. Its radical and liberal ideas are also relevant south of the border:

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The National really doesn’t like Alex Cole-Hamilton…

Alex Cole-Hamilton has done a brilliant job of keeping his constituents informed about the constantly changing Covid restrictions over the past 17 months. As soon as things change, he sends out an email to his constituents to let them know.

In over 40 updates since March last year, there have been two typos. I am slightly miffed that they didn’t pick up the one last year when he referred to the Caronavirus. I mean what could the symptoms of that one be? A sudden obsession with Doctor Who and Eurovision?

He got a date wrong for the lifting of one aspect of the Covid restrictions in Scotland in his most recent bulletin. Someone pointed it out and he issued a correction in minutes. So far, so not very dramatic.

But Scotland’s nationalist newspaper, The National, never Alex’s biggest fan, decided to give this the full front page headline treatment. Clearly they see him as a threat.

It’s really bizarre when you consider that yesterday Scotland yet again a new high of drug-related deaths. We should all be talking about that and sharing ideas to sort this out. It’s not something that a newspaper that is little more than an SNP Government mouthpiece should relegate to a side story.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton’s day in the media – New hope, right now

Since his announcement of his leadership bid last night, Alex Cole-Hamilton has been on a bit of a media whirlwind.

He held a press call near the beach in Cramond:

BBC News highlights his interview on Good Morning Scotland:

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BREAKING….Alex Cole-Hamilton makes his move

Alex Cole-Hamilton has tonight announced he is standing to be Scottish Lib Dem leader. The contest is taking place after Willie Rennie announced he was standing down two weeks ago.

Alex throwing his hat into the ring is the most surprising thing since the sun rose in the east this morning.

He announced the news in video posted on Twitter:

 

He is brilliant on all the touchstone liberal issues of human rights, civil liberties and social justice.

In his weekly column for the Edinburgh Evening News, he set out his stalll:

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My favourite election moment of the week

It’s a toss up between Jo Swinson and arriving at a visit in Auchtermuchty and Willie Rennie and Alex Cole-Hamilton being, well, themselves.

Yesterday, Jo visited North East Fife

The typo in this, from a Courier reporter, is very amusing, but I just loved the exuberance of it.

The baby is Daphne Grint, 5 month old daughter of Scottish Lib Dem environment spokesperson Rebecca Bell.

And it’s Willie himself who provides the other iconic moment along with Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton. And there wasn’t a farm animal in sight.

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Why we need #worldmentalhealthday

“I’ve got the headache from hell.”

“I’m full of the cold”

“I feel incredibly anxious today”

“My stomach is killing me.”

One of these is not like the others.

We are generally pretty comfortable about sharing when we’re feeling physically unwell, but not so if we are feeling mentally unwell.

I’m not going to lie, I have found these last few months really difficult. I’ve often felt overwhelmed and anxious. In fact, earlier in the Summer, I thought my mental health was going to collapse completely.

The last thing I was expecting from my campaigning trip to Brecon and Radnorshire was to come back feeling restored, refreshed and energised.

I’m not better, though. More days than not, I feel anxious.

And just like many people with physical ill health, I go to work and edit this site and go about my daily life.

The Winter months are generally more difficult than the Summer ones. A fall on ice quarter of a century ago has cast a very long shadow. Going outside when it’s snowy and icy is so exhausting that I’m often fit for nothing by the time I get where I’m going. I have to get used to operating on empty and living in a near permanent state of high anxiety.

And when people diminish what that is like, and laugh about it, it makes life so much more difficult. When people tell you to pull yourself together, they have absolutely no idea how much you are already doing that.

I also think that it is getting easier to talk about things like Anxiety and Depression. Try and say you are suffering from Psychosis and you will often realise very quickly that stigma is thriving.

So that’s my take on World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is suicide prevention, in particular the acronym WAIT, as Christine Jardine describes:

Alex Cole-Hamilton mentions the importance of listening:

Jo talked of the importance of being able to talk openly:

Jane Dodds has long championed measures to end loneliness and social isolation:

Luisa Porritt and Layla Moran shared their struggles with Anxiety and Depression:

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Cole-Hamilton’s pride as Scotland passes smacking ban

If Alex Cole-Hamilton were to slap me, he would, rightly, face the full force of the law. If he were to slap his 5 year old daughter Darcy (which would never happen), he could do so with the full support of the law, which allows “reasonable chastisement.”

That is an inconsistency that he has been campaigning against for years. Today his work and that of many others was rewarded when the Scottish Parliament voted to give children the same protection from assault in law as adults, becoming the first country in the UK to do so.

I’ve known Alex for almost two decades. In that time I’ve teased him on many occasions, always with justification. But there have been many more times when I have been proud of him and today is one of the biggest. One of the reasons I spent a decade trying to get him elected was that I knew he would be an amazing advocate for Scotland’s children.

He’s been working to change the law on physical punishment of children for a long time. And he had an uphill battle trying to change party policy. In 2013, we lost by just 9 votes. Three years later, the result went the opposite way – and overwhelmingly. The proposer of the amendment in favour of keeping the law as it is changed his mind during the course of the debate, persuaded by the arguments. This move ensured Lib Dem support for the Bill today.

Today’s Bill was originally brought by Green MSP John Finnie but it had cross party support across Holyrood – except from the Conservatives, of course.

Here is Alex’s speech in favour of the Bill.

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Edinburgh march for Europe: Worrying news about EU negotiations and Alex Cole-Hamilton speaks

People took to Edinburgh’s streets today to protest about Brexit and climate change. The European Movement in Scotland organised the event which was very vibrant and well attended.

Our Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton gave one of the keynote speeches. As he finished, someone behind me (name redacted to protect the guilty) muttered “Understated as ever.”

Alex condemned the shutting down of Parliament and said that we would continue to fight Brexit on the streets, in the tv studios and at the ballot box.

Also speaking at the rally was the author of Article 50, Lord Kerr.

He was intensely critical of the Prime Minister, saying that Johnson and the truth were strangers and that even if shutting down Parliament wasn’t found to be technically illegal, it was definitely improper.

He also revealed that Boris Johnson’s negotiators had asked for everything relating to workers’ rights, environmental standards and social policy to be removed from Theresa May’s deal. This should not be surprising given that the agenda of the right wing Brexiteers is to turn this country into a Singapore style deregulated  economy where hard won  safety standards, workers’ rights and human rights are minimised.

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Biscuits in Brecon….

This weekend, Liberal Democrats have been flocking to help Jane Dodds win Brecon and Radnorshire for the Liberal Democrats.

This time next week, I’ll be there. I am so excited because I have never been out of Cardiff before and I’m so looking forward to seeing more of Wales.

Here are just some of the people who have been helping.

Cambridge PPC Rod Cantrill said:

Great to be back again in Brecon with two car loads of activists from Cambridge door knocking for Jane Dodds on the Brecon Ro(a)d trip!

Alex Cole-Hamilton’s wife Gill may well be annoyed that they decided a long time ago to go to Wales for their Summer holiday. Alex made his second trip today and found two more Lib Dem parliamentarians to play with:

And he revealed that he has some family history in the area.

Amid reports of copious supplies of cake, Lib Dem Friends of Biscuits hit back in style:

And Dominic Buxton gives us a glimpse of how gorgeous it is there:

I don’t see any canvassing going on here…

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Aiming high: Scottish Liberal Democrats launch “Stop Brexit” manifesto

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are the only party in Scotland who want to keep Scotland in the UK and the EU.

You would not expect a Willie Rennie manifesto launch to be boring. Sadly, there were no farm animals, but he and Alex Cole-Hamilton had a race up a climbing wall in Ratho, near Edinburgh.

It’s a great picture!

The prospects for the Scottish Lib Dems have not looked this good in years. The field work from the ComRes poll at the weekend had us in joint second with the Brexit Party, which gives us a real chance of getting party legend Sheila sent to Brussels.

There is clearly everything to play for in the next 9 days. There are record numbers of doors being knocked the length of the country. My spies tell me that Borders candidate Jenny Marr’s local party is vying for the top spot in terms of doors knocked along with the Edinburgh West and East Dunbartonshire.

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Tuesday fun: Alex Cole-Hamilton at Holyrood Dog of the Year

Some lunchtime fun to brighten your day…

Yesterday, Holyrood’s Dog of the Year competition run by the Dogs’ Trust and the Scottish Kennel Club took place with the Lib Dems represented by Alex Cole-Hamilton and his canine alter-ego, Martha.

Martha is a Dogs’ Trust rescue dog and seems every bit as irrepressible as Alex himself.

And they certainly seemed to like each other.

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WATCH: Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton talk about saving his 4 year old daughter from choking

I was heading to my bed on Saturday night when I saw this tweet from Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton:

Scary, scary stuff. The thought of my child choking was probably one of the things that scared me most. I made sure I knew what do do if that happened, but I’m glad I never had to demonstrate the skill.

Thank heavens little Darcy was fine, due to skills learned by her Dad  a quarter of a century ago.

I had a friend who doesn’t do social media and who’s on holiday in Australia contact me to say they’d seen Alex featured in the press so many people across the world will have seen his new found mission to raise  awareness of what happened to his daughter to make sure that every parent is equipped with first aid skills.

His actions will save more lives than Darcy’s.

The very next  morning a member of my family faced a medical emergency at which first aid was required. 

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Scottish Lib Dems pass policy to make it easier for domestic abuse victims to stay in their homes

I was really pleased that Scottish Conference passed a motion I proposed which aims to ensure that victims of domestic abuse don’t have to suffer the added nightmare of going through the homeless procedure when they finally seek help. It should be much easier for them to be able to stay in their home and for the perpetrator to leave.

Commonspace reported on the debate:

Across the UK, two women are killed by their partner or ex-partner every week.

Scottish Lib Dem member, Vita Zaporozcenko told the conference of her personal experience of being raised in a house with domestic abuse.

She said: “I have always wondered why my mum did not leave and I have come to the conclusion that she had simply no where else to go.”

Zaporozcenko added: “I want you to support this motion because I don’t think anyone who has gone through this at whatever age can understand the emotional strain that this puts on the person or the people who have been abused and the fear of leaving. We should not be making it harder and by removing the perpetrator is the right way to do it.”

Specifically, the conference backed calls for the Matrimonial Homes Act – where abusers can be swiftly moved out of the family home – to be updated, claiming that it is not fit for purpose.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP told the conference how the rollout of Universal Credit has impacted on those who are victims of domestic abuse, saying the ending of split payments within the household was “a tool of coercive control” for men.

Below is the speech that I made proposing the motion.

“Why should we have to move everywhere and everything because of him?”

That question is on the front of Change, Justice, Fairness, a Scottish Women’s Aid community research project into homelessness caused by domestic abuse in Fife.

Too often, the trauma suffered by victims of domestic abuse is exacerbated when they are forced to leave their homes, often with their children. It is not acceptable that they should be forced into this situation.

It is unlikely that the event that led to them seeking help was the first incident. Safe Lives suggest that someone will endure 50 incidents of abuse or violence before getting effective help.

So you have very vulnerable, traumatised individuals, the vast majority of whom are women, having to declare themselves as homeless. That means that they are put in temporary accommodation, perhaps for short periods into bed and breakfast accommodation with no cooking facilities, where they don’t have the comfort of having their own things around them, the children don’t have their toys. They are perhaps in an unfamiliar area away from their support networks. They could get moved at any time to different temporary accommodation. That instability and insecurity piling even more distress on to them.

Those who aren’t married and aren’t named on the tenancy face a lengthy and complicated battle to gain occupancy rights if they wish to stay in their home.
The process of transferring a tenancy can also take time, during which the victim can be homeless. This needs to be sorted with greater speed. The Scottish Government needs to produce guidance that strengthens the rights of the victim to prevent them going down the stressful homeless route.

Conference, this motion demands better for victims of abuse.

We call on the Scottish Government to do more to ensure that they have the right to stay in their own home if they wish to do so.

If they are to be moved, that should be done in a planned way. We recognise that the statutory homeless route is not appropriate for families who are suffering the effects of abuse.

We call on housing associations to do more to support people in this situation. I was surprised to learn that not al social housing providers have stand alone domestic abuse policies.

The Women’s Aid research identified serious flaws in the way victims were treated. Women described how they had to talk about what had happened to them in an open plan office.

One said:

“having to repeat my circumstances over and over again was humiliating and distressing to me. I was also worried about a negative reaction of not being believed every time I had to explain to a new person.”

A third of the staff who dealt with disclosures of abuse said that they had not had any training.

Particularly troubling was the fact that the majority of service providers didn’t have any idea that the moment of leaving an abusive partner was the most dangerous for the victim.

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And this is why I spent 10 years trying to get this man elected to the Scottish Parliament

I  wanted Alex Cole-Hamilton to be elected to the Scottish Parliament for a decade for many reasons, but one took precedence over all the rest – that he would  be a fantastic voice for children and young people.

Yesterday he proved why, arguing in committee for his amendment for the Scottish Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility from a “medieval” 8 to a much more civilised 14. The SNP Government would only go as far as 12. He lost, 5-2, but listen to his passionate arguments.

After the vote, he said:

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Poll suggests if Labour backs Brexit it could fall behind Lib Dems

Ok, so get your pinches of salt out, because you’ll need them, but a story in The Sunday Times (£) suggests that Labour could lose its place as the official opposition to the Lib Dems if Labour backs any sort of Brexit deal.

The YouGov survey of 5,000 voters, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, shows that support for Labour could fall from 36% to 22% if they helped the Tories to pass a compromise deal with Brussels like the one advocated by Theresa May.

Under those circumstances, the Lib Dems would soar from 10% to 26% — their highest rating in any poll since they entered coalition government with the Tories in 2010.

The poll shows that Labour’s supporters want a People’s Vote by a margin of almost three to one — and an even bigger proportion would stay in the European Union if they were given the chance.

Alex Cole-Hamilton urged Labour to think again:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 13 Comments
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