Tag Archives: Alex Cole-Hamilton

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:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, a former youth charity worker, has called for the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to be raised to 14. The UN suggests that 12 should be an absolute minimum baseline. On both sides of the border, we fall short of this. In England and Wales, it’s 10 and in Scotland just 8.

The Scottish Government is putting forward legislation to raise it in line with the UN minimum guidelines, but Alex says that it doesn’t go far enough:

Scotland is the only country in the EU where children as young as eight can find themselves

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It’s Pumpkin Time….

No Hallowe’en could ever be complete without an Alex Cole-Hamilton pumpkin.

And he let us into some of the secrets of production:

Former Scottish Party Manager Linda Wilson came up with Death Star Pumpkin


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LibLink: Alex Cole-Hamilton: There is no such thing as “justifiable assault”

In his regular column for Edinburgh’s Evening News, Alex Cole-Hamilton outlines why he has sponsored a Bill to ban physical punishment of children:

People talk about it being a ban on smacking, but all it really seeks to do is to extend the same protections to children that adults currently enjoy – the fundamental right to live a life without fear of violence. There is no law in Scotland which states you have the right to hit your child, but parents are enabled to do through the legal defence of ‘justifiable assault’. People hit their kids and the law isn’t interested, only because they could claim the assault was justified on the grounds of punishment.

Seems ok? Not when I tell you that a similar defence used to apply to the hitting of women and of servants but we happily repealed those eons ago. This all boils down to the fact that children are now the only sentient creature in Scottish society you can strike in anger with legal impunity. That puts us out of kilter with international human rights treaties. We’re signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which demands we protect children from physical punishment, and as such in every examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, it’s a big red cross on our report card.

And he looks at some of the arguments used by opponents:

“This is nanny state gone mad and will see legions of decent parents marched through the courts.” This isn’t about criminalising parents, it’s about culture change. There has been no detectable uptick in prosecutions of parents in the countries where this is operating already, parents just make different decisions as to how to discipline their kids.

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Lib Link: Alex Cole-Hamilton: We still don’t value women in public life

If you wander round Edinburgh, you might think that men were the only people who ever did anything important.  Alex Cole-Hamilton has reflected of the lack of recognition for women in a post for the Women 50/50 campaign’s blog:

Well, because all told, statues of animals outnumber statues of women in the city by about 5:1. Walking down the Royal Mile, you couldn’t swing a dead Great Auk around your head for fear of hitting the stone effigy of a bloke who was big during the enlightenment – but there is no sign of the women who built so much of this city and its legacy.

A number of city MSPs and I from all parties have recently taken up the campaign to see Elsie Inglis commemorated on the Royal Mile. Elsie was a leading Suffragist in the late 19th century and was close friends with Millicent Fawcett. As a doctor, she established the Women’s Hospitals Movement which took mobile field hospitals to the bloodiest battlefields of World War 1. She was one of the only women ever to receive a state funeral and there are statues to her in Serbia and in France. Her only recognition in the capital is a small plaque in St Giles Cathedral.

The commemoration of important and trail-blazing women matters. It matters because if we don’t do it then the subliminal impact of public art is to cement the patriarchal view that only men can ever achieve greatness. I want to be able to walk up the Royal Mile with my daughter, Darcy, from the palace to castle, and ignite her ambition by pointing out famous female lawyers, politicians and authors and walk her through the steps she’ll need to take if she wants to be like them. The same is true for TV; modern political dramas, whether it be House of Cards or Designated survivor, idealise the rise of men and show the lead character using his male resources to grasp the reins of power. I don’t know about you, but I would like to see a TV adaptation of the life and career of Mary Esslemont, Barbara Castle or Shirley Williams.

I have a slight quibble with his conclusion, though:

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LibLink: Alex Cole-Hamilton: No such thing as a right to sex

Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has written a powerful column in the Edinburgh Evening News in which he takes apart the awful “Incel” movement’s bizarre and misogynist arguments.

He lays bare some of the stuff these people believe.

A warped political ideology has germinated in the dark chatrooms of this scene. There are lengthy and rambling discourses which amount to a deranged manifesto, preaching the need for a “global redistribution of sex”. This involves a sexual caste system where women will be forced to have sex with incel men as a punishment for being promiscuous or if they use too much make-up.

There’s no such thing as a right to sex, he points out:

Because there’s a fundamental difference between needs and wants. You need shelter, clean drinking water and access to healthcare, these are your rights. You may want sex, but no human rights lawyer is going to take the fact you aren’t getting any to Strasbourg.

Put simply, if something you want requires the enthusiastic consent of another, then you don’t have a right to it

And education about this is vital:

Whether we’re considering rape or harassment, we need to change our culture and that starts with how we raise our young people. We need to equip our children with an understanding of what an appropriate, respectful relationship looks like. Teaching young people about birth control and STDs is second nature nowadays, but when, as parents or teachers, we awkwardly ask them to carry a condom, we need to have the confidence to, in the same breath, make it clear that obtaining enthusiastic consent is just as, if not more, important.

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Scottish Lib Dems launch consultation on social care.

We will all have some contact with the social care system at some point whether it is for ourselves or for someone we love.

Social care policy is devolved to Scotland and the Liberal Democrats have a proud record. Despite what the SNP tried to tell us in their party political broadcast this week, it was the Liberal Democrats, in coalition with Labour, who introduced it back in the glorious days of the early 2000s.

Things aren’t going so well, though, as an ageing population puts huge pressure on the system.

At any one time, around 1,000 patients are stuck in hospital because …

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Sick absence figures reveal extent of strains on NHS staff as 45 million hours lost in Scotland alone

Last year, my husband spent 51 days in hospital. He received excellent care from compassionate and skilled staff at what was an absolutely terrifying time for us.

That experience gave us an insight into the strains and stresses that the NHS faces. The most common refrain from staff was that it was so stressful and the Winter hadn’t even started yet.

He spent a just over a month in a medical ward in our local hospital and a further three weeks in a specialist centre in our nearest city. On only one occasion in the whole 51 days did I see staff going home when they were actually supposed to. There were times when I was shocked to see the same members of staff on their 5th or even 6th 12 hour shift in a week. One day I arrived at the hospital in the afternoon to see a health care assistant who had been on night shift the previous night. Because the ward was so under-staffed, she had gone home, slept for a couple of hours and come back in for the busy stretch around lunch and dinner.

During their shifts, the nurses did not stop. They were dealing with multiple stressful situations at a time. They were stretched to the limit.

Obviously a situation like that is not sustainable. It’s going to affect people’s health in some way or another. Alex Cole-Hamilton now has evidence of that.

He revealed that more than 45 million hours have been lost by Scottish NHS boards to staff ill health during the past four years and said the immense pressure staff are under could account for rates rising.

Data obtained from health boards under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that the number of hours lost to illness increased from 11.4 million hours in 2014-15 to 13.1 million hours in 2016-17, with the number rising year on year.

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Friday fun: Alex Cole-Hamilton, the snake and creepy crawlies and the Prime Minister of Spain

To take our minds off the sound of things being kicked into the long grass in Brussels, here’s something to cheer you on a Friday morning. You really do need to watch the video because it will make you smile.

Some of you will be thinking What.On.Earth? Well, we have dug deeper and found where the actual footage is. As you probably know, Kezia Dugdale, Scotland’s former Labour leader, took part in ITV’s I’m a Celebrity. BBC Scotland’s current affairs programme Timeline made a slightly lower budget version of the programme and invited politicians from all parties to take part. Only two obliged. One of them was our Alex.

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Tackling the taboos – Alex Cole-Hamilton leads Holyrood debate on incontinence

As we reported last month, Alex Cole-Hamilton brought a motion calling for a National Continence Strategy to the Scottish Parliament. It was debated yesterday. Here is Alex’s speech. He is pictured here with Elaine Miller, his constituent whose show Gusset Grippers highlighted the issue at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

If we ask anyone in this chamber or beyond it what their top five fears of age or infirmity might be, we can be sure that the subject of this debate will sit right up there. However, I state from the outset that, if we, as legislators, assume that incontinence is a condition only of the old or infirm, we are mistaken and are part of the problem. I called for the debate because women and men of all ages suffer in silence. It is high time that they are made aware of, and given, treatment, support and—most important—hope.

Incontinence is still taboo. Patients are shy and embarrassed to talk about it or to seek medical help, and many of them assume that nothing can be done for them. This may be the first time that we have debated the problem with such a focus in the Parliament. I am glad that members from all parties are present today and are prepared to put aside our hang-ups on the issue and look collectively towards relatively straightforward solutions.

Here are the facts: one in three women and one in nine men leak urine. A remarkable 30 per cent of women who have given birth vaginally will have damage to their pelvic floor, while those who sustain a third or fourth-degree tear during childbirth are likely to have problems with faecal incontinence. Statistics show that incontinence has a bigger impact on a person’s quality of life than nearly any other condition, and a recent survey of those over the age of 60 and in hospital characterised incontinence as a fate worse than death.

We do not know the true cost to Scotland of incontinence, associated products and the causal impact on physical and mental health. However, in 2010, Australia made a stab at researching the scale of the problem. A study there examined the cost not only of sanitary wear, medication and surgery, but of dealing with the depression and anxiety that can arise from the condition. It amounted to $43 billion dollars annually, which is astronomical. Our two countries have similar societies and face similar health challenges, so we can extrapolate that to around £5,000 for every Scot with the condition every year.

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Cole-Hamilton: Children must have equal protection from assault

Well, this will probably be a controversial one as the issue over whether parents should have the right to hit their children for some peculiar reason always causes a big argument in liberal circles. My own view has always been that there are no circumstances in which it is justifiable to hit a child and that there is always a better way. Having children grow up thinking that it’s fine to hit someone smaller and defenceless to get your own way really isn’t a good look. Some children will grow up emotionally scarred from the experience of what some people …

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton and Scottish Young Liberals President speak at Edinburgh Rally for Europe

On Saturday the Royal Mile erupted in a sea of dark blue and yellow stars as hundreds of people attended a rally at Edinburgh’s City Chambers run by the Scottish Young European Movement.

There were two Liberal Democrat speakers – Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton and new Co-President of the Scottish Young Liberals Christopher Wilson.

The videos below are brought to you courtesy of SYL’s Tristan Gray. I did try to film them but my phone threw a strop at the crucial moment, so thanks to Tristan for letting me use this.

But before all that, you need to see my new favourite thing.

Here’s Alex.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton calls for continence strategy

When I was on holiday, I listened to an interesting article on Women’s Hour about a fringe show centred around pelvic floor exercises. It was both hilarious and mildly disturbing. And for a few days afterwards I was particularly diligent, as I expect many people were, before forgetting about it all again.

Elaine Miller, the person behind that show, wrote about it in the Guardian.

Anecdotally speaking, using humour as a health promotion tool works well. Proving that is tricky – the only established fact is that comedy is subjective, so, conducting a random controlled trial is fairly challenging. However, getting the public to comply with simple lifestyle changes and health behaviours has always been difficult, so, perhaps an irreverent approach is worth a shot?

Incontinence interferes with every single thing a person wants to do, and, helping someone to live a life unrestricted by their bodily functions is wonderfully satisfying, far more so than helping someone win a medal for being marginally faster than someone else. Being part of huge sports events was glamorous and fantastic, but, I am happiest on stage, at conference or in clinic proclaiming that that everyone deserves to have a decent pelvic floor.

Now it turns out that Elaine s a mate of Alex Cole-Hamilton’s and the two have teamed up to call for the Scottish Government to launch a National Continence Strategy. 

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Cole-Hamilton: Defeating Brexit is our Everest

If you head to the Royal Mile at about two in the afternoon, you’ll be in for a big surprise. Our Alex Cole-Hamilton is one of the speakers at a Rally for Europe but he won’t be delivering the Europe stump speech many of us have heard many times. In fact, I’m probably more word perfect on it than I am the Sound of Music or the words of Abba Gold.

Today a new version of the Cole-Hamilton Euro speech takes centre stage and it’s just as good.

Here’s an extract.

Now I heard that Boris Johnson said that if we had to, in the event of no deal we could live without our EU workforce, that they only make up 3% of our health and social care workforce so we could probably tough it out. Boris, your spinal column makes up 3% of your body mass, try functioning without that.

“You all know my party’s policy. The Liberal Democrats believe that a process begun by the will of the British people must be concluded by the will of the British people.

“That we must put the final terms of the Brexit deal or the reality of no deal to them in a referendum, and on that ballot paper they should have an unambiguous choice to reject Brexit and remain in the EU.

“I believe that when credited with the facts, the people of this country will reject the lunacy of Brexit and return to the fold of what has become quite simply the most important project for peace and freedom in the whole of human history,

“So when the full hideous calamity of Brexit is laid bare, we should ask the people of this country, in the solemnity of the polling stations where this first started, is this really what you want? Is this what you imagined taking back control would look like? And if it isn’t then you should exercise your democratic right to stay.

“We meet in extraordinary times, historic times and you will each look back on this period and ask yourself, did I do my part? Don’t leave that question unanswered, it’s time to dig in and fight, it isn’t just a mountain we have to climb, this is our Everest.

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Drama at Alex Cole-Hamilton’s office as strip light explodes

There was a bit of drama at the office of Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton today when firefighters had to come to put out a small fire after a strip light exploded.

We assume he meant that he was holding a constituency surgery rather than actually performing surgery on the strip light.

Thankfully, everyone was fine and no damage was done.

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Happy 40th Birthday, Alex Cole-Hamilton

Today, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western, Alex Cole-Hamilton turns 40.

I have to confess to being slightly traumatised by this – much more so than by my own imminent Golden Jubilee.

You see, I don’t feel 50. I feel about 28. And I’m in much better shape physically and mentally than I was at 28, so it’s all good here. And the waiter at the Indian last night referred to me as a “young lady.” Even better.

Alex’s big day, though, provides inescapable evidence of the passage of time. I can’t help but remember that I first met him when he was a young lad fresh out of university. Now he’s a 40 year old father of three.

He hides it well, though. He’s probably even more irrepressible now than he was back then.

I’ve asked some of his friends to help me come up with 40 Legendary Alex Moments. Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy a meander through the life of someone who is guaranteed to bring a smile to whatever is going on. Happy Birthday, Alex:

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Lib Dems highlight “Brexit Brain Drain”

The Liberal Democrats have discovered that more than than 1,300 academics from the European Union have left British universities in the past year, prompting concerns of a Brexit brain drain.

A recent analysis by the Russell Group, which represents 24 of the UK’s leading universities, found that there are 24,860 members of staff from other EU countries at UK universities, making up 23% of all academics.

Across the country there has been a 30% increase in the number of EU academics quitting over the past year compared to two years ago, according to figures released following Freedom of Information requests.

Edinburgh University suffered the third highest loss of staff of all those shown in the UK, with 96 EU academics leaving in 2016-2017, (up from 76 in 2015-2016 and 62 the previous year).

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The day Tim Farron cooked my breakfast

Eighteen years ago today, at around 5:30 in the morning, I was being wheeled back to the ward with my new baby. Try as I might, I couldn’t sleep because I was too besotted to take my eyes off the gorgeous bundle in the little hospital cot.

At that time this morning, I was hitting the M8 to drive into Edinburgh. What could I possibly be doing at a cafe in Corstorphine at 6 am with Edinburgh Western MP Alex Cole-Hamilton and Edinburgh West Lib Dem candidate Christine Jardine?

The answer duly emerged – after a slight detour for this vehicle. There are, apparently, two establishments called Cafe Vigo in Edinburgh and, you guessed it, they went to the wrong one.

Tim was kicking off a tour of key seats in Edinburgh West, one of the best prospects for a gain on Thursday. He later went to another – East Dunbartonshire.

They disappeared into the kitchen surrounded by a gaggle of hungry journalists.

Tim made fried egg rolls, Christine made bacon rolls. And they were good, too. I had a fried egg one. Normally, I like them with a softer yolk, but it was just as well this one a tad over-cooked to avoid mess.

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What’s happening on the campaign trail today? Cole-Hamilton appeals to young voters

Scottish Liberal Democrat general election campaign chair Alex Cole-Hamilton and  young activists will be outside the U.K. Green Investment Bank headquarters in Edinburgh where Alex will call on young voters to register before Monday’s deadline so that they can have a say in their future

He will declare that only the Liberal Democrats are making the steps necessary to leave behind a green legacy for future generations.

Leaving a sustainable legacy for our children is the most important task of this current generation and both UK and Scottish Government have failed in that task.

The Conservatives don’t care for the environment and the selling off of the Green Investment Bank is just one example of the UK Government rolling back progress made by the Liberal Democrats and neglecting the needs of future generations. Meanwhile the reckless cut to Air Passenger Duty by the SNP will only further pollute our air.

While the Conservatives continue to put forward a cold and mean-spirited vision of Britain, Liberal Democrats are committed to seeing a better future where we leave behind a world that is sustainable and green for our children and I urge those that want to see a greener future to vote Liberal Democrats.

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Cole-Hamilton challenges Ruth Davidson to disown Tessa Munt’s Tory opponent for foul mouthed independence rant

The chair of the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ election campaign Alex Cole-Hamilton has today called on Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to disown the Conservative MP for Wells who has been caught in foul-mouthed tirade against a young person.

The Sunday People has the details:

A Tory MP blasted a Scottish girl who said she would vote for independence in a second referendum, saying: “Why don’t you f*** off back to Scotland.”

James Heappey, 36, fighting to stay MP for Wells, Somerset, has apologised, insisting he was joking.
He asked sixth-formers at nearby private Millfield school how they’d vote in a new Scottish referendum

When one Scots girl said she’d back independence, he lashed out.

Over the weekend, Conservatives in Midlothian complained (justifiably) about the behaviour of SNP activists who were basically obnoxious. When anyone on whatever side uses unhelpful language, it just ramps up the tension some more and it’s not fair on those of us who want to see a civilised political environment.

Alex said:

Ruth Davidson needs to immediately disown the actions of her Conservative MP colleague.

Once again a senior Conservative manages to help the SNP by being obnoxious.

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Canvassing in the sunshine

The idea of knocking on strangers’ doors and asking them how to vote can be a bit daunting. Even those of us who are experienced at it can feel a bit nervous about doing it sometimes – but the good news is that as soon as you are out and you have knocked on a few doors, you really start to enjoy it.

Last night I headed out for my first big canvassing session with the fantastic Edinburgh West team.

We were in an area of the constituency which is not part of Alex Cole-Hamilton’s Scottish Parliament seat. It was a beautiful evening, with warm sunshine and pink cherry blossom. It’s an area where we have in the past successfully persuaded people who support other parties to vote tactically for us. With the Tories surging in Scotland, would they still be willing to do so?

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