Tag Archives: Alex Cole-Hamilton

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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In pictures: Tim Farron in Edinburgh West tonight

Tim Farron has been in Scotland today. He started off this morning in East Dunbartonshire with Jo Swinson, went on to North East Fife with Willie Rennie and local candidate Elizabeth Riches and ended the day in Edinburgh West, at Davidson’s Mains Primary School in the Almond Ward with Alex Cole-Hamilton and Christine Jardine. As Alex pointed out in his speech, 13 months ago, that area had no Liberal Democrat representation. Thanks to the power of that #libdemfightback, we now have an MSP and Cllrs Kevin Lang and Louise Young elected with a massive majority.

I was there, for the first time in a long time doing duty as a Lib Dem diamond bearer behind the leader as he spoke to a crowd of around 100 activists.

The advance team spent a while getting us in the right position for the camera shots and got us to practice our cheering.

Then we saw The Bus reversing down the narrow school lane.

And then he was here.

Alex and Christine spoke first and then Tim delivered what in the West Wing would be called “modified stump” – our basic pitch with embellishments for topical events (immigration targets today) and venue). It’s absolutely bang on.

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Rennie, Cole-Hamilton and Campbell launch Christine Jardine’s campaign to take back Edinburgh West

You know that wonderful post-election Saturday morning feeling, that you can lie in bed for a bit longer and you don’t have to rush off and do anything? When you can lie about all day reading trashy novels and drinking gin and tonic in the sunshine?

Well, it will be lovely when we get it in 5 weeks’ time.

Today, we had to drag our weary limbs out of bed sooner than we would have liked and head out campaigning.

In my case, it was to the Edinburgh West campaign launch. Regular readers will know that last week, the Edinburgh West campaign moved into the old SNP office next door to what is now Alex Cole-Hamilton’s constituency office.

Some considerable pleasure was taken in removing the giant poster of Nicola Sturgeon on the window. It has now been replaced with this:

So, this morning the office was jam packed with party members, including our new councillors Kevin Lang, Louise Young and Hal Osler, a film crew making the party election broadcast, a bunch of photographers and Tom Gordon, political editor of the Sunday Herald.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton: Family cap and rape clause have no place in a civilised society

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament debated the Conservative cuts to tax credit which means that only two children per family are covered.

Every Scottish Conservative MSP voted for it, with many robustly defending the policy. Their line seems to be, as the Conservative candidate at my local council hustings said last week, that this is a compassionate (that’s the word she actually used) exemption. They are also saying that the woman doesn’t have to fill it in, it’s a third party. Well, have a look at the form and imagine how you would feel if it applied to you. You have to write down the name of your child and sign a declaration that “I believe the non-consensual conception exception applies to my child.” How you can do that without your mind drifting back to the traumatic circumstances of that conception? You are also then required to take the form to a third party to get them to fill it in. You are going to have to relive that ordeal. You may never have told anyone about it before and be worried about whether you are going to be believed. If implementation of a policy requires this sort of trauma, then the policy itself is clearly wrong.

There were many fantastic speeches from across the Chamber, including moving personal testimonies sent to MSPs like Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale.

The Liberal Democrats were represented by Alex Cole-Hamilton, who condemned these policies – and pointed out that during the coalition years, we had put a stop to their introduction:

I pay tribute to Kez Dugdale and Sandra White for offering very moving personal testimonies, and I congratulate the Scottish Government on lodging the motion. I assure it of the support of the Liberal Democrats. We will support Kez Dugdale’s and Alison Johnstone’s amendments, as well.

Who can forget Theresa May’s inaugural words in her tenure as Prime Minister? In her Francis of Assisi moment on the steps of number 10, she said of families that rely on tax credits in particular:

“If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home, but you worry about paying a mortgage. You can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school … I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”

In the two-child tax credit cap and the rape clause that underpins it, we see the measure of that commitment made flesh. I am certain that those words have now turned to ash in the Prime Minister’s mouth.

There are days in the chamber when we are debating welfare reform and social security matters in which I rise to speak with some trepidation and a recognition that there were times when my party, through dint of the coalition, participated in decisions and reforms that were distasteful to us as Liberals, but were far less egregious than those that our partners originally proposed. Members rightly lose no time in reminding me of that in colourful interventions. That is fair enough, but the untold story of our days in coalition is what never made it to the statute book thanks to Liberal Democrat resistance: regional pay, which would penalise any workers outside the south-east of England, inheritance tax cuts for millionaires and enhanced powers for employers to sack staff without notice or recourse to a tribunal.

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WATCH: Farron, Clegg and Cole-Hamilton’s messages of EU defiance

Today, Tim Farron, Nick Clegg and Alex Cole-Hamilton have done us proud. Their passionate messages of defiance were very different. Clegg’s anger, Farron’s optimism and Cole-Hamilton’s emotion were exactly what we need right now.

Here are their speeches. Sit back, enjoy, and tomorrow get out there and help them by persuading others to oppose the stark, extreme Brexit that will hurt so many people.

Farron said that the future has not been written yet and we can change the country’s course:

Nick’s focus was young people and holding this awful government to account:

And Alex told Theresa what she’d have to do to deprive him of his EU citizenship:

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Cole-Hamilton: Greens have no mandate to call for second Scottish independence referendum

This week, the Scottish Parliament will vote on whether to seek a Section 30 order, the device in the UK Parliament’s power that would give it the right to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. The SNP Government is expected to win with the support of the Greens. However, Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has made it clear that the Greens do not have a mandate to call for a referendum given that the three conditions in their manifesto have not been met. He has challenged Greens leader Patrick Harvie – who could easily merit being called “Pushover Patrick” for voting with the SNP on these critical issues, to explain his actions.
Alex  has asked Mr  Harvie why the party has turned its attention away from public service reform, back-tracked on its requirement that opinion polls should indicate support for a new referendum, and scrapped its requirement that a million-strong petition should be the trigger.

Alex said:

The Scottish Greens had three criteria to allow a referendum from their manifesto. None has been met.

The Greens have no mandate for a referendum. They should respect that and decline to vote for a referendum at Holyrood next Wednesday.

Scottish Liberal Democrats had a manifesto commitment against a referendum and we will stick to that.

With education performance slipping, the mental health strategy abandoned and the economy sluggish, Scotland needs its Parliament working on these issues instead of a referendum.

Alex has written to Patrick Harvie saying:

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LibLInk: Alex Cole-Hamilton: On selling our souls for a US trade deal

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton is a vocal opponent of Donald Trump. He’s always had a massive interest in US politics. In 2008, he and his best friend Kevin Lang went out to Virginia to campaign for Barack Obama.

He’s written for the Scottish Lib Dems website to talk Trump and trade deals – specifically why we mustn’t allow our commitment to human rights to be diminished.

Many have watched in horror as the progressive legacy of Barrack Obama has been comprehensively devoured in the early days of Donald Trump’s post-truth presidency and with it, a cold awakening to a new kind

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How Brexit will harm our NHS and social care

So, I’m drifting back to LDV slowly and gradually. My husband is now recovering from his heart surgery at home. It’s still quite incredible to think that only 10 weeks ago, he was enjoying his best health in years. All that changed with what we thought was Flu but turned out to be an infection in his heart which damaged one of his heart valves – a pretty complex one, too. My gratitude to the surgical team who sorted this out is unrivalled.

I have been more scared during this time than I have ever been in my life. That late-night phone call from Intensive Care when they said they needed to take him back into theatre was the point that I thought I really was going to crumble. The election of Donald Trump, terrifying as it is, 24 hours later was far from the most stressful thing I had to face that week.

The frenetic running about to and from the hospital and the intrinsic terror of the situation have now been replaced with a much less stressful but still very busy routine of drugging people, feeding people, cleaning, washing and other elements of domesticity which are a bit of a learning curve for me. My slovenly ways have been replaced by scrubbing everything in sight with anti-bacterial potions.

I tell Bob that I am basing my nursing style on Kathy Bates in Misery. He wasn’t really meant to agree that I was doing that well, but never mind.  Yesterday was a bit of a milestone when he had his first wee walk outside in 9 weeks.

I’m clearly going to be pre-occupied with looking after him for a while yet. The likelihood is that I’m still going to be a bit slow to get back to people  and not really engaged full time in the site until the New Year, so please continue to be patient with me.

My thanks go to the team who have had to do well more than they ever signed up for over the last nine weeks. Without them, there would have been no LDV at all. They have been absolutely brilliant.

I’ve observed much about our NHS and the stresses at its frontline. Bob had the most excellent care in hospital, but it was very clear to us how hard everyone was working and how there was so little give in the system. It’s a theme I will return to. For today, though, I want to think about the effects of Brexit on the NHS. The Leave Campaign’s jolly assertion that leaving the EU would mean £350 million a week extra for the NHS was consigned to history almost before the votes had been counted.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton and Ming Campbell honoured at Scottish Politician of the Year Awards

New Lib Dem Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton won the “One to watch” award at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards, presented at a glittering awards ceremony in Edinburgh.

He was also praised by his predecessor, Margaret Smith:

From The Herald:

With one third of MSPs new to Holyrood this year, the largest field was in the One to Watch category, sponsored by ScottishPower Renewables, with the judges impressed by the breadth and depth of talent being attracted to the Parliament as its powers increase.

The winner was the LibDem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton, who gained the Edinburgh Western seat from the SNP and is already tipped as his party’s next leader.

It’s not difficult to see why he won when you see the quality of his debut speech on the European Union

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LDV Halloween pumpkin photo competition

Donald Trump pumkin by Alex Cole-Hamilton
It’s that time of the year again.

Could you please send us photos of your Halloween pumpkins?

We have had great fun with this in the past.

As a taster, here above is a rather unnerving effort produced by Alex Cole-Hamilton. We’re delighted that Alex is still finding time to keep up his Pumpkin art despite the pressures of office. This is “Trumpkin”.

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What Lib Dems have been doing on World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day organised by the World Health Organisation. This year’s theme is around offering support to those in psychological distress – mental health first aid.

Norman Lamb has written for the Guardian arguing that there should be parity between physical and mental health in the workplace with employers being required to provide mental health first aid. He said that he had recently done a training course in mental health first aid.

Employers could find that investing in mental health support saves them money given that mental ill health accounts for 70 million days of sickness absence every year.

How can we possibly justify leaving the law as it is? So far as the NHS is concerned the government has committed to the principle of “parity of esteem” between physical and mental illness. Surely they must apply the same logic to the workplace.

Put simply, this is a call for every workplace to have trained mental health first-aiders just like they have physical first-aiders. A number of employers are taking action. WHSmith has committed to match the number of staff that are physical first-aiders with mental health first-aiders over the next 12 months.

There’s a growing momentum for change, and hundreds more businesses across a range of sectors are implementing mental health training for staff from Unilever and Crossrail to Channel 4. Employers have a duty of care to their workforce, and with the scale of mental issues in this country much more needs to be done. The government must act now to ensure every employee has access to mental health support at work.

In a tweet, Tim Farron called for the NHS to be given the resources it needs to tackle mental ill health:

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Two Lib Dems make shortlist for Scottish Politician of the Year Awards

Two out of the five Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs have made it on to the shortlist for the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards as the Herald reports.

Liam McArthur is nominated for his “immersion into Orkney life.” He is up against Labour’s Jenny Marra and Jackie Baillie. The latter defied the party whip to vote for the renewal of Trident because Faslane employs so many people in her Dumbarton constituency.

In news that will surprise nobody, Alex Cole-Hamilton finds himself up in the “one to watch” category. Since his election in May, you could probably wallpaper the entire Parliament building three times over with the number of press-releases he’s put out. As the Party’s health spokesman, he is keen to keep the SNP’s attention focused on the deteriorating state of the NHS in Scotland.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to March for Europe: No Tory civil war will take our EU identity away

“If you change your mind, I’m the first in line” from Abba’s Take a Chance on Me was not quite what we expected to come blaring out of the PA system at the Young European Movement’s rally after the March for Europe in Edinburgh this afternoon. The good tunes just kept coming, though, with Dancing Queen and the Proclaimers 500 miles featuring as well.

There was a pretty big turnout, which was amazing given that the event was up against Andy Murray winning his second Wimbledon men’s singles title.

The Lib Dem contingent was pretty big, too. We were led by Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton who gave a stonking speech. We are here, we are united, and we are citizens of the European Union, he told the crowd. He told people from elsewhere in the EU living here that this was their home, they are our family and they are welcome here. His speech was extremely well received by the crowd. Watch it here.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton on the EU’s key role in securing peace and freedom

This is not the first time we’re going to show this in the run-up to the EU Referendum, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Alex Cole-Hamilton sums up why he is such a passionate pro-European:

It would do the Remain campaign no harm at all to have this on continuous loop for the next few weeks.

Here is the text in full.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton’s debut speech: EU is most important charter for freedom the world has ever seen

There is a reason I have spent so much time and energy over the past decade trying to get Alex Cole-Hamilton elected to the Scottish Parliament. I hope the video of his debut speech this morning will help you understand it too.

I had pretty high expectations, if I’m honest. The subject, the EU, is one of his strong points. Last year he won best speaker in the Charles Kennedy Memorial Debate on our continued membership of the EU. Alex managed to exceed even my lofty expectations today.

He paid tribute to his immediate predecessor and to Margaret Smith, who, as Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh West until 2011, had played such a huge role in getting Free Personal Care through.

On Europe, he highlighted the role of the EU in preserving the peace. Only the last two generations of his family have been free from the losses of European war. As well as preserving the peace, the EU helps us tackle the challenges facing our world which know no borders, like climate change and human trafficking, he argued.  The case he made for the EU was persuasive, inspiring and optimistic.

The full text is below:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton’s first week in Holyrood

It’s been a wee while since we’ve had a brand new Parliamentarian. Here’s how Alex Cole-Hamilton, who gained Edinburgh Western from the SNP last week, spent his first week in office.

Monday

Outgoing Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick instituted a 3 day induction for new MSPs so that they weren’t just thrown in the deep end. Here’s Alex enjoying his new office:

BBC Scotland were there filming. Watch from around 14 minutes in to see him have a wee bit of a jazz hands moment:

Tuesday

We always knew Alex would be a hard-working constituency MSP. On election day, the Post Office closed a vital Post Office with no notice. Alex was quickly on the case supporting local residents and explaining why this was such a problem for the community:

It’s terrible. The other closures in the area were carried out with the assurance that the office at Duart Crescent would remain open. If you are elderly, infirm or have kids it is too difficult to get down the hill to St John’s Road.

A post office is the surrogate hub of the community and much more than just somewhere to pick up your pension. It is the only slice of social inclusion available to some of the elderly residents. As we close these counters it is another barrier to their involvement in society.

I am sure we have all heard anecdotes of people raising the alarm as someone has not collected their pension for a couple of weeks. That will all be lost if this is a permanent closure.

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The perils of rash election predictions

If the Daily Record’s Ross McCafferty had followed Stephen Tall, he might not have said what he did in a wee bit of eve of poll banter:

It all started when I tweeted about the Eve of Poll rally in Alex Cole-Hamilton’s HQ:

When Mike Crockart got involved, things got interesting…

Then this happened. I was there, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching it:

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From elation to sadness: my mixed emotions on the Scottish results

If you had told me six months ago that we would retain 5 seats in the Scottish Parliament and win mainland constituency seats from the SNP, I’d have laughed in your face. It didn’t seem possible when polls were giving us 3% and 4% in the polls. It’s a testament to the bright, bold and ambitious campaign he’s run.

@timfarron saying congratulations to @agcolehamilton and @willie_rennie for GAINING constituency seats. pic.twitter.com/c5PxBsf53l

I’m finally home now. I might be a little more flaky than usual as I have now been awake for approaching 34.5 hours. I’m desperately trying not to go to sleep for another couple of hours so I can just go to bed for the night then. I’m not sure that’ll work.

It’s been a while since I left a count or ended an election night smiling. For most of the last 4 weeks, I’ve been helping Alex Cole-Hamilton’s campaign in Edinburgh Western. Getting Alex elected to Holyrood is something I’ve tried to do for the past 9 years. In 2007, he topped the list in Mid Scotland and Fife but our success in Dunfermline stopped him getting in. In 2011, he stood in Edinburgh Central and was 2 on the Lothians list, but the coalition made that an impossible election for us. It was at that point that he made his tweet which was immortalised in Nick Clegg’s resignation speech:

In 2011, after a night of disappointing election results for our party, one of our candidates in Edinburgh, Alex Cole-Hamilton said that if his defeat was part-payment for the ending of child detention then he accepted it with all his heart.

Those words revealed a selfless dignity which is rare in politics but common amongst Liberal Democrats.

We will never know how many lives we changed for the better because we had the courage to step up at a time of crisis.

So this time, I really wanted him to win, not least to reward the huge effort he has made in building the team around him, knocking on 25,000 doors in the constituency and running a textbook campaign.

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Scotland: The Results – open thread

This thread will be updated as often as I can during the night. I will be at the count in Edinburgh hoping to see a gain in either Edinburgh Western or the Lothians list.

The party is cautiously optimistic that it can grow from its 2011 nadir of 11 seats – but only by 1 or 2 seats. We have had a brilliant campaign and we can be very proud of Willie for the way he’s conducted himself. We’ve found that people are ready to listen to us and trust us again, but the rebuild is a long-term project.

Willie is standing …

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LDV Top Tip: If you’re going to accuse your opponent of negative campaigning, don’t call him names

Edinburgh Western’s SNP candidate Toni Giugliano has been telling anyone who’ll listen that his Liberal Democrat rival Alex Cole-Hamilton has been fighting a negative campaign. He certainly went to town on that particular theme when interviewed by a Herald journalist who was writing a profile on the seat.

The first words in the article are Giugliano’s:

“HE’S spineless,” says the SNP’s Toni Giugliano of his Liberal Democrat nemesis Alex Cole-Hamilton. “He’ll do and say anything to get elected.”

The problem is that in Scotland these days, any criticism of the SNP is seen by them as negative campaigning. Holding the Government and elected representatives to account is a vital part of any healthy democracy and the SNP’s record in West Edinburgh has given cause for concern. The current MP, who narrowly defeated our Mike Crockart last year, resigned the SNP whip pending an investigation over property deals. She took 9 months to open an office in the constituency.

The main features of Alex’s campaign have been first and foremost to promote him as the candidate, to outline Lib Dem policies like the penny on income tax to invest in education, improving mental health care, meeting our climate change targets (important as two of the roads in the constituency are the most polluted in Scotland) and putting local accountability back into policing. Thirdly, it’s to emphasise what people know only too clearly from last year – that the constituency race is between Alex and the SNP. Fourthly, it’s to hold the SNP to account on its record locally and nationally.

You can tell that he’s getting somewhere when the Press and Journal highlighted Alex as one of the candidates to watch across Scotland.

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Farron makes pitch to centre left voters – support Lib Dems for good local councillors and effective opposition to Tories

Farron in Edinburgh Western 28 April

At about 8:45, Tim Farron made a flying visit to Alex Cole-Hamilton’s campaign HQ in Edinburgh Western. He did notice that the SNP office next door was  already in darkness.

The visit had an additional bonus for us as the campaigns staff from Scottish HQ pitched up yesterday afternoon and pronounced the place not tidy enough to receive the leader and proceeded to tidy it up for us. No doubt we won’t be able to find anything this morning.

Tim was highly impressed with what he’d seen, which is definitely a compliment given the amount of campaigning that goes on on his patch.

He also told us of his visit to Cardiff Central and candidate Eluned Parrott where he visited a refugee centre and played football with some of the refugees.  We know how strongly he feels that we should be doing more to help refugees from conflict and particularly those children already in Europe. He told us how he’d just been speaking to one of the “Windermere Boys”, a group of young men who were welcomed to the Lake District after being rescued from the death camps at the end of World War 2. They had gone on to build successful lives for themselves, serving the community in many ways, too. Helping people in these desperate circumstances is, Tim said, the least we can do.

This morning, he is visiting a nursery in Cowdenbeath with Willie Rennie, with the challenge from us that he has to at least match Willie Rennie being interviewed on a slide at our manifesto launch.

First, though, he was up early to be on both Radio 5 live and the Today programme to talk about the Lib Dem local election campaign. He made a very clear pitch to centre left voters, asking them to lend their vote to the Liberal Democrats. For that, they’ll get a brilliant local councillor to represent them locally and the appalling Tory government would be held to account He emphasised how the Liberal Democrats had shown more gains in votes and seats in local council by-elections since last May than anyone else. 

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LibLink: Alex Cole-Hamilton: Criticism of SNP policies is vital

Alex Cole-Hamilton Edinburgh WesternA few days ago, Edinburgh Western’s SNP candidate took to the Evening News to take a swipe at the Liberal Democrats, accusing us of being negative before lobbing a few insults our way.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, who hopes to regain the seat for the Liberal Democrats, wrote his own article for the News. He writes:

Toni, I’m sorry you’ve been offended. But I don’t think that drawing attention to the failings of your government or your local representatives should be viewed as underhand, I’d view it as the democratic duty of a healthy opposition.

When the person you asked us to vote for last May turns up for fewer than half of the votes in the House of Commons since September then I think that as your nearest challenger, I should voice the view of the significant majority of those in our constituency who feel that’s just not good enough.

When your ministers preside over a year on year decline in the global rankings of our education system, the shambolic and unwanted centralisation of public services or a waiting times crisis in our health service, then someone should point out that we deserve much better.

Now, I understand it’s hard for you. The constitution of the SNP prohibits you from openly criticising your party or its policies. But I’m not in your party so I can provide a counterpoint to the nationalist dogma that is currently choking Scottish Politics.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton on tax, education, glaciers and the SNP’s “magic tractor”

This week, Edinburgh Western candidate Alex Cole-Hamilton took part in a debate on Scotland 2016 on tax.

Here are his highlights. I think my favourite was the “magic tractor.”

Scotland 2016 Tax Debate

Last night Alex Cole-Hamilton took part in the Scotland 2016 Tax Debate. If you missed it – catch the highlights below, including John Swinney's magic money tractor and our plan for education:

Posted by Scottish Liberal Democrats on Wednesday, 6 April 2016

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Photo of the week: Alex Cole-Hamilton in a gas mask to highlight air pollution

ACH gas mask

Edinburgh Western and Lothian List candidate Alex Cole-Hamilton took to the most polluted street in Edinburgh this week. St John’s Road in Corstorphine, where he has his campaign office, is the most polluted road in Scotland. It’s one of the main routes from the west into Edinburgh.

Pollution levels in Corstorphine and Queensferry Road are a national disgrace. They represent a clear and present threat to public health, yet the SNP, who have been in charge of this City and this country for nearly a decade, continue to drag their heels.

Almost 2,000 Scots die prematurely each year as a result of vehicle emissions and nowhere is this risk more present than in communities that span the arterial routes into Edinburgh. Investment in my 5 point action plan will actually save our country money in the future in terms of reduced demand on health services and days lost to work through illness.

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Edinburgh West Lib Dems re-open their office ahead of Alex Cole-Hamilton’s bid to gain Holyrood seat

Edinburgh West office

This is the site greeting commuters and pedestrians in one of Edinburgh’s main roads.

In June, sadly, the office which had been rented by Mike Crockart and the local party closed down. This week, it’s re-opened, four months ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May where Alex Cole-Hamilton hopes to regain the seat. He also heads the Lothian list.

Since May, newly elected MP Michelle Thomson, who is yet to open a constituency office, has had to resign the SNP whip after a police investigation started into her company’s property deals.

Edinburgh Western’s sitting SNP MSP was deselected in the Summer and replaced with a candidate endorsed by former First Minister Alex Salmond.

Alex Cole-Hamilton told us:

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SNP Scottish Parliament selections – 2 MSPs deselected so far as Salmond endorses one challenger

The SNP is currently choosing its candidates for the Scottish Parliament. Like the Liberal Democrats, they allow challenges of sitting parliamentarians. Two MSPs have been deselected so far. Of greatest interest to Liberal Democrat fortunes is the deselection of Colin Keir in Edinburgh Western. The seat will now be fought by Toni Giulani who had the backing of former SNP leader and first minister Alex Salmond. In our party it would simply not be permitted for a senior, powerful party figure to take such an influential public stance in a selection.

SNP parliamentarians already have a fairly draconian disciplinary code to obey. They are not allowed to publicly criticise any decisions of the group and have had very few rebels in parliamentary votes. Their MSPs are, on the whole, pretty compliant. When two of them voted against the party’s new position on NATO in a vote at their conference, they resigned from the party. It now seems that if their faces don’t fit, key players will contribute to your demise.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is our candidate in Edinburgh Western. He also tops the party’s Lothian regional list. Although we lost Mike Crockart in Edinburgh West in May, the SNP’s margin of victory was comparatively small, our West campaign organisation is pretty strong and the SNP have given up any benefits of incumbency. 

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It’s the knitwear election in Edinburgh West

People say that the election in Scotland is pretty hostile. They are right a lot of the time, but in Edinburgh West, where Mike Crockart’s campaign HQ is next door to the SNP base, things are much more civilised, as this Twitter exchange between Mike’s campaign manager and the SNP candidate Michelle Thompson shows:

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Alex Cole-Hamilton selected for Edinburgh Western

Alex Cole-Hamilton Edinburgh WesternThe Scottish Liberal Democrats are cracking ahead with selections for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. Alex Cole-Hamilton has been selected for the constituency of Edinburgh Western. This seat is part of Mike Crockart’s Westminster constituency and was held by Liberal Democrat Margaret Smith from 1999-2011.

From the Edinburgh Evening News:

Despite this year’s independence referendum and next year’s Westminster elections, Lib Dems in Edinburgh Western have already chosen their candidate in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections and are promising a “relentless” drive to regain the seat from the SNP, who took it from them three years ago.

Former MSP Margaret Smith, who represented the constituency for 12 years, decided not to stand again.

In her place, charity worker Alex Cole-Hamilton – who has stood for both Holyrood and Westminster – has been selected to fight the seat.

He was chosen in a postal ballot of all party members in the constituency, which saw him win 71 per cent of the votes, with long-serving councillor Robert Aldridge the runner-up.

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Tom Brake MP writes… Labour has a lot to apologise for on immigration – it should start with child detention

On the subject of immigration, Ed Miliband was in apologetic mood this week. And not before time.

Labour has a lot to apologise for on immigration – not just the dog whistle ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ rhetoric and an attitude to the views of ordinary people that resulted in Gordon Brown’s ‘bigoted woman’ slur.

Miliband could apologise for not reintroducing the exit checks abolished by the Tories and allowing our border controls to descend into farce.

He could apologise for wildly underestimating the number of migrants from Eastern Europe when new countries joined the EU.

But if there is one thing Labour really …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Tim Farron’s Christmas message

Well that was quite a year, wasn’t it? It was a good one too!

I know, I know, after the referendum and the horrible results in May you’d be forgiven for believing we were sinking faster than Blackburn Rovers (how it pains me to write that), but you know what, it’s not true.

This year we did some amazing things, things you and I have wanted to do for years but never had the power to actually get done.

For one, we put an end to the horrific practice of locking up innocent kids behind bars for months on end in immigration …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 10 Comments
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