Tag Archives: alex cole-hamiton

Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Conference

Here, in full, is Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to Conference.


Conference, this is the first time I’ve addressed you in person since Willie passed the baton to me two years ago. Can I take this opportunity to thank you Willie for your leadership, your service to our party and your friendship over the years.

Willie mentioned I am the first Liberal Democrat parliamentarian to be officially sanctioned by the Kremlin. My Ukrainian house guest calls that Santa’s good list.

And by the way, if you do nothing else at conference, do not miss Kira Rudik in this hall tomorrow, the leader of our sister party in Ukraine. In over 20 years of attending our conferences, I’ve never heard anything like her speech to us in Dundee earlier this year.

Conference, there are few things in life that cheer me more than the sight that greets me now. I am thrilled to my fingertips to be here.

I love this party. For nearly quarter of a century, I have served it at one time or another in every capacity: activist, staff, candidate, parliamentarian.

Wherever you are I feel at home.

The evidence of my devotion to this party can be found in the pages of a well-thumbed road atlas and a loyalty card for the Starbucks at Charnock Richard Services in Chorley.

It’s why I drove a carload of young liberals 9 hours down the M6 from Edinburgh to North Shropshire. It’s why I drove them 11 hours to Frome.

And why I’ll do it again in the 7 hours it’ll take us to get to Mid Bedfordshire.

Friends, I come with news of the north, and it is good news.

The liberal revival is underway for us too and we have taken such inspiration from Ed’s leadership and your victories in the south.

Last May, as they had done since I took over as leader, the pundits were writing us off – predicting that the Scottish local government elections would see us slip backwards.

Conference, we outperformed every other opposition party and increased our councillor base by a third.

It made me realise that the history of our movement is rooted in local politics and so too lies the promise of our future.

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Keeping prisoners safe – and discussing these matters responsibly

There has been screaming controversy in the media for days now about a Scottish transgender woman who has been convicted of rape. Many misleading media reports have suggested that she would have to be accommodated within a women’s prison. There was outrage when she was initially taken to Cornton Vale women’s prison where she was held away from other prisoners while initial risk assessments were carried out over a 72 hour period.

Once that risk assessment was completed, unsurprisingly, she was moved away from Cornton Vale to HMP Edinburgh. There are few clearer statements of the obvious  than that anyone convicted of sexual assault, violence or raping women should not be incarcerated alongside women.  It was never going to happen in this case or in any other with such a record. There are procedures in place to protect prisoners from other prisoners who might harm them.

The Scottish Prison Service did its job properly.

In all parts of the UK, every prisoner is risk assessed for all sorts of things when they enter prison. Do they have a history of violence? Is there anyone in custody who might be a danger to them? Are they a danger to anyone on the prison estate? Is it safe to allow them to share a cell? That assessment determines the safest place for them and everyone else.

Unfortunately, the media has not missed an opportunity to print scare stories about trans women and the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill. As this has been unfairly blocked by the UK Government, it clearly has no relevance in this case. But even if the prisoner had a Gender Recognition Certificate under the current system, it would have absolutely no effect on where she will serve her sentence. Conflating the two issues, and suggesting that trans women are a danger to other women is wrong and irresponsible.

Scotland’s Equality Network has a very useful Twitter thread explaining the issues involved in this case.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton: Everyone loses if choice is Boris vs Nicola

See, I’ve fixed the problem with the Times headline this morning.

A mischievous headline writer gave the impression that Alex Cole-Hamilton as new Scottish Lib Dem leader was prepared to work with the Tories to save the Union. That’s not quite what he said.

He was talking about offering something very different to the Boris and Nicola show:

If the choice boils down to Boris Johnson’s vision of the union versus Nicola Sturgeon’s of independence, then everyone loses. We don’t need to settle for that.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have never been satisfied with the union as it currently stands. Alex says that he is prepared to work with the Conservatives if they “recognise our union of nations is imperfect, is in need of reform and could do so much better.”

On Labour, he says that while we have much in common on issues of social justice, their instincts on things like ID cards mean that there are significant areas where we disagree. While he’s happy to work with them, we will pursue our distinctive liberal message.

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Recent Comments

  • Alex Macfie
    @Peter Martin: No-one was saying that at all, except maybe @Adam who is relying on BtL comments on news articles which cannot be taken as representative of anyt...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Chris, Adam and David, So can we all agree (except perhaps Alex ) that being in favour of the EU does require uncritical support? This is a big problem...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Adam: I rarely read BtL comments in newspaper articles as they tend not to be representative of public opinion. All I can say is that such opinions as you have...
  • Adam
    "Given the avalanche of unending and captious criticism of the EU from the pro-Brexiteer nationalist establishment prior to Brexit, it’s scarcely surprising t...
  • David Allen
    Peter Martin, "In practice, we seldom, if ever, see any criticism of the EU from its supporters." Yeah, yeah, yeah. When the Tories make a political broa...