Tag Archives: featured

Why the Liberal Democrats campaigning to back British Farmers

Liberal Democrat agricultural spokesperson Tim Farron explains why his party is launching a campaign to Back British Farmers.

British farmers have been let down by the Conservatives. They’ve been promised that British standards will not be undermined, yet this hasn’t been guaranteed in law.

They’ve been promised that levels of funding will be maintained, yet the transition will see huge amounts of income lost.

And the Government is still expecting our farmers to be the stewards of our landscape, and work with us to cut emissions and help maintain and improve our natural environment – but if they’re not careful there won’t be any farmers left.

Family farmers are the backbone of our countryside, and that’s why the Liberal Democrats are launching a campaign to ‘Back British Farmers.’

Protect

Alongside launching this campaign, I am introducing a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament to create a new environmental and agricultural regulator, to better protect our farmers and our natural environment.

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Parties adopt Kennedy Commitment to disagree well with open and respectful debate

Earlier today I  joined Willie Rennie in calling on all parties in Scotland to commit to a zero-tolerance approach to abuse and to lead a respectful campaign.

In the course of the Scottish campaign to date a brick has been thrown at Scottish Liberal Democrat HQ and the new Labour Leader Anas Sarwar has been racially abused outside Holyrood.

It just isn’t how politics should be done.

It was also worryingly reminiscent of an attitude in the 2015 campaign which resulted in the unacceptable campaign of intimidation against Charles Kennedy. And if the reaction to BBC Alba’s recent documentary about Charles’ life showed me anything, it was that this sort of behaviour is as unpopular now as it was then.

We must never go back to those old divisions.

With social media playing an increasingly prominent role in elections, politicians can show they have learned the lessons of the past and send a clear message of the value we hold in open, honest and respectful debate.

Our democracy is at its best when it is open, inclusive and free from intimidation or abuse. That is what Charles believed. He understood the importance of disagreeing well with political opponents. So the Kennedy Commitments put these values into practice:

Publicly challenge and denounce derogatory, untrue, or hateful messages on social media.
To disagree well and treat my political opponents, journalists and the public with respect.
Run an honest campaign that does not permit character defamation, libel, or slander against political opponents.

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Welsh Liberal Democrat Manifesto puts recovery first

This afternoon, Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds launched the party’s Welsh Manifesto ahead of the Senedd elections on 6 May. Writing in the foreword to Put Recovery First, Jane said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on all of us, and we have much to do. We understand how you feel: frustration, exhaustion, loss, disappointment, anxiety, relief, hope.

Like you, we want to focus on the things that are most important to you and your family after a tough year. To do that, we first have to get Wales back on its feet…

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will put recovery first.”

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Shirley Williams – a tribute

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I first met Shirley as a teenage student. I served with her on the Labour Committee for Europe. I was at her side as she chaired every session of every SDP conference. And latterly I worked with her closely in the Lords where initially she was my leader and, more recently and improbably, I was hers.

Over these 50 years, Shirley didn’t really change. She was passionate about the things she believed in – principally social justice and Europe. She was fearless in advocating these things and was prepared to take political hostility head on to promote them.

But what set Shirley apart from any other politicians I’ve met was her empathy and her charisma. She was genuinely interested in other people, their ideas and their lives. And she had a special magnetic charm which meant that people warmed to her and were energised by her.

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Breaking news: Shirley Williams

We have just learnt the very sad news that Shirley Williams has died, at the age of 90.

Ed Davey said:

This is heartbreaking for me and for our whole Liberal Democrat family.

Shirley has been an inspiration to millions, a Liberal lion and a true trailblazer. I feel privileged to have known her, listened to her and worked with her. Like so many others, I will miss her terribly.

Political life will be poorer without her intellect, her wisdom and her generosity.  Shirley had a limitless empathy only too rare in politics today; she connected with people, cared about their lives and saw politics as a crucial tool to change lives for the better.

As a young Liberal, Shirley Williams had a profound impact on me, as she did on countless others across the political spectrum. Her vision and bravery, not least in founding the SDP, continues to inspire Liberal Democrats today.

Rest in peace, Shirley. My thoughts and prayers are with your family and your friends.

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Tributes as Duke of Edinburgh dies at 99

Here is the full statement released by Buckingham Palace following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99 today:

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.

“Further announcements will made in due course.

“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

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Paddick on Clapham Common vigil report whitewash

I have been taking some flack on social media after the publication of the conclusions of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services’ inspection of the policing of the Sarah Everard vigil at Clapham Common. Ed Davey had called for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to resign over the policing of the event, but the headlines from the HMICFRS report exonerated the police.

The scenes we all saw of the police using force against those at the Clapham Common vigil were entirely foreseeable, preventable and unnecessary.

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Tony Greaves has died

I am still reeling a bit from the shock. For the second time in almost exactly a month, we’ve lost a liberal legend. Last month it was Derek Barrie. A short while ago, Lib Dem Lords Leader Dick Newby posted the sad news that Tony Greaves had died very suddenly this morning.

Tony was a legend who held this party together through its dark days in the 60s and 70s. He moved the motion in 1970 which committed the Liberals to community politics, which led to us having such a strong local government foundation and surviving long enough to form the Alliance and then the Liberal Democrats – though he had a few words to say about that process. He wrote a book, Merger: the inside story, with Rachael Pitchford in 1989, which was reviewed here by the Journal of Liberal History.

He went to the Lords in 2000 and was in fine form there only last week, speaking on everything from the Coronavirus Regulations to his last, withering, contribution, on the Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2021. He was unimpressed and, as usual, didn’t hold back.

My Lords, where I live, we are surrounded by moors. I would describe them as peat moors; a lot of them are heather moors and a lot are grass moors. Every year, there are fires on them. Some of them are managed fires on the grouse-shooting estates. Others are unmanaged fires caused by people who accidentally drop cigarette ends, or whatever, or have barbeques. It is not quite central to this statutory instrument, but I have asked questions of the Government previously about banning people from having barbeques on open country of this kind. The answer I get is that it is up to local authorities. The problem is that many of these moors are, by definition, the places where local authority boundaries are drawn, because they are up on the hills and the tops between the valleys, and getting local authorities together to organise jointly on this is not easy. I will just make that point.

The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has written a pretty damning report on the SI that has been presented. I think it is another example of how regrettable it is, with the way that parliamentary business is being organised at the moment, that there has not been the opportunity or the time available for the Government and the Joint Committee to discuss it and negotiate properly in the way in which it always happened in the past. We are told by the Government that they do not agree with it; the department says that it does not agree with it. That is not satisfactory—they should be having a discussion, getting together and sorting it out before it comes here. It is very unsatisfactory for us to have a statutory instrument where the JCSI is basically saying, “Don’t pass it”.

He was not known for his subtlety. Every so often, he would email me in no uncertain terms telling me where I or Lib Dem Voice had gone wrong. I would respond in equally robust terms. In fact, the last thing I said to him was “Bloody cheek…..” when he complained about the all member email I’d written about phone canvassing last month. But after those robust exchanges came the good chats. I will miss those emails more than I could imagine.

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Lib Dems back carers with £2.6 billion support package in emotional debate

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if the person you had spent your life from childhood caring for died, you would get some help with funeral expenses?

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if the person you had spent your life from childhood for died, you wouldn’t be made homeless?

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you were willing to take on the responsibility of caring for someone you love, you would automatically get at least some training in how to lift them in a way that didn’t ruin your own health? Or some information regarding your rights as a carer.

Nope.

In an incredibly powerful and emotional debate at Conference, carers described how hard their lives can be. The main motion, proposing a £2.6 billion boost for support for carers, was proposed by Ed Davey, who, of course, has had caring responsibilities throughout his life. As a teenager he cared for his terminally ill mother. As an adult, he cared for his grandparents and, now, his severely disabled son.

Charley Hasted proposed an amendment which added in to the main motion, better provision for respite care, better training and support for carers, removal of the cliff edge of removal of benefits if they should take up employment and faster access to mental health support. In one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard at Conference, they described how they can’t remember a time when they weren’t a carer. They care for their disabled mother with their sibling. They described how the last time they and their sibling were able to do anything social together was 23 years ago when they went to the cinema as 11 year olds.

They broke down as they described their love for their mother and the fact that they have never had respite care as the arrangements that would be made for her would not meet her needs. Carers are desperate, they said, and need the help set out in the motion.

Charley’s amendment passed with not one single vote against.

Young Liberal Katharine Macy, said that if her mum died tomorrow, she wouldn’t have any idea about how she would pay for the funeral. She described how three people she has cared for her in her life have passed away and the problems that this has caused. Her amendment gives anyone who is eligible for Carer’s Allowance the right to a Funeral Expenses Payment.

The main proposals in the motion which you can read here, are:

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Wera Hobhouse MP: “Women will not be silenced. We have had enough.”

The appalling murder of Sarah Everard and the inappropriate Police action in response to the vigil last Saturday night came too late for the Conference motions deadline, so the Federal Conference Committee used its power under the standing orders to allow our Westminster Women and Equalities spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse, to make a statement on the events and the issues they raised. Here it is in full:

The killing of Sarah Everard horrified a whole nation.
That sickening feeling when we heard she was missing.
The wait. The search. As we all tried to hold on to hope, even as we feared the worst.
And then it came.
The heart-breaking news
This is every woman’s nightmare, every parent’s nightmare, every sibling’s nightmare, every friend’s nightmare. It could have been us – no, this is us. It is our fear, it is our reality.
I think Sarah’s death hit us all so hard because we know it could really have been any woman.
Sarah, a thirty-three-year-old marketing executive who grew up in York, studied in Durham, and then moved to London.
Who lived in Brixton Hill and had just started a new job.
A young woman who her family described as “bright and beautiful”, “kind and thoughtful”, “caring and dependable”.
Who “always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour.”

Our thoughts have been with Sarah’s family ever since we heard Sarah was missing.
And our hearts go out to them still.
We grieve with them.
And we are angry.

Because – while the killing of a woman by a stranger is particularly awful and relatively rare – violence against women and girls is not.
On average, a woman is killed by a man in the UK every three days.
Every three days.
Most of them killed by their partner or their ex.
Their lives viciously snatched away. The lives of their family and friends destroyed.
Why does it keep happening?
Because beneath these evil killings lies a culture of normalising sexual harassment, abuse and violence.
This culture doesn’t only target women, men are victims too. But 99% of the perpetrators are men.

This is what we need to talk about. Let’s start changing our language. Not ‘violence against women’ as if there were no active perpetrators. Let’s call it violence by men.
More than six hundred thousand women are sexually assaulted each year,
And only one in six report it to the police.
More than fifty-thousand women reported being raped last year,
Only fourteen-hundred rapists were convicted. Why?
Because our culture, our language and our criminal justice system still works around the assumption that rape was to some extent the woman’s own fault. She asked for it, she provoked it. She consented.
99% of perpetrators of sexual violence are men. They are all too often missing from the discussion.
Rape continues to be normalised by the absence of talking about the perpetrators.
Many women experience harassment and discrimination in the workplace on a daily basis.
Many women receive appalling abuse online – threats and intimidation, for daring to have an opinion.
Too many women never feel safe on our streets.
Everything has to change.
Women are speaking up. More men should do the same.

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Alistair Carmichael MP writes…Electoral reform can happen, but it will take concerted action

When I joined the Liberal Party in the 1980s, I was optimistic that the UK would replace its unrepresentative voting system in the not too distant future. Fast forward to 2021 and we remain stuck with First Past the Post and, at first glance, little reason for optimism.

The current set-up has never been ideal for the UK or indeed any modern democratic society. First Past the Post results in governments elected by a minority of voters, with policies supported by a minority of the electorate being imposed on the majority. This leaves far too many people feeling excluded and unrepresented. With a distorted link between voters and MPs, how can the UK call itself a representative democracy>

The answer, as we know, is Proportional Representation (PR). Replacing First Past the Post with a fair alternative will make our democracy truly representative. Pluralism is a key tenet of democracy. As a liberal and a democrat, I recognise the need for a voting system that allows multi-party politics to show itself rather than be hidden by the illusion of First Past the Post. Proportional Representation provides a framework for multi-party politics to flourish and voters to be represented.

We have all heard the tiresome arguments against PR, all the more worn-out considering that the UK is now the only democracy in Europe to use the outdated First Past the Post system for its main elections. The myth that reform would end the constituency link is nonsensical, considering the range of systems that can preserve and even strengthen it by improving voter choice both at the ballot box and in between elections. Those resistant to change also argue that a switch to PR would be a risky, unnecessary experiment. Considering that Proportional Representation is used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and is well established across Europe, this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

All major opposition parties apart from Labour support Proportional Representation for UK-wide elections and groups like Make Votes Matter are pushing the debate in the right direction. The establishment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Electoral Reform is the latest boost in the campaign, ensuring a strong coordinated voice in parliament to champion the need for change.

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WATCH: Jane Dodds’ speech to Welsh Lib Dem Conference

Welsh Liberal Democrats have been holding their Conference this weekend, also online.

In her leader’s speech, Jane Dodds talked about making Wales the green economic power house of a reformed UK, of the need for greater mental health support and investment in housing and tackling poverty with a Universal Basic Income trial. She talked of the importance of both people and planet to Wales’ recovery.

Watch it here:

The text is below:

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Ed Davey’s speech to Scottish Lib Dem Conference – Independence is Brexit 2.0

Ed Davey spoke to Scottish Lib Dem Conference on Friday. Here is his speech in full:

One of the things that gives me great hope for our Party is seeing so many brilliant rising stars like Joe.

In the year of COP26, Glasgow will be in the global spotlight, and I hope that talented young activists like Joe can be at the forefront of making liberal voices heard. In the crucial debate of our generation – the climate.

I had hoped that by now the Government would be on top of this pandemic. That I would be speaking in person and with you able to knock on doors to get as many Liberal Democrat MSPs elected as possible.

Instead, I was delighted to join some of you for the recent Maraphone event that took place on Six Nations weekend.

You may not have beaten Wales on the pitch, but on the phones Scotland reigns supreme. And please don’t mention the Calcutta Cup.

But seriously, if you haven’t yet had a chance to join one of those Maraphone events, I would highly recommend it. It feels pretty good to connect with voters again.

When I spoke to you last, I was in the middle of my listening tour, travelling up and down the UK.

I talked of our internationalist values and our unwavering pro-European commitment.

And Brexit is already the disaster we said it would be – with huge costs for business.

From the record increase in red tape hitting our exporters to the loss of the Erasmus scheme, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government’s response to the worst economic downturn in 300 years is – to make it more difficult to trade. More difficult to do business. More difficult to keep your job. The Tories seem determined to make us smaller, poorer and more isolated.

They didn’t write that on the side of their bus.

To take just one example: Scottish seafood exporters are losing £1m every day – when the Government could have followed Christine Jardine’s advice and secured a grace period for their trading arrangements.

The UK deserves better than this. I have never been more convinced that being part of the European Union must be part of our country’s destiny.

Sadly Brexit is not the only challenge facing the Scottish economy.

The UK Government has been no more successful at selling the best of Scotland across the Atlantic than it has at keeping the free flow of goods to the continent.

Scotch Whisky exports are now at their lowest levels for 10 years — a product in which Scotland is the utterly undisputed world leader. The Conservatives spent years cosying up to Donald Trump and now we are paying the price.

As we come out of the pandemic, I want to see a green recovery with high skilled, high wage jobs for people in every corner of the UK. I want to see our world leading industries flourishing with hundreds of thousands of good jobs.

That will never happen under Boris Johnson’s cruel and incompetent Conservative Government, whose budget this week threatens to cut off the recovery before it has even got started, letting down small businesses and allowing far too many people to fall through the cracks.

Nor will it happen under a hapless SNP government who would impose independence – Brexit 2.0.

Liberal Democrats want to put recovery first. The SNP want to break-up first.

Liberal Democrats have plans to recover the health and jobs of the Scottish people, SNP plans would harm the NHS and hit jobs across Scotland.

We Liberal Democrats want to see a society richer in more than just material terms. I want to see a society that is fairer, greener and more caring.

That’s why last year I pledged to be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country.

If you’ve heard my story before you will know that this is a deeply personal subject to me. I’ve been a carer throughout my life – for my mum during my teens, then for my wonderful Nanna, and now for my disabled son.

Our Stand up for Carers campaign aims to make sure that carers are no longer forgotten or left behind by those in power.

I have been inspired by Willie Rennie, who has pressed the Scottish Government for months over carers and the situation in care homes.

From exposing the lack of tests and PPE, to pushing for safe visiting to be allowed once more. The people in these homes have spent months apart from their families.

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Willie Rennie reaches out to disillusioned SNP voters in speech to Scottish Conference

In his speech to Scottish Spring Conference, Willie Rennie reached out to disillusioned SNP voters who may be upset by the division in their party and the SNP Government’s failures in so many areas. He set out what I reckon is the Scottish Liberal Democrats most bold and radical offer for 22 years. It really has that vibe of reform about it. Free human rights based social care, a job for every teacher on the register if they want it, a housing first approach to homelessness, economic regeneration are all part of the package to put recovery first.

He also shared memories of Charles Kennedy after last week’s documentary.

He was introduced by Cllr Liz Barrett, who won a fantastic Council by-election victory at the end of last year.

The full text is below:

Councillor Liz Barrett.

Councillor for the ancient capital of Scotland.

Victor over the SNP in John Swinney’s back yard.

Winning from third place.

Thank you, Liz.  You are a true liberal champion.

Conference, it’s almost six years since we lost our Charles, Charles Kennedy.

But last week we were treated to a wonderful tribute to his life in that BBC Alba documentary: A good man speaking.

We all have our own personal recollections of Charles.

Mine was the extraordinary courage it took, just days after acknowledging his alcoholism and resigning as Leader of the Liberal Democrats, to come to Dunfermline.

He came to help me win that by-election.

He would have been forgiven if he had chosen to hide away, to recuperate, to nurse his wounds, but instead he chose to face it up.

As we walked down the High Street, surrounded by the mass ranks of the media, a voice from a pensioner at the back shouted – “we love you Charles”.

As quick as a flash he retorted: “now madam, I am in enough trouble as it is”.

But that lady spoke for us all.

And if there is a lasting legacy from Charles Kennedy’s life it should be the conduct of the debate, of elections, of political life.

That would be a good way to remember our Charles.

I think Charles would be pleased with how the Liberal Democrats have conducted ourselves over the last year through the pandemic.  To put recovery first.

We set aside our differences to work together.

Working constructively with the government to deliver funds for business, tourism, fishing; an expansion of testing; access for parents of new borns; and a faster roll-out of the vaccine.

Ministers have recognised the part we have played from the First Minister to the Health Secretary to the Economy Secretary.

We rolled up our sleeves to get us through this pandemic.

There was a lovely sight this week that has made all that work worthwhile.

After months of separation, families are safely back together again in care homes.

It was certainly the right thing to do.

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Malcolm Bruce writes…Whither Scottish Nationalism

The tectonic plates of Scottish politics are on the move again.

When Labour dominated politics in Scotland they were often lazy, arrogant, bullying and complacent and looked after their own. Sufficiently like the mafia to be caricatured as COSLA NOSTRA.

Labour lost its way and initially Liberal Democrats picked up ground. However, free of any obvious ideological positioning the SNP were able to move into Labour territory.

Now less than a generation later, the SNP have become the Scottish establishment and acquired an even more venal, more incompetent yet downright arrogant, complacent and nasty braggadocio.

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Derek Barrie dies at 77

The Lib Dems lost a much loved friend, mentor, agent and campaigner yesterday.  Derek Barrie gave six decades of service to this party and the Liberals before it. What he didn’t know about campaigning simply wasn’t worth knowing. As recently as the 2019 election, the advice that he gave was a valuable part of Wendy Chamberlain’s election as MP for North East Fife.

He had become increasingly frail in recent years, but he died quite suddenly having been admitted to hospital last weekend.

He was a brilliant friend to me and we worked so well together back in the early 2000s when I was Scottish Campaigns and Candidates Convener and he was the Party’s Chief of Staff. Together with then MSP Iain Smith, we ran the ground campaign in the 2005 election and jokingly took all the credit for our party’s best General Election performance which saw us gain Danny Alexander and Jo Swinson as MPs.

Later that year, he and I ran the Livingston by-election campaign after Robin Cook died, maintaining our vote with candidate Charles Dundas and stopping the SNP from gaining the sort of momentum that might have given them the Dunfermline by-election.

For years our Campaigns and Candidates meetings would start in the Haymarket Bar across the road from Scottish Lib Dem HQ with dinner and usually some wine before we went back across the road to do the business.

There are not very many people I would let introduce me as the Wicked Witch of West Lothian, though I replied that he should never forget that I could turn him into a toad at any moment. To me, he was Grumps.  When we adapted the English candidate approval system for Scotland in 2002, we had to get a lot of people approved very quickly. This we did over many weekends with a wonderful team of assessors and facilitators. Obviously it was all very professional, but we had a huge amount of fun with the role playing exercises. Derek, John Lawrie and George Grubb often had Rae Grant and I in tears of laughter. There was one notorious time when Rae was laughing so much she had to leave the room.

But all this was pretty late in Derek’s career. He started out as the candidate for East Fife in the 1966 General Election. I think this was the one where he didn’t have a phone in his house and would call his agent from a phone box at pre-arranged times. He came fourth  back then, but in the 70s, a determined group of campaigners, led by Derek, decided they were going to win the seat. It took more than a decade of slog, but they did it when Menzies Campbell was elected at the third attempt, having gained 10% in 1979 and 14% in 1983. They turned the local party into a formidable campaigning machine and it has gone from strength to strength.

Derek was the first Liberal Councillor elected in North East Fife in 1977 and went on to lead the Council.

After he retired from paid party work in 2009 we used to meet up at Conferences and for long lunches where we would reminisce and put the world to rights.

He remained an active part of North East Fife’s campaigning machine, though, and served for several years as clerk to the Scottish Executive where he continued to be a fount of wisdom. He was secretary of ASLDC until a couple of years ago and had become the organisation’s Honorary President.

Derek had been married to Lesley for more than 50 years. They were such a team and he so appreciated her sacrifices for the Lib Dem cause. My husband said this morning that Derek never forgot the campaign widows and widowers who held the fort while their other halves were out working for the party from dawn till well after dusk. Our love and thoughts are with Lesley now.

These are just a few random thoughts and memories from over 20 years of working with Derek. I’m sure many of you will have your own, so please add them in the comments.

On Facebook, people have been paying tribute and their words are repeated here with their permission.

Sheila Ritchie, Scottish Party Convener

Derek has been friend, mentor, campaigner, rock. It was typical of him that, on hearing I was to be Convenor, he summoned me- there is no other way of expressing it- and gave me my orders.

I cannot tell you how much I will miss his wisdom and counsel, but much more, his fellowship and humour.

North East Fife 2019 campaign manager Kevin Lang

Very sad. I learned so much from this man when it comes to campaigning (don’t forget, it’s all about PIG)
I ran a committee room from his house in North East Fife at the 2019 General Election. Even then, and looking frail, he was so engaged and excited about the election and the prospect of winning the seat back.

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Charles Kennedy documentary on BBC Alba tonight

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Scottish Lib Dems and others have been tweeting about “Tearlach Ceannadach/Charles Kennedy: A Good Man Speaking” which will air on BBC Alba tonight at 21:00 and follow online “shortly afterwards”. There are already substantial clips and extensive photo galleries available on the BBC Alba website. We hope to carry a review of the programme later today.

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The Liberal case for a Universal Basic Income

Following the economic downturn of COVID-19, a renewed interest has emerged in the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). This development has been visible on the UK political scene, with 170 MPs and Lords calling for an “Emergency UBI” in the wake of the first national lockdown.

In practice, a UBI would give every citizen a guaranteed weekly government payment to supplement their main earnings. In effect, it would provide those hit hardest by the COVID recession with a baseline economic security; “a basic income floor”, as Prospect puts it.

In being an expansion of the welfare state, advocacy of a UBI tends to be more common on the ideological left. Indeed, it was the leftist Green Party who advocated such a scheme in the UK’s last General Election, in proposing that every citizen receive a minimum of £89 per week by 2025.

But should the UBIs appeal be limited to those on the left, or can it find favour with a broader demographic? It is true that the concept has received support from contemporary figures across the political spectrum, with noteworthy examples including the free market economist Milton Friedman, the left-leaning economist Thomas Piketty, and the former US President Barack Obama.

It is my belief that the introduction of a UBI is a cause which all liberals should get behind. With its potential to facilitate greater individual freedom and economic opportunity, as well as an enhanced sense of social justice, I believe it aligns fully with modern liberal values.

It has long been understood by liberals that freedom from economic deprivation is as vital a consideration as freedom from physical harm. If a person is deprived the necessities of living, they can hardly be free to pursue a productive, prosperous life. It is for this reason that liberals uphold the need for a sufficiently sized government safety net. But with recent years witnessing a continual rise in the UK poverty levels, as seen in the upsurge in food bank usage, it would appear undeniable that the country’s current safety net is deficient in its size and outcomes.

Such a predicament is set to be compounded by the economic downtown inflicted by COVID-19. According to the Office of Budgetary Responsibility, as many as 3.5 million UK residents could find themselves unemployed in 2021. Such economic wounds would no doubt be deepened by the country’s ever-rising wealth gap, with this a major issue prior to the pandemic.

Liberals must be prepared to call on the Conservative Government to undertake swift, bold action fuelled by an openness to new approaches. Simply papering over the cracks will not do; the system needs significant reform and expansion, justifying the addition of a UBI to ensure the basic living costs of every citizen can be met.

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Alistair Carmichael: An Immortal Memory for Lockdown

Today is the birthday of Scotland’s National bard, Robert Burns. The traditional suppers to honour his memory have had to go online for obvious reasons. The Edinburgh South Lib Dems’ Burns Supper has been an essential part of my social calendar for years where I’ve been on the Naughty Table. It was a little different this year, eating my haggis in a Zoom breakout room with my fellow naughty friends.

Alistair Carmichael gave the Immortal Memory and had a pitch perfect look at how Burns might have coped with lockdown. He has kindly given us permission to reproduce it:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your invitation to be here with you for this slightly unusual Burns Supper in these exceptionally unusual times.

I hope that you enjoyed your haggis neeps and tatties as much as I enjoyed my artisan-crafted sourdough Haggis Pizza here in Orkney. I figure that if you are going to do things differently then you might as well go the whole hog.

Normally when called upon to propose an immortal memory at a Burns Supper I pose the question, what is it that is so special about Robert Burns and his works that people feel compelled some two and a quarter centuries after his death to gather together to honour his memory.

I suppose that the question remains a good one, given the extraordinary lengths that we are going to this evening to do exactly that but tonight I want to take a slightly different approach. I do so for a variety of reasons but principally because I have been doing that immortal memory for over twenty years now and I suspect most of you will have heard it once at least.

So,this evening instead I want to take a few minutes to consider what Burns might have made of life under lockdown.

I suppose fundamentally Burns was a practical man – a farmer from a farming family – so would have been used to getting on with things and making the best of them.

It should also be remembered that he also spent time working as an excise man so despite his romantic nature – as seen through both his life and his works – he had a side to his character that would have wanted to respect the rules.

I cannot imagine that Burns would have had much sympathy with the anti-mask brigade. Yes, he was a man who would rail against authority and was believed to have some sympathy with the revolutionaries in France but, even so, I suspect that he would have somehow managed to live with a measure that was for he common good.

Burns, I think, like the rest of us would have embraced Zoom in the early days but I fear he would also have tired of it pretty quickly.

Consider his works and you see two themes emerge – Burns as a man who loved nature and a man who was, above all else, a social animal.

As a farmer he would, of course, have been allowed to carry on his work outdoors so for his great works describing nature – his poems To a Mouse or To a Mountain Daisy the inspiration would still have been available.

In both cases Burns draws lessons for mankind from our relationship with nature. As he puts it in To a Mouse – and, for the benefit of our younger colleagues, let me make clear that when he wrote To a Mouse, Burns was not address a piece of computer hardware.

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion
An’ fellow-mortal!”

Both poems take a melancholy turn in their final stanzas

To the Mountain Daisy

Ev’n thou who mourn’st the Daisy’s fate,
That fate is thine—no distant date;
Stern Ruin’s ploughshare drives elate,
Full on thy bloom,
Till crush’d beneath the furrow’s weight

Shall be thy doom.

And in

To a Mouse

Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I cannot see,
I guess an’ fear!

I doubt that with uplifting lines like that he would have got the gig to do COVID briefings alongside either Boris or Nicola.

Although he was writing two centuries before Brexit I defy anyone to find a better summary of how that is turning out than the lines in To a Mouse when he wrote

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

If you want to know how that feels then ask anyone who has tried exporting fish since the turn of the year.

But where I think Burns may have struggled more than most would be the loss of social interaction. His love of life – his enthusiasm for a good party and for dalliance with the fairer sex inspired and characterises some of his finest works.

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Alistair Carmichael sets out a route map back to the EU

There has been a lot of talk about the party’s future approach to the EU. In a speech to Liberal Democrats in Cambridgeshire this week, Alistair Carmichael MP set out a possible route map back to full EU membership for the UK and has given us permission to reproduce his remarks.

For the last quarter century Britain’s relationship with her European neighbours has never been far from the centre of our political debate.

For the last five years it has been absolutely dominant.

Brexit may now have happened but few would be naïve enough to think that would be the end of the story.

Less than a month after Boris Johnson signed his trade and cooperation deal with the European Union the flaws and gaps are already apparent.

Our fishermen have woken up to the fact that they were used by Johnson, Farage, Gove et al.

Our young people are coming to terms with the loss of the Erasmus Programme and the opportunities that it brought.

Our exporters are finding that before they can take advantage of the tariff-free access of which the Prime Minister is so proud, they must first get past the Tory red tape manufactured in Whitehall on this side of the channel.

Clearly our relationship with Europe will remain with us as a politcal issue for years if not decades to come.

For us as a party that is a challenge and an opportunity.

This is a point where we have to take stock and go back to our liberal first principles – free trade, enterprise, internationalism.

Since Jo Grimond, my predecessor but one as MP for Orkney and Shetland, took up the reins as leader of the Liberal Party we have been consistent in our view that the United Kingdom’s best interests have best been served by being a member of what was then the European Communities or European Union as it is today.

We have not always got it right. Too often our response to an unrelenting barrage of abuse and misinformation by a right-wing press was to be drawn into defending the institutions of the EU and to look, as a consequence, like uncritical fans.

I confess I never found that to be an attractive or even a particularly liberal approach.

That was why in my early years in Parliament I was one of a handful of Lib Dem MPs who wanted to see political reform before we joined the Euro. I think that time has vindicated that judgement.

It was also why I resigned from Nick Clegg’s front bench team in order to vote for the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty that we had promised in our manifesto in 2005.

I remember journalists describing me then as that most unusual animal – the Lib Dem Eurosceptic.

I won’t deny the “most unusual” bit but to the rest my response then, as now, was that as a liberal I would always be sceptical about the workings of government. The need to reform the way we govern ourselves in the UK was one of the main issues that motivated me to join the Liberal Party in 1980 as a fourteen year old schoolboy.

While we have made some progress in decentralising power away from Whitehall in the creation of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Senned and Northern Ireland Assembly there remains much still to do.

The House of Lords remains stubbornly resistant to reform;

Our electoral system remains obscenely unrepresentative in the governments that it provides;

Local Government has been starved of funds and shorn of power piece by piece for decades.

At no point, however, have my frustrations with the institutions power government and politics dimmed my belief in the fundamental principles that underpin them – respect for democracy and the rule of law.

I mention that now because – as we saw most graphically in Washington DC a few weeks ago – these truths that were once regarded as being so obvious and universally held that it was trite to mention them – are under attack by a movement of nationalist populism as never before.

When the very idea of liberal democracy is under attack then the need for Liberal Democrats is greater than ever.

When historians come to write the story of the first two decades of the twenty-first century that is how I believe (and hope) that the debate about Britain’s relationship with Europe will be seen.

Yes, we have suffered a major set-back in that battle between those who believe that reform is possible and those who will tell you that it will never happen.

Our party has always argued for Scotland to have her own parliament within a federal United Kingdom. Not because of any nationalist sentiment but because we believe that produces better government.

Similarly we have always believed that the United Kingdom, while maintaining its own parliament and institutions should be part of the European Union. There again we should be guided by what produces better outcomes rather than the colours of a flag.

Nothing has changed in that regard. Our Federal Party conference confirmed as much as recently as last September when we passed a motion in these terms “Conference resolves to support a longer terms objective of UK membership of the EU at an appropriate future date to be determined by political circumstances, subject to public assent, market and trade conditions and acceptable negotiated terms.”

That remains the position. The Liberal Democrats are a party that wants to see the U.K. eventually rejoin the EU.

Of course, we should make it equally and emphatically clear that this is not something that we seek immediately. It is probably at best a medium-term objective. Quite apart from healing the divisions that have blighted our politics and communities since 2016 any party in government must be focused on rebuilding our economy post-COVID. Anything else would be unforgiveable.

Even a medium-term objective, however, must demand more than warm words.

This is a time when we as a party need to make it clear that we not only want to see the United Kingdom return to full membership of the European Union but that we have a clear and credible route map for getting there.

Liberal Democrats have always been a party where policy is set by our members, and rightly so. Just as we set ourselves that goal of EU membership at last year’s conference I would like us all to play our part in designing the route map to get us there. Full EU membership may be a medium-term objective but the problems caused by being on the outside are real and acute and immediate.

They need and deserve more than warm words about close cooperation.

So my opening bid in that debate is this.

I would like to see our party argue for the United Kingdom to rejoin the European Free Trade Association and to do so as soon as possible. We were, after all, founding members in 1960.

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Liberals divide!

On 7 December 1916, the Liberal H.H. Asquith was replaced as Prime Minister by the Liberal David Lloyd George. The change followed mounting disquiet over the conduct of the First World War, and Lloyd George’s demands that a small committee, not including Asquith, should direct the war effort. Lloyd George forced the issue by resigning from the coalition government. Conservative ministers sided with Lloyd George and indicated their willingness to serve in a government led by him.

The resulting split in the Liberal Party persisted until the end of the war and beyond. The party fought the next two general elections, in 1918 and 1922, as two separate groups, and the reunion that finally came, in 1923, was, in Asquith’s words, ‘a fiction, if not a farce’. The divisions were critical: they helped Labour supplant the Liberals as the main opposition to the Conservatives and relegated the Liberal Party to the third-party status it still possesses today.

Was the split between Asquith and Lloyd George caused by their contrasting personalities, or by substantive disagreements over the management of the war? Or did their rivalry reflect deeper divisions between different Liberal traditions? Was Lloyd George what we would today call a social liberal and Asquith an economic liberal?

The Liberal Democrat History Group’s next meeting, on Monday 1 February, will discuss the causes and consequences of the Asquith–Lloyd George rivalry, with speakers David Laws (on Asquith) and Damian Collins MP (on Lloyd George). David Laws will be well known to Liberal Democrat audiences as the party’s MP for Yeovil (2001–15) and a minister in the coalition government. Damian Collins is the Conservative MP for Folkestone & Hythe and was chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee 2016–20. Both speakers contributed chapters to Iain Dale’s new book, The Prime Ministers: 55 Leaders, 55 Authors, 300 Years of History (Hodder & Stoughton, 2020). The meeting will be chaired by Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife.

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Ed Davey on Marr: We need £150 billion green recovery, not weak and timid government

“We are not a rejoin party” was one of the first things Ed Davey said in his New Year interview with Andrew Marr. The starkness of that statement is bound to disappoint some Liberal Democrat members and activists who are committed to this country ultimately being part of the EU again. Party strategists are adamant that now is not the time to have that argument and that we need to re-establish our credibility after the 2019 election. Perhaps being proven right will take care of some of that issue. We just need to make sure that we can be better at benefitting from being right than we have been all the other times when we have called a major issue correctly – think Iraq and the 2008 economic crisis.

It’s also not what our policy, passed at Conference in September, says:

Conference resolves to support a longer term objective of UK membership of the EU.

I would have preferred to see a very quick addition to Ed’s line that we didn’t support Brexit for all the reasons we can see it going wrong before he emphasises the need for the closest possible relationship with the EU. There is nothing wrong with saying that while rejoin isn’t on the table now, we think we’ll get to a place where it will be a viable option. There is nothing wrong with keeping that hope alive.

However, he was very strong on one issue that differentiates us from the Labour Party. Keir Starmer is not going to fight for freedom of movement of people. The Liberal Democrats will. Ed said that taking away the freedom to live, work and raise families across the EU is illiberal. The issue is one that impacts on so many families in this country and should increase our support.

That’s a major point of difference with Labour and should attract young people.

The conversation then turned to students. Ed said that the Government had let down schools, universities and students. He called Gavin Williamson the worst education secretary in living memory, who had mismanaged the crisis for everyone in the education sector. He argued that students should be refunded some of their fees and the Government, not the universities should pay for this.

Marr then turned to another really important issue for Lib Dem voters – the environment.

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January report from the President

The Party President, Mark Pack, has published his monthly report:

The chaotic incompetence of a government that declares schools safe on a Sunday, sends children back for a day and then closes them is the sort of thing that should be the domain of political fiction.

Sadly and tragically, it’s the government we suffer from in Westminster. It is a reminder about how important it is that we recover as a party, and a spur to our efforts to ensure we do our part in defeating the Conservatives at the ballot box.

The elections due in May across England, Scotland and Wales are an important part of that.

The May Elections

Will the elections be delayed? The simple answer is, we don’t know. But we do know that we need to campaign to do well in them whenever they happen. Other parties can gamble on trying to win an election without much time to campaign beforehand. We can’t.

That is why we need to continue with our preparations and build-up as if the May elections will happen, and treat any extra time as a bonus. Better that than be caught out thinking something wouldn’t happen and then not having time to prepare when it does.

Of course, our work should always take into account coronavirus health risks, and always carefully follow the party’s advice, which is regularly reviewed and updated when necessary.

There is a wide range of free training available to help you hone your campaigning skills and learn how to campaign best in the face of coronavirus. Do take a look at the listings on the party website and on the ALDC site.

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Ed Davey: PM dodged the difficult decisions and acted too late

Boris Johnson as good as said in his address announcing a new “March-style” lockdown that we we would have succeeded in beating Covid if it hadn’t been for this pesky new variant. The variant he’s known about for three months and done little to combat. Brazen or what?

Not even 36 hours had passed since his Marr interview yesterday, when he said that parents should send their kids to school today. Now, the decision he should have taken before Christmas has been made.

Ed Davey pointed out these errors of judgement in his reaction to the PM’s statement. He had earlier called for a lockdown, and so the party will be supporting these measures. However, we also want to see better support for those who have so far been excluded from the Government schemes, investment in mental health services and an increase to Carer’s Allowance.

Ed said:

This is the public health policy the Prime Minister should have announced before Christmas, but yet again, Boris Johnson ducked the difficult decisions, failed to listen to experts and acted too late.

Just yesterday morning Johnson was telling parents that schools were safe and children should definitely go. Today he is telling us that they must all move to remote learning but without any proper future plan.

The Prime Minister’s failure to act earlier means we are seeing record numbers of new infections, a rising death rate, hospitals overwhelmed and NHS and care staff exhausted.

With this new lockdown, Liberal Democrats believe it’s urgent that the Government announce a new comprehensive economic plan for businesses and the self-employed; a plan to increase Carer’s allowance in line with the increases in Universal Credit and must fully take account of the impact of these developments on the mental health of young people and vulnerable individuals who are going through an incredibly difficult time.

All around the world, the evidence is that acting early is critical to minimising damage to the economy and protecting public health. We need a Prime Minister who can act in time, not one who acts when it is too late.

There’s one interesting difference between the PM’s statement and the announcement by Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon.

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Lib Dems to vote against Boris Johnson’s “threadbare” EU trade deal

Ed Davey has announced tonight, in news that will surprise few people, that the Liberal Democrats will be opposing Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal because it fails to deliver on the promises the Brexiteers made to the electorate and it makes the country so much worse off.

It’s not about tariffs. The whole point of being in the single market was not to have to bother with bureaucracy and red tape. Businesses who have been watching these ads saying that things are changing on 1st January (but we have no idea how) are going to find out for the first time in almost 30 years what a pain in the backside it is to have to fill in paperwork to trade with our closest neighbours.

We will no doubt be attacked for our stance as we will be told that the alternative is no deal and we’re against that. However this is going to to through tomorrow whether we like it or not given that most Tories and Labour MPs will vote for it. It is entirely consistent with our approach to Brexit.

There was a coherent case to be made for abstention on the grounds that it was at least better than no deal and it puts distance between us and the ultra nationalists both north and south of the border. Having said that, we’ve spent all my political life fighting off accusations of fence-sitting and being wishy-washy so do we really want to just sit on our hands? I’ve seen other people argue well that we should vote in favour, rather than abstain, for the same reason. However I think it is important that the Brexiteers are made to own this. When it all goes wrong, I don’t want them saying “but you voted for it.” We’ve come too far on our internationalist and open values to suddenly become shields for those who have taken us to this place.

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EU Trade Deal: there are no good options left

European and British flags.

I hate 13th December. I really, really do.

On this day in 1984, my Grandma died, way too soon, at the age of 64. I still miss her.

And last year, in the early hours, any hope of avoiding Brexit evaporated as Boris Johnson got a majority that could have enabled him to govern with more wisdom and flexibility from the constraints of the reckless extremes of his party. He chose not to take that chance.

On top of it all, we lost Jo. I’m still not over that. She remains one of the most exceptionally talented people I have ever known. She’s proof that the best people don’t always win in politics.

An election once Jo had had the time to establish herself would, I suspect, have had a very different result.

We are where we are though. And it isn’t fun. 2020 has not excelled itself. A couple of bright spots – the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, to be confirmed by the Electoral College tomorrow, the development of effective vaccines against Covid have not lifted the gloom by much.

Now the dreaded 13th December is the day we enter the final stage of the Brexit drama.

Whatever emerges from the EU negotiations over the next hours is going to be far from good. We’re looking at a catastrophic no deal or a damaging fig leaf of a deal that will hurt our businesses and cost people their jobs and homes. Let’s be clear. The Government is choosing this path. It had better options open to it. When we were gripped in the first wave of Covid, they could have done the responsible thing and requested an extension to the transition period. We’d have voted for it, so would the SNP. Labour probably would and the EU would almost certainly have granted it. The more excitable ERG types on the Conservative benches would have made a lot of noise, but we would have bought ourselves some time and stability.

I’ve always thought that the Brexit agenda was mostly about turning our economy into a low regulation, rights-free zone. This is why they are so resistant to any future improvements in things like environmental standards or workers’ rights. They dress it up as sovereignty, but it’s an oligarch’s charter really.

They manipulated people’s feeling of powerlessness with false promises of taking back control. The truth is that those people at the sharp end, the lowest paid and most vulnerable, will have less control than they had before.

There should be no problem with accepting the EU’s reasonable level playing field requirement in the trade deal. I doubt that there will be any major changes within the next few years anyway. These things take time to get through and would take even longer to actually come into force. If there were any changes, we could debate them and decide whether to accept them or take the consequences.

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Your last chance to get drafting advice for Conference motions…

The dates for the Scottish and Federal Spring conferences have been set as we reported last week.

Scottish Conference will meet virtually from 5-6 March and Federal Conference will meet virtually two weeks later 19-21 March.

The great thing about our Conferences is that even in their virtual form, members have been able to submit policy motions and amendments for debate. In our party, we give our members actual power to make policy and set the direction of the party.

This is your reminder that if you want any of the nice people from the respective Committees to help you draft a policy motion, you only have until Tuesday (Scotland) and Thursday (Federal) to request it.

You don’t actually have to get drafting advice and you will still be able to submit motions by the deadlines of 6th January (federal) and 8th January (Scotland).

The Scottish LIb Dems have a really useful guide on how to draft a well-structured motion which you can see here.

1. What does the Committee look for?

A motion should be easy to understand, logically argued and well presented. If the Committee finds it difficult to understand the purpose of a motion or to follow the case it argues, it is likely that conference will also have problems. Equally – though this is harder for anyone drafting a motion to predict – the motion should be in a subject area where it is desirable for the party to develop new policy or make its existing policies or achievements known. Other things being equal, a shorter motion usually has an advantage over a longer one.

2. What features will reduce the chances of a motion being chosen?

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Why Holyrood 2021 has me (SN)Paranoid

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It’s approaching that time again, another four years have past and another government will be voted in. Next year Scotland will be holding the Scottish Parliament election in May.

As an activist and a proud political geek, I should be excited and ready to campaign till I’m blue in the face. But unfortunately that isn’t the case. On December 2nd Ipsos Mori published the latest polls, predicting the estimated results of the election. From a first glance, it’s hard to feel worried about the potential landslide form the Scottish National Party. At current the polls show the SNP set to earn 55% (in constituencies) of the vote (-3 when compared to early in October) and a clear majority government. However, you should never trust fully in election polls, they can go from 100% to completely and utterly wrong, and anything in-between.

The SNP first came to power in 2007 and have been in government for 13 years. This hasn’t been the 13 years of a “stronger for Scotland” government they have promised. Just broken promises, public lies and scandals that make you really question if they have the welfare of Scottish people at heart.

Since 2007 the SNP have lead a full frontal siege against our vital services. Scotland’s young people are stuck waiting nearly a year for mental health support, our councils are being cut to the point of near collapse under the strain of keeping things running, our industrial pillars such as the Caley rail yard in Springburn and Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) are being ignored and left to go to ruin, our education system has went from one of the top ranking education systems in the world to average level, they’ve promised full support to fix the climate emergency then do a complete U-turn, and they fully support the oil industries who are scarring our countrysides and seas (fully backed by the Scottish Greens as well) – the list could go on but the article would be an essay if I was to mention every time the SNP have failed the people of Scotland.

Looking at this it all seems doom and gloom, especially when the Scottish Lib Dems are sitting at 6% (+2% since October) in the polls, but we need to  take the positives and learn lessons from the victories we’re achieving and the progress we are making. Our Willie Rennie and the rest of our fantastic MSP team have appeared more and more in the headlines of newspapers, news segments and on the TV, asking all the tough questions. Now Councillor Liz Barrett went from 3rd place to winning the seat of Perth City south, beating the SNP and the Conservatives as well. In last year’s General Election we managed to get now MP Wendy Chamberlain elected in North East Fife, cementing our grip on the area in both Holyrood and Westminster.

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Racism in football still hasn’t been kicked out

It’s been 27 years since the establishment of Kick It Out, English football’s equality and inclusion organisation, which works with the football, education and community sectors to challenge discrimination and encourage inclusive practices.

Sadly, racism, abuse and discrimination are still rife in society, but the very nature of chanting in football stadiums makes some believe it is a licence to hurl insults at team players.

On Saturday 5 December 2020, at a Millwall home match against Derby County, some of the 2,000 fans booed players who “took the knee” before the start of the game. Although players, officials and staff at Premier League and English Football League games have been taking the knee before games since June, Saturday’s match was the first to host fans since the second lockdown was lifted. Boos were also heard amongst the 1,000 fans in the JobServe Community Stadium, Colchester, prior to the match between Colchester United and Grimsby Town.

Although Millwall’s supporters’ club claimed that the motives behind the booing were not racist, no other explanation was given as to what the motive was. As Kick It Out Chairman, Sanjay Bhandari said, “Racists rarely admit they are racists — they try to hide their backlash under a seemingly respectable cloak.”

On Monday 30 November, BBC One aired the documentary Anton Ferdinand: Football, Racism and Me, in which the now retired Queens Park Rangers’ footballer spoke about the constant racial abuse that he suffered, including an on-pitch incident in 2011 in which Chelsea player, John Terry, used racially abusive language. Terry was eventually found guilty, fined £220,0000 and banned for just four matches by the FA. Ferdinand also received bullets in the post and missiles were thrown at this mothers’ house.

A House of Lords’ Library Briefing earlier this year (Racism in Football: Tackling Abusive Behaviour) showed that there has been an increase in the number of racist incidents reported in professional and grassroots football in recent years.

According to the Public Order Act 1986, a person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.

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Cllr Liz Barrett: How I won Perth City South

You can imagine how much I enjoyed writing Cllr Liz Barrett in the ehadline. I am still ridiculously excited about Cllr Barrett’s victory in the Parth City South by-election on

Liz is the second person in her household to be elected a Councillor. Her husband Peter has represented Perth City Centre ward since 2003. We will let him away with getting Liz’s ward wrong in his tweet.

Liz has written an email to party members about how she won:

Subject: Here’s how I WON in Perth South

Three years ago I missed out on becoming Perth City South Councillor in a by-election, but last Thursday I WON!  We came from third place, beat the Tories, and took a seat off the SNP.

 It’s no secret the last few years have been tough for our party. Couple that with a global pandemic and associated restrictions, it’s easy to get caught up in a campaigning black hole.

 But, I can tell you, working hard locally really does put you in pole position to reap the rewards. 

 We have been campaigning non-stop through surveys, petitions, street letters and regular Focus leaflets ever since I lost that day three years ago. Since lockdown, we’ve been sending e-news to over 350 residents, and growing.

 In July, we stole a march on both the Conservatives and SNP by getting two leaflets out in quick succession after deliveries were authorised by the Party.  

 We also knew we had to get our message across the doorsteps in person, so, when rules have allowed, a team of us have been out pounding the pavements, talking to residents and hearing their concerns. 

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