Tag Archives: liam mcarthur

17 May 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Davey calls for big mental health investment on visit to Mid Dunbartonshire
  • Hunt owes an apology to millions of hardworking Brits after tax hikes
  • McArthur to host assisted dying Q&A at Scottish Liberal Democrat conference
  • Welsh Lib Dems blast Welsh Gov for failing women suffering from cancer
  • “It’s time to back our GP’s”- Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds

Davey calls for big mental health investment on visit to Mid Dunbartonshire

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has called for more support for people suffering from mental ill-health on a visit to the Milngavie and Bearsden Men’s Shed.

Ed, who is visiting Scotland for the Liberal Democrats’ Conference, will be joined by Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and Mid Dunbartonshire candidate Susan Murray.

Ed is calling for a trebling of the tax on social media giants to raise an extra £770 million for Scotland over the next five years, to fund dedicated mental health professionals in schools and GP surgeries and cut waiting times for patients.

Trebling the Digital Services Tax would raise an extra £9.5 billion for the UK over the next five years, of which £770 million would be allocated to Scotland.

Later in the day, Ed will deliver a keynote speech at the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in Hamilton.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

The SNP have been too caught up in their carousel of chaos to deal with the real and serious issues people are facing like the mental health crisis.

Right across Scotland people deserve to be supported by their local health services, for too long we have seen mental health, in particular, be neglected.

That’s why Liberal Democrats are calling for a big expansion of mental health services across Scotland, funded by the social media giants who are such a big part of the problem.

Above all, we need the ongoing melodrama from the Scottish nationalists to end so the Government can focus their time on delivering for the people of Scotland, not saving their sinking ship.

Hunt owes an apology to millions of hardworking Brits after tax hikes

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found 6.5 million people are being dragged into a higher tax band as a result of Conservative party budgets, including 15,000 in Jeremy Hunt’s own constituency.

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13 May 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Bathing water: Govt needs to go further and stop sewage being pumped into bathing water sites
  • Maternity Care: Time Govt end postcode lottery
  • PM speech: Sunak should listen to the public and call a General Election
  • McArthur comments as legal action launched over deposit return scheme losses

Bathing water: Govt needs to go further and stop sewage being pumped into bathing water sites

Responding to the government announcing new designated bathing water sites, Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

The government needs to go much further and stop sewage being pumped into bathing water sites. Conservative Ministers allowed disgraced water firms to spill sewage into these sites over 30,000 times last year. No swimmer should have to fear raw sewage making them sick.

Today the Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to make water companies criminally liable for their sewage pollution. I am urging MPs from all parties to back this and finally get tough on these firms.

Maternity Care: Time Govt end postcode lottery

Commenting on the the Birth Trauma Inquiry, Liberal Democrat MP and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss, Helen Morgan MP said:

This inquiry has exposed what many of us have long feared about the state of the country’s maternity services.

For so many women to have such traumatic experiences of birth is nothing short of a national tragedy. Too many are being failed in pregnancy, birth and aftercare as this report shows.

It’s time the Government took action to end the postcode lottery in maternity services. I urge them to accept the report in full.

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17 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Lib Dem comment on Sadiq Khan’s latest pre-election pledge on women’s safety
  • McArthur welcomes assisted dying bill being assigned to health committee
  • “Cultural vandalism”- Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh government to save National Museum
  • Cole-Hamilton urges SNP Government to deliver transparency on Russian land ownership
  • “Families are being cut off” -Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh Gov to lift immigration status barriers on school grants

Lib Dem comment on Sadiq Khan’s latest pre-election pledge on women’s safety

Commenting on Sadiq Khan’s promise to fund a free, independent legal advice pilot service for survivors of rape and serious sexual offences, if re-elected, Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate Rob Blackie said:

Under Sadiq Khan, the police are catching rapists and sexual offenders half as often as they did when he became Mayor in 2016. This is a scandal. But in last night’s debate the Mayor would not even say that he is sorry for this.

The Mayor’s plan does not promise to catch significantly more sexual offenders. It even includes policies that were promised last year.

McArthur welcomes assisted dying bill being assigned to health committee

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed the news that the Scottish Parliament’s health committee has been assigned as the lead committee for scrutinising his Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill.

The decision to assign a bill a lead committee is taken by the Scottish Parliament business bureau. The bill is also expected to be scrutinised by the Finance committee and Delegated Powers committee.

The committee will now decide how it wishes to proceed, which is likely to start with call for the submission of written evidence followed by oral evidence sessions with a wide range of witnesses and stakeholders, concluding with Mr McArthur, appearing before the committee.

The Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill was published on 28th March, alongside polling from Dignity in Dying showing strong support for assisted dying in every constituency and region of Scotland.

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10 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Government amendment on “deeply damaging” non-disclosure agreements does not go far enough to protect victims
  • Shoplifting: Govt continues to let organised gangs off the hook
  • Cole-Hamilton criticises state of sewage monitoring
  • SNP burn through ScotWind cash in record time
  • McArthur responds to opposition to assisted dying bill

Government amendment on “deeply damaging” non-disclosure agreements does not go far enough to protect victims

After tireless campaigning by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, the Government in the House of Lords has tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill that ensures non-disclosure agreements preventing victims from disclosing information to the police or other bodies (including confidential support services) cannot be legally enforced.

Responding to the tabling of this amendment, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

The Liberal Democrats have long been campaigning to end the deeply damaging practice of non-disclosure agreements. This amendment is a welcome move that will help victims to access the support they need.

But while this is a step in the right direction, the Government is not going far enough in giving victims their voice back.

We need a complete ban of NDAs in cases of sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying to ensure that no victim is silenced.

Shoplifting: Govt continues to let organised gangs off the hook

Responding to the news that assaulting a shop worker will be made a separate criminal offence in England and Wales, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

For too long, the Conservative Government have been sitting on their hands while hardworking shopkeepers are left to face the brunt of the shoplifting epidemic alone.

As the majority of shoplifting cases go unsolved, the Conservatives has repeatedly failed to get even the basics right of tackling this issue – something their new gimmicks won’t change.

It is now vital the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary invest in proper community policing and ensure all shoplifting thefts are investigated.

The government is currently letting organised criminal gangs off the hook and leaving shopkeepers hugely vulnerable.

Cole-Hamilton criticises state of sewage monitoring

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has called on the SNP and Greens to get tough with Scottish Water as it was revealed that in three local authorities there is no monitoring of sewage dumping at all and in ten more local authorities just one or two sites are monitored.

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28 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • GDP stats: Rishi’s recession confirmed
  • Thames Water: Broken firm needs to be taken into special administration
  • McArthur’s Assisted Dying Bill published by Scottish Parliament
  • Blackie unveils plan to “Green” the Silvertown Tunnel

GDP stats: Rishi’s recession confirmed

Responding to this morning’s ONS figures confirming the UK economy did go into recession last year, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

These damning figures confirm the damage done to the UK economy by Rishi’s recession. This Conservative government has no plan for growth or to help families paying the price for years of economic chaos through soaring mortgages and rents.

The Liberal Democrats have a bold plan to get the economy growing again, fix our broken trading relationship with Europe and support small businesses on the brink. It’s clear the best thing for the economy would be a general election, so we can kick the Conservative Party out of power and offer the real change the country needs.

Thames Water: Broken firm needs to be taken into special administration

Responding to the news that Thames Water’s shareholders will not be injecting the first £500 million of funding that was agreed last summer, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson and MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney said:

Thames Water is a broken firm. It is teetering on the brink of collapse and it is clear that things cannot go on as they are.

Drastic action is needed to keep the taps running for millions of customers. Execs have pocketed sky-high bonuses, given billions to overseas investors whilst watching their infrastructure crumble. The board should hang their heads in shame.

No longer should this firm be allowed to mistreat customers and destroy our environment with their filthy sewage.

That is why ministers must use their powers to put Thames Water into special administration immediately, to then be reformed into a public benefit company. Only that way can we ensure this polluting giant will begin working for its customers again.

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Sunday Show features assisted dying ahead of Liam McArthur’s Bill being published

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur will this week publish his bill to introduce assisted dying for people with a terminal illness in Scotland.

The Sunday Show devoted its entire programme to the issue today. First, Susie McAllister, who nursed her husband Colin who died of stomach cancer last year, spoke of how grim the last two weeks of his life was and how he wanted to end his suffering.

There have been a number of attempts to change the law in Scotland on this over the lifetime of the Parliament.  Liam said that he could now feel that the political mood was changing. The public, he said, had supported such a change for a couple of decades but now many MSP colleagues were now willing to consider his heavily safeguarded measure.

He says that he is convinced that his Bill could pass although he is not going to take anything for granted. He detects from the conversations he has had that there is now  a willingness to look at reasons to support the bill.

The ban on assisted dying at the moment is leading to too many people facing horrible, traumatic deaths that impact not just them but those that they leave behind and that is despite the very best efforts of those providing palliative care that we need to invest in and provide access to.

He explained that his Bill mirrors measures introduced elsewhere. The diagnosis, by two independent clinicians, would determine that the illness was terminal  and that the patient had capacity and were making an informed choice, having considered all the issues.

He said that this should be part of the end of life choices available for everyone.

He added that doctors would be able to conscientiously object to being involved in the process. However, he did say that the measure had improved relationships and dialogue between clinicians and patients in countries where it had been introduced.

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20 March 2024 – the overnight press releases

  • Chamberlain to lead debate on electoral fairness and calls out attempts to “rig the rules”
  • PAC report on Social Care: Too many vulnerable people struggling to get the care they need
  • McArthur sets out response to embargoed climate report
  • Rennie comments on new claims from Pregnant Then Screwed

Chamberlain to lead debate on electoral fairness and calls out attempts to “rig the rules”

Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain MP will lead a debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday about strengthening electoral fairness and preventing parties from “rigging the rules,” following recent moves by the Conservative Party to introduce certain changes ahead of the upcoming General Election.

The debate will take place in Westminster Hall tomorrow (Wednesday) and is expected to begin at 11am. Ms Chamberlain will pick up on a variety of changes recently introduced by the Conservatives, including compulsory Voter ID requirements and almost doubling the spending limit for UK elections to around £35 million.

In November, the UK election watchdog, the Electoral Commission, said it had “not seen evidence” to support changes to spending limits.

Ms Chamberlain’s debate comes just one week after her party called for the Conservatives to return donations from Frank Hester, a Tory party donor who reportedly said that the MP Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women.”

Speaking ahead of the debate, Ms Chamberlain said:

I am concerned that some of the latest moves by this Conservative Government represent a desperate and dirty attempt to rig the rules in their favour because they know they’ve lost the support of the public.

Last year, thousands of people were denied at a voice at the local elections because of the Voter ID rules ushered in by the Tories. Hundreds of thousands of people now risk being turned away at the next election at a cost to the taxpayer of £120,000,000 over the next decade.

Their unjustified doubling of the national spending limits points to the Conservatives Party’s eagerness to design the system and play it to their advantage. We also know from the Frank Hester scandal that they will excuse the inexcusable if it means bringing in big money and clinging onto power.

Liberal Democrats have been and continue to be long-standing advocates for fairness, transparency and electoral reform. I want to show that our politics should not be tilted towards those with the deepest pockets, and that we need constructive discussions about how to make the system better and work in the interests of all.

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11 March 2024 – yesterday’s press releases (part 2)

  • McArthur looks to include cruises ships in visitor levy bill
  • Prison exec admits no plans to bring back rehabilitation services
  • Yousaf’s economic credibility is down the drain

McArthur looks to include cruises ships in visitor levy bill

Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has lodged amendments to the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill to allow a debate on the inclusion of cruise ship visitors within the scope of the legislation.

In light of concerns raised by local tourism businesses in Orkney, as well as Orkney islands Council, Mr McArthur is seeking to ensure the bill is both more flexible and fairer in the way that any levy might be applied by local authorities.

Commenting ahead of the Local Government Committee meeting that will begin consideration of Stage 2 amendments on the bill on Tuesday, Mr McArthur said:

Providing local councils with the power to set a visitor levy is a reasonable step to take. As ever, though, the devil is in the detail.

At present, Ministers have come forward with a bill that would apply to some parts of the tourism sector but not others. People in Orkney will not be alone in wondering why visitors to our islands who stay in hotels, self-catering or B&Bs should be charged, but not the increasingly large numbers who visit Orkney on cruise ships or indeed in mobile homes. All place demands on the local infrastructure and services, and all should therefore contribute. Anything else would be unfair and undermine business and public confidence in the scheme.

I am concerned too at the lack of flexibility local councils will have in the way any levy will apply. Just because it works in Edinburgh or Glasgow doesn’t mean it will work in our islands. Councils should therefore have scope to apply any levy in ways that make sense in local circumstances, such as collection via airlines and ferry companies.”

I support the principle behind this legislation but getting the detail right will be crucial. Unfortunately, that has not been a strong suit of this SNP/Green Government over recent years.

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8 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Keegan remarks: Hardly surprising from gaffe prone minister
  • Khan’s Friday fares cut branded ‘pre-election gimmick’
  • McArthur writes to MSPs about timeline for assisted dying bill

Keegan remarks: Hardly surprising from gaffe prone minister

Responding to Gillian Keegan’s remarks at the Association of School and College Leaders conference, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

A Secretary of State talking about assaulting someone should be shocking, but for Gillian Keegan it’s just another day at the microphone.

Gillian Keegan has form and this is the latest gaff from a minister who has a potty mouth, an obviously quick temper and still thinks she is doing a good job. Hardly the qualities we should be instilling in our children.

Khan’s Friday fares cut branded ‘pre-election gimmick’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Friday fares reduction trial has been branded a pre-election gimmick.

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7 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Resolution Foundation reveals £8bn pensioner tax bombshell in Budget
  • “All the hallmarks of a backroom deal”- Welsh Lib Dems react to decision to keep new controversial Senedd voting system
  • Donelan scandal: Lib Dems demand ethics advisor probe and Science Minister to step aside whilst investigation ongoing
  • Carmichael calls for UK ban on imports from illegal Israeli settlements
  • SNP cancel bus fund after spending less than 6% – Rennie
  • McArthur responds to news that more crimes will not be investigated

Resolution Foundation reveals £8bn pensioner tax bombshell in Budget

Jeremy Hunt’s Budget includes an £8bn tax bombshell for pensioners, analysis from the Resolution Foundation has revealed.

All 8 million tax-paying pensioners will see their taxes increase due to the freezing of income tax thresholds. This will leave the average taxpaying pensioner £1,000 worse off by 2027-28, – or an £8 billion collective hit.

Responding to the analysis, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Buried in the small print of this Budget is a disgraceful £8 billion pensioner tax bombshell.

People who have worked hard and done the right thing all their lives are being hammered by Jeremy Hunt with years of unfair tax hikes, leaving them an average of £1,000 worse off each.

This Conservative government has shown their true colours, pensioners are not their priority. They would rather cut taxes for the big banks than look after those who have given so much for so long to our society.

“All the hallmarks of a backroom deal”- Welsh Lib Dems react to decision to keep new controversial Senedd voting system

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have described the decision to keep the new Senedd voting system as having “all the hallmarks of a backroom deal”.

From 2026, votes will be cast for parties instead of individual candidates as part of plans to expand the Senedd.

Critics of the new voting system say that it takes power away from the voter and places it in the hands of political party bosses.

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Vote for Gerry the Springer

There are lots of elections going on at the moment, with Lib Dems across the country campaigning hard to hold and gain council seats.

There is another competition going on , however. Voting is open for Holyrood’s Dog of the Year. If you like dogs and want a wonderful way to take a break, spend some time reading about all the canine participants. We can guarantee you will fall in love with at least one of the contenders. They are all wonderful.

The sole Lib Dem entrant is Gerry, the cleverly named Springer Spaniel who owns Liam McArthur, our Orkney MSP.

Gerry is by far the most bonkers of any of the participants and delights readers of Liam’s social media.

His entry on the Dog of the Year site says:

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

Nose down, tail up, Gerry the Springer is never happier than when he’s on a scent. With ears that can pick up Sky TV and help him seemingly levitate, as well as his impersonation of a ‘busted sofa’ when asleep, Gerry has melted hearts across social media.

Gerry is an adored member of the McArthur family and much loved in the constituency office offering TheraPet sessions on Mondays and Fridays for staff and often constituents too.

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

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Liam McArthur launches consultation on Assisted Dying Bill

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today launched a consultation on his proposal for a Members’ Bill which would enable assisted dying for terminally ill people in Scotland.

His Bill would have safeguards, including:

  • Two doctors independently confirm the person is terminally ill, establish that the person has the mental capacity to request assisted dying,  assess that the person is making an informed decision without pressure or coercion
  • Two doctors ensure the person has been fully informed of palliative, hospice, and other care options.
  • The person signs a written declaration of their request, this is followed by a period of reflection
  • The person must administer the life-ending medication themselves; It would continue to be a criminal offence to end someone’s life directly
  • Every assisted death would be recorded and reported for safety, monitoring, and research purposes.

Liam said:

“In my time as an MSP I have heard from many dying people and grieving families who have been failed by the current blanket ban on assisted dying. I have watched other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand put new laws in place to ensure their citizens can have a peaceful and dignified death and I believe that the time is right for Scotland to look again at providing our dying people with more choice at the end of life. The consultation sets out a blueprint for how we can do this safely and compassionately.”

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Scottish Lib Dems highlight “destructive” short prison sentences for pregnant women

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today revealed that dozens of pregnant women have served destructive short-term prison sentences in the last five years. He says that this einforces the need for the Scottish Government to press ahead with a presumption against jail sentences of less than 12 months.

He uncovered figures under freedom of information which reveal that since 2013 there have been 104 pregnant women in prison, of whom 31 gave birth while serving their sentence. Of these 104 women, 37 were given sentences of less than 12 months.

In 2012, the Scottish Government commissioned a report from former Prosecutor Dame Elish Angiolini highlighted the negative impact of custodial sentences on the children of offenders, something that affects many more women than men:

More women offenders have dependant children than men and only a small proportion (17 per cent) of children with mothers in prison live with their fathers while their mother is incarcerated. Approximately 30 per cent of children with imprisoned parents will develop physical and mental health problems, and there is a higher risk of these children themselves also ending up in prison.

Liam said:

The fact that 37 expectant mothers have been given destructive short-term sentences in recent years should have alarm bells ringing.

All the evidence shows that short-term sentences don’t work and are less effective than robust community-based disposals in reducing reoffending. Rates of reoffending amongst those who have served short stints in prison are sky high. That is why Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently urged the Scottish Government to introduce a presumption against sentences of less than 12 months, something Ministers now accept would be a positive step.

If in the process it means more pregnant women pay for any crime they have committed through robust means short of prison then that has to be in everyone’s interests.

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Another civil liberties victory for the Scottish Lib Dems

Over the years, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been responsible for a number of changes in policing and civil liberties policies in Scotland. After we led the opposition, the Scottish Government had to abandon plans for a super ID database that would have made Labour’s look like a champion of civil liberties. Alison McInnes, when she was Justice Spokesperson in the last Parliament, successfully fought both routine arming of the Police and indiscriminate stop and search.

That record continues as the Lib Dems have now ensured that Police Scotland has deleted records of half a billion numberplates captured under numberplate recognition.

From Scotland on Sunday:

The climbdown comes after a Lib Dem Freedom of Information request last year revealed that 852,507,524 number plate records captured by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras across the country were held in a Police Scotland database, with data available from as far back as 2009. Data retention laws require that any such information is only kept for crimes, while all other data must be deleted. The Lib Dems had expressed concern that the retention of so much information relating to innocent individuals was infringing on people’s civil liberties. The number of records deleted was revealed by the police in response to another Freedom of Information request submitted by the Lib Dems. Information provided by the police showed 547,459,904 number plate records had been disposed of.

Scottish Lib Dem Justice Spokesperson Liam McArthur said:

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Another civil liberties victory for the Scottish Liberal Democrats

A couple of years ago, the SNP was planning to make this super ID database which made what Labour’s planned ID cards from 2008 look positively timid. They intended allowing 120 public bodies, including the Royal Botanic Gardens and Quality Meat Scotland, access to the NHS Central Register.

Alison McInnes, our then Justice spokesperson was on it straight away, as was Willie Rennie and made such a big fuss that the idea has now firmly been consigned to the dustbin.

Following parliamentary questions from Liam McArthur, our new Justice Spokesperson, the Scottish Government admitted that it had “decided it would not …

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Scottish Lib Dems demand action on retention of police photos of innocent people

If it weren’t for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the SNP Government would have nobody asking them awkward questions on civil liberties and forcing them to change policy.

And so it continues in 2017. In today’s Scotland on Sunday, Liam McArthur, our Justice Spokesperson continues the work by the much-missed Alison McInnes in demanding action on the Police retaining photos of people they arrest but who are never charged. From The Scotsman:

In the report published in January last year, HMICS warned that there was no statutory framework or legislation in Scotland regulating how the police use or retain photographic images.

While fingerprint and DNA samples are destroyed if criminal proceedings are dropped, mugshots are kept on the police’s “custody software” under a practice which predates the formation of Police Scotland.

Most images are kept for at least six years, but those accused of more serious offences have their mugshot retained for up to 12 years.

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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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Liberal Democrat position on Police merger vindicated by Scottish think tank

The Lib Dems have form for calling things right – the Iraq War, the Credit Crunch, Mystic Clegg’s account of what would happen post Brexit vote. We also said from the beginning that merging Scotland’s eight police forces into one was a disaster waiting to happen. So it has been proven in many ways from routine arming of Police in the Highlands to the failures related to the M9 crash where two people died after being left for 3 days, to the closing down of saunas in Edinburgh, ruining years of a system that worked.

Now think tank Reform Scotland has published a report that vindicates the Lib Dem position and supports the measures for reintroduction of local accountability that we called for in our Scottish Parliament election manifesto. Its research director said:

However we remain concerned that, under the current centralised structure, there is no obvious way to actually make localism happen.

For that reason, we have proposed that both the funding and governance structure must change. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and on that principle we believe that local authorities should again be responsible for funding 50% of policing, with the Scottish Government continuing to fund the other 50%.

Furthermore, we believe that each local authority should be able to nominate a member of the Scottish Police Authority to ensure that local priorities are adequately represented.

The creation of Police Scotland was a mistake, and in the absence of any further wholesale reform we all have a responsibility to make the smaller changes which can help re-create local policing.

Liam McArthur, Scottish Lib Dem Justice spokesperson said:

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The Lib Dem week in Scotland

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWelcome to our weekly roundup of what the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led by Willie Rennie, have been getting up to. This week, our MSPs have had a lot to say about flooding, policing, A & E waiting times “Thatcherite” testing, housing and fostering. Oh, and Alex Cole-Hamilton and Edinburgh West are back, bigger than ever.

The week started with Willie Rennie’s Bright, green, liberal vision:

I will set out why four key liberal values should be at the heart of the next parliamentary session. They are that every individual should be free to achieve their potential, that we should stand with the weak against the strong, that power is safer when it is shared and that we are trustees of the world and must pass on a sustainable legacy.

Flooding: when will the SNP Government help?

Alison McInnes criticised the Scottish government’s lack of response to the flooding in the North East:

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Why classroom assistants matter and why the SNP’s pressure on local government harms kids’ education and attainment

US Navy 061026-N-5271J-014 Jennifer Tonder (right), a teacher's aide for a 3rd-4th grade multi-age class, discusses the various books available from the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) grant given to Sasebo Elementary School with
Scottish Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Liam McArthur has been doing some research into classroom assistant numbers in Scotland and has found some very worrying results. Like many other council services, education has been put under massive pressure after nine years of Council Tax freeze which predominantly benefits those in larger properties – e.g. the richest. The SNP are not so progressive when you put their record under scrutiny.

While some local authorities have increased the numbers of classroom assistants, others have seen huge drops. Aberdeen has lost 92 out of 299 in 2007 when the SNP came to power. In my own council area, West Lothian, 10% of classroom assistants have been gone despite a massive reduction in special needs provision.

I asked a teacher why classroom assistants matter and what impacts such reductions in their numbers have on children’s education. This is what they said.

In the modern classroom, classroom assistants, learning assistant, pupil support assistants, are key to facilitating learning. From working individually with children who, in the past, would have perhaps been taught in a school for children with special needs to supporting small groups within the classroom or being there to allow the teacher to work with small groups/individuals. Active learning is a key part of Curriculum for Excellence. This often involves spreading out of the classroom and using other spaces such as library, sensory room, outdoor classroom etc. This is all the more possible with  classroom assistants rather than having to move 33 kids en masse all of the time.

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MSPs reject Assisted Suicide Bill – read two compelling speeches from Lib Dems McArthur and McInnes

I was sad that Holyrood rejected the Assisted Suicide Bill yesterday, but I was heartened by the fact that support for such a measure is growing and I think the debate will continue.

It was also good to see that it was conducted in such a respectful and sensitive fashion.

I thought you might like to see the two speeches our MSPs made, one on each side of the argument from Alison McInnes and Liam McArthur. Both were brilliant, thoughtful and liberal. If I had been persuadable, Alison’s speech might have done it.

Alison McInnes:

I come to this debate as a liberal and

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Willie Rennie makes fair student finance a Scottish budget priority

There is no doubt that Willie Rennie is being brave in his choice of priorities for this year’s Scottish budget. In truth, the SNP have an overall majority at Holyrood so they don’t need to give any sort of ground.They have done the last few years, though. Last year, they gave extra money for childcare and free school meals in response to Willie Rennie’s persistent pestering. The year before it was college places.

This year, he’s taking a bigger risk. There’s an issue which in the context of the Holyrood parliament represents one of our finest hours and in the context of Westminster our worst. It’s tuition fees. Way back in 1999, Liberal Democrats fought an election saying tuition fees would be dead if they were in government and they kept that promise. We know what happened in 2010. We shouldn’t have done what we did, but, as I wrote at the time, Vince had actually managed to create a system that was fairer than the one it replaced:

However, if there were a way to get it wrong well, he’s probably done that.

Imagine for a moment if the Tories had been in power alone. I very much doubt that their Business Secretary would have tracked down Lord Browne and bent his ear about the importance of the recommendations being fair and progressive. And they are to a point. To play Devil’s Advocate a bit here, if we can’t have no tuition fees (and I’m not conceding that we can’t), then isn’t this a better option than anything else? Nobody has to pay out anything to actually go to university so access isn’t denied to those from less affluent backgrounds in the way it would be today.

And Labour? Would they, still in Government, be talking about a Graduate Tax? Of course they wouldn’t. They’d bung on the fees – although I’m not so convinced that they would have necessarily covered all the angles.  I mean, it’s coming to something when it takes a Tory to bring up the issue I blogged about earlier about interest accruing if someone takes time out to look after children. He confirmed in the House today that interest would not accrue under these circumstances.

Annoyed though I might be with him, I have to at least give some credit to Vince for taking an hour’s worth of utter tripe from the Labour benches with patience and humour. I’d rate him above just about any Labour minister you might care to mention and definitely any Tory. I loved his line about the road to Westminster having the skid marks of unenacted pledges all over it.


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Scotland’s Assisted Suicide Bill under further Committee scrutiny

Scotland’s Assisted Suicide Bill has been considered today by the Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament. This is the Committee which is taking the lead on the Bill, although the Justice Committee has also taken evidence on the legal aspects of the proposed reform.  The Bill was introduced by Margo MacDonald in November 2013 and has been taken forward since her death last April by Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

The Committee took evidence this morning from legal and medical professionals. I was surprised to see the Scotsman report say that the Law Society of Scotland is suggesting that the law as drafted might be against the European Convention on Human Rights. They say it’s in conflict with Article 2, the Right to Life. That hasn’t seemed to have been a problem for the Netherlands and Belgium, where similar legislation was introduced over a decade ago. The point, surely, is that the law gives people the choice about what they want to do faced with a terminal illness. What could be more liberal?

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Liam McArthur highlights Swinson’s and Featherstone’s work and supports ambition action on violence against women

Last week the Scottish Parliament debated violence against women during the 16 days of action between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and International Human Rights day. Liam McArthur led for the Liberal Democrats. He noted that in the ninety minutes of the debate, 9 women would face violence at the hands of their partners.

It was a sensible, consensual debate which you can read here.  Liam’s speech in full is published below:

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Scotland mourns Margo MacDonald MSP

Contains Scottish Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.There won’t be a dry eye anywhere in Scottish politics this afternoon. Margo MacDonald, the spirited, warm-hearted, funny, plain-speaking, independent minded MSP for Lothians died this lunchtime.

Margo shot to prominence after winning the Govan by-election in 1973. Although she lost her seat in the General Election 2 months later, she made an impact on Scottish politics. She never returned to Westminster, but has been one of the real stars of the Scottish Parliament over the last 15 years. She …

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