Tag Archives: Scottish liberal democrat conference

Three interesting facts about this year’s Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference

For various reasons, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been later off the mark than usual at announcing the details of their Spring Conference. However the cat is well and truly out of the bag now. For the first time since 2008, the party is heading to Aviemore to the Macdonald resort in the highland village.

It’s a great venue that can be combined with a family break. I absolutely love it there.

It’s in April

You wouldn’t normally expect to have a Conference in April because there is usually some sort of election to get ready for. For the first time since 2013, there are no scheduled elections this year, so Conference is taking place both in April and after the Easter holidays, on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st April.

There’s an Access Fund

The Federal Party has been running a Conference Access Fund to help people with the costs of attending Conference for the last few years.

It’s great to see this now being done by the Scottish Party, too. Members can donate to the fund although they can’t do it in the same transaction as they register as you can with the Federal Party.

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Discovering Conference

Last Saturday, 11th November, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn conference was held  in Dunfermline. It’s fitting our conference returns to this historic Scottish town as Scotland has always been a liberal country at heart: Braveheart, after all, was about freedom, more than nationalism.

This was my first party conference and I was immediately struck by how homely and welcoming the event was. The Scottish Liberal Democrats are a close-knit party – one advantage of being small in number (in comparison to other parties) – where old friends are reunited and strangers are simply undiscovered new friends.

The agenda was packed and diverse. One of the highlights included hearing from the WASPI women. They told us their personal experiences when they unexpectedly discovered they would not get their state pension when they thought they would after the age was raised to 65 to align with mens’. Many women are now struggling and having to take up part-time jobs or take out loans to get by until they can receive their pension. The conference rightfully voted for measures to put justice for the WASPI women on the Lib Dem agenda.

Willie Rennie, Jo Swinson, Alistair Carmichael, Christine Jardine and Alex-Cole Hamilton invigorated party members with articulate, powerful speeches – all of us returned to our constituencies with a renewed sense of purpose and belief in Liberal Democrat values.  

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Rennie: Stand up for immigration to save our universities, health service and farms

Willie Rennie puts immigration front and centre of his Leader’s speech to Scottish Conference today. He will will set out positive examples that immigration brings to local communities and call out hard line Brexiteers who risk tanking the economy in their obsessive pursuit of a damaging Brexit. He will say:

The Conservatives are about to betray Leave voters or trash the economy. This is the real political car crash that is heading our way.

If immigration is not cut with Brexit then Leavers will feel betrayed because that is what they voted for. If the Conservatives keep that promise, and immigration is cut, it will damage our economy and public services, and even more will feel betrayed because they were not told this would happen.

Whilst leaders bicker about transition periods and single markets and common external tariffs the elephant in the room is immigration. In the Brexit vote people were promised fewer foreigners in our country. Yet people were not told the price of that policy.  And it is big.

The price is a shortage of workers to get food from British farm into the shops.

The price is a shortage of carers, nurses and GPs.

The price is billions of pounds of lost taxes from these jobs.
They are already going home and Brexit has not even happened yet.

Some say that too much immigration is a threat to our way of life. But the truth is that not enough immigration is the real threat to our way of life. It’s not the workers from Poland, Romania or Bulgaria who we should fear. We should fear all those political leaders who are blindly backing Brexit. These are the people we should be sending home.

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WATCH: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

It was a speech full of warmth, positivity and passion. Willie Rennie knows that a second referendum on Scottish independence needs the positive, emotionally resonant pro UK argument that was so lacking in 2014. He planted the Lib Dem flag in the progressive pro UK/pro EU space in Scotland, saying that we represented the views of the Scottish people. The challenge for the party is to turn that into votes. Watch his full speech here.

The text is below:

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Today at Scottish Conference -“Turning back the tide of division”

Scottish Liberal Democrats gather in Perth today for our Spring Conference. Some of us gathered last night and enjoyed a delicious meal in a French restaurant. Sorry if I breathe garlic fumes on everybody I meet today.

We meet just seven weeks before every council seat in Scotland is up for election. A better than expected result in last year’s Holyrood elections, with solid parliamentary work on mental health, education and justice since has heartened the party but the national opinion polls are yet to show any significant movement in our favour.  The political environment up here is very different from south of the border where we have the advantage of being the only party standing up against the Tory and Labour compete with each other to get to the Brexit cliff first.

Up here, the SNP are making a great deal out of the fact that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain. Of course they are going to use it to call for independence although even a former nationalist leader said this week that they were being forced into it at the worst possible time.

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Scottish Conference Countdown: What’s on the agenda? And get writing your amendments today

Scottish Liberal Democrats gather for their Autumn Conference in Dunfermline on Saturday 24th October. The agenda contains no fewer than 8 policy debates – not bad for an event that lasts for just 7 hours. There are keynote speeches from Willie Rennie and Tim Farron and the day ends with a tribute to Charles Kennedy.

The policy motions to be discussed are:

A penny on tax for the NHS: This one will be controversial. The MSPs will be very scared of it passing because it’s way more radical than they can cope with. Perhaps Conference needs to give them the confidence to say something bold. One of the great tragedies of the current constitutional debate in Scotland is that nobody seems to have any great ideas for using the powers we already have, which are pretty significant. Paisley and Renfrewshire local party have put the cat among the pigeons with this motion. Will it pass? Expect to see an amendment from the Policy Committee.

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Nominations sought for Scottish Party Awards

Scottish Liberal Democrats have their Spring Conference in Aberdeen from 20-22 March. At that event, a series of awards will be presented for outstanding service and commitment to the party. Nominations are sought from members for the following:

  • The Rae Michie Quaich for best contribution to membership recruitment and retention
  • The SWLD Quaich for the Liberal Democrat who has done the most to advance diversity within Scotland in the past year
  • The Robin McSkimming Award presented by East Dunbartonshire Liberal Democrats to the person who has done most for their community
  • The Russell Johnston Award presented by Argyll & Bute Liberal Democrats for Best Conference Speech
  • The John Morrison award presented by the Office Bearers for outstanding leadership/dedication/success in local government
  • The Sheila Tennant award presented by LYS for an outstanding contribution from an LYS member
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A sneak preview of the Scottish Autumn Conference Agenda

This year’s Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference takes place much later than usual. It’s been delayed by the Referendum and will take place in Dunfermline on Saturday 22nd November. There’s just about enough time for Presidential candidates to come and chase some last minute votes.

The preliminary agenda has just been published and it’s busy. Six policy debates, two keynote speeches, a  devolution discussion, a thank you reception for our former MEP George Lyon and two lunchtime fringe meetings crammed into one day.

The policy motions include:

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In full: Nick Clegg’s contribution to the “sunshine strategy” at Scottish Lib Dem Conference

Forth Railway Bridge at North Queensferry Fife ScotlandI’ve been saying for a long time that the pro UK side of the independence referendum campaign in Scotland needs to make sure that there’s a positive melody to go a long with the necessary deconstruction of the SNP’s arguments. Nick Clegg stepped up to that plate with aplomb yesterday in his keynote speech, saying that the case for staying in the UK must be as “thrilling” as that for independence.

There was one hilarious moment when he slipped up and talked about he and …

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My highlights of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

I’m a bit bleary eyed today. One conference is exhausting, two on successive weekends is positively foolhardy. Following that up with a trip to London for Federal Executive is craziness.

I spent the weekend in Dundee where Scottish Liberal Democrats held their main Conference. Over three days, there were no fewer than twelve policy debates, some of them incredibly powerful or controversial. Here are my highlights.

The Secret Courts debate

Yes, I’m biased as I proposed the motion rejecting the Government’s proposals, but the debate itself was very high quality. Liberal Youth co-chair Kavya Kaushik won the Russell Johnston award for the best …

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My speech in secret courts debate to Scottish Conference

Ok, this might be slightly egotistical, but I thought you might be interested in seeing the speech I made proposing the motion opposing the legislation on secret courts at Scottish Conference this weekend. The motion, calling for a repeal of the legislation to be put into our manifesto in 2015, was passed overwhelmingly. There were in fact only two votes against in a busy hall, and one of them was from Jim Wallace. If you scroll to the bottom, you can see a wee snippet of it.

Here’s what I said:

For over four centuries our legal systems have been based on

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Scottish Conference overwhelmingly rejects secret courts

Only two members of the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference voted against a motion opposing the introduction of secret courts. One of them was Jim Wallace, whose name is on the Government’s bill.

The leadership didn’t put up a fight, which in some ways is more frustrating. Why won”t they come forward and engage in the debate? It’s clear they have no intention in taking the slightest bit of notice of the vote, or the previous votes carried by enormous majorities at Federal Conference.

There was only one speech against and that was from someone who opposed secret courts in principle but …

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Scottish Liberal Democrats launch new Facebook page

Ahead of Scottish Conference in Dundee this weekend, Scottish Liberal Democrats have launched a new Facebook page for news, views, infographics and pictures about the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Their picture of today is a head shot of leader Willie Rennie with all the nice things that journalists keep saying about him.

Willie's press compliments

 

The Conference has its fair share of controversy – debates on secret courts, snaring and smacking over the next three days.

There will be keynote speeches from Vince Cable, Nick Clegg, Jo Swinson, Michael Moore and Malcolm Bruce as well as …

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Opinion: Ban barbaric, unnecessary snaring

One of Liberal Youth Scotland’s campaigns this year has concentrated on encouraging the Scottish Liberal Democrats to adopt a policy to ban snaring. We believe that this practice is barbaric, cruel, indiscriminate and unnecessary.

On Saturday 16th March, Scottish Liberal Democrat conference will debate an LYS motion calling for a ban on snaring. Scotland has led the way on this issue with the Scottish Government adopting new guidelines in 2008. However research undertaken by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has shown that 85% of the public are in favour of an outright ban.

One Aberdeenshire Vet …

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Willie Rennie: No to independence doesn’t mean no to change

Willie Rennie - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsScottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie sent an email to members yesterday outlining what he is trying to do as regards building a consensus around further powers for the Scottish Parliament in the event of no vote in next year’s independence referendum. If I had been him, given the proximity of Scottish Conference and how fabulously awesome it is going to be, with lots of controversy and debate, I would have put a link at the bottom enticing people to go and register.But seeing as he didn’t – you can find out all the information you need here.

Anyway, here is his email in full:

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A snapshot of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

Scottish Liberal Democrats met for a busy annual Autumn conference in Dunfermline last Saturday. The day started with the most delicious sliced sausage ever. Subjects debated by members (all of whom have a vote), include reverse vending machines, honest lets, cuts to student funding, affordable childcare and the Home Rule Commission chaired by Sir Menzies Campbell.  Charles Kennedy also took part in that debate.

There were keynote speeches from Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore, new Business and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson and leader Willie Rennie. Danny Alexander did a question and answer session on the Mid Term Review and …

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Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here is this week’s edition.

Eyemouth Renewables

I have been working with Eyemouth Harbour Trust and other local stakeholders over recent years to ensure our local economy benefits from the planned offshore wind development in the Firth

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Opinion: Brown and Carmichael debate Coalition at lively Social Liberal Forum fringe

The problem with Conference fringe meetings is that there are usually several that you want to go to and they’re all on at the same time. That was the case with the fringe run jointly by Liberal Futures and the Social Liberal Forum (Scotland) on Friday past at the Scottish Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Inverness. The meeting attracted a respectable crowd but those who attended the Scottish Women’s Liberal Democrats and Liberal International meetings missed a lively debate on Liberal Democrats and the Coalition. The speakers were Robert Brown, the …

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  • User AvatarMartin 16th Oct - 11:34am
    I think that this is an important provision that LDV can do. It is quite a simple task, at least easier than writing original articles....
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 16th Oct - 10:57am
    Yes jayne mansfield, balance. We do know that society is often a mixture of interest groups all competing for resources, but balance is key to...
  • User AvatarDarren Marin 16th Oct - 10:55am
    @Michael - Thanks for the links! I think unfortunately the direction of travel is not towards working less even though it should be. The potential...
  • User AvatarDarren Martin 16th Oct - 10:44am
    @Nick the France example is a good one and you are right, this needs to be looked at in detail. I would say, however, it...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 16th Oct - 10:33am
    @Peter Watson Clearly it takes time from when a political party to recover from a difficult time - especially when that time has been in...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 16th Oct - 10:30am
    David Agree that there should be wide distribution elsewhere, but we often publish posts which are based around party press releases on LDV and will...