Tag Archives: scottish liberal democrat conference 2015

Scottish Lib Dem Spring Conference agenda now online: Rennie’s radical diversity motion to be debated

The agenda for the Scottish Liberal Democrat Spring Conference to be held on Edinburgh on 26 and 27 February has been published and can be found online here.

Traditionally, pre-election conferences are full of non-controversial items aimed at setting out the party’s stall to the public. This agenda, by and large, follows that pattern with debates on opportunities for young people, public services, a plan to decentralise power, particularly to Scotland’s island communities, better and fairer delivery of essential services like electricity and broadband in the Highlands. All of these are pretty much bread and butter issues for the party.

The main moment of controversy, however, will come in a closed session when party members will debate a radical and wide-ranging motion on improving the party’s diversity. Yes, it includes all-women shortlists for the five most winnable seats in 2020, the first two places on the 2019 Euro list going to a woman and a man respectively and decisions to be taken at a later date for the Scottish Parliament elections. That’s not the whole story, though. There’s a minimum of £10,000 a year in ring-fenced funding to support candidates from under-represented groups with personal or campaign expenses, a duty on the leader and every member of the Executive to make the party more diverse and a duty on local parties to report, as they do for PPERA, on diversity every year.

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In full: Tim Farron’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

Here is Tim Farron’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in full. The official version obviously doesn’t include his “stuff the convention” departure on tax credits or the bit where he got Aird and Loch Ness by-election winner Jean Davis’s name wrong. He called her June and quickly corrected himself, reminding us that he knows how it feels after the Sun got his name wrong this week.


Thank you, it’s a massive pleasure to be here – not least because it only took me half the time to get here as it did to get to federal conference in Bournemouth!

But federal conference was the biggest ever, with three times as many members as last year attending for the first time. 500 of them were new members – so thing is, they turned up to everything, even the Federal Executive report. When I was President you were lucky if six people turned up – poor Sal had to cope with a room full of engaged people, keen to ask searching questions. And the constitutional geeks had to cope with the concept of actually having some company for this event!

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Six highlights of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

I have to be honest. I was none too chuffed at the prospect of dragging myself out of bed at 6:15 yesterday morning and heading to Dunfermline for Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference. Dunfermline is half an hour from where I live, but I’m currently on holiday in the blissful Black Isle. This view from our holiday cottage will perhaps help you to understand my reluctance to leave:

Roebuck at sunset

That was sunset on our first night last Saturday.

Ultimately, though, I ended up very glad that I’d gone. Here are the things I wouldn’t have wanted to miss:

New Members

At one point in his his speech, Willie Rennie asked all the new members to stand up. They made up about a third of the audience and spoke in many debates. One, Wendy Chamberlain, introduced Willie and explained why she had joined the party:

Every new member I spoke to had a great time at Conference. One told me “Now I know I’m in the right place.” That theme of feeling at home was repeated by many others.

It was also fantastic to see people who had returned to the Lib Dem family, such as George Boyd from East Lothian.

Tim Farron

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In full: Malcolm Bruce’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference “Liberal Democrats offer the voice of reason, reform and responsibility – against the forces of division, despair and defeatism.”

Sir Malcolm Bruce photo by LIberal Democrats
As well as being Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party in the Commons, Malcolm Bruce is also the President of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. His traditional close of conference speech is usually a cracker and this was no exception. It had some blistering attacks, mainly on the SNP and Conservatives, some personal reflections on his 32 years as Gordon’s MPs and a passionate defence of the Liberal Democrat record in government and a strong statement of Liberal Democrat values of internationalism, openness and freedom. This is proper oratory. There are too few in the next generation across politics, Farron being one of them, who can deliver this real heart-tugging, stirring sort of speech. Here it is in full:

Just across the road from this conference centre you are in the Gordon constituency. Indeed about 30 per cent of Gordon voters live within 5 miles of here. If you haven’t taken an hour out from the conference to help the campaign there is still time to do so. If you have, thank you, but you can still do some more!

I have had the honour to represent the people of Gordon for the past 32 years. I want to tell you something about them and the area.

Things have changed enormously since 1983. There were no mobile phones, no emails, no laptop computers. The fanciest piece of kit I had was a golf ball memory typewriter. The House of Commons paid for one member of staff. The local party paid for a part time secretary in the constituency office which they provided rent free. So during my early years as an MP I and the local party subsidised my work.

In that first winter severe storms brought down power lines leaving thousands of people without power, in some cases for weeks. My office became an unofficial helpline and I worked with what was then the Hydro Board to help prioritise re connections – for vulnerable elderly people and young families and farmers facing the loss of livestock.

In the last 32 years the farming community have not had their troubles to seek. The biggest disaster was the BSE crisis which saw more than 1000 people laid off within a week, One young company lost 95 per cent of its business and all but one of its employees. By its own enterprise and some help from the Government it is now one of our most successful companies in the meat industry.

Years later the industry was hit by foot and mouth. The outbreak wasn’t here but the restrictions on movements of animals had severe effects. Then I was grateful for the wise advice of local vet Richard Brown and the sensible response of Ross Finnie.

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In full: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference – personal stories which show the good Liberal Democrats have done

This is Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie’s speech just delivered to the party’s Spring Conference in Aberdeen. It’s full of real, practical accounts of how the Liberal Democrats have improved people’s lives. 

George is a young man. He lives in the Borders.  George works hard but is not rich.  He earns £12,000 a year.

Before Liberal Democrats were in Government he used to pay over £1,100 income tax. But this year it will be cut to £200.

George is not alone.  Over 2 million Scots have had their income tax cut.

I believe fair tax is necessary for a fair society.

It makes work pay, so people can stand on their own two feet.

It is what liberals are for – giving everyone the opportunity to get on in the world.

Without Liberal Democrats in Government this would not be possible.

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Paddy Ashdown carves out a new career as a literary reviewer

He’s been a marine. He’s been an MP and party leader. He’s an election campaign chief and a successful author. Paddy Ashdown has now shown that he can be an effective literary critic. As you would expect, his comments are direct, no-nonsense and pithy – and required journalists and bloggers to put content warnings on their missives from Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in Aberdeen.

From the Scotsman:

The former SNP leader’s book The Dream Shall Never Die recounts his experiences in last year’s independence referendum campaign.

The book was published yesterday, with Lord Ashdown telling the press he had been reading it on his way to the conference.

During a media briefing, Lord Ashdown said: “I was reading Mr Salmond’s biography on the way up. It’s not very good, is it?

“In my view, I think it is an extraordinary exercise in self-congratulation.”

He then went on to describe the book as “the longest exercise in literary masturbation since politics began”.

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In Full: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference: “Liberalism is needed more than ever”

Here is Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Conference in which he says the party will confound the doom-mongers and sets out why we can be proud in our records in Government. He paints a grim picture of life with the Tories governing alone and, after praising Willie Rennie, tells us  “Let’s go win.”

Good afternoon, Conference.

It is good to be back in Aberdeen.

Aberdeen is where I attended party conference of the Scottish Liberal Party for the first time here in 1983.

The party was very different then.   In fact it was a different party – liberals and social democrats were still in different parties.

The Scottish Liberal leader then was Russell Johnston.

The party Chair was Ross Finnie and the vice-chairs included a couple of young turks called Jim Wallace and Malcolm Bruce.

What ever became of them?


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