Tag Archives: scottish liberal democrats

Aiming high: Scottish Liberal Democrats launch “Stop Brexit” manifesto

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are the only party in Scotland who want to keep Scotland in the UK and the EU.

You would not expect a Willie Rennie manifesto launch to be boring. Sadly, there were no farm animals, but he and Alex Cole-Hamilton had a race up a climbing wall in Ratho, near Edinburgh.

It’s a great picture!

The prospects for the Scottish Lib Dems have not looked this good in years. The field work from the ComRes poll at the weekend had us in joint second with the Brexit Party, which gives us a real chance of getting party legend Sheila sent to Brussels.

There is clearly everything to play for in the next 9 days. There are record numbers of doors being knocked the length of the country. My spies tell me that Borders candidate Jenny Marr’s local party is vying for the top spot in terms of doors knocked along with the Edinburgh West and East Dunbartonshire.

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Lord Steel’s membership suspended over evidence to child abuse inquiry

Late last night, former Liberal leader David Steel’s membership was suspended by the Scottish Liberal Democrats last night pending an investigation into the evidence he gave to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Scottish Party said:

Following the evidence concerning Cyril Smith given by Lord Steel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on 13th March 2019 the office bearers of the Scottish Liberal Democrats have met and agreed that an investigation is needed.

The party membership of Lord Steel has been suspended pending the outcome of that investigation. That work will now commence.

It is important that everyone in the party, and in wider society, understands the importance of vigilance and safeguarding to protect people from abuse, and that everyone has confidence in the seriousness with which we take it.

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Scottish Liberal Democrats highlight perinatal mental health

As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close, Willie Rennie again used his questions to the First Minister to highlight the crisis in Scotland’s mental health provision:

Post-natal depression and depression during pregnancy affect up to one in five women. Half the women who experience it will go undetected and untreated.

During an FMQs session in April, Willie Rennie highlighted the lack of perinatal mental health services and drew attention to the fact that new mothers in half of Scotland cannot access specialist services. Only Glasgow meets the required standard in the whole of Scotland.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have a number of ideas to provide better perinatal services. They include:

  • The six week post-natal check to include support from a GP and Health Visitor with specific training on maternal mental health;
  • Referrals to suitable community support networks, supported by a health visitor;
  • Inpatient care to allow mothers to continue caring for their babies and be close to home;
  • A new campaign to remove the stigma of mental ill health for new mothers;
  • A new plan to increase core training for GPs and health visitors in identifying and treating maternal mental health.

Yesterday there was a debate on perinatal mental health at Holyrood:

Our health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

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Willie Rennie’s Christmas Message: Scottish Lib Dems stand up for better mental health, education and police services

Embed from Getty Images

Here is Willie Rennie’s Christmas Message:

May I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

2017 was the year the Liberal Democrats turned the corner. We started winning elections again with more MPs and in charge of more councils. I believe that winning is not just good for the Liberal Democrats but is also good for the country.

It means that we have moderate, outward looking, optimistic voices making the case for change and challenging authority and government.

It means that we can shout louder for people who need mental health services. The services are inadequate and must change.

It means we can challenge with greater impact the government and police chiefs on the running of Police Scotland. Without the Liberal Democrats many of the problems of Police Scotland would have gone untested and unchallenged.

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Jo Swinson’s vision for 21st Century Liberalism

Jo Swinson’s keynote speech to Scottish Conference yesterday tackled many current issues from climate change to the challenges faced by developments in automation and technology which threaten 1 in 3 jobs.

She was clear that it was the Liberal Democrats who could lead in developing the answers to these complex challenges;

Most importantly though, as Liberal Democrats we need to bring people together to create these answers to our shared challenges.

“We must not leave room for the populists to sow their seeds of division. This means getting out of what can, at times, be our own echo chambers and starting to bridge the divides in our communities. Our proud liberal tradition of community politics and grassroots campaigning means we know how to do this.

“We have the wind in our sails.  Growing Council groups, strong by-election campaigns, more MPs at Westminster. People are listening again, open to our message.

“British politics needs this radical thinking, this consensus-building, this reaching out across party and ideological divides.

“British politics needs the Liberal Democrats.”

Here is the whole thing:

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Linda’s last day

I can’t quite imagine Clifton Terrace without Linda

What will we do without Linda?

An utter legend

Variants of the above have been said so many times in Scotland in recent weeks, ever since it was announced that our much-loved Party Manager Linda Wilson was leaving us.

For the last 8 and a half years, Linda has been the heart and soul of our headquarters in Edinburgh, running the party with incredible efficiency, with a tremendous capacity to sort stuff out.

She’s run our conferences so that they are enjoyable for media, members and exhibitors alike.

Everyone who has anything to do with Conference or HQ has something nice to say about her.

Apart from her ability to Get Stuff Done, she has a wicked sense of humour and has constantly made us laugh with her pithy observations about life and the universe. She has no reservations about telling people exactly what she thinks when they deserve to hear it.

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WATCH: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference “Liberals are not quitters”

Yesterday, Scottish Liberal Democrats had their Autumn Conference in Dunfermline. Here is Willie Rennie’s leaders’ speech. The text is below.

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Willie Rennie invites 1.6 million Remain voters in Scotland to join the Scottish Liberal Democrats

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It’s postal vote polling day!

Postal vote Scottish Lib DemsAs postal votes start hitting doorsteps in our elections, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have compiled a list of things people should know.

Here are 6 of them:

  1. We’re the only party with a plan to invest half a billion in schools, colleges & nurseries (find out more here: scotlibdems.org.uk/education).
  2. We’ll get serious about mental health (find out more here: scotlibdems.org.uk/health).
  3. We’re the only party with a credible plan to tackle the GP crisis (find out more here: scotlibdems.org.uk/health).
  4. We’ll take real action to make sure Scotland finally meets its climate change targets (find out more here: scotlibdems.org.uk/environment).
  5. We’re the only party that will protect your civil liberties, in Westminster & in Holyrood (find out more here: scotlibdems.org.uk/freedom).
  6. We’ll free public sector workers from top-down targets (find out more here: scotlibdems.org.uk/public sector)
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Scottish Lib Dems to oppose jail terms of less than a year

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have announced another major policy. A few weeks go, they announced their penny on income tax to raise £475 million for investment in education.

Today, Justice spokesperson Alison McInnes has announced that the party will oppose prison sentences of less than a year.

From the BBC:

As part of their 2016 election manifesto, the Scottish Liberal Democrats are to formally back doubling that, by extending the presumption to 12 months.

Justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes said prison sentences for more serious offenders should be complemented by “tough” community service programmes.
“One of the main priorities for Scottish Liberal Democrats is having a criminal justice system where if someone breaks the law, they are swiftly brought to justice,” she said. “But we also believe offenders deserve a chance to get back on track and community rehabilitation is a fundamental part of that.

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Sheila Thomson elected Convener of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Sheila Thomson has been elected Convener of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. She beat Perth Councillor Willie Wilson and gained a spooky 666 votes.

Sheila has been Conference Convener for the past 3 years and was previously a Councillor in Aberdeenshire.

In the other Scottish internal elections, the following were elected:

Executive

Alan Reid

Allan Heron

Christine Jardine

David Green

Dawud Islam

Emma Farthing-Sykes

Galen Milne

Graham Garvie

Jacquie Bell

James Harrison

Jenny Marr

Paul McGarry

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Scottish Party elections: Sheila Thomson: My pitch for Convener

I am seeking election as Convener of the Scottish Liberal Democrats because I believe Scotland needs a strong Liberal Democrat party at all levels of representation from our individual communities, local authorities and Scottish, Westminster and European parliaments. To achieve this we need to ensure our party here in Scotland has a strong team supporting our members and the communities we live and work in, including the Scottish Executive, political leadership and staff team.

I have been a life-time supporter of liberalism, and I have a track record of over twenty years of party activism, working at all levels within the Scottish Party. I joined the Liberal Democrats because they were and remain the only truly liberal party, where we believe in allowing individuals to make their own choices, whilst ensuring that there is a safety net to help those who cannot manage without support.

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Scottish Party elections: Willie Wilson: My pitch for Convener

It is a privilege to have been nominated for the post of Convener of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. We find ourselves at a difficult time for the Party. Our electoral base, both at Holyrood and Westminster has been eroded and at Local Government significantly reduced since the last Local Government Elections. I have no illusions that the challenges we face are enormous, however, they need to be tacked with hard work, determination, co-ordination and targeting. This will help us tackle effectively the financial, electoral and organisational challenges we face. The Leadership of the Party needs to be a spearhead in this process. I consider that I have got the necessary experience, knowledge and skills to tackle the post of Convener.

The work will not be easy and will require a huge amount of effort from Office Bearers, MSPs, our MP, Local Councillors and activists throughout the country. I have now been a Party Member since 1966 and a Councillor since 1980. I currently am Chairman of the Association of Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners, Vice-Chairman of the Conference Committee, Chair of the Mid-Scotland and Fife Region and Secretary to our local party in Perth and Kinross. I also play an active role as a Returning Officer for the Party. Clearly, if I were to win the election for Convener, this workload would be reviewed!

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Jo Swinson to take part in Willie Rennie’s gender balance working group

Willie Rennie has announced the four members of his working group into improving gender balance which he announced last month. He made it clear that he wants to see the party adopt a raft of measures including all women shortlists. Today he met with the Women 50/50 campaign to discuss improving gender balance.

What’s interesting about the make-up of his working group is that it includes people who have historically been sceptical about measures such as all women shortlists. If they support his plans, it will be a very clear message to the party that it is time for serious change. I would be very surprised if they didn’t come up with other measures, such as intensive support for the campaigns of female candidates. They should make sure that they consult LGBT Plus Lib Dems to ensure that the plan that emerges is fully inclusive for transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid and non-binary people.  Steering clear of long-term proponents of procedural measures to achieve gender balance may well be a clever move by Willie.

The members of the working group are:

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Rennie: Scottish Liberal Democrats are listening

It’s 4 years since Willie Rennie became Scottish Liberal Democrat leader this week. He was elected in the wake of a crushing electoral defeat and he celebrates this anniversary in the wake of another one. That is despite him regularly being credited with landing some real blows on the SNP administration at Holyrood with not even 5% of MSPs. Let’s just look at some of the accolades he and his small team have received.

Within weeks of him becoming leader the journalists were full of praise:

A doughty campaigner, with an unpatronising down-to-earth style, Mr Rennie may grow into an impressive leader, building a level of credibility… The Herald

Amid what was… a general air of gloom, there was one bright spark.  This was the performance of Willie Rennie, the new leader of the much depleted Liberal Democrats, whose brief sojourn in the Commons seems to have at least taught him how to frame decent questions, on this occasion about Mr MacAskill’s outrageous behaviour.”  Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph (not a known fan of the Liberal Democrats, to put it mildly)

“The former Scottish Lib Dem chief executive has made a decent start and showed he wasn’t afraid to throw a punch”  Andrew Whitaker, Scotsman

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Scottish Liberal Democrats gather together and start the climb

Scottish Lib Dem members' meetingLast Sunday well over a hundred Scottish Liberal Democrats gathered together in a very warm room in Edinburgh to mull over the election results. Two of our defeated MPs, Mike Moore and Alan Reid made speeches that both inspired and made us cross and sad that they are not part of the new Parliament.

In two and a half hours (the meeting had to be extended), over 40 members made some really interesting contributions on the constitution and the direction of the party.

It was a very positive event. …

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Fancy a chance of dinner with Hugh Grant? Just donate to Lib Dems before Monday evening

We thought they’d done well persuading John Cleese to have dinner with a lucky donor to the party. And it’s a miracle that some of us have any cash left. However, now that payday has arrived, they’ve found another cunning plan to entice us to donate even more. Only dinner with Hugh flipping Grant.

Hot on the heels of his tweet endorsing Danny Alexander the other, he’s now offering to have dinner with the lucky winner drawn from those who donate to the party before Monday night.

What would you ask him? One of my favourite scenes in film ever is the fight scene from Bridget Jones’ Diary when he and Colin Firth slugged it out in a restaurant to “It’s Raining Men”. I’d want to ask him about that after, of course, something worthy about Leveson.

In an email to party members, Grant said he was full of admiration for the way Nick Clegg had stood up to the Tories over Leveson:

I am not a Lib Dem, a Tory a Labourite or anything in particular but I recognise political guts when I see it. And I know Nick Clegg was prepared to stand up to the Tories when they wanted to ignore or water down the Leveson Report. For that he gets a lot of abuse in the Tory press. But he was right to do it. And the manifesto is very clear, not only that Leveson should be delivered, but that it should be done while boosting investigative journalism with more protections.

So I am happy to help make this election a fairer fight.

I can bore to death any lucky winner of this draw on the detail of the Leveson Report and effect of  section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Or we can just talk about me and all my problems.

If you want to take part in this amazing offer, click here.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat Alison McInnes saves our civil liberties…again

There may only be five Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs,sadly, but by heavens they have delivered incredible things.

As Justice Spokesperson for the last four years, Alison McInnes has stopped the SNP Government in its tracks several times. She couldn’t stop them centralising the Police, but she could make a fuss when statistics showed that officers were stopping and searching children. She made a fuss when the SNP started using armed patrols on routine duties in peaceful Highland communities. She defended our rights when the SNP tried to remove the requirement for corroboration in our legal system. She explained why this was so important at our Conference in Autumn 2013:

This is a profound change – sweeping aside centuries of well-established Scottish legal practice.

Conference, Scots Law is not safe in the hands of the Scottish National Party.

In Scotland the Crown prosecutes in the public interest. We must guard against any shift towards prosecuting in the victim’s interest. That would be at odds with our fundamental liberal belief in the need for a robust, transparent and independent justice system.

We need to defend the principle of the presumption of innocence and safeguard against false accusation, wrongful conviction and miscarriages of justice.

The SNP’s proposals will mean that someone could be convicted on the basis of the testimony of just one person, even if five of the fifteen jurors believe that they are innocent.

Witnesses can be honest yet mistaken. Their evidence persuasive but wrong.

And, unfortunately, witnesses do sometimes lie to the police and in court- out of earnest to ensure that the accused is convicted, because of the strength of their convictions or through spite.

I am concerned that scrapping corroboration could mean that false accusations could become more common. The Law Society of Scotland warns that trials could be reduced to “a contest between two competing statements on oath”.

Eventually, after protest from many bodies across Scotland, the government agreed to a review – which would report after the legislation had been passed. Alison rightly thought this was ridiculous and didn’t rest until the plans were postponed until the publication of the review.

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Willie Rennie launches Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto for a “Decade of Opportunity”

Edinburgh West is clearly the place to launch your election manifesto these days. However, when Willie Rennie, Mike Crockart and Jo Swinson launch the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto it won’t be in a massive venue surrounded by an audience of cheering party supporters, it’ll be in the heart of the community, in a small business, in South Queensferry.

Ironically, it’ll be almost exactly opposite the spot across the Firth of Forth in North Queensferry where he gave his first interview as Scottish leader in May 2011.

Last year, Willie talked about a “sunshine strategy” and it looks like he’ll be getting plenty sunshine and 15 degree temperatures for the launch.

Willie said:

Liberal Democrats are driven by our ambition of creating opportunity for all.

Our prospectus to the people of Scotland is proudly Liberal Democrat. Standing on the record of progress in government and vision of the future.

In just five years we have got the economy back on track and done so fairly.  We are now closer to our ambition of creating opportunity for everyone.  But with wins for the Liberal Democrat in this election we can make it a decade of opportunity.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for children by investing in education especially in the early years.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for everyone by investing £800million in our NHS and bring mental health care to the fore.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for workers by creating even more jobs and cutting their taxes too.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for Scotland by delivering more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

These are Liberal Democrat ambitions because they build a stronger economy and a fairer society, in a stronger Scotland.

It is a positive offer to create a decade of opportunity for everyone in our country.

The manifesto can be read here.

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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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A sneak peek at a Scottish Conference agenda full of controversy…

The Agenda for this year’s Scottish Conference will be sent to members tomorrow but I’ve had a bit of a sneak peek. I’d better not give you the full list of timings and the like because Scottish Conference Convener Sheila Thomson would spank me if I did, but I can tell you that there is plenty of scope for controversy and debate.

There are more policy debates than for some considerable time – 9 in total with 6 coming from local parties or members. Scottish Conference will get the chance to have its say on the controversial secret courts legislation. Should …

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Alistair Carmichael becomes Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

To Liberal Democrat activists across the UK, chief whip Alistair Carmichael is one of the most popular parliamentarians. His sociable nature, wise head and sense of humour make him ideally suited for the challenges of being chief whip, but it means that one of our best media performers has been largely confined to the shadows of Westminster for the past two and a half years.

Now the MP for Orkney and Shetland has partially emerged from those shadows to take over as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, succeeding Jo Swinson who stepped down after her promotion in the reshuffle.

Alistair’s …

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Lib Link: Christine Jardine – Scottish Lib Dems on the ropes but definitely not down and out

Christine Jardine was until recently the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ very own CJ inside Downing Street as special adviser on Scottish affairs. She’s now returning to full time politics in Scotland and is looking towards Westminster and Holyrood elections in 2015 and 2015. She’s started off by writing in yesterday’s Scotsman about what she sees as the way forward for the party in Scotland.

She puts forward a robust defence of the calm professionalism of our ministers, MPs and advisers and argues that we activists need to get out on the doorsteps and take the message of their achievements directly to the voters.

For

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From Indian Dance, to Speed Mentoring to barnstorming speeches: Caron’s Top Ten Highlights of Scottish Conference

Scottish Liberal Democrats met in Inverness last weekend for a lively 3 day Conference. Here are my top ten highlights.

  1. Leader Willie Rennie’s first ever Spring Conference speech, delivered with sincerity and passion. He implored the First Minister to make as much time for the dispossessed,  as he does for billionaires such as Murdoch and Donald Trump. He spoke of the Liberal Democrats’ long record of fighting for home rule for Scotland which made us the true guarantors of change. He told of his desire to work constructively with others wherever possible, but how we would stand firm on liberal

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Nick Clegg’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference started yesterday in Inverness and runs until tomorrow (Sunday). Nick Clegg addressed Conference yesterday afternoon; here is his speech in full:

Liberals from the Highlands and Islands have always been at the heart of our party. From the late great Jo Grimond and Russell Johnston, great leaders like Bob Maclennan, Charles Kennedy and Jim Wallace in Scotland, to our current team at Westminster, Highland and Island voices have shaped who the Liberal Democrats are.

In Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael, I have Liberals from the Highlands and Islands with me right at the heart of British Government. …

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