Tag Archives: sheila ritchie

“Those bloody Liberal Democrats are in town”

The main hall in the Town House in the South Lanarkshire Town of Hamilton was the room where it happened this weekend (see what I did there?). The song from the musical Hamilton tells us to “Talk less, smile more” but there was actually a lot of both this weekend as Scottish Liberal Democrats gathered for Conference.

I have to admit, I was sceptical about this new venue and the hour I spent dragging my suitcase round empty streets in the dark on Thursday night trying to find the hotel did not improve my mood.

One of our number overhead in the ASDA across the road from the conference hotel “Those bloody Liberal Democrats are in town this weekend.”

However, the Town House is a lovely building, even more so when lit up purple by LGBT Youth Scotland for Purple Friday, the last Friday of LGBT History Month. The staff there and in the Town House were so  friendly and helpful.

We had some intense debates over the weekend. I actually ended up making five speeches, which is unheard of. I had planned to do three – I was proposing a motion on providing better housing support for victims of domestic abuse, summating the Scottish Young Liberals’ motion on trans rights and I’d hoped to be called in the debate on sex work.

I ended up also speaking about the problems people face with housing and the social security system when they leave prison and proposing the constitutional amendment which would allow the implementation of the new disciplinary process in Scotland.

The latter struck true terror into my heart. It meant going up against Scotland’s wonderful constitutional guru, John Lawrie who had concerns that we were giving too much power to the Federal Party. Actually, Sheila had cannily drafted the amendment so that we retain the power and delegate the functions so covering all our bases.

As persistent troublemaker (in the best possible way) Richard Coxon said in his speech, two inalienable truths of the Scottish Party are that Sheila Ritchie (the convener who wrote the amendment) is always right. And John Lawrie is always right. The party dealt with the conflict in Sheila’s favour this time.

One of my best highlights was the look of utter surprise and mild irritation on Sheila’s face when she won the Scottish Lib Dem Women’s award for the person who had done most to advance diversity. She has become a real driving force for the implementation of the Alderdice Review, showing local parties how to engage more with BAME people and get them involved in the party. She absolutely deserved the accolade. The SLDW AGM, by the way, decided to name the award after Helen Watt, who devoted so much time to the organisation until her far too early death in 2016.

I shall tell you more about the weekend in the next few days, but the agenda was absolutely packed with things that actually provoked debate. An attempt to overturn our policy on decriminalising sex work and replace it with the controversial Nordic model was unsuccessful, but the summating speech in favour of the motion affected everyone, whichever side of the debate you were on.

Diane Martin, who experienced the most awful treatment by exploitative pimps and ended up being trafficked for sex work, described her horrendous experience in an incredibly moving way. There was shock as she told how she was raped by a man with a gun who told her he was having a “freebie.” Diane won the award for the best speech of the Conference.

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Sheila Ritchie tells Scottish Lib Dems: Let’s reach out to the the internationalist, the iconoclast & the thrawn individualist

Back in the day, I learned how to campaign and how to be a liberal from Sheila Ritchie. She is a bit of a party legend but hasn’t been wildly active in recent years. However, she came back to run Christine Jardine’s campaign in Gordon and she was brilliant. She spoke to the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ members meeting last Sunday and I know that her words about liberalism, the future and the national campaign will interest you. She has given her permission for me to share her words with you. Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy:

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The former Whip is well and truly whipped in Go Sober fundraising challenge

Go Sober highest fundraisers

Over the past month, we have been keeping you posted on Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael’s Go Sober for October fundraising challenge with his old friend, party legend Sheila Ritchie. They made hilarious pitches for your money last week.

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Man in hotel downs whisky at midnight…

Alistair's Highland ParkOk, so it’s not the most exciting headline in the world. After all, nocturnal imbibing of spirits is pretty commonplace.

However, when the man in question is Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael breaking his month long abstinence having raised, at the time of writing, £4,235 for Macmillan Cancer Support, it is appropriate to mark the occasion.

The last time Alistair had a drink, he wasn’t in the Cabinet, Scotland still had an outside chance of qualifying for the World Cup finals and the third Bridget Jones book was still under lock and key at the publishers. He was finally able to celebrate/commiserate in traditional style. His tipple of choice was, in my opinion, the world’s finest single malt, Orkney’s Highland Park.

It seemed that half of Facebook was up to celebrate with him to enjoy the occasion. He told us:

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EXCLUSIVE: Alistair Carmichael and Sheila Ritchie pitch for your Go Sober sponsorship

We have been following the often humorous progress of party legend Sheila Ritchie and Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael as they take part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober for October challenge. At the time of writing, Sheila is the top fundraiser in the UK and Alistair is fifth. They have raised, between them, over £6,000. When we predicted that they might get to £5,000, we thought were being wildly optimistic. We’ve noticed that when we write about their quest on here, it leads to an upsurge in donations for them both. 

In order to encourage you to donate, and to choose whether you give your money to #TeamAlistair or #TeamSheila, the two old friends have written exclusively for you. The order in which the posts appear was decided by the toss of a coin. 

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#TeamAlistair vs #TeamSheila Go Sober update – Carmichael behind but almost £3k pledged so far

Last week we brought you news of the challenge between Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael and one of his best friends, party legend Sheila Ritchie to see who could raise most money for Macmillan Cancer Support by going sober for October.

In the last 7 days, Mrs Ritchie has extended her already considerable lead. With ten days to go, can she pull off a memorable victory for the grassroots against the Establishment?

The current scores are as follows:

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Carmichael behind in first major test since becoming Secretary of State for Scotland

We all know that Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael likes a social drink or two, although as he says himself  “please do not take this to mean that I have any sort of addiction issue.” So many of his friends were surprised when he decided to take part in Macmillan Cancer Relief’s Go Sober for October fundraising campaign.

The ante was considerably upped during the first week when his old friend, ace campaigner and party legend Sheila Ritchie, decided on a Twitter whim to take part as well and challenged Alistair to a competition to see which of them could raise the most money.

This, of course, was all before Alistair was promoted to the Cabinet. Imagine having to face Theresa May, Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith without being able to have a wee dram.

We aren’t half way through October yet, but at the time of writing, Sheila is some £300 ahead of Alistair, with £1025 pledged to his £710.

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