Tag Archives: willie rennie

Lib Dems mark #vote100

Today, Lib Dems marked the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote.

Vince put 16 and 17 year olds at the heart of his comments:

Today we celebrate 100 years since partial extension of the franchise to women.  It is shocking to think that another decade had to pass before votes were offered on a fully equal basis.

The causes both of gender equality and real democracy in the UK still have far to go.  A century on, we still see unjustifiable gender pay gaps, and sexism remains a scourge in the workplace and throughout society.

Parliament itself remains unrepresentative of society and of political opinion.  The next historic battle for democratic rights in the UK is to extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds, and reform our broken electoral system so that every vote counts and all voices can properly be heard.

Sal Brinton said that at current rates of progress her baby granddaughters, 2 this Summer, would be in their 9th decade by the time there was gender quality in the House of Common

In the last 100 years there have obviously been massive changes for the role of women in society. We are more equal, we are treated more fairly, and we face fewer obstacles in our lives. But the job is not yet done. As women we are not yet truly equal, we are not yet treated fairly, and we still face obstacles in our lives.

We are still behind in our politics and change must be led from the top. My granddaughters will be two this summer. At the current, glacial, rate of change they will be in their ninth decade before we have parity in the House of Commons. That is not good enough.

Willie Rennie tweeted:

In Wales, Jane Dodds found herself on the telly – and as the only woman on the panel discussing women getting the vote.

And there is a fabulous video and, of course, call to arms, from Jo Swinson:

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Rennie warns of budget cuts to councils and health boards

Speaking ahead of the Scottish Parliament debate on the Budget, Willie Rennie set out the Liberal Democrat priorities of investment in education and mental health. The SNP Finance Minister has not made good on a promise to provide funding for inter-island ferries in the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland.

The Budget needs to do more to meet the long term needs of the economy.

It should invest in people through education and mental health. We have a fully costed plan to make that happen.

We have yet to hear how the SNP are going to change the Budget to make sure

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Willie Rennie to run almost 5 marathons in 4 days to raise funds for mental health charity

As far as we know, Scotland doesn’t have any elections this May.

Willie Rennie isn’t going to be slacking though.

Over the Easter weekend, he’ll be running the 117 miles of the Fife Coastal Path which runs from the Firth of Forth to the Forth of Tay. He hopes to raise £1000 at least for the Scottish Association for Mental Health a Scottish mental health charity. This reflects his personal and political priorities of securing better mental health care.

That 117 miles is not far off being 5 marathons so …

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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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Budget drama in Scotland – Willie Rennie wants “an education focus as never before”

The Scottish Government unveils its budget this Thursday. The SNP mislaid their majority in Holyrood in the elections last year so there could be a bit of drama between now and February when the Finance Bill is finalised.

The last time a Budget fell was in 2009 when the Greens, to everyone’s surprise, voted against. A couple of weeks later, to nobody’s surprise, they voted for it but hadn’t extracted anything of consequence from the Government.

When John Swinney was Finance Minister, he used to engage pretty well with the other parties. Willie Rennie was able to get things like free school meals, tens of thousands of college places and nursery education for 2 years olds put in. However, now that we have started beating the SNP pretty comprehensively, the atmosphere has turned a bit nasty.

New Finance Minister Derek Mackay is playing games with crucial inter-island ferry services in Orkney and Shetland, both represented by Liberal Democrat MSPs. Various SNP Ministers have been giving the very strong impression that they would help the Islands Councils with the cost of these ferries without which some remote communities simply could not survive.

Now, however, they are inferring that it’ll only go in the Budget if the Lib Dems promise to vote for it. That sort of posturing doesn’t play well in those communities. The issue was debated in Parliament last week during a Lib Dem opposition day and the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf made a pretty blatant threat.

There is a window of opportunity for Liberal Democrat members of the Scottish Parliament. Either they can engage positively in the budget, have a discussion about this important issue and side with their constituents, or they can play party politics.

I mean, we’d brought the issue to the floor of the Parliament, which was discussing it at that time and made its view plain by passing the Lib Dem motion. If SNP ministers fail to honour Parliament’s wishes, that is a pretty serious thing. 

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WATCH: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference

Here is Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, here are a few highlights:

On Lib Dem values:

We stand with the weak against the strong, and will use the power of government to tackle the social and economic injustices that limit freedom.

We say power is safer when it is shared and will trust communities and individuals with the power to control their own lives.

We are trustees of our world, and our society, and must pass on a sustainable legacy which will benefit future generations.

Hammering the Tories:

Well, we know that the Scottish Conservatives are the Baked Alaska of politics.

Apparently warm, fluffy and attractive on the outside.

But when you cut it open you find an ice cold heart.

That went down well in the room, but the slight flaw in the logic is that Baked Alaska is delicious.

There was a strong section on tax, described as “pickpocketing” by the Tories:

Is it theft to invest in building the best education system in the world?

Is it pickpocketing to provide the social care for those in need?

Is it a crime to want to create a fairer society?

I tell you that this is no time for narrow, selfish Conservatives.

For care, for education, for a fairer society this is the time for Liberal Democrats to stand up and be counted for the greater good.

Alex Salmond’s decision to do a show on Russian propaganda channel Russia Today came in for some serious and not so serious commentary:

Good afternoon conference.

Or dobryj dyen to Mr Salmond.

Actually, conference, I don’t want to joke about it.

Russia is undermining western democracy.

They undermined the campaign of President Macron.

Attacked Chancellor  Merkel.

We first heard about them when we found out they had undermined Hillary Clinton.

When we met here a year ago people were grief-stricken that the first woman to run for President was defeated in the way that she was.

So it is a disgrace that Alex Salmond has decided to supplement his First Minister’s pension by legitimising a Russian organisation whose mission is to undermine western democracy. It’s a disgrace.

He really went after the Brexiteers on immigration:

Boris Johnson should explain why world class university research is on the wane because researchers have moved to other parts of the world.

Nigel Farage should tell shoppers why they can’t get home grown fruit, fish and veg in our shops because we don’t have enough people to grow them.

Theresa May should tell you why you can’t have a carer for your elderly mother, or why you have to wait weeks to see your GP because they have all gone back to Europe.

And Jeremy Corbyn should come and tell you why public services are being cut because we have fewer workers paying tax to fund these vital services.

When all of this happens, you can point to every leader who backed Brexit in the full knowledge of the price of Brexit but didn’t have the courage to stand up and be counted.

And he showed the right kind of humility and willingness to listen on sexual harassment:

Some people ask women – “why did you not mention anything before?”

Let me put this as politely as I can: communication requires listening as well as talking.

Maybe they haven’t been listening.

So instead of all the excuses let’s all make sure we are listening now.

This is not nothing.

This is not the fault of women.

This is our opportunity to listen.

Listen to the decades of frustration and anger.

Listen.

And if we listen, we will change.

Enjoy the whole thing:

The text is below:

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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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Willie Rennie to hold talks with SNP over support for Brexit deal referendum

The quest to build a case for an “exit from Brexit” referendum continues. In his speech to the Bournemouth Conference, Willie Rennie said he would be trying to work with the SNP to build support for the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ campaign for an “exit from Brexit” referendum.

He wrote to the First Minister and she has agreed that this merits discussion.

Willie will now meet the Scottish Government Minister Mike Russell for talks on this issue. He welcomed this invitation:

This is a welcome step forward from the Scottish Government and shows that there is support from across the political spectrum for a clear approach to Brexit that gives the British people a final say.

Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mike Russell have shown support for our campaign to give the public the final say but this can only be achieved if parties are willing to work together to protect the UK’s relationship with the EU. I know that there are colleagues across all UK parties who support this position and I urge them to join this movement and build the momentum further.

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Happy Golden Jubilee to Willie Rennie

As if we needed any further proof that the best people were born in 1967 after Nick and I celebrated our Golden Jubilees this year, it is Willie Rennie’s special day today.

I wonder if he celebrated it like this.

If you look at the longer post, you can see him actually giving a political interview on a slide.

He probably didn’t do anything like this:

Or have an alpacalypse.

And we hope to goodness he didn’t meet any angry rams.

He might have had another Lady and the Tramp eating spaghetti moment with a cute dog, though.

We have to remember that Willie has done a lot more with his half century than fool around with cute animals. In 1993 he helped Diana Maddock win the Christchurch by-election. In 1997, he moved back up to Scotland where he was Chief Executive of the Party during the first devolution referendum. Then he moved to be Chief of Staff at the Parliament. All the early coalition achievements in Scotland – free personal care, free university tuition, had his fingerprints on them.

Then in 2006, he grabbed his place in history as a Lib Dem by-election winner. He audaciously took the Dunfermline and West Fife seat in Gordon Brown’s back yard after a dreadful few weeks for the party when we’d deprived ourselves of a leader and had a new tabloid scandal breaking roughly every half hour.

Since he became leader of the Scottish Lib Dems in 2011, he’s challenged the SNP Government on education and mental health, centralisation, justice, the Police, civil liberties and many other issues.

In the party, he put his own reputation on the line by championing radical diversity measures that saw Scotland elect 2 male and 2 female MPs this June. That took courage and determination on his part.

He has been the leader the party so desperately needed after the drubbing we took in 2011. He has campaigned with energy and always a massive smile in every part of Scotland.

And what is he doing on his birthday? Giving a speech on Brexit to the SCER Europa Institute. He’s challenging the SNP, Ruth Davidson the Scottish Conservative Leader who supported Remain and Scotland’s Labour leadership contenders to get on board with a Brexit Deal referendum. He says that such a vote would be entirely democratic and asks why we shouldn’t trust the people to give their opinion.

The full text of his speech is below:

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Lib Dems react to Theresa May’s Florence speech

Vince said that it was no wonder the Brexiteers were terrified of giving the people a say on the deal:

Both the Conservatives and Labour have now essentially converged on the same position, which is to kick the can down the road and simply delay the economic pain caused by an extreme Brexit.

Neither are prepared to fight to keep Britain in the single market and customs union or to offer people a chance to exit from Brexit

Voters were promised £350m a week for the NHS, instead Theresa May is admitting the UK will have to pay a hefty Brexit bill worth billions of pounds.

No wonder the Brexiteers are terrified of giving the British people the final say through a referendum on the facts.

Willie Rennie said the “delinquent’ May was trashing our relationship with Europe.

Theresa May is kicking the can down the road. Sixteen months on from the Brexit referendum this delinquent Prime Minister is trashing our relationship with Europe.

She seems incapable of deciding what kind of relationship she wants with Europe and that prolonged uncertainty is causing economic damage.

We were promised Brexit would be an easy negotiation and that £350 million each week would be invested in the NHS. Neither are true.

This makes the compelling case for a Brexit deal referendum even stronger.

Yesterday, the Lib Dems laid out seven tests for Theresa May’s speech. Tom Brake said that only one of them was even slightly met. 

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WATCH: Willie Rennie’s speech to Conference

Willie gave one of the best speeches I’d heard him give. It was robust and clear – putting the Liberal Democrats back at the forefront of driving change in Scotland.

The text is below.

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Willie Rennie: Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of devolution

I was still living in England at the time of the 1997 election. As the results came through, I nipped upstairs in the sports centre in Chesterfield where I was at the count to watch some results on the telly. There were was one other person in the room, Tony Benn, who was eating a white chocolate Magnum. Anyway, I was quietly blubbing with joy because I knew that this result would mean that we would get a Scottish Parliament.

A lot has happened since then. Some of the Lib Dems’ finest moments came during their 8 years in coalition with Labour at Holyrood. Free personal care, STV for local government, free eye and dental checks, the smoking ban (ahead of similar measures down south), right to roam, decent freedom of information legislation were just some of the things that we got done. The paucity of the SNP’s achievements in their decade in power do not compare well.

On this 20th anniversary of the devolution referendum, Willie Rennie said:

Liberal Democrats are proud of the part we played in bringing about the devolution voted for in 1997 and enacted from 1999. A decentralised United Kingdom, with decision making closer to people, with a pluralist approach at its heart, reflected decades of campaigning for Britain to become a modern democracy.

Liberal Democrats were part of the civic movement in Scotland, through the Constitutional Convention, that set down the clear path for a devolved parliament with real powers. And they were able to take up their places inside the newly elected Scottish Parliament after the first elections.

Liberal Democrats can be proud that the big difference made to people’s lives in Scotland –free personal care for the elderly and the revolution in renewable energy to name just two – came as a result of the work of Liberal Democrats in the first term of office. People even now still demand that governments of all stripes get as much done in their terms of office as we did back then.

The whole of the UK has benefited from devolution and the transfers of powers that have taken place since 1999.

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: Lib Dems put forward a vision of Scotland at the heart of both unions

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are the place to be if you want to stay in the UK and the EU, says Willie Rennie. In a wide-ranging article for Holyrood magazine, he sets out what we would do to tackle the crisis in Scotland’s public services. Health, education and the Police are all in a mess and we have the ideas to fix them.

A strong education system is the key to a strong economy in the long term. It is critical that we educate future generations so that they have all the skills they need to succeed.

Failing at education is failing on the future of Scotland. The SNP have let Scotland’s world-leading education system fall from the best in the world to just average.

Eighty-six per cent of teachers say their workload has risen in the last year, yet John Swinney has his head in the sand and refuses to take action to relieve the pressure our teachers face.

We have had a year of assurances from the Scottish Government that they are tackling this major problem, but teachers say the problem is getting worse rather than better.

Instead of nationalist spin, teachers, parents and pupils want concrete action.

That’s why my party used budget negotiations to press the SNP over its dramatic cuts to college budgets, which have led to 150,000 fewer college places today compared to when the SNP came to power, as well as for transformative investment in Scottish education.

The health service in Scotland is under immense pressure. GP surgeries are closing their lists to new patients and others are contemplating closure because they can’t find the staff they so desperately need.

Meanwhile, children are waiting years to receive mental health treatment while the country barrels towards a staffing crisis that risks bringing the service to its knees.

This year my party have pressed the SNP to deliver the required funding and provide a new mental health practitioner in every surgery, relieving the pressure on other parts of the service. This is how we build a healthier Scotland.

Only the Liberal Democrats consistently opposed SNP centralisation of the police force and once again, this year we have been central to scrutinising the actions of the single force.

We told the SNP that their politically motivated centralisation of the police would damage those services, but they did not listen.

Instead, the closure of police control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness has caused havoc to the services in the North and North East, leading to a series of serious and potentially life-threatening blunders, like sending police to Glasgow instead of Aberdeen.

Every time the SNP attempts another power grab, mistakes are made and our communities suffer.

The Scottish Government must call an end to the one-size-fits-all agenda and find a way to give powers back to our communities.

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Willie Rennie’s programme for government: Better schools, mental health care, more democracy in police

Yesterday the Scottish Government unveiled its Programme for Government for the coming year. It wouldn’t have to go far to beat last year’s which saw precious little legislation. However, there is some stuff that we can welcome, so long as it delivers what it says on the tin. Lib Dems pardons for those convicted of consensual same sex activity, consultation on gender recognition and more inclusive sex education, presumption against prison sentences under 12 months, free personal care for people under 65 with seriously disabling conditions and raising the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12. This last measure is one which they shamefully and resolutely refused to do during the last Parliament despite pressure from the then Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes.

There is still precious little investment in mental health. The warm words doesn’t match up to the facilities available on the ground. One real pinch point is the transition from child to adult mental health services. Young people have to wait up to a year and more to even be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. Once they have managed to be seen, the treatment is good – but when they hit 18, there is very little for them and the services are arranged in a very different way. A child can go from fairly intensive support to nothing.

Below is Willie Rennie’s full speech in response to the Government’s programme in which he sets out Lib Dem priorities of using the tax powers to invest in education and to provide more and better mental health services.

He also suggests that the Lib Dems are sceptical about Holyrood voting against the European Withdrawal Bill because he thinks that the SNP are using it to drive a wedge between Scotland and England. Certainly the issue is more complex – both Scotland’s governments are letting it down in this regard.

“On Saturday afternoon, together with Alex Cole Hamilton, I joined a group of breast cancer survivors called the Port Edgar Dragons.  We were on their magnificent dragon boat Isla May on the River Forth.  They are a wonderful group of women who show gutsy human spirit to improve their health.

We had an alternative view of the Queensferry Crossing whilst thousands of lucky people enjoyed a stroll over the magnificent new structure.  The engineers and workers should be proud of their achievement.

“Those who argued it was not necessary only need cast their mind back to the winter of 2015 when the old bridge was forced to close or a little further back when it was discovered that the main cables were corroding.

“As with any project of that scale it has not been without its problems but it was a necessary investment to guarantee one of the major arteries down the east of the country.

“The summer recess should have allowed us all to reflect on one of the most turbulent periods in politics for some time.  With nine sets of elections and referendums in the last six years people have had their fill.

“People want elected politicians to deliver real improvements to their lives. They are fed up with the endless focus on independence. To give credit to the First Minister she recognised that in June when she signalled that she was cooling on independence.  I was sceptical at the time and will always be suspicious but for now we have a chance to focus on real change.

“And today’s announcement on a presumption against prisons sentences of twelve months or less is a start.  We have been calling for this for some time.

“After opposing it twice I am pleased to see the SNP are now prepared to raise the age of criminal responsibility. These are real liberal measures which we will support. Yet the problems our country faces are significant.

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Willie Rennie – the “secret guilty pleasure” of singer and columnist Michelle McManus


MichelleMcManus2010
Michelle McManus

Winner of Pop Idol 2003, singer, broadcaster, actress and columnist, Michelle McManus must have brought blushes to the cheeks of Willie Rennie with this passage in her Glasgow Evening Times column:

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Rennie calls on Justice Secretary to end “chilling” Police whistleblower policy

Scotland’s Police force has been beset with difficulties since its 8 Police forces were merged into a single entity five years ago. Some of these difficulties have come to light because police officers have reported their concerns to politicians and the media. So what is the Police management plan to deal with this? Simples. Just make police officers register every single contact with politicians or journalists. If they don’t they could find themselves in big trouble.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has called for the intervention of the Justice Secretary and Scottish Police Authority to ensure that the police hierarchy are not free to silence internal critics after it was revealed that new guidance has been issued within Police Scotland that will crack down on whistle-blowers.

From STV News:

Scotland’s justice secretary has been urged to ensure new Police Scotland guidelines do not have a “chilling effect” on internal critics within the force.

The new rules require officers to declare any associations they have with journalists and politicians, raising concerns they will be used to quash whistleblowing.

The guidance is compulsory for all police officers and special constables, with the prospect of misconduct proceedings for anyone who breaches it.

It is part of the force’s latest anti-corruption strategy and aims to “protect the information, assets and reputation of Police Scotland”.

The General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation likened it to the sort of policy you would find in a banana republic.

Any policy that equates contact with elected parliamentarians and journalists with contact with criminals is deeply worrying.

It risks being seen as an attempt to silence dissent that would not be out of place in a banana republic.

Willie said:

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Willie, Christine and Jo celebrate Scottish Lib Dem wins

I could cheerfully have swung for Willie Rennie on Friday afternoon when he suggested an event on Sunday morning to celebrate our 4 Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs. I mean, it’s the first Sunday morning in 7 weeks most  of us could have had a lie-in. I thought nobody would want to go and it would be a disaster.

I was wrong. It was well-attended, there were broadcast and print journalists there and the atmosphere was great. There are, however,  two very important lessons to learn from the event, but more of that later. A huge crowd of people turned up at Jo Swinson’s campaign office in Milngavie. One person brought his two gorgeous and friendly  dogs, Caleb and Bella, who looked resplendent in their Jo Swinson rosettes.

Christine Jardine and Alex Cole-Hamilton came across from Edinburgh to join in the celebrations. Christine used to live in Bearsden and told how it was Jo who had inspired her to get involved in politics and stand for Parliament.

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Willie Rennie: SNP must hold parliamentary vote to cancel divisive independence referendum

I managed to get two hours’ sleep this morning. The dog woke me up by deciding to use my stomach as a trampoline after someone let her up the stairs. I checked my phone to see a message inviting lots of us to Party HQ in Edinburgh for an event with Willie.

Ten minutes later I was on a train ready to be a yellow diamond bearer in the background as he made a statement and gave interviews to the media

With Christine Jardine, Edinburgh West’s new MP by his side, he talked about the gains we had made, quadrupling our representation and how the election result across Scotland meant that independence was now off the agenda. He said the First Minister needed to make a big gesture to bring the country together:

The election result was a monumental event with the loss of colossal figures on the Scottish political scene.

The loss of 21 MPs including the former First Minister Alex Salmond and the SNP Deputy Leader Angus Robertson will leave a major hole in Scottish politics and the SNP.

The SNP lost 13 percentage points which is more than any other political party in the United Kingdom. Such major losses require a major political response.

The central issue of the election in Scotland was another independence referendum.  The Scottish people have rejected that proposal. Nicola Sturgeon must respond immediately to this major event.

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Willie Rennie’s final rallying call: Lib Dem MPs will put Scotland at heart of UK & UK at heart of Europe

Willie Rennie holds his last campaign rally in North East Fife where he hopes Elizabeth Riches will take the seat for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

He will say

In place like East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh West, North East Fife, the North East, Argyll and the Highlands people have a chance to have a MP that will stand strongly against independence and put the local community first.

In this election we have set out a clear and positive message that Scotland is best served when it is at the heart of the UK and the UK is at the heart of Europe. The

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Scottish Liberal Democrats to launch manifesto

Willie Rennie will launch the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ manifesto this morning at an Edinburgh mental health charity.

We will have the details later, but ahead of the launch he said:

Votes for the Liberal Democrats will stop another divisive independence referendum from the nationalists.

With the Scottish economy teetering on the edge of a recession, the performance of Scottish education dropping down the international rankings and mental health services failing to deliver, the last thing our country needs is another divisive and distracting independence referendum.

The Liberal Democrats are setting out a positive plan to invest in mental health and education. A modest penny on tax secures those.

We will protect jobs in Scotland by opposing an extreme Conservative Brexit and giving people the right to reject a bad deal.

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The campaign starts up again

It’s the first day of national campaigning since the Manchester attack on Monday night.

For Tim Farron, it’s not an immediate return to hostilities. Instead, he’s going to Warrington to visit a Jonathan Ball/Tim Parry Peace Foundation in Warrington.

The Foundation was set up by the parents of the two boys who were killed by the Warrington Bomb in 1993.

Tim wants to learn about the charity’s work.

Later he will attend a remembrance service at a Mosque with the Ahmadiyya community in Manchester.

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Liberal Democrats react to Manchester bombing

Last night people would have dropped their kids off at Manchester Arena for the Ariana Grande concert. The kids would have been so excited. In the normal course of events, they’d have come out afterwards completely buzzing about the whole thing and would have spent hours reliving it and singing the songs.

They will certainly never forget the awful events of last night.

It is utterly impossible to comprehend what goes through the mind of someone who targets children and young people in this way.

One of my friends wrote on Facebook that we should think about what the terrorists want us to do – and then do the exact opposite.

They want us to turn on each other and change our lives to pander to them or fear of them. We can’t let them diminish us like that.

And in fact, we can see from the acts of kindness and solidarity from the people of Manchester that the generous, open-hearted spirit of that wonderful city will prevail.

Our hearts go out to all those who have lost loved ones, or who are going through the raw anxiety of not being able to track someone down, or who are waiting for news of an injured friend or relative.

All of us need to think about what we can do to make the world kinder, more open and gentle – and then go and do it.

Senior Liberal Democrats have been reacting to last night’s attack. Tim Farron said:

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And the winner of the Scottish Leaders’ Debate is….a nurse

Yes, Willie was brilliant and we’ll come to that in a moment. But let’s hear it for this nurse who had Nicola Sturgeon on the ropes. Two weeks ago the First Minister led her MSPs to vote against an end to the pay freeze for Scottish nurses. The nurse in the audience spoke very movingly about having to use a food bank. She also talked about how demoralising working in the NHS was. Watch her here.

A few years ago, a friend of mine who’s a nurse really struggled to manage on her salary as a single parent so I know that what tonight’s nurse says rings true.

I also spent 51 days last Autumn watching exactly how hard and stressful work is for nurses. No matter how short-staffed they were and how rushed off their feet they were, they still managed to give my husband fantastic care. I was worried then about the effect that it was having on their health. Giving at 120% all the time is simply not sustainable.

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Inflation sign of Brexit squeeze – Lib Dems

Inflation has gone up to 2.7% today.

This confirms long-held Liberal Democrat warnings about the impact of Brexit, with businesses struggling to contain rising costs and consumer demand being squeezed.

Susan Kramer said:

These worrying levels of inflation show the Brexit squeeze is hitting shopping baskets across the country.

This is the reality of Theresa May and Nigel Farage’s extreme Brexit agenda: higher prices in the shops, the cost of holidays going up and less money for our schools and NHS.

A brighter future is possible. We will give people a choice over their future through a referendum, so they can reject a bad Brexit deal and choose to remain in Europe.

Willie Rennie underlined this point:

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Rennie reveals “appalling” child mental health waits

There are five key elements to the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ main themes for this General Election. We plant ourselves firmly on the side of the majority of people in Scotland – pro EU, pro UK and progressive. And we say that our priorities for any extra money coming to Scotland are education and mental health. None of this is particularly surprising as Willie Rennie has been banging on about it for years.

The SNP is in charge of health and education in Scotland and has failed miserably on both. This week very poor literacy figures came out. Given every child under 15 has received their entire education under the SNP.

One barrier to being able to make the most of education is poor mental health. Willie has been talking for some time about a constituent whose child had to wait a year for mental health treatment. If you think about it, that’s a sixth of their secondary education. Once proper support begins, it’s not a quick job to restore good health so the impact on children’s lives is real and damaging.

New statistics acquired by the party through freedom of information requests have shown that five big Scottish health boards, including Lothians, Fife and Highland, recorded cases of children waiting over a year for mental health treatment in 2016/17 or on their current waiting lists.

They include children and young people waiting:

666 days in Lothian before starting treatment in 2016/17
623 days in Highland before starting treatment in 2016/17
611 days in Fife currently
448 days in Ayrshire and Arran currently
385 days in Grampian before starting treatment in 2016/17

After publishing the new figures, Willie commented:

It is appalling to learn that children and young people are still waiting almost two years for the mental health treatment they need. Waiting more than 600 days for help must feel like a lifetime. SNP ministers should hang their heads in shame.

These new statistics show why SNP Government was so wrong to reject the opportunity to invest to transform mental health services in its budget. It shows the damage caused by its letting the mental health strategy expire for 15 months. Its replacement has finally been published but charities and pressure groups have rightly declared it lacks ambition, detail and investment.

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Why we don’t need another divisive independence referendum

Willie Rennie will probably be disappointed that he didn’t actually get to scrap a car when he visited a scrap yard in Fife this morning. He went there to say that the Liberal Democrats would “scrap the SNP’s plans for another divisive independence referendum.”

He did, however, manage to look disapproving:

He said:

The Liberal Democrats are clear that we want to scrap the SNP’s independence referendum.

The news this week that Scottish education standards on literacy and numeracy have dropped right back shows why it is important.

It is clear to me that if we can stop the SNP’s independence referendum then we can force the Scottish Government to focus on education instead.

The last thing Scotland needs is another divisive independence referendum. It must be scrapped.

There is actually very little appetite, even from some who voted Yes last time, to go through another independence referendum. The divisions from that time are only just starting to heal for some. And as soon as Nicola Sturgeon made her announcement in March, my Twitter timeline was full of the old invective from the cybernats. The rancour invades even the most random areas of our lives, as my husband’s experience shows.

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Rennie, Cole-Hamilton and Campbell launch Christine Jardine’s campaign to take back Edinburgh West

You know that wonderful post-election Saturday morning feeling, that you can lie in bed for a bit longer and you don’t have to rush off and do anything? When you can lie about all day reading trashy novels and drinking gin and tonic in the sunshine?

Well, it will be lovely when we get it in 5 weeks’ time.

Today, we had to drag our weary limbs out of bed sooner than we would have liked and head out campaigning.

In my case, it was to the Edinburgh West campaign launch. Regular readers will know that last week, the Edinburgh West campaign moved into the old SNP office next door to what is now Alex Cole-Hamilton’s constituency office.

Some considerable pleasure was taken in removing the giant poster of Nicola Sturgeon on the window. It has now been replaced with this:

So, this morning the office was jam packed with party members, including our new councillors Kevin Lang, Louise Young and Hal Osler, a film crew making the party election broadcast, a bunch of photographers and Tom Gordon, political editor of the Sunday Herald.

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Willie Rennie: Every Liberal Democrat councillor will be a champion for their community, not a cheerleader for independence

Willie Rennie has delivered his final rallying call of the Council campaign in Scotland. Every council seat in the country is up for grabs today.

This is what he had to say:

It is incredibly important that everyone has their say on who they want to represent their community.

Every Liberal Democrat Councillor will be a local champion that communities deserve. They will work all year round, not just at election time. Despite the Greens and the SNP wanting to put independence back to the top of the agenda, Liberal Democrats will serve to deliver the improvements to local services that we need.

Our

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Rennie: Rape clause shows that the Tory mask has slipped & nasty party is nastier than ever

For the last few years, Ruth Davidson has painted herself as the acceptable face of the Tory Party. This time last year, she was an ardent Remainer willing to call out her London colleagues on human rights and the like. Now, she’s a hard brexiteer who is prepared to trivialise the effects of the dreadful family cap which prevents families claiming benefits or tax credits for more than two children – unless they can prove to the satisfaction of a civil servant that a third or subsequent child was conceived by rape.

To do that, women have to complete this shocking form and in the process disclose to a third party that they have been raped. This is information that they may never have shared with someone. What gets me is that someone had to draw up that form. The draft must have gone through various people who all signed it off? It seems incredible that nobody actually thought about the effect on the person filling it in. And what happens if some decision maker at the Department of Work and Pensions decides that somehow they aren’t eligible after all? Has anyone thought this through?

Anyway, tonight, Ruth Davidson made light of all of this, saying that all women had to do was “tick a box.”

Ruth Davidson is wrong to make out that  completing this form is a trauma free exercise. Imagine how you would feel writing down your child’s name & signing that their conception was non consensual. What would be going through your mind?

The Tories are bureaucratising the unacceptable and Ruth should be calling her colleagues out on it, not defending their actions.

Willie Rennie, who took part in the demonstration against the rape clause at Holyrood last week, slammed Davidson’s cavalier comments:

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Fun on the campaign trail #1: Willie Rennie and Jo Swinson as Di Caprio and Winslet – or Sergei and Aleksandr

Back in 2005, there was a very dignified photo-op during the election campaign that had then Scottish Lib Dem Leader and Jo Swinson during her first election on a canal barge. It was played time and time again on the news.

Yesterday, Willie Rennie and Jo Swinson launched her campaign to win back East Dunbartonshire on a boat in Kirkintilloch.

The image from that is a bit more fun and perhaps not quite as classy as the 2005 event.

That made it into the Times Red Box briefing.

And there are signs that the Scottish Lib Dem press office are rivalling their London counterparts in the sass department.

Here’s that Meerkat Moment.

And here’s the video that Willie and Jo made to launch her campaign:

At the same time, Theresa May was in Scotland at on of her tightly controlled events where she’s allegedly meeting ordinary people so that she doesn’t need to subject herself to the scrutiny of millions on a tv debate. Willie’s had this to say about her visit:

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