WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish Conference

Full of ideas, passion, sincerity – watch Alex Cole Hamilton’s first leader’s speech to Scottish  Conference:

He delivered it from his home to the online event.

There were a few more policy initiatives – a commission on a just economy led by Jeremy Purvis to report to next year’s Autumn Conference:

If that great liberal William Beveridge could see us now, he would think his transformational work at the end of the war had been for nothing. We are the inheritors of his legacy and we need to do something about it. That is why I am today announcing a Commission for a Just Economy, to re set our liberal vision for Scotland. This will be chaired by Jeremy Purvis and will present recommendations to our conference in a year’s time. This will be rooted in liberal values, like social justice, sustainability and above all human rights.

A railcard with a 50% discount to encourage people back on to public transport and a package of measures to tackle the climate emergency:
Dramatic cuts in rail prices to encourage rail usage.
Ripping up the SNP’s signed agreement with Heathrow airport
Using powers over air passenger duty to tackle people who fly more and fly further.

He also talked about his supported for Liam McArthur’s bill to introduce assisted dying:

if there is a movement in the political firmament that exists to safeguard human rights, then it is ours. But we live in country where legislation guarantees rights that cover every aspect of your life, apart from one and that is your departure from it. Too many Scots are denied a good death, wracked by pain and indignity.

I want to know that if I am terminally ill and in agony beyond the reach of palliative care that I could say “this far and no further” and be supported to end that suffering in comfort and dignity.

I am so proud that my good friend and colleague, Liam McArthur is stewarding the Assisted Dying Bill though parliament in his name. A Liberal parliamentarian, who may finally allow Scotland to join the ranks of other progressive nations that already offer their citizens this final act of compassion.

Some of you may disagree with me. And you know what, that’s fine. I only ask that if we disagree on this or on other things, that we disagree well. Because one of the things that I love about our party is its plurality.

He argued that the SNP’s proposed National Care Service is a really bad idea – you need to increase wages and improve conditions for workers instead:

I will resist the National Care Service, even its name is deceptive. It leans into the title of the National Health Service that we all hold so dear. But unlike the NHS it won’t offer care that is free at the point of delivery. And it does so to hide what it truly is – another SNP ministerial power grab.

The ministers who now want to seize control of social care are the same ministers who oversaw the discharge of thousands of untested and covid-positive patients into care homes – despite pleas from care homes themselves. And they’ve got a track record of disastrous centralisations, among them Police Scotland. That botched centralisation left two people dying unaided by the side of the M9 for three days. Three days.

Rather than building another brand-new organisation at their beck-and-call, Scotland should be focusing on improving care with national standards and entitlements for users and by ensuring that the hard work of staff is recognised with a step change in pay and conditions.

And there was a personal section about where he’s come from and why that makes him proud of what Britain can be:

My family has always shaped me. I grew up in a North East Fife farming village, the son of a speech therapist and a university lecturer. Our table was always filled with laughter and political discussion to the point where I became politically aware at a very early age.

I was 13 years old when a British expeditionary force joined America in the liberation of Kuwait. And it was at that time and around that issue, that I first became deeply concerned with the state of global politics. At my mum’s suggestion I started attending Quaker meetings, and I became a member of the Quakers 2 years later. Now I’m not a particularly religious person, but my values as a Quaker are the roots from where my liberalism stem: A respect and tolerance for other faiths and beliefs; A hunger for equality and social justice; Conflict resolution through forging partnerships.

Conference, I am the sum of my parts, an English boy with Welsh and Canadian roots, who moved to Scotland when I was very little. A teenager who took on a set of values that are about bridge building, partnerships and conflict resolution. My life is a tapestry of identities.

So my position on the constitution comes not from muscular unionism, but from a genuine belief that the answer to none of the problems we face can be found in borders or in flags. I just don’t get it. The story of our island family is one of the oldest and most successful collaborations in human history, from the abolitionist movement and the Kindertransport to the NHS and the world class universities that put us at the forefront of global vaccine research and the science of the climate emergency.

That is the Britain that I recognise, one that is pioneering, open, internationalist of outlook. You can subscribe to the best in the story of our islands, without accepting that Boris Johnson’s bitter and sloppy government is the limit of what Britain can be again.

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One Comment

  • Brad Barrows 9th Oct '21 - 9:52pm

    Another reference to the centralisation of policing in Scotland with the creation of Police Scotland to replace several smaller police forces….
    As I understand it, the decision to create Police Scotland was seen as a better way to respond to cuts on Scotland’s budget imposed by the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government than reducing the number of police officers. So are the Scottish Liberal Democrats planning to split up Police Scotland if they get in to power, even though this will cost more than the more centralised force we have at present?

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