WATCH as Alex Cole-Hamilton takes over as Scottish Lib Dem leader

Alex Cole-Hamilton will shortly be confirmed as Scottish Liberal Democrat leader as he was the only candidate when nominations closed.

At an event in Edinburgh, Alex will formally take on the role He’ll be introduced by his Edinburgh West colleague Christine Jardine MP and there will be other speeches from, among others, his best mate Cllr Kevin Lang who’ll be looking ahead to the local authority elections next year, Molly Nolan, who stood in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross at the Scottish Elections and young activist Maddy Planche.

You can watch live here.

Alex is 44 and has been the MSP for Edinburgh Western from 2016. In this video, he set out his vision for a liberal Scotland:

Today’s event may well be overshadowed by the announcement of the partnership between the SNP and the Greens and no doubt he will have something to say about that. It’s quite flattering, really, that they choose to announce this at almost the exact moment Alex is confirmed as leader when they’ve had the whole Summer to do it.

Christine Jardine is now announcing Alex as leader. She says you don’t choose to become a Liberal Democrat, it’s what you are if you want to see every child having the best opportunities, if you want an open, international approach and if you want social justice.

A new hope

The speakers are generally very young. Jack Norquoy,  a young activist from Orkney reminds us that ACH won more votes than any MSP in the history of the Scottish Parliament. He was born in the same year as the Scottish Parliament and he looks forward to Lib Dems winning again to build a better life for people in the islands.

We are charged, he said, with inspiring the next generation of liberalism. It is time to reignite that flame of political interest.

He talked about politics being dominated by arguments of the past. We don’t have to accept the tiring nationalism as the only choice for our country. He says all they offer is painted windows on a rusting hull – green paint.

He highlights the failures of the SNP on everything from health to housing – the housing ladder missing half its rungs.

We can offer a new hope for his generation.

Liberals will offer ideas in our leadership and quality in our actions – responsible government and leadership we can trust.

Ed congratulates Alex:

And now we have Wendy Chamberlain MP


We offer a positive alternative to Scottish politics between a rock and a hard place. The old Westminster politics isn’t working but we are at odds with the over the cure. We want people politics, not grievance politics. Politics is all about improving your community and the wider world. Alex offers a positive future for Scotland full of positivity and hope.

Kevin talks about knowing Alex for 20 years. He says you will struggle to find a ore decent person and a truer liberal than him. “I have been proud to call him my best friend for 20 years, from today I am proud to call him my party leader.”

He talks about the privilege of being a councillor, having the chance to change people’s lives for the better by making decisions for our communities. He reminds us of our brilliant highland by-election wins of last week.

Kevin is on a mission to support our council candidates in the run-up to May and if they can follow his example, we will do really well.

“If we want to win at parliamentary level, we have to win in more places at local level.”

He reminds us of the tenacity of Alex Cole-Hamilton, losing in 2007 and 2011 but keeping going and regaining Edinburgh Western and getting a record number of votes in May this year.

Molly Nolan tells how depopulation is a huge issue in the Highlands with people moving into the cities. Scotland, she says, will only reach its full potential if its rural and urban parts can work together effectively.

She says we need to get radical and reject the dubious top down government. We need to decentralise power and bring decision making closer to the people it effects. We need to reintroduce local enterprise boards and reverse the poor economic decisions made by the SNP.

We need to take power away from Edinburgh to achieve a just, fair and liberal Scotland.


Christine Jardine paid a warm tribute to Willie Rennie’s 10 years of service as leader as she introduces Maddy Planche who is another fabulous young member of the party

Young people are worried about the future of the planet, whether they will be able to find somewhere to live that they can afford.

She talks about how Alex took her concerns seriously and listened to her and that’s one of the reasons she joined the party. Alex goes out talking to people not  because he wants to win votes but because he loves it.

We have a huge challenge ahead of us, she says and we need to have someone at the helm who will focus on what that matters the most – the people who need us to make progress.

Alex now takes to the stage. Highlights of his speech follow:

The first thing that Alex does as leader is pay tribute to Willie, highlighting what he has achieved on mental health support, human rights and childcare.

Scotland needs new hope, right now. There is a sense of optimism that we might have turned a corner and the people of Scotland could do with a bit of that right now.

People want us to succeed to reach for something better. Going back to the way things were cannot be the limit of our ambition.

We reach for a Scotland with new hope in the fight against climate change.

We want a Scotland with new hope for businesses big and small .

I am proud beyond words to stand before you as your new leader. The journey to that hope starts today.

He talks about what gets him out of bed in the morning. The three words most important are “you are loved.” He talks about the little boy he met in a care home who at the age of 8 had had 37 failed placements.

He talked about how the liberal movement is steeped in what community can mean – neighbours looking out for each other, caring and sharing.

Colin Aitken, the newly elected councillor for Inverness West makes a cameo appearance as Alex cites his and Jill Tilt’s great wins last weekend as proof that we are not a spent force. Liberal Democrats are winning again and doing so emphatically, he says.

He talks about how Liberal Democrats are panglossian – we are relentlessly optimistic in the face of overwhelming odds.

But he sets out how the SNP government is failing to meet the needs of Scotland’s people and even as we faced a second wave of Covid, the First Minister put in a bill on independence referendum process into her programme for government.

We are trapped between two nationalisms – the SNP and the Brexit Tories, trapped between flags. If this boils down to a choice between two nationalisms, everybody loses and so I say – enough.

Federalism will only happen , he adds, if we make devolution an attractive prospect to our neighbours. It isn’t at the moment as they see a divided nation with high drugs deaths and soaring child poverty.

We need to remind people what we offer to build a better Scotland. I am fed up, he says, of fighting elections on the basis of who we are not.

If you want a party dedicated to fighting the climate emergency without the baggage of nationalism, come with us, if you want a Scotland that delivers the best education that values carers and people they care for, if you want a party that will protect human rights, if you are affected by the mental health catastrophe come with us. We will teach you the meaning of the word hope once again.


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  • Ian MacFadyen 20th Aug '21 - 4:55pm

    Congratulations and good luck Alex Cole-Hamilton.

  • Brad Barrows 20th Aug '21 - 5:06pm

    “… a party dedicated to fighting the climate emergency without the baggage of nationalism…”
    In other words, “If you want a Unionist party, dedicated to fighting the climate emergency, vote Liberal Democrat.”

  • I missed this, but I’ll hopefully watch back later – despite SPOILERS!

    Brad, it’s not so much that if you want “unionism” and environmentalism, vote LibDem. If you want environmentalism that isn’t playing second fiddle to nationalism, and wasting time and energy evaluating every policy decision and announcement according to how it might increase grievances against Westminster, then don’t vote for a party that sees everything through that prism.

    Environmentalism requires an open, internationalist outlook, and new borders won’t help with that. Nor will it help to give power to a party that claims to be environmentalists, but supported the 2014 SNP white paper which relied on maximum exploitation of North Sea oil to compensate for the loss of Barnet consequentials.

  • Brad Barrows 20th Aug '21 - 6:34pm

    My concern is that all Liberal Democrat policy, including on the environment, plays second fiddle to the Party’s support for keeping the political union of Scotland and the rest of the UK. Even in local councils, Liberal Democrats are routinely willing to work with the Conservatives as a way of keeping the SNP out of power. I fear this direction will be reinforced by ACH.

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