Willie Rennie on the four key Liberal Democrat values and the Lib Dem record of achievement

Willie Rennie put in a strong first day at work and set out the ideas on which the Scottish Liberal Democrats will fight the election in just 4 months’  time.

 

Willie Rennie values

He firstly intervened on the First Minister whose government promised to give 27% of 2 year olds nursery education. They’ve managed barely half that.

Before the First Minister moves on from education, new official Government figures show that only 7 per cent of two-year-olds are receiving nursery education. The First Minister’s promise was that 27 per cent would. How can she talk about a revolution in education and in childcare when she cannot even meet her timid plans?

His main speech was just the right balance of setting out the Lib Dem positive vision and holding the government to account, showing how their promises have not been borne out by the reality. And given that we’ve been better than anyone else these last five years at holding the SNP to account and forcing changes in policy, that’s fair enough.

First though, he had a go at Conservative leader Ruth Davidson who had talked about the Government needing opposition, before going on to attack the Labour opposition:

That was an astonishing speech from the leader of the Conservative Party, who said that we must hold the Government to account then proceeded to attack the Opposition. The SNP ministers must be quaking in their boots at such logic.

You can read Willie’s whole speech here, but listed below are some of the highlights:

Four key liberal values

I will set out why four key liberal values should be at the heart of the next parliamentary session. They are that every individual should be free to achieve their potential, that we should stand with the weak against the strong, that power is safer when it is shared and that we are trustees of the world and must pass on a sustainable legacy.

Freedom

Our traditional Scottish freedoms must be protected, whether that relates to the excessive use of stop and search, armed police or an identity super database. We must also bring an end to stripping power from communities and hoarding it in Edinburgh. That is why we support a reform programme that includes transferring power to communities, protecting our civil liberties and empowering the police, nurses, doctors and teachers to do their jobs.

Education

Our children and young people deserve the best education, so we need to reverse the decline in our once leading education system. That is why we support proper investment, ambitious nursery education expansion and a pupil premium to give every child the chance to get a good job and realise their potential.

Therefore, the Government is failing on nursery education. How can we believe any of its promises on a massive expansion of nursery education if it cannot even deliver the timid and pathetic commitment that it has given on two-year-olds?

Health

People deserve the best healthcare that is available, so we need to reverse the decline in the NHS. That is why we support a step change in mental health services, the recruitment of more general practitioners and social care that meets the needs of our growing elderly population.

Caring for the planet

The planet must be protected, so we need to end the habit of missing Scotland’s climate change targets. That is why we support action on climate change, including warmer homes, better public transport and an end to opencast coal mining.

The Lib Dem Record

My challenge is that the best way to deliver on those liberal values is to get behind Scotland’s liberal force. With only five MSPs in the Parliament, we have achieved much. We have stood up for college places, made and won the case for extending nursery education for two-year- olds and led successful campaigns against unjustified stop and search practices and armed police. We have also championed mental health services, which are often the poor relation in the NHS, and provided the most effective challenge to the Government on Police Scotland. We have provided strong liberal voices. With more MSPs, those voices will be much louder.

The Positive Lib Dem Plan

Therefore, the Government is failing on nursery education. How can we believe any of its promises on a massive expansion of nursery education if it cannot even deliver the timid and pathetic commitment that it has given on two-year-olds?

Let us contrast that with the Liberal Democrat plan for education for our children that is the best in the world again, for an NHS that delivers the best available care, for an environment programme to protect our planet and for a reform programme to return to traditional Scottish freedoms.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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3 Comments

  • Galen Milne 6th Jan '16 - 11:53pm

    I agree with Willie

  • Charles Rothwell 7th Jan '16 - 7:50am

    With Tim, Wilie and Kirsty Williams in Wales, the Party has three very talented leaders, all of them exceptionally gifted communicators. I get the impression Tim is now appearing somewhat more frequently in UK news coverage than in the previous months (when the media had obviously “written off” the party and thought we were going the way of Owen’s SPD etc.) and inspiring, concise and voter-directed speeches like this will help to show just how wrong the media was and emphasise that, with Labour totally preoccupied with its internal wrangling, the Kipper flush being well and truly busted, there is only one real alternative to the apparent monoliths of the Tories and SNP (both, of course, in power only due to the completely unrepresentative nature of the voting system in our form of “representative democracy”.

  • Bruce Hosie 10th Jan '16 - 6:17pm

    The problem with the five key areas is that very few Scottish voters are listening. When I try to get people to talk to about the party what I get are. Part of a coalition that started the biggest attack on the poor and vulnerable ever, tuition fees for English students, Syria, Carmichael, campaigning with the Tories. And even when I get beyond that I get asked how we are going to pay for all those pledges, I get asked about why we don’t actually support federalism, will we campaign with Tories in the EU Referendum etc etc etc. We had better start putting costs against policy and how we are going to pay for it, we need our own EU Campaign, we better accept that Carmichael is going to cost us big time. Until there is some honesty in our current standing we will continue to look like a party campaigning on ‘ if it weren’t for us the Tories would have been worse a lot sooner ‘.

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