Saturday, December 31, 2011

Willie Rennie's New Year Message

“In May, we were nearly wiped off from the Scottish Parliamentary map. I got it. I understood why that happened.
“But equally I am convinced that liberalism, not nationalism, will dominate Scottish political landscape in the years ahead.  Our values are embedded in a rich seem of Scottish history and endure despite political setbacks.
“Our small team in the Scottish Parliament has shown over the last six months why we need strong liberal voices. 
“On centralising of the police, places for college students, housing for those in need, the Supreme Court, equal marriage, riots, prison reform, sectarianism and so many other issues we have struck a strong liberal note whilst others have been silent or ineffective. 
“Without that liberal voices Scotland would be a poorer place.
My liberal vision is a Scotland which politicians in Holyrood give power away to local communities rather than horde it for themselves; makes decisions for the long term interest, not quick fixes; is socially mobile where people from all backgrounds get a chance to get up and on in the world; and is outward looking, maintain strong alliances with the rest of the UK family, Europe and the world.
“Nationalists believe that Scotland is not strong enough to stand tall in the UK. But I believe, and history has shown us, that Scots are confident, intelligent and able enough to prosper in the UK and beyond.
“I find that most Scots share these strong liberal values.  Most are not narrow nationalists, only interested in what advances a parochial ideology, but open to dialogue and diction which serves the wider national interest.
“I appreciate that the UK Coalition has been difficult for many to accept.  It’s counter intuitive that progressive Liberal Democrats can be partners with the right of centre Conservatives. But however uncomfortable it is for me, for Liberal Democrats and for many of our supporters and former supporters, I know it was the right thing to do. 
“We came together in the national interest to tackle the economy and our fiscal position would even more difficult if we had not taken that action.  We’re also acting as a moderating influence over the Conservatives and have had a number of significant achievements including tax cuts for those on low and middle incomes; the largest ever cash rise in the state pension; reforming the banks and ending child detention at Dungavel.  I know we have put country before self interest and party interest.
“For generations, Liberals and Liberal Democrats have advocated Home Rule for Scotland with a Parliament that has the power to determine Scotland’s destiny on the home agenda whilst sharing risk and opportunity with the United Kingdom family. 
“We have worked constructively with others to deliver the Scottish Parliament and now a significant transfer of financial power to the Parliament through the Scotland Bill. Once we have built the case and drawn up the blueprint we want to go further so that the Parliament is responsible for raising broadly what it spends. When we finally come to debate and determine Scotland’s future in the UK, Liberal Democrats will advocate our Home Rule goal. 
“One of my great predecessors Russell Johnston once said: "You can stand at the bottom of a mountain, look up and say: ‘This is so high and precipitous, so rugged and intimidating that I can never dare to challenge it.’ Or, you can begin to climb. And, if you do, one day you may see the summit.”
“The party started to climb in May and we’re now able to look back to where we started.  I am determined to keep on climbing in 2012 because Scotland needs strong liberal voices.
“I wish you all a very happy New Year.”


Don McC said...

"I believe, and history has shown us, that Scots are confident, intelligent and able enough to prosper in the UK and beyond. "

You might say you believe that, Willie, but only last week we had a yet another lib dem (this time a MEP) asserting Scotland is "too poor, too wee, too stupid". Too many in your party, from Cable to Moore to a host of back benchers, not only believe the exact opposite of you, Willie, but have actually come out and said so.

That's just one of the (many) reasons your left with only a handful of MSPs.

It's easy for your party to talk the talk, Willie, but they find it increasingly difficult to live up to that talk.

Unknown said...

Don, please can you find the exact quote from George. He said nothing of the sort. That's just Newsnet Scotland's spin on it. And they have a bit of an agenda to paint anyone who doesn't want independence as a Great Unionist Oppressor.

Don McC said...

Come on Caron, are you now claiming that George did not say Scotland would be an "irrelevance in Europe" or that we would be bulldozed without the "protection" provided by the UK?

Calton Hill said...

I don't know how Willie can say that 'liberalism, not nationalism, will dominate the Scottish political landscape in the years ahead' when there's probably another two years to go before Alex Salmond calls the independence referendum, with the time in-between being spent arguing the toss. I'm also not convinced that there is a rich seam of liberal values in Scottish history - a rich seam of socialism more like (in the Central Belt) and another seam of conservatism (in the Highlands). The Libdems mined the latter in the 80s when Thatcher's policies made the Tories unpopular and formerly Conservative seats like Argyll and Bute fell to the Libdems. Now the orange constituency map of the Highlands has turned yellow. It's probably a bit simplistic to blame it all on the Condem coalition down south, given that Willie himself was trounced by Labour in the 2010 Westminster election prior to the coalition coming into being, however the perception that the Libdems will go in with anyone in power will be a strong one to shake off. Perhaps Willie should adopt Murdo Fraser's solution?


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