Wendy on Stage at the Conference

Wendy on Stage at the Conference

Firstly, may I offer my thanks to Sheila Thomson and the Conference Committee for asking me as a new party member to speak and introduce Willie to you to deliver his leader’s speech.

My name is Wendy Chamberlain and I joined the party earlier this year, like many others, just after the May General Election.

Although I now live just outside of Dunfermline, I’m originally from Greenock. My Argyllshire grandfather was always a Liberal and I remember Rae Michie visiting my grandparents’ small hotel for a convivial afternoon chat. My father has also advised me that he knew Jo Grimond, so I very much grew up with this Liberal tradition. I also recall a small hardworking number of Liberal Democrat councillors in Inverclyde – an area in which – until recently, the Labour vote was weighed rather than counted.

Since joining in May I’ve attended a number of party events, including the Scottish Parliament policy events, an everyday sexism open mic and the leadership hustings in Edinburgh (I met Tim in Haymarket station afterwards – I know he made it to Aberdeen as I must have directed him to the correct platform). At each I’ve been made to feel hugely welcome – thanks especially to the Leatherlands, James Calder, and other Dunfermline and West Fife members.

At a number of these I’ve been applauded as a new member. I’ve met some of my fellow new members this morning, and I might be speaking for myself here, but I don’t feel I deserve this. I’ve engaged with the party in the past, and even delivered a few leaflets. The Liberal Democrats have always had my vote, but the 8th of May (and in particular Nick Clegg’s impassioned speech) made me realise that having my vote is not enough. I needed to be active, involved and part of the fight back.

So, I apologise, for not being here sooner and for letting all of you here, the members and activists of longer standing, shoulder the load to date.

Willie’s victory in the Dunfermline Westminster by election was the first time that a person that I voted for in a first past the post process actually won – it was both a novelty and a great feeling!

As liberals we have a different set of priorities to the SNP. And Labour and the Tories too. Our values are what make us liberals. They are what define our party. We all took different paths to joining the Liberal Democrats. This was Willie Rennie’s journey.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Willie Rennie to the stage.

You can watch Willie Rennie’s speech in the video below: