The Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto, Be the Best Again, has been published today. This sets out Lib Dem priorities for the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections, including education, NHS and policing.
James Calder, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Dunfermline, has welcomed the manifesto, saying, “Be the Best Again sets out our priorities for Scotland, and I firmly believe this presents a vision for a fairer, more prosperous society.
“The penny for education will ensure that Scotland’s education standards that have declined under the SNP will be the best again. We have also made commitments to deal with the GP crisis in the NHS, ensure mental health has parity and that democracy is brought back to policing.
“The manifesto will be good for Dunfermline, good for Fife and good for Scotland.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie commented, “The Liberal Democrats are back to our best. Scotland should be the best again too.
“Our programme for Scotland is ambitious and progressive. We are offering the biggest investment in education since devolution, new plans for mental health services, new laws to guarantee our civil liberties and new investment so we can exceed our climate change targets.”
Key Manifesto Pledges:
- A Penny for Education – we have proposed a penny for education to reverse education cuts, support our colleges, pay for a pupil premium to ensure every child reaches their potential and more Nursery places. This is a real investment in our future.
- An NHS Fit for the Future – tackle the GP crisis in Scotland by recruiting and training more GPs as well as giving mental healthcare the same support as physical healthcare.
- Protecting our Environment – Encouraging warm homes to make them more energy efficient, low carbon transport and maintaining the commitment to make 100% of our energy needs renewable.
- Restoring freedoms – We want to reverse the relentless centralisation to Holyrood, bring back traditional local policing and restore our civil liberties including opposing the SNP’s Super ID Database and the Conservatives’ Snooper’s Charter.
- Freedom for the Public Sector – ending top-down targets from Holyrood so that public sector has the freedom to work for the best way with the Community.
You can read the manifesto here.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have campaigned for big businesses that receive Government grants to pay fair wages and also pay fair taxes. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was joined with local Liberal Democrat candidate James Calder and other campaigners today outside the Amazon base in Dunfermline demanding that changes are made. In 2014 Amazon paid only £11 million in tax despite earning £5.3 billion in British sales.
Speaking outside Amazon today Mr Rennie said: “For Scotland to be a fairer society where everyone has the chance to get up and get on there cannot be one set of rules for massive corporations and another for everyone else.
“Tax avoidance rules and paying workers fairly should apply to both the Davids and the Goliaths of the business world. But at the moment corporations like Amazon are being rewarded for failing to pay their workers properly and for only paying measly levels of tax.
“If the other political parties are committed to reducing wealth inequality in Scotland, they should be guaranteeing that they will not dole out taxpayer support to these kind of corporations.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats will not pay government grants to companies if they do not pay the Living Wage or their taxes.”
Local candidate James Calder has added: “Many in the constituency will be disappointed to hear that despite receiving so much Government funding, Amazon locally does not pay many of its workers fair wages or enough in taxes.
“We need to see a change in attitude in employers such as Amazon who receive huge levels of Government support – if they do not pay fair wages and taxes, they should not get grants!”
By Wendy Chamberlain
Having joined the party last year following the UK General Election, I attended the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in the Autumn, but was keen to experience a Federal Conference. I was therefore delighted to have the opportunity to attend the Spring Conference last month in York, something that I would encourage all members to do at some point if you can – there is an access fund that helps those who may find it cost prohibitive.
I travelled down to York on Friday afternoon, dropped my bags at my B&B nearby and headed straight to the York Barbican for the Civic Reception. Caron Lindsay, Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and known to many Dunfermline and West Fife Liberal Democrats was my Newbie buddy for the weekend, and I met with her there. I then dropped into the First Timers reception and was really impressed by the numbers there, and that many of those there were members of longstanding, who had decided to attend for the first time. It was also great to have addresses from both Sal Brinton and Tim Farron – it really made us feel valued as a group.
The Conference rally was the main event on Friday night. This was focussed on the upcoming European Referendum – the speakers were hugely impressive, particularly current Welsh AM Eluned Parrott and Saleyha Ahsan – a junior doctor who handed her membership form to Tim Farron from the stage! After dinner with Caron and some of her friends from across the UK, it was back to my B&B to actually unpack.
I was keen to use the Saturday to attend training and fringe events as well as the main conference agenda, so after attending the official conference opening in the Barbican main hall, I headed round the corner to the Novotel and a session hosted by Liberal Democrat Women with former MP Tessa Munt about becoming a candidate – very empowering and Tessa encouraged all attendees to keep in touch. Another session at the Hilton was run by the central elections team focussed on the Scottish Welsh and London Assembly elections. Unfortunately the debate on fracking was taking place at the same time, so it wasn’t particularly well attended. I did find out, however, that Limekilns was the most Lib Dem part of the Dunfermline constituency when Jim Tolson won the seat in the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections!
I then popped over to another Liberal Democrat Women event looking forward to the Electing Diverse MPs motion the following day. I was really encouraged by the turn out – standing room only! – as well as the range of opinions expressed. Off back to the Barbican (I should have had a pedometer attached to me!) for lunch and a look at the exhibition. There I obtained Joined the History Association and was directed to purchase my Liberator songbook for the infamous Glee Club.
I then spent the afternoon in Conference main hall. This included a really personable Q&A session with Tim Farron. As a former police officer I was keen to attend the Privacy and Security in a Digital Age debate, moved by Lord Paddick, and again I was really impressed by the variety of speakers – including a number of first time speakers – who always got a round of applause – and party members with a wealth of experience in the subject area.
I actually managed an hour or so back at my accommodation, before heading out again for the late night Glee Club – this is a conference tradition, and I was assured that I had to attend it once to fully experience conference – I would recommend that you do the same!
Caron Lindsay moved the most divisive and emotive debate of the conference – Electing Diverse MPs. Although the measures outlined were less radical than those approved at the Scottish Spring Conference there was a great deal of debate and strong speakers on both sides, including a group of Liberal Youth wearing I Am Not a Token Woman tshirts. Current legislation only allows for shortlisting on the basis of gender and disability, and the motion was passed with an amendment to campaign to extend current legislation for all under represent groups. I did submit a card, and although not selected, was happy to have used my vote to support the motion.
Tim’s speech was brilliant and it was great to see the full hall – as I tweeted from the event: @nick-clegg 8th May 2015 your speech made me join @LibDems @timfarron your speech today made me proud that I did!
And that was it, by 1pm all over, back on the train and back home after along but exhilarating weekend!
The SNP have been centralising the life out of Scotland’s communities, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Police Scotland. James Calder wants to bring back community-led policing to Scotland, and believes Fifers will benefit directly from this.
James has said, “Despite the hard work of our police officers and staff, the SNP have damaged the local links so important in our police force. Top-down targets and overly-centralised structures have led to increased stop-and-searches, damaging out civil liberties, as well as the situation where we did have armed police were sent to routine calls. We need to restore traditional policing in Scotland by allowing local officers to use their discretion as well as bring back local consensus and accountability.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Dunfermline James Calder is backing campaigning for sport to be made top of the agenda in the Scottish Parliament. Due to it’s importance in encouraging healthy living, James would like to see much greater emphasis placed on Scottish Sport.
James commented, “Sport is important for all, both adults and children alike. As someone who has competed for Scottish age group teams in fencing, I know the importance of sport in helping people’s health and fitness. I would like to see more support and encouragement given to encourage community sport, so that as many people as possible can benefit from the opportunities that I have had. We also need to build on the legacy of the highly successful Commonwealth Games two years ago, as well as the achievements of Scottish Sporting success stories such as the Murray brothers in tennis.”
“For these reasons I am backing the Vote for Sport Pledge – ‘I pledge as a Sporting Champion to recognise the unique role, value and potential of sport in Scottish Society.’ I will continue to campaign for sport to be at the forefront of the political agenda.”