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Willie Rennie MSP Leader of the Scottish Liberal DemocratsThe Liberal Democrats are working to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

That's why in Government we have given 24 million people a £700 tax cut, created 1 million jobs and helped 1.5 million apprentices.

We are the only party that can anchor Britain in the centre ground, ensuring we have sustainable growth and equality of opportunity.

Labour can't be trusted with the economy, in government they would drag Britain to the left, borrowing too much, spending too much and risking the recovery.

And the Conservatives can't be trusted to treat people fairly. If Liberal Democrats weren't in Government, the Tories would focus attention on the best-off, let employers fire staff without cause and allow schools to be run for profit.

Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

Recent updates

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    Article: Jul 31, 2014

    Free school meals will help boost learning in schools, according to a report published today.

    Trials for the school meals scheme, which comes into effect in September, show that infants from poorer backgrounds perform better in the classroom.

    The report finds that pupils were academically months ahead of their peers elsewhere and more likely to eat vegetables at lunchtime instead of less healthy food like crisps.

  • Article: Jul 31, 2014

    Liberal Democrat Minister for the Home Office Norman Baker has said that he wants to see an end to all animal testing in the UK.

    Lib Dems in government are committed to reducing the number of live animal experiments. They are working to introduce legislation before the next election to increase transparency so that the public are informed about what happens to animals in laboratories.

  • Article: Jul 31, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will this evening sayWillie RennieWillie Rennie that the Conference on the New Scotland will aim to bring the country together if Scotland votes No in September.

    Speaking at a Road to the Referendum event in the Scottish Borders hosted by local Liberal Democrat MP and former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, Mr Rennie is expected to say that Liberal Democrats are committed to building a stronger Scotland in the UK in the event of a No vote, with work beginning straight away through a Conference on the New Scotland.

    The Conference was announced by Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael earlier this year.

    Mr Rennie will say:

    "This referendum has sometimes been a divisive experience that has split the country, families and communities. It is important that we come together after so that we can maximise the opportunities and deal constructively with the consequences of the result.

    "Alistair Carmichael's Conference on the New Scotland will be an opportunity to heal the divisions by bringing together everyone with an interest in moving our country forward. It is such a good opportunity as he is planning to hold that Conference within thirty days of a no vote.

    "People can be confident that a No vote in September does not mean no change. Scottish Liberal Democrats were the first out of the blocks with Sir Menzies Campbell's plans for home rule in a federal UK.

    "Since then Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives have set out their plans for more powers. And since then we have stood on a joint platform committing to deliver more powers in the event of a No vote some weeks from now.

    "Scotland's home rule journey is gathering momentum. With a No vote we can get on with building a stronger Scotland within the UK.

    "We can continue to be part of a strong and resilient economy that provides stability and opportunity to people and businesses in Scotland.

    "Working together to create better opportunities and more secure jobs in Scotland.

    "We can share money and ideas with people from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    "With no borders and no barriers. That is what a No vote means - it means a vote for a stronger Scotland in the UK. It is a vote for positive change.

    "With all parties committed to more change, Liberal Democrats are once again prepared to be first out the blocks as we look to deliver.

    "Just like your MP Michael Moore did as Scotland Secretary. Delivering the largest transfer of borrowing and tax raising powers in 300 years with the 2012 Scotland Act. Just like Lord David Steel did in co-chairing the Constitutional Convention which led to the Scottish Parliament.

    "Liberal Democrats will grasp the growing momentum for more powers to Scotland within the UK. With that we will guarantee change.

    "Earlier this year I asked Sir Menzies Campbell to produce a second report - the Campbell II report - to set out a clear path for radical change in the event of a No vote. I accepted his seven recommendations in full.

    "These recommendations would lead us to a formal agreement on the package of powers that will be put in place.

    "Getting to that destination involves bringing together all of those who have engaged with this debate and produced ideas and contributions of their own.

    "Sir Menzies Campbell's fifth recommendation proposed that the Secretary of State for Scotland should convene a meeting of the Scottish parties - a Conference on the New Scotland - not more than one month after 18 September to begin the process of working together on more powers for Holyrood.

    "Alistair Carmichael has accepted that proposal. And in the event of a No vote fewer than 50 days from now we will move swiftly to deliver that radical change that we know the majority of people in Scotland with to see.

    "So we have set out our commitment to deliver more powers and we have set out how we will deliver upon our commitment. More powers are guaranteed.

    "Our Conference on the New Scotland will harness consensus to lay the foundations of a stable home rule settlement.

    "After a polarised and sometimes divisive referendum, this sentiment of consensus will be more important than ever before.

    "It will be the forum for healing divisions which have too often cut deeper than other political debates.

    "It will work in the interests of the people of Scotland, delivering more powers to Scotland within the UK and bringing people together in pursuit of that common endeavour."

  • Article: Jul 31, 2014

    Kate Cairns was elected in a landslide victory in the Berwick constituency ward of Longhoughton last week, called after the passing of a much respected longstanding independent councillor. From a standing start - we didn't field a candidate in the county council elections last year - we took almost 50% of the vote, with the Tories coming a poor second with less than half our vote, an independent and UKIP followed the Tories and Labour were nearly wiped out with 3%.

  • Article: Jul 30, 2014

    The Lib Dems are proposing an increase in the number of trees planted every year to 700,000- 750,000 - equivalent to the number of children born in England and Wales each year.

    The Liberal Democrats will also include plans for a Nature Act in their 2015 manifesto, which will include targets for clean air and water. Natural resources that are being harvested at an unsustainable level will be identified, and better protections will be enforced to safeguard them for future generations.

  • Article: Jul 30, 2014

    We know how important it is to make your money go further, that's why the Liberal Democrats are the only party of fair tax.

    The Tories are talking about a 'flat tax' system - where everyone pays the same rate of tax regardless of income - and Labour are talking about being in favour of a 15% 'death tax'.

  • Article: Jul 30, 2014

    In a bid to encourage the development of driverless cars on British roads, Vince Cable has announced a £10 million investment for research projects.

    Currently, driverless cars are only allowed on private roads. However, with funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Transport, driverless cars are expected to begin testing on public roads in 2015.

  • Article: Jul 29, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrats have said that figures on childhood obesityJim Hume MSPJim Hume MSP published today serve as a timely reminder of the challenges facing the nation's health.

    Figures published today showed that all health boards have went over and above their target for healthy weight interventions, where health professionals work with clinically overweight and obese children aged between two and 15.

    Over the past three years, 16,820 child healthy weight interventions have been completed across Scotland.

    Commenting on today's figures, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP said:

    "With Scotland's eyes on the Commonwealth Games these figures serve as a timely reminder of the challenges facing the nation's health. It is bittersweet news that over past three years our health boards have helped over 16,820 children, many of whom are classed as clinically overweight and obese. This crucial early support will enable them to live longer, healthier lives.

    "However these interventions may only be the tip of the iceberg. In the year of the Games, it is all the more important that SNP ministers secure a legacy which will encourage more families and children to lead healthy lives from the get-go."

  • Article: Jul 29, 2014

    Charles Kennedy writes on a federal future with a stronger Scotland Charles KennedyCharles Kennedywithin the UK. This article originally appeared in the Herald newspaper:

    A long-standing friend, an avowed nationalist, has been fond of joking over many years that, come the Great Day of Freedom, any government of a new-found, truly independent Scotland would have but one policy to pursue:

    to carry the rest of us with them and to hold our varied and disputatious airts and pairts together and immediately retake Berwick Upon Tweed.

    I stress that he is joking but, whichever side you incline towards and whatever the outcome proves to be, an acid party political and national challenge awaits us all the morning after. Doubtless a lengthy period of reflection, elements of recrimination and a shared sense of self-analysis will ensue. Curiously, given the way the campaign has developed, this is one contest that cannot end clearly and neatly with to the winner the spoils.

    If Yes triumphs, the hard work really gets underway in giving reality to the independence rhetoric; if the Union maintains, we Better Togetherists had better get together sharpish, on a more broadly-based platform drawing from the experiences of the pre-devolution Constitutional Convention, elements of Third Scotland and the like. Nationalists should be ready to play a full and constructive role.

    The real curiosity however is not simply a role for all post-referendum; instead it is the extent to which far more attention will have to be paid to what happens within and across the future Scotland, regardless of the result. An agenda is emerging that can be as relevant to a Scotland inside or outside the UK.

    In the pre-devolution days of one- party Tory domination there was much legitimate railing against the excessive concentration of power within Whitehall. The centre accrued and amassed while the periphery lost out. Holyrood represented an emphatic emancipation from the power of centralisers. Yet look at the Scotland that has been developing and ask: where lies that aspiration today?

    Our emergency services have been made national, more centralised and less regionally accountable. Consider the furore over armed police and wonder if that (unstated until unveiled) policy would have got so far under previous, more localised structures. Ponder the plight of our so-called local authorities and reflect upon the extent to which frozen council tax concordats with central government serve to enhance local accountability and diverse innovation more tailored to community needs.

    Observe the way in which senior academics have felt the need to stress the essential independence of our universities and the right to protect academic curriculum freedoms that may diverge from national economic guidelines laid down by the prevailing political orthodoxy.

    These substantial trends serve to change the culture and the nature of our varied and often contradictory small nation. It is a direction of travel that will yet leave us all diminished as individualistic Scots and lead to an ever increasing tendency in the direction of central diktat accompanied by the longer-term dangers of a developing civic poverty.

    The chain of command is top down, the culture target-driven. The derivatives, from the tick box methodology to the growing Leviathan of key performance indicators holds sway. And too much of what I hear and read of the independence version of Scotland's future seems predicated on still further imposition by the "new centre" on the rest of us, individuals and communities alike.

    I am into my fourth decade of Scottish parliamentary representation at Westminster and I do not detect positive omens from the vantage point of the Highlands and Islands either. Moving the Second Reading of the Bill that established the Highlands & Islands Development Board (Liberal measures enacted by Labour men) in the mid 1960s, Scottish Secretary Willie Ross felt moved to describe the Highlander as "the man on Scotland's conscience." I doubt somehow that such a touching rumination could sit easily alongside the reality of ministerial decision-making under our present governing ethos. Highlands & Islands Enterprise has seen important powers moved to Edinburgh, the Crofting Commission similarily. Taken with the other national trends, these represent a diminution of our distinctive agenda and capacity to determine it closer to home.

    This has posed a referendum campaign challenge but it equally presents a post-referendum political opportunity. The challenge has been for Labour to strike the correct note that addresses its central concern, the alienation of hitherto (mainly male) Labour central belt voters toying with voting for independence. That, of course, is where the bulk of the votes lie. The problem is that the rhetoric and messaging associated with that task do not greatly resonate on the wider Scotland, be that the Highlands and Islands, the north-east or across the Borders.

    The opportunity must be to persuade that massive national hinterland that a wider and deeper recognition of Scottish diversity must inform post-referendum policy and decision-making. Nelson Mandela described his country as "the rainbow nation". Our own, as Commonwealth visitors have yet to discover, is more akin to the four seasons in one day variety. Little wonder that such fickleness demands something other than the one-size-fits-all where the business of governance is involved.

    These dilemmas are not insuperable. A post-referendum Westminster, with Scotland a continuing participant, must try to encourage if not ensure that the further transfer of powers to Holyrood does not stop there; that at least within the Better Together parties there must be a will to win the argument that pursuing a rolling back reaches beyond Edinburgh to our other great cities, regions and islands. Indeed, the islands' authorities have lit the torch. regardless of the outcome, they seem likely to anticipate a greater say in their own day-to-day decision-making. Let that principle be given practical effect for the rest of the mainland.

    The wider Scotland should retain its critical faculties where the prospect of an independent Scotland is concerned. Throughout this campaign, whenever policy trickiness has arisen, the Yes campaign has been keen to stress that it is not the SNP; a bit like the Catholic Church suggesting it has no responsibility for the latest Papal utterance. Time and again, the refrain that the future political governance of our land will be decided solely by Scots voting freely in an independent country has become conflated with a menu of supposedly desirable policies that seem guaranteed come what may. These twin assertions do not add up.

    All of which leads to the F-word: federalism within and across Scotland; federalism throughout the wider, developing UK. That is where we are heading, in fits and starts, in a very British way. It is a process that can and should follow on from September 18; which is one reason why, on balance, the good burghers of Berwick, be they Uppers or Dooners, may yet legitimately sleep secure.

  • Article: Jul 29, 2014

    Sir Menzies Campbell MP and local Fife councillor Tim Brett today Menzies CampbellMenzies Campbellurged businesses in North East Fife to get behind efforts to provide 100 local young people with the chance to gain work experience through apprenticeships or training opportunities.

    The new campaign is aiming to persuade local businesses to sign up to taking on one or more apprentices or trainees to create a 100 new opportunities for local young people.

    The 100 Apprentices Challenge will be launched at Watts of Cupar on 8 August 2014 and all employers - large or small, whether they've employed apprentices and trainees before or not - are invited to attend. Local training providers who are taking part in the challenge will be present to speak to employers about the possibilities that taking on an apprentice or providing a work experience placement offer.

    A number of local businesses, who have employed apprentices in the past, as well as the apprentices themselves, will make contributions in support of the challenge and to encourage others to sign up.

    Commenting, Sir Menzies Campbell said:

    "Young people in North East Fife have an enormous amount to offer local businesses but too often they do not get the chance they need to gain essential skills and experience. I think that needs to change.

    "Apprenticeships and training opportunities are key to ensuring young people gain the skills and experiences necessary to succeed on the job market. Not only do they provide young people with opportunities and careers they may not otherwise have had, they are a real help to all businesses who take them on."

    Councillor Tim Brett added:Tim BrettTim Brett

    "The 100 Apprentices Challenge is seeking to give 100 young people across North East Fife the opportunity to gain skills and take vital first steps on the career ladder. I hope that as many local businesses as possible will get behind this initiative and help give more young people the chance to succeed."