Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Willie Rennie gets the ball rolling for 2011

The most impressive aspect of our autumn conference at Dunfermline on Saturday was the string of simple but effective economic messages being put forward by the party as part of our Pre-manifesto. The substance was obvious and undeniable, the product of many months of hard work put in behind the scenes, and laid out exactly how we would go about dealing with the current economic difficulties here in Scotland. The confidence and conviction apparent in Tavish Scott's speech was a clear indication that he knew that we would have the right arguments and tone for the campaign ahead.

Willie Rennie, No 1 on our Regional Party list for Mid Scotland & Fife, was quickly on the offensive yesterday, taking our arguments to the local Press. Willie lost his Westminster seat in May this year, but is obviously now ready to go again and will be a formidable campaigner in the months ahead, and a massive asset to the Scottish Parliament come next year.

Willie tells it exactly as he sees it and pulls no punches:

"I remain undiminished. After May’s election I am down, but if Labour think I am out they should think again as I am determined – determined to win again.

This party has been through more tough tests than most and despite many attempts to write us off by the commentators and our opponents we have always fought back to even greater success.

Yet this will be one of our biggest tests – fighting an election whilst in alliance with the Conservatives, bringing our budget back into order and long before the full benefits of the necessary action are felt by the voters.

To win we need a leader with talent and energy – we have that (in Tavish Scott)

To win we need a team of candidates full of quality – and we have that, including me.

To win we need the right message and policies – I am filled with confidence thanks to the efforts of Jeremy Purvis and his team. This pre manifesto is the best start we could possibly have to prepare to win next May.

By focussing on jobs, education and public services we have a programme that addresses the key concerns and priorities for Scotland.

Life sciences and energy are two areas of great potential for job growth – and we are right to support the plans to make them a success.

Jeremy Purvis’ regional development banks puts power back in the hands of local communities to support business opportunities on their own doorstep.

The Calman proposals for greater powers for the Scottish Parliament are right but not everything that’s good in Scotland happens in Edinburgh.

We need to continue the devolution to communities and councils who are best placed to drive improvements in service delivery and ensure value for money.

Removing the meddling hand of the Scottish Government will be liberating.

Finally to support the revival of the Scottish economy we must support skills and education, a major priority for the Liberal Democrats.

As the team work on the preparation of the full manifesto my one bit of advice would be this.
Jim Wallace, Russell Johnston, Malcolm Bruce and Ray Michie didn’t devote their political careers to the creation of the Parliament for it to be a timid, conservative institution.
Scotland is suffering from many ills – many of which have probably always been with us. They require bold and often radial solutions.

This party has built its reputation on being bold and radical – often against the tide of public opinion.

So let’s bold, let’s be radical. Let’s take some risks, not reckless risks but calculated risks.

It’s the role of the Liberal Democrats and it’s what the Scottish Parliament is for."

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