Tomorrow, Liberal Democrats from across Scotland will come together for our Autumn conference in Dunfermline.
Conference is always a good chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. And with one third of those attending having joined the party since the general election, there will be plenty of new friends to be made!
Over the summer, I met hundreds of new party members as part of a policy roadshow that took me from the Borders to the Highlands. I was hugely impressed by the enthusiasm that our new members brought to the table.
They were fed up of talking about the constitution and full of ideas about how we can improve public services. How we can help ensure that every child gets a quality education. How we can help doctors and nurses to keep us healthy.
The next Holyrood election is just round the corner. For the first time in years, we face the prospect of a political campaign that is not dominated by independence. Public services – and the SNP’s record – will be front and centre, as it should be.
In the last few weeks we have heard from Audit Scotland that key NHS targets are being missed and our health service has gone backwards on the SNP’s watch. We have heard that in some parts of Scotland, probationary police officers are being forced to work such long hours that it is affecting their sleeping and eating patterns. The tragic M9 crash was a stark reminder of the difficulties that our national police force is facing.
The agenda for conference reflects this desire to focus on our services and devolved issues. We have debates on the the NHS. On policing and support for the homeless. We also have fringe events with the RNIB, the Electoral Commission and more.
I am delighted that we will also welcome Tim Farron for his first set piece speech in Scotland since his election as leader of the Liberal Democrats.
You can read the full conference agenda online at scotlibdems.org.uk/autumn15_agenda. I look forward to seeing many of you there.