This extremely bare Queen’s Speech is all about managing the divisions within the Conservative Party and very little to do with meeting the challenges facing our country.
Twelve months after a winning a general election where they promised to focus on the economy and public finances, David Cameron’s government is already running out of steam. This Queen’s speech ignored the big challenges we face on education, housing, investment, skills, and the environment.
One of the biggest scandals of the last couple of years has been the ongoing saga of delays to a new computer system that is supposed to ensure that farmers receive crucial EU payments on time.
Deadlines have been missed and missed again. The budget has ballooned by more than £70 million. And at the end of it all, we still don’t know whether we will have a working system by the EU deadline at the end of June. Farmers across Scotland are yet to get the money they are owed.
Farmers across Scotland are yet to get the money they are owed.
Today I stood for election as First Minister to set out the Liberal Democrats priorities for the next five years of the Scottish Parliament. Education. Mental health services. The environment and civil liberties. These are all things that need to be at the top of the Holyrood agenda for the next five years.
While we got the result that was expected it was important to make clear to Nicola Sturgeon that these are the issues that she will need to focus on once work at parliament starts in earnest next week.
This was my speech to MSPs at Holyrood:
Earlier in the campaign I was film some short clips for BBC Scotland on some of the big choices that Scotland is facing at this election.
In March Nicola Sturgeon signed a deal with two Chinese companies that could be worth up to £10bn. But she didn’t tell anyone about it.
This is unusual. The SNP government usually would put out a press release about the opening of an envelope. But days after the deal was signed, the top news stories on the government website were on changes to dog fouling fines and an update on the Scottish beaver population.
Soon afterwards, newspaper reports linked one of the firms involved with corruption and human rights abuses. Now the Scottish Government say they won’t publish correspondence on the controversial agreement until after the election.
People are asking “what else does Nicola Sturgeon has to hide?”
As the Holyrood elections get closer and closer, I have become increasingly bemused that Ruth Davidson and others have sought to claim that the Conservatives are somehow the authentic opposition to the SNP.
It jars starkly with my experience when governing alongside the Conservatives in Coalition in Whitehall for five years.
If you're voting for the first time in a Holyrood election, this is what you need to know:
This election, I’m having the time of my life. We are running an uplifting campaign that is focusing on the big challenges that Scotland is facing today.
Everywhere I go, people come up to me to say how pleased they are that our party is campaigning strongly on education and that we are giving mental health the attention it has missed out on for years.
Everyone knows that children in Scotland deserve the very best start in life.
A quality education is key to making Scotland the best again. It increases opportunity, boosts the economy and enables children to fulfil their potential.
We know that Scottish education used to be the best in the world. Now the OECD says it is just average.
I don’t think that is good enough.
Last year at a local advice surgery, I met a Mum who was at enormously worries about her daughter.
She had been experiencing mental ill health, and self-harming.
But she was not getting the support that she needed from the health service.
It had taken a year for her to see a specialist.