Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie MSP, will today (Wednesday 26th) firmly position his party in the radical centre ground in advance of the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.
Speaking at an SCDI event in Aberdeen, Mr Rennie will warn that the need for a centre ground party has never been greater as the SNP and Labour veer further leftwards, and the Tories further rightwards.
Mr Rennie is expected to say:
“Today, I want to make an important contribution. I want to set out the path ahead for the Liberal Democrats following May’s results. I want to set out that we will not veer off to the left or the right but stay the course that has rooted my party in the radical, liberal centre ground throughout its history.
“Whether Jeremy Corbyn wins or not it is abundantly clear that the Labour Party is heading leftwards and, in Scotland, will embark on a fight to the death with the Scottish National Party to be the dominant force on the socialist left.
“And with the Conservatives, being true to their path, are taking the Government further to the right without the restraint and radicalism of the Liberal Democrats. In Scotland they are showing every indication that they will use the new taxation and welfare powers to propose a right wing shift here as well.
“The need for a radical, liberal centre ground force in politics has never been greater.
“The last five years has been the most astonishing period in politics and economics that I can remember.
“It is clear that the politics of the period were inextricably linked to our economic fortunes. Recovery and growth in the UK economy were linked to the decision of the Liberal Democrats to put the national interest first and to form a stable government capable of tackling the crisis we inherited.
“It is that economic discipline secured by political discipline that I want the Liberal Democrats to keep central to our political character.
“There are some things I would soon forget about our time in government but our decision to put country before party for economic recovery is not one of them.
“So I can tell you today I will anchor our political purpose in the centre ground. It will be radical and liberal but it will be firmly in that centre ground.
“Today I will show that the essential, liberal offer is a robust economy which is linked fundamentally to social justice. Liberal Democrats are for the chance for people to get up and get on in life. We want people to aspire to be better. To improve their lives.
“We are for social justice. We want a country where people stand for and with their neighbours. Those less well off. Those who are held back by their circumstances.
“In short we are for aspirational Scots with a social conscience.”