Progressive, optimistic and outward looking - Willie Rennie's speech to conference

In his speech today, Willie Rennie spoke about how great it feels to be winning again in Scotland, the SNP's record in Government, what's coming in the next five years at Holyrood and on the SNP and the Tories - the terrible twins of Scottish Politics.

Today, Willie Rennie gave a speech to Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Brighton and talked about how great it feels to be winning again in Scotland, the SNP's record in Government, what's coming in the next five years at Holyrood and on the SNP and the Tories - the terrible twins of British Politics.

Read the best bits of Willie’s speech here:

Willie opened his speech with some words of encouragement...

Not only did I win in Fife with a by–election standard 9.5% swing but the exceptional Alex Cole-Hamilton crushed the SNP in Edinburgh, securing a 3,000 vote majority.

And look what happened in the Northern Isles. Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur confounded the critics and the pundits to win their seats with almost 70% of the vote.

70% of the vote when everyone told us we would be wiped out. No-one is supposed to beat the SNP. But we did.

Liberal Democrats – back to winning again.

...and attacked the SNP's record over the last nine years...

Scottish education used to be the best in the world but with the SNP it is now just average:

  1. College places cut
  2. Nursery education roll-out flagging
  3. And schools have seen massive cuts to their budgets.

We said a transformational investment using a progressive penny on income tax for education would project Scotland right back up to the best again.

Scotland’s police were the pride of the nation, helping to train other forces across the world. But with the SNP the new force is a shadow of its former self. Our plans would bring democracy back to the police and would put that pride back.

We would guarantee our civil liberties by rejecting the intrusive super ID database, industrial scale stop and search, and armed police on routine duties.

...and set out our plans for opposition in Holyrood over the next five years...

Just as I did in the Holyrood elections I intend to use this five year term to provide a progressive, optimistic, and outward-looking voice.

And it will be a voice for the United Kingdom and a voice for Europe.

In a No Borders approach we will oppose independence and we will support strong relationships with Europe.

Tim Farron is spot on about Europe. He spoke for every bereft remain voter in the hours after the result. He was a tall statesman when others were political pip squeaks.

In the direct interests of the country and of our democracy he wants to give voters the democratic choice to accept or reject the deal that the Tories finally agree with the European Union.

...and urged caution over the SNP's latest push for independence...

You’ll have seen our First Minister over the summer.

Nicola Sturgeon’s response to breaking up Europe is to break up Britain too.

After withdrawing from Scotland’s second biggest economic market – the EU – she thinks it would be a good idea to compound that by withdrawing from our biggest market – the UK.

I want to be clear. There is no place on the independence fence for this party. We won a mandate in May to oppose independence and stand up for our place in the United Kingdom. And we will stick to that mandate like glue. After all we have been through I can tell you I meant what I said. No independence.

In the face of a belligerent, destructive campaign from the SNP we will oppose it.

...and on her special code words for independence...

Nicola Sturgeon has adopted a special code book, a new dictionary of nationalism. And I can help you translate.

When they say all of us should keep an “Open mind” they mean independence is back on the table.

When they say everyone else should “consider all options” they mean independence is back on the table.

When they say “Good faith” that means independence is back on he table.

But every reasonable-sounding phrase is code for breaking up Britain.

And I can tell you Nicola Sturgeon - we are not falling for it.

...he attacked the Conservatives for being divisionists...

I have already explained that if we leave progressive politics to the SNP then that will fail.

If we leave the campaign for Scotland's place in the United Kingdom to the Conservatives it will fail too.

Their election poster of a Scotsman, pick-pocketing an English taxpayer was a reckless act, promoting an inaccurate characteristic of Scots and was a disgrace. How on earth does that help keep the country together?

Conservatives were only interested in election victory, and never mind the damage done to the relationship between Scotland and England.

And in the final arrogant misjudgement the Tories divided the country in attempt to heal the divisions of the Conservative Party.
That dragged us out of Europe which has put further strains on the unity of the United Kingdom.

No amount of draping themselves in the Union flag and singing Rule Britannia will hide their record of putting the future of the United Kingdom at risk.

The Tories are not the unionists they say they are. They are divisionists.

...and he closed on a note of hope for the future.

It is the progressive alternative that we will provide. Liberal Democrats will provide that clear voice.

A clear voice to guarantee our civil liberties. For our environment. For education and for mental health. A clear voice for Europe and a clear voice for the United Kingdom.

Progressive, optimistic and outward-looking in Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom.

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