Momentum is with the Liberal Democrats

By Willie Rennie MSP Sep 04, 2017 2

Politics isn’t always about who has the biggest stick and whose numbers are biggest. Sometimes momentum is the driver.  


Nobody thought 6th April 2016 was a politically significant day at the time. But for Emmanuel Macron it was the beginning of a movement that lead to a political revolution in France. From the outsider from a fledgling party to the elected President it’s a story of what momentum can do for you.

In Scotland, party support has turned. In terms of momentum Scottish Liberal Democrats have it, the SNP have lost it. We are growing.

The SNP lost their majority and have lost direction on policy. The Tories looked like they were going to make things happen in Scotland but have got mired in racist councillors and flip-flops on Brexit.

Now Lib Dems are gaining public support we can get more done.

My party has often set the agenda in Scotland in the last six years – on early education, mental health, our campaign against centralisation and fresh thinking on federalism. Now in their 11th year in power, the SNP are running out of ideas, running out of steam and failing on what they promised.

Over the summer we discovered that the botched centralisation of Police Scotland has left their senior leadership in turmoil. Democracy has been cut out yet the promised cash savings haven’t even been made.

So it rings my alarm bell when the SNP propose to do the same for education. They would cut out democracy and centralise functions. And they will be left wondering, yet again, why staff are in turmoil and teachers can’t be recruited.

In health, questions are asked every week about missed targets for treatment and shortages of staff.

I could highlight forever the weaknesses of the SNP administration but we need more.  We have a responsibility to set out a fresh alternative – an agenda for change.  This autumn needs to be the turning point on policy in Scotland.

We must be radical to be effective.

On education we must support teachers with a McCrone style action plan to reassess their workload and rewards. We have to invest to help children from whatever background and make sure the promise to 2-year-olds is delivered.

On health we have to treat mental health as the answer to long-term NHS sustainability. We should value the workforce and offer, in particular, good careers for staff in remote and rural areas.

In the last 12 months momentum has slipped for the SNP and Theresa May’s Conservatives. 

We had a Prime Minister who was strong and stable in her position to one that threw it all away.

We have a First Minister who has gone from Mother Scotland to what one voter told me was ‘that bloody woman’.

And with Kezia Dugdale resigning who knows what is next for Labour in Scotland.

Scotland needs a voice that give our children the opportunity to choose their best future. A voice that opens Scotland to the world for a prosperous future and values the people who work in public services.

While the SNP and Tories stutter, it is the Liberal Democrats who have the momentum. We can and will do more. 

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