Willie Rennie's Christmas Message

The innocence of the young is one of the great joys of Christmas. It is the job of the political leaders to protect that innocence from the, sometimes ugly, world around us.

The scale of the challenge that the international community faces in Syria cannot be understated. We have seen the impact of the conflict on our television screens and the beaches of the Mediterranean.

But where there is darkness there is also light.  The response across the globe to the Paris attacks was uplifting. Singing together at the football, standing together on the streets and even the United Nations speaking together with one voice showed that we are at one against Daesh.

The response we have seen to the refugee crisis in Scotland makes me enormously proud and gives me hope for the future. It is often the most difficult circumstances that bring out the best in people. In many respects, we have seen the very best of Scotland this year.

This year, hundreds of refugee Syrian families will be in Scotland for Christmas. They will be safe, for the first time in a long time. I think that is something worth celebrating.

I am also proud of the work of my Liberal Democrat colleagues at the Scottish Parliament this year. Alison McInnes MSP, who led work to hold the police to account after the horrible crash on the M9, armed police and the excessive use of stop and search. Jim Hume MSP, who has championed the rights of Scots with mental ill health conditions and stood up for GP services facing a shortage of doctors. Liam McArthur, who led the case against primary school league tables and Tavish Scott, who has stood up for farmers who are missing out on vital government financial support.  Our team may be small but our impact is big.

My thoughts over the festive season are with those who work to keep us safe - police, fire, nurses, doctors, soldiers and so many others. But I have a special thought this year for the many thousands who have a mental illness. My plea is for everyone to reach out and offer a hand of friendship at what could be a difficult time in their lives. Small gestures can make a huge difference.

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