Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Willie Rennie MSP Leader of the Scottish Liberal DemocratsThe Liberal Democrats are working to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

That's why in Government we have given 24 million people a £700 tax cut, created 1 million jobs and helped 1.5 million apprentices.

We are the only party that can anchor Britain in the centre ground, ensuring we have sustainable growth and equality of opportunity.

Labour can't be trusted with the economy, in government they would drag Britain to the left, borrowing too much, spending too much and risking the recovery.

And the Conservatives can't be trusted to treat people fairly. If Liberal Democrats weren't in Government, the Tories would focus attention on the best-off, let employers fire staff without cause and allow schools to be run for profit.

Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.


Recent updates

  • Article: Sep 2, 2014

    Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is to reveal a significant blow to the Scottish nationalists' currency assertion from a leading figure in EU monetary policy.

    In a speech to Chatham House this evening on Scotland's place in the world, Danny will highlight his correspondence with European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, Olli Rehn.

  • Article: Sep 2, 2014

    Liberal Democrat Minister for International Development Lynne Featherstone has announced that Britain will provide further life-saving support for the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

    Since fighting broke out in December 2013, 1.3 million South Sudanese people have become internally displaced, with more than 400,000 fleeing to neighbouring countries. There is also a food crisis affecting almost one in three South Sudanese people.

  • Article: Sep 1, 2014

    Liberal Democrats in government are delivering free school meals for all infant school pupils - now we plan to go one step further and extend the scheme to all primary school pupils.

    Following evaluation of this policy, the free school meals scheme would be extended, as resources allow, while ensuring that school food standards apply to all schools, including free schools and academies.

  • Article: Sep 1, 2014

    The Liberal Democrat manifesto will include plans for five new laws to protect the environment, it has been announced today.

    The manifesto plans include include legal targets for clean air and water, an end to dirty coal power stations and an ambitious decarbonisation target for the electricity sector.

  • Article: Aug 31, 2014

    Households could save at least £100 a year by improving the energy efficiency of their homes, under Lib Dem manifesto plans announced today.

    The Liberal Democrats would reward people who improve the energy efficiency of their homes by giving them a council tax discount and slashing their energy bills - a double bill cut.

  • Article: Aug 31, 2014

    Spreading opportunity through education will be at the heart of the Liberal Democrat pre-manifesto.

    The 80-page document will form the backbone of the party's 2015 election campaign.

    The party's focus will be a 'manifesto for the next generation' with a host of policies aimed at improving the life chances of children and young people.

  • Article: Aug 31, 2014

    On Wednesday 3 September, Liberal Democrats will launch their pre-manifesto, which will form the backbone of the party's general election platform.

    The party's focus will be a 'manifesto for the next generation' with a host of policies aimed at improving the life chances of children and young people. Read Nick Clegg's foreword to the pre-manifesto below.

  • Article: Aug 30, 2014

    Liberal Democrats will give fathers an extra four weeks paternity leave under manifesto plans announced today.

    Currently fathers are entitled to two weeks paternity leave but the Liberal Democrats want to go further and dedicate an extra four weeks exclusively to fathers. This will increase the protected paternity leave for dads to six weeks.

  • Article: Aug 29, 2014

    Claims made by nationalist leader Alex Salmond have caused SNP promisesWillie RennieWillie Rennie to transform free childcare to fall apart barely hours after they were made.

    Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Mr Salmond brought the viability of his white paper promise under further doubt after he said that the policy would be funded both through women returning to work and through savings made as part of his independence plans.

    The comments contrast the nationalists' previous position that the policy would be wholly self-funding yet refused to publish any modelling showing a direct link between the two.

    Speaking whilst on a tour of the Highlands today, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said the shifting sands of the nationalists' promises showed they will say and do anything to achieve their independence plans.

    Mr Rennie said:

    "Alex Salmond's claims have thrown doubt on his party's promises on childcare barely hours after they were made. He expects every single parent in Scotland to believe his childcare plan is credible but behind the shiny promise there is no substance.

    "First they refused to show us any credible modelling showing exactly how the policy would be self-funding. Today he says that his plans would be delivered from savings in the white paper - the money from which he has already allocated many times to many different policy pledges. This is the stuff of nonsense and parents deserve better.

    "The shifting sands of the nationalists promises shows that they will say and do anything to achieve independence. While Alex Salmond causes the SNP's own policy to crumble, he still hasn't set out any real plan to tackle the £6 billion of spending cuts or tax increases which the independent IFS says an independent Scotland would need to continue to deliver public services.

    "People are already voting in this referendum and still Alex Salmond is making promises which stand in the way of fact. How will this policy be funded? People deserve more than a single page in the white paper setting out vague numbers. As part of the UK, we can shape our own policy on childcare whilst sharing risk and reward across the UK. Alex Salmond should tell voters why they should risk that opportunity."

  • Article: Aug 29, 2014

    Liberal Democrat and former teacher Gerry Keating has been elected new councillor in North Jesmond (Newcastle Upon Tyne).

    Cllr Keating won by a landslide over a field of four other competitors, with more than 50% of the votes.

    The Lib Dems gained 711 votes at this by-election, beating Labour, who lost over 250 votes. The Conservative candidate gained 117 votes. The UKIP candidate had 112 votes, and the Greens garnered 94 votes.

  • Article: Aug 28, 2014

    Our third and final day in India began with an early rise of 5.15am so we could make the long journey to Southern India - myself to Bangalore to try to better understand India's 'Silicon Valley' and for Ed to visit Hyderabad to continue his energy and climate change discussions.

    After arriving at Bangalore's impressive new airport, our first stop was the Airbus India facility in one of the hubs of the city's IT sector. This Airbus site isn't where they actually build the planes - a lot of that happens in the UK - but it instead focuses on the hi-tech modelling, testing and simulation of civil aircraft.

  • Article: Aug 27, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will tell an audience inWillie RennieWillie Rennie Edinburgh this evening that Scotland's global reputation would be trashed if the nationalists follow through on their threat of defaulting on Scotland's share of the UK debt.

    The remarks comes after Finance Secretary John Swinney confirmed that his party would default on an independent Scotland's share of UK debt if it did not get its way on a currency.

    Speaking at an event with leading members of the Edinburgh Asian community, Mr Rennie will say:

    "One of the first acts of a newly independent Scotland would be to tell the rest of the world we were defaulting on our debt. This would trash our global reputation before we'd have time to raise the saltire up the flagpole outside St. Andrews House.

    "You don't have to be an economics professor to know that refusing to pay your mortgage comes with consequences.

    "The price of the default will be high with the international markets refusing to trust an independent Scottish Government that it will repay future debts.

    "That is why I want Scotland to stay part of the UK, where we can share risk and reward across broader shoulders. This position is in stark contrast with the nationalists reckless passion for their independence plans.

    "Increasingly desperate nationalists are now resorting to idle threats that could cost Scotland dear. Their passion for their cause blinds them to the consequences of their position.

    "Refusing to take on an independent Scotland's share of the debt would look like and smell like a default. Those are not my words but the words of Crawford Beveridge, Alex Salmond's currency advisor.

    "We may not like it, but the powerful forces that are the international money markets would see John Swinney's refusal as a default. And with that comes consequences which the nationalists have not addressed.

    "If on day one of an independent Scotland Alex Salmond refused to shoulder our share of debt, the international markets would eat us alive. It would be families, employees and businesses across Scotland who would pay the price with higher mortgage bills, credit card payments and personal loan charges.

    "Only today, 130 businesses raised their concerns about the nationalists independence plans. 130 employers, who all play a significant role in driving our economy forward and creating jobs in fishing, mining, food, whisky and technology sectors. It would be foolish and reckless for the nationalists to brush off their concerns.

    "It would foolish for the nationalists to make an assumption that their position in government outranks the experience of 130 employers operating in Scotland as part of the UK. It would be reckless for the nationalists to seek out comfort in their own voices whilst the employers of hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland demand answers to unanswered questions in currency, tax and pensions.

    "Anything short of detailed answers from the nationalists on these crucial concerns about their plans can only spell bad news for employees and businesses."

  • Article: Aug 27, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has said that Tavish ScottTavish ScottNicola Sturgeon's independence promises to Shetland show that the nationalists do not understand local calls for more power.

    Speaking from his Shetland constituency today, Mr Scott said:

    "This shows that the SNP just don't get it. Islanders don't want more powers administered by a central belt, distant government. They want control over their own resources. The nationalists plans simply move power from London to Edinburgh. Liberal Democrats want home rule all round.

    "Islanders will be wary of centralising nationalists bearing gifts. Given that the SNP's power promises are conditional on a vote for their independence plans, Nicola Sturgeon's whistle stop tour from Edinburgh is a gun to the head - vote for us or else you get nothing. Islanders are not taken in and that is why Shetland will vote No Thanks in three weeks time."

  • Article: Aug 27, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury and HighlandsDanny AlexanderDanny Alexander MP Danny Alexander has said that a powerful intervention into the independence debate from a group of 130 employers demonstrates the lack of a credible economic case for the nationalists independence plans.

    An open letter signed by a group of 130 business leaders including Weir Group chief executive Keith Cochrane, Audrey Baxter of Baxters Food Group and Boyd Tunnock argued that remaining in the UK provides the best opportunities for jobs and growth.

    Commenting, Danny Alexander MP said:

    "This letter is from a large group of the very people who create the wealth and jobs that our prosperity depends on. The signatories run small and large firms in every part of Scotland, employing tens of thousands of people. I urge everyone in Scotland, particularly those who are still undecided on how to vote, to take the opinions of these wealth creators seriously.

    "They are crystal clear - the business case for independence has not been made and Scotland is thriving as part of the UK. This powerful intervention comes after the SNP's currency fiasco, fantasy oil revenues and extraordinary threat that an independent Scotland wouldn't pay its share of the UK's debts. There simply isn't one credible economic argument for independence. The Scottish economy is growing and creating jobs as part of the UK - Scottish business is right that we shouldn't put that at risk."

  • Article: Aug 27, 2014

    The latest leg of my visit to India has taken me to Mumbai where I have been able to spend time on a Bollywood set and have dinner with Sachin Tendulkar.

    However the highlight of my time here has been the opportunity to announce the institution of the Dadabhai Naoroji Awards which will be UK government awards for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Anglo-Indian relations in the fields of commerce, culture and education. The ties between our two nations are broad and deep, and so I was very keen to be able to recognise them in this way.

  • Article: Aug 27, 2014

    After a fascinating first day our delegation left Delhi on an early morning flight to arrive in the hustle and bustle of India's financial capital Mumbai. Mumbai is famous for many things, but in particular for being the heart of India's world famous film industry - Bollywood!

    Our first stop today was a visit to a municipal school for underprivileged children in Lower Parel, one of Mumbai's less well-off suburbs. Muktangan is an incredibly inspiring NGO that has managed to turn an ordinary government school into a model of learning. Ed and I were greeted on arrival by the fantastic school choir were assembled to greet us and I got a chance to read to some of the children.

  • Article: Aug 27, 2014

    Liberal Democrat Scotland Secretary Alistair Carmichael has called on major supermarket chains to do their bit to support Motor Neurone Disease Scotland after taking the ice bucket challenge.

    After he was doused in iced sea water at Tingwall Pier in Orkney and donated to Motor Neurone Disease Scotland, Alistair nominated the supermarkets selling bags of ice to make a donation to the charity.

  • key_tax-lib-dems.jpg
    Article: Aug 27, 2014

    The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to introduce a trio of wealth taxes which will help to cut the deficit whilst ensuring fairness in our tax system.

    Manifesto plans to increase taxes on the wealthiest will go alongside a pledge to further cut Income Tax and reduce National Insurance.

    Commenting Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

  • Article: Aug 27, 2014

    Northern Isles MP and Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has today called on major supermarket chains toAlistair CarmichaelAlistair Carmichael do their bit to support Motor Neurone Disease Scotland after taking the ice bucket challenge.

    Mr Carmichael was commenting after being doused in iced sea water at Tingwall Pier in Orkney and donating to Motor Neurone Disease Scotland. Mr Carmichael's ice bucket challenge video is now available to view on Youtube.

    Speaking after a hot cup of tea and a change of clothes, Mr Carmichael nominated supermarkets selling bags of ice to make a donation to the charity.

    Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:

    "People who are aware of Gordon Aikman's campaign to raise awareness and funds for Motor Neurone Disease Scotland cannot fail to be impressed by his bravery and enthusiasm in hugely challenging circumstances. I was delighted to take part in the ice bucket challenge and am pleased to report that the feeling has now returned to my fingers and toes.

    "Ice is not usually in short supply across the Northern Isles but the ice bucket challenge has seen something of a run on bags of ice in Orkney and Shetland recently.

    "I think that it is right that those profiting from these extra sales should give something back. I nominate the major supermarket chains to get involved and back this campaign."

    You can watch Mr Carmichael's ice bucket challenge video at http://bit.ly/1lvraNq.

  • Article: Aug 26, 2014

    Nick Clegg is leading a trade delegation in India with more than 40 British businesses, colleges and representatives of the aerospace industry to secure the incredible opportunities on offer.

    As part of his visit, Nick met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a number of issues where there is a natural partnership between the UK and India, including education, business, climate change and economic growth.

  • Article: Aug 26, 2014

    During his visit to Mumbai, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched a new awards programme for individuals whose outstanding achievements have strengthened relations between the UK and India.

    The awards are dedicated to Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Asian MP in the UK.

    A Liberal MP for Finsbury Central from 1892-1895, Dadabhai Naoroji was also the man who first brought Indian business to the UK.

  • Article: Aug 26, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP has accused Jim Hume MSPJim Hume MSPthe SNP of taking its eye off the ball as official figures released today revealed the number of vacant consultant and nursing posts has soared.

    Nursing and midwifery vacancies have trebled in the past three years.

    Mr Hume said:

    "Scotland's doctors and nurses are working under intolerable pressures in our hospitals due to staff shortages, bed blocking and rising patient numbers.

    "Patients will rightly be concerned to learn that today 1865 nursing posts and nearly 350 consultant posts lie vacant in Scotland. It is little wonder that we also learned today that fewer people were treated within 18 weeks. You simply cannot do more with less.

    "The increase in nursing and consultant vacancies has not appeared overnight. Why have they been allowed to decline to this point? It seems that the Health Secretary has taken his eye off the ball. He must now work closely with the NHS and the BMA to attract applicants to these vacancies but also to retain staff where possible."

  • Article: Aug 26, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP has again Jim Hume MSPJim Hume MSPslammed the SNP's performance on A+E waiting times after official figures published today revealed that the Scottish Government has again failed to meet its key target.

    Official figures show that in June this year, 94% of patients were treated within 4 hours against the SNP's 'interim' target of 95% which is to be achieved by September 2014. The 'interim' target was set last year after the Scottish Government's original target of 98% consistently failed to be achieved.

    The A&E waiting time figures for June of 94% compare poorly against the 94.6% of June 2013, the 95.1% of June 2012 and the 96.6% of July 2007 shortly after the SNP came to power.

    In June, only two NHS Boards achieved the original 98% standard with five NHS boards failing to achieve the 'interim' target of 95%

    Commenting Mr Hume said:

    "June is a time when A&E units will traditionally be under less pressure than in the winter months and yet the Scottish Government has still failed to achieve their revised target of 95% which came into place after they moved the goalposts last year. The reality is that this is the Scottish Government's worst June performance since the SNP came to power and they still have much work to do to achieve their revised target which is due for delivery next month.

    "These figures again call into question just how successful the SNP's much heralded action plan has been.

    "Our nurses and doctors continue to work under intolerable pressures due to the cuts in bed numbers, horrendous rates of bed blocking and staff shortages in wards. This is a direct result of SNP ministers taking their eyes off the ball while pursuing their independence obsession. They warn of the dangers of privatisation but it is their management of the NHS that patients should be more worried about."

  • Article: Aug 26, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP has urgedJim Hume MSPJim Hume MSP the SNP to redouble their efforts to meet a flagship NHS mental health target due for delivery this December amid concerns that enough progress isn't being made.

    Figures published today showed that the target of at least 90% of people waiting for psychological therapy doing so for no more than 18 weeks for treatment is some way off being delivered by health boards.

    Official figures have revealed that fewer patients are being treated within the 18 week target over the course of the past year.

    In June, there were 1,627 patients in Scotland who had been waiting for these key treatments.

    Commenting, Mr Hume said:

    "For too long mental health services have been the poor relation to physical health services in our NHS. I am extremely concerned that with less than four months to go until the Scottish Government's flagship target is to be met, treatment times for these crucial treatments are going backwards.

    "Over 1,000 have been waiting over 18 weeks for psychological therapy. This is incredibly stressful for mental health sufferers and their families, and can have a real impact on their personal and professional lives.

    "It is time that the treatment of mental health and physical health is given the equality it deserves. No-one should be left to suffer in silence."

  • Article: Aug 26, 2014

    Children in state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, will be guaranteed age appropriate sex and relationship education under manifesto plans announced by the Liberal Democrats.

    The plans will also include a curriculum guarantee of teaching pupils financial literacy and citizenship lessons.

  • Article: Aug 25, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has challenged FirstWillie RennieWillie Rennie Minister Alex Salmond to spell out his transition argument for his independence currency plans.

    Speaking ahead of a visit to a business in Edinburgh, Mr Rennie said:

    "Alex Salmond is not being fair with people in Scotland.

    "For months he has refused to set out his Plan B on currency.

    "And in the days since his hollow performance on currency in the TV debate, he has sought to quietly build an exit strategy from his irreconcilable position.

    "I don't think Alex Salmond's exit strategy offers voters much comfort. To exit from his Plan A and move to his Plan B, Alex Salmond has introduced his Plan Transition. It is a plan so cunning Baldrick himself would be jealous.

    "He probably thought we didn't notice him slip in the new phrase. But it would difficult to miss the two glaring flaws in this new strategy.

    "Firstly, a transition by its very definition is a temporary mode. It is not a stopping place.

    "Secondly, if Alex Salmond proposes that an independent Scotland temporarily use the UK pound like Panama uses the US dollar as a transition plan, what is it a transition to? The Euro? A separate Scottish currency?

    "Independence is forever. But Alex Salmond's currency plans now seem to come with an expiry date as short as six months.

    "That informal arrangement could be even shorter given that Alex Salmond has dubbed it his Plan Transition.

    "If the international markets do not believe your currency is permanent, they act to force the change even against your will.

    "The international evidence is that the Salmond combination of a temporary plan and a vague destination will be catastrophic to the immediate prospects for Scotland and the people and businesses who live and work here.

    "Let us remember the monetary union they tried when Czechoslovakia separated.

    "The monetary union lasted there for just six weeks. In fact, they started to end it after three weeks.

    "Czech and Slovak monetary union fell apart in little over a fortnight.

    "Foreign banks stopped trading the currency.

    "And the Czech central bank locked 4 tonnes of Slovakian gold in their vaults because of a billion pound dispute, even as they fell apart.

    "That was because the international markets believed that the currency union would not stand the test of time and decided to act to force its end.

    "The international markets did that before in 1992 when our interest rates went up to 15% as the speculators tried to wreck currency after currency in the Exchange Rate Mechanism.

    "So for Alex Salmond to announce that his entire plans revolve around a temporary Sterling arrangement leading to an uncertain Plan B puts him fair and square in the role as the Baldrick of Scottish economics.

    "Except he will not pay the price. It is the businesses with 270,000 people engaged in trade that will have problems first. Followed by anyone with a mortgage. The First Minister's three pensions will remain unaffected.

    "Wouldn't it be better to have the option everyone wants: a monetary and fiscal union with the rest of the UK, under-pinned by the Bank of England. That is what we've got now."

  • Article: Aug 25, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP has warned that AlexWillie Rennie MSPWillie Rennie MSP Salmond's pension promises for his independence plans are hanging by a thread after his former policy head said that the state "cannot afford" to keep paying pensions.

    In a political diary serialised by a newspaper, Alex Salmond's policy advisor Alex Bell echoed concerns raised in John Swinney's secret document about the viability of state pensions in an independent Scotland.

    Demographic pressures identified by John Swinney, the SNP's fiscal commission, the IFS and others show that Scotland's population is ageing at a faster rate than the rest of the UK, with the IFS noting that the SNP's pension promises could not be sustained without tax increases or cuts to public services.

    Mr Rennie said:

    "These are devastating claims from Alex Salmond's former policy chief, who was an architect of the nationalists' white paper. Alex Salmond's pension promises are now hanging by a thread.

    "People will be alarmed by the nationalists public fall-out over pensions which is taking place so late in the day. If Alex Salmond's own advisors still don't believe in his independence plan for pensions, why should the people of Scotland?"

  • Article: Aug 25, 2014

    Liberal Democrats will more than triple the early years pupil premium to £1000 per child under manifesto plans announced today by Schools Minister David Laws.

    The early years pupil premium was introduced in March 2014 and is currently worth £300 for every disadvantaged child.

    Liberal Democrats want to extend this to £1000, helping to ensure that every child has got a fair start in life and is ready to learn when they start school.

  • Article: Aug 25, 2014

    Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable is calling on business, unions and individuals to help identify and close potential loopholes in plans to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

    Exclusivity clauses prevent workers on zero hours contracts from taking work elsewhere even when their employer provides no work.

  • Article: Aug 24, 2014

    Companies will be forced to publish their highest earners pay under Liberal Democrat manifesto plans.

    In a bid to encourage fairer wages, businesses with more than 250 employees will be required to release pay details of their top earner. Under manifesto proposals companies will also publish their median pay and consult employees on future executive salaries.