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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

  • key_nick-canvas.jpg
    Article: Mar 28, 2015

    As we enter the General Election campaign this weekend, Liberal Democrats are poised to knock on the one millionth door since the start of the year.

    Across the country our activists have ventured out in all weathers and have so far knocked on 960,000 doors since January 1.

    With the campaign stepping up another gears, we are expecting another 40,000 doors to be opened this weekend.

  • Article: Mar 28, 2015

    Scottish Liberal Democrats have blasted the astonishing arrogance of plans by former SNP leader Alex Salmond to embark on a US leg of his book signing tour during his campaign to stand for the Lib Dem held seat of Gordon.

    It was revealed today the Mr Salmond had been expected to visit New York and Toronto during the week of April 6, snubbing local election hustings taking place in the constituency. The tour has now been cancelled following criticism by opposition candidates.

    Commenting on the news, outgoing Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon Sir Malcolm Bruce said:

    "It's astonishing arrogance that Mr Salmond could even contemplate an international book signing tour during an election for a seat he has yet to win.
    Cancelling it now shows he has suddenly realised he has a fight on his hands as support builds all across Gordon for the increasingly popular Christine Jardine."

    Scottish Liberal Democrat Gordon candidate Christine Jardine said:

    "The people of Gordon voted no by almost two to one. We have been let down by the SNP, who have taken their eye off the ball on health, education, transport and local funding, whilst they focus on their independence campaign. Now the SNP threaten to wreck the economic recovery across the UK with their plans to borrow even more than Labour.

    "We need an MP whose priority is the people of Gordon - not self promotion. Only Liberal Democrats are committed to transferring more powers from Westminster to Scotland, properly funding the NHS and balancing the books to secure the recovery."

  • Article: Mar 27, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb has commented on Labour's pledge to cap private profits in the NHS, saying that a simplistic policy could cause "chaos" for local hospitals.

    Labour today announced it would limit the profits of private firms in the NHS by a negotiable amount, but only Liberal Democrats have a credible plan to safeguard the NHS for the future.

  • Article: Mar 27, 2015

    Scottish Liberal Democrat Edinburgh West MP Mike Crockart has said that Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to strengthening human rights protections at home and abroad.

    It comes after the Scottish Human Rights Commission said the undercurrent of debate about changing human rights laws was "regressive in nature".

  • Article: Mar 26, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable today reached an agreement with the Trades Union Congress to begin work towards enabling trades unions to ballot their members electronically.

    A small expert task force will be established to consider how best to implement e-balloting in keeping with current legislation.

  • Article: Mar 26, 2015

    The UK's greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 8.4 per cent in 2014, thanks in part to the increasing use of renewable energy sources.

    Wind, solar, bioenergy and hydropower technologies generated 19 per cent of the UK's electricity last year, a record high for the use of clean energy.

    This shift away from burning coal contributed to a 15 per cent reduction in the emissions produced by the power sector.

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    Article: Mar 26, 2015

    New research published by the Government Equalities Office reveals that the ages of seven and eight are critical in keeping girls motivated to play sport.

    Beyond this age, girls become more self-conscious, some lose confidence and many stop taking part in sport.

    The study by Women in Sport and the Youth Sport Trust follows research from the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation which showed that in Year 4 in school, activity levels are similar for boys and girls but by Year 6, girls are doing significantly less and the gap grows in the years that follow.

  • key_health.jpg
    Article: Mar 26, 2015

    Liberal Democrat manifesto plans for the NHS and the education system have been recognised by experts in these areas.

    Under our manifesto plans, we will invest £8bn a year in the NHS in real terms by 2020.

    We are the only party to set out an NHS plan that meets that meet the financial needs of the NHS as set out by the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens in his Five Year Forward View.

  • Article: Mar 26, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tim Farron has joined with Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone and International Development Minister Baroness Northover to announce a manifesto commitment to promote LGBT+ rights across the globe.

    Our manifesto plans include a commitment to promote international recognition of same sex marriages and civil partnerships, as part of a comprehensive international LGBT rights strategy that promotes the cause of decriminalising homosexuality in other countries.

  • Article: Mar 26, 2015

    A new poster unveiled by the Liberal Democrats shows that a Labour or Conservative government would lurch economic policy dangerously to the left or the right.

    The poster highlights the crossroads facing the British public at the General Election and points to the dangers of leaving Ed Balls or George Osborne in charge of the nation's finances.

  • Article: Mar 25, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has awarded prizes to schools across the country in recognition of the work they are doing to close the gap between rich and poor children.

    The Pupil Premium Awards recognise the success of these schools in helping their most disadvantaged pupils reach their full potential.

  • Article: Mar 25, 2015

    Scottish Liberal Democrat South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume has said he is over the moon at news the Scottish Government is to endorse his Member's bill to ban smoking in cars with children present.

    The proposals, which have already received cross-party support and backing from many charities, could see smokers hit with a £100 fine if they are caught smoking in their car whilst children under the age of 18 are present.

  • Article: Mar 25, 2015

    Responding to a report on HS2 by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

    "One of the biggest infrastructure projects in a generation should not be jeopardised by short sightedness.

    "Bringing hundreds of thousands of jobs to the North West, HS2 will help to finally address the North - South divide.

    "Those who doubt the project need to think hard about what we would lose if we didn't go ahead with HS2 - 400,000 jobs and £50 billion of economic benefits."

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    Article: Mar 25, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is launching a new scheme to kick the mental health stigma out of sport.

    Nick is being joined by a network of major sports organisations in blowing the whistle on mental health discrimination in sport.

    For the first time ever a group of organisations including the Rugby Football Union, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Football Association will sign a charter committing to removing the stigma and prejudice around mental health from the pitch to the playground.

  • Article: Mar 24, 2015

    In the final days of this Government Lib Dems are still delivering our agenda against the odds, and against Conservative obstruction.

    Under the coalition government the gender pay gap had fallen to its lowest level, at just under 20 per cent - but this is still 19.1 per cent too high.

    Despite our high levels of women's employment the UK has the 8th highest gender pay gap in the EU.

  • Article: Mar 24, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said that Labour have no credibility on the economy.

    Responding to Ed Balls' announcement that he would rule out an increase in VAT, Danny said:

    "Labour have no credibility on the economy. Ed Balls might be ruling out a rise in VAT but he can't rule out a rise in National Insurance and already plans to hike Corporation Tax.

  • Article: Mar 24, 2015

    Speaking after today's (Tuesday 24 March) cabinet meeting, Nick said that the coalition has been a historic government, one formed at a time of national emergency to rescue an economy on the brink of disaster.

  • Article: Mar 23, 2015

    In a speech to students at King's College Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Simon Hughes explains how Liberal Democrats go into the election with a clear principled position on human rights.

    Unlike the Conservatives who want to pick and choose human rights, Liberal Democrats believe strongly in individual freedoms and protecting human rights.

  • Article: Mar 23, 2015

    Commenting on news that Longannet power station is to close, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Willie Rennie said:

    "This is a sad day for Longannet and the dedicated and professional workforce. The power station has kept many lights on in many houses across the country.

  • key_nick_children.jpg
    Article: Mar 23, 2015

    New evidence shows that the gap between rich and poor children in schools is narrowing thanks to the Pupil Premium delivered by Liberal Democrats in government.

    The Pupil Premium provides schools with their share of £2.5bn a year to support the most disadvantaged pupils.

    Liberal Democrats believe that a child's success at school and future aspirations should not be determined by their parents' wealth.

  • Article: Mar 21, 2015

    Speech from Willie Rennie MSP at Scottish Liberal Democrat conference:

    George is a young man. He lives in the Borders. George works hard but is not rich. He earns £12,000 a year.

    Before Liberal Democrats were in Government he used to pay over £1,100 income tax. But this year it will be cut to £200.

    George is not alone. Over 2 million Scots have had their income tax cut.

  • Article: Mar 20, 2015
    Alistair Carmichael MP speech at Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Aberdeen:
    Good afternoon, Conference.
    It is good to be back in Aberdeen.
    Aberdeen is where I attended party conference of the Scottish Liberal Party for the first time here in 1983.
    The party was very different then. In fact it was a different party - liberals and social democrats were still in different parties.
  • Article: Mar 20, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said that Benjamin Netanyahu's promise not to agree to the creation of an independent Palestinian state is "alarming."

    Speaking on his weekly radio show on LBC, Nick described the Israeli prime minister's election pledge as "extremely worrying".

  • Article: Mar 20, 2015

    Danny Alexander speech at Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Aberdeen:

    Conference, the election is just 48 days away.
    It is worth underlining this point - not least because election officials in Aberdeen inadvertently added an extra day to the campaign in a mailing to 100,000 people earlier this week.
  • Article: Mar 20, 2015

    Speaking at the Federation of Small Business Conference, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is expected to say:

    I want to thank the FSB. Whether it is Small Business Saturday or your work on late payment, young enterprise or driving local growth, your commitment to backing small businesses is second to none.

    And, together, working with you, we're turning Britain's economy around.
    We've more than halved the deficit since 2010, as a share of national income.

    Growth is up. Manufacturing output is increasing. Business confidence is rising and wages are pulling ahead of inflation.

    We have more people in work than ever before, with unemployment and youth unemployment, in particular, falling steadily. And, since 2010, over 2 million young people have started apprenticeships.

    That success is no accident. It hasn't happened by default.

    If you think back to five years ago, Britain's recovery was far from inevitable.

    The aftershocks of the 2008 financial collapse were still shuddering through our economy. No one knew where the next shock would come from and where it would lead, and images of riots on the streets of Athens dominated the news.

    It may not feel like it now, but we could have been Greece.
    In 2010, their deficit was 11% of GDP. Ours was 10%.

    As the Greek economy fell off a cliff, ours teetered on the edge.

    The British public faced a stark, but simple choice: to sink or swim.

    They chose to break with the mistakes of the past and reset Britain's future. They wanted a new way of doing things.

    So we stepped up, forming a new kind of Government - a strong, stable Coalition Government that could rescue Britain's economy.

    It hasn't all been plain sailing. Nothing this important ever is.

    We've had to make some tough decisions in Government to get our finances under control and Britain back on course.

    Families up and down the country have had to work hard and make real sacrifices. But, bit-by-bit, we're getting there.

    A huge amount of that success is down to you.

    There are now 5.2 million businesses in the UK - over 99% of which are small businesses like yours. Together, you employ 12.1 million people and generate £1.2 trillion in turnover.

    You are the lifeblood of our economy - the engine that helps drive our growth.

    So, when you told us what you needed to help Britain thrive - more competitive taxes; better access to finance, less red-tape and action to tackle the issues that limit your growth - we listened and took action.

    We reduced corporation tax to 23% and, from this April, to 20% - the lowest rate it's ever been in the UK and one of the lowest in the G20.

    To ease the costs of employment, we introduced the Employer's Allowance - a £2,000 National Insurance tax cut. One million small businesses have already benefitted, with around half a million employers taken out of paying NI contributions altogether.

    We're also making it easier for you to pay these taxes: abolishing annual tax returns, simplifying NICs for the self-employed and creating a single digital account for all your tax needs.

    We've increased support for everyone who pays business rates, especially small businesses and retailers.

    This includes capping rates and doubling Small Business Rate Relief: saving hundreds of thousands of small businesses around £1,500 a year, and we're giving businesses more time to benefit - extending it until the end of March next year.

    And, earlier this week, Danny Alexander launched the start of the most in-depth review of national business rates in a generation.

    This system was created almost three decades ago. In that time, we've seen the way businesses work transformed. We need this tax to reflect that change, ensuring a modern business rate system that is fair, efficient and doesn't hold your business back.

    We're also freezing fuel duty for another year, saving you around £10 every time you fill up your car.

    To help those SMEs struggling to get business finance, we've created the British Business Bank - helping thousands of companies secure over £3 billion of finance.

    We're extending the Funding for Lending Scheme, working with the Bank of England, to reduce the cost of lending across the system to SMEs.

    Our Enterprise Investment and Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes are helping thousands of micro businesses and new start-ups raise millions in investment.

    We're turning back the relentless tide of unnecessary red tape that's flowed from Whitehall to your desk for years.

    Our Red Tape Challenge has committed to scrap or improve at least 3,000 regulations - saving businesses like yours over £850 million per year.

    Our new One-in, Two-out rules mean that for every piece of regulation that costs business £1, Whitehall has to remove £2 of regulatory burden. This has slashed the costs of domestic regulation for businesses by more than £2 billion.

    But that's just the start. We introduced a Small and Micro Business Assessment that means that Departments must exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from all new regulations - unless their inclusion can be proved to be absolutely essential. But our default position is to exempt small businesses from new regulation.

    We're also doing what we can to tackle the number one business issue right now for the FSB and its members - late payment. When you're working hard, doing what you can to keep your business going, it's just not right that one late payment can be all it takes to wreck your business and pull you under.

    Since the financial crisis, we've seen that pressure grow and grow for many small businesses, with recent studies estimating that UK companies - the vast majority of them small businesses - are owed around £42 billion in late payments.

    To help, Government has put together a tough new package of measures to combat this problem. We're listening to you.

    Through the Small Business Bill, we're introducing a requirement for the UK's largest companies to report on their payment practices - subjecting companies' payment performance to full public scrutiny.

    We recently announced changes to strengthen the Prompt Payment Code, which will now promote 30-day payments across organisations as standard and maximum terms of 60 days.

    In Government, we're working to lead by example with our own payment practices.

    And, building on this, we're considering how to give business bodies like the Forum of Private Business further powers to prevent bigger companies pushing small companies around by delaying payment, using unfair payment practices - to ensure these measures are fully effective.

    So, step-by-step, we're helping Britain move forward.

    But, in the Liberal Democrats, we believe we can do even more for you, your business and our country.

    Last week, I set out my party's ambitions for Britain's economic future.

    We believe that by building a strong, modern, open economy, Britain can become the powerhouse of Europe. By sticking to our course, we believe we can leapfrog France and Germany to become the biggest economy in Europe within a generation.

    It's a big ask, but it's wholly achievable.

    We need to do two things: lock down Britain's recovery and continue to rewire our economy for long-term success.

    Firstly, just like in 2010, what your businesses need right now is stability.

    The very last thing Britain needs is the shock of a lurch to the left or right - away from the sensible, balanced approach that's taking us to where we need to be for jobs and growth.

    Yet, as the election draws closer, that's exactly what both Labour and the Conservatives are proposing to do - putting the future of your business and Britain at risk.

    Labour has no coherent economic plan.
    They talk about the need for deficit reduction, but then say nothing about how they plan to do it.

    A Labour majority government would borrow billions more and put our stability and our recovery at risk.

    And the Conservatives, despite repeating they will 'stick to the plan', are actually planning to veer away sharply from it.

    They propose huge cuts to public spending, far beyond what is necessary, and for nothing more than ideological reasons. That mean they will refuse to borrow for productive investments such as roads, rail and energy - starving Britain of the infrastructure it needs.

    Under Tory plans, Government spending on public services and infrastructure like roads, railways and housing will be the lowest we have seen for over half a century.

    And when it comes to finishing the job of balancing the books, they have ruled out asking the very wealthy to pay even a penny more to help the ongoing fiscal effort, instead they plan to take billions from the working age poor.

    That's around £1,500 each from 8 million low-income families.

    It is wilfully unfair and would force many of the poorest families in our country further into poverty.

    In the Liberal Democrats, we cannot and will not accept that.

    We want to keep broadly to the approach we've taken for the last five years - the stable, centre-ground approach to tax and spending Britain needs to secure its economic recovery and help more people thrive.

    So, yes, there is further consolidation to come, around £27 billion in total.

    But we will balance the books and, once the deficit is cleared, we will also start to bring down the national debt and invest in the things we, and future generations, need.

    Our plan means future governments will need to live within their means and the money we spend on public services will grow roughly in line with the growth of our economy as a whole.

    But, in the Liberal Democrats, we'll also allow for one significant exception: government will be able to borrow to make Britain's infrastructure fit for the 21st century.

    We've made a strong start in this Coalition Government already - committing over £56 billion of investment in rail, road and local transport by the end of this decade.

    But we know more needs to be done to modernise Britain's transport, communications and energy networks and boost our housing supply for the future.

    These investments are all essential to help us drive business growth in the years to come.

    So, in the last year of the next Parliament, we'll cut £50 billion less than the Conservatives.
    That's around half of what we spend on the NHS every year.

    And we will borrow £70 billon less than Labour. That's more than we spend on schools and the police put together.

    The Tories cuts will make our society less fair. Labour's borrowing will make our economy weaker.

    Only the Liberal Democrats have the long-term plan to finish the job and finish it fairly - making our economy stronger and society fairer.

    Secondly, we'll also stick to our long-term strategy to harness and encourage the skills and enterprise of British workers and British businesses.

    We need every region and community in Britain to succeed, if we're to realise our vision to be Europe's biggest economy in a generation.

    So, we'll continue to give local leaders the freedom and control they need to shape their economic future through our City Deals and Local Growth Deals.

    We'll build on the success of the Regional Growth Fund - now on track to deliver over half a million jobs and £16 billion of private investment to businesses of all sizes and sectors.

    We'll strengthen our Industrial Strategy even further, working with key sectors critical to Britain's ability to trade and grow in the future - our automotive industry, aerospace, low-carbon energy and others.

    We'll invest in major transport improvements and infrastructure to create a 'Northern Economic Corridor' - boosting growth, innovation and prosperity across North.

    Finally, we'll ensure our tax system stays competitive, making SMEs the priority for any business tax cuts, and we'll continue to focus on building a modern, flexible workforce -maximising the skills and talents of everyone.

    Our aim is to double the number of employers with Apprentices in the next Parliament, helping up to 4 million new Apprentices to shine.

    We will also exploit every opportunity we have to help your business grow. This includes helping to increase the share SME's win of the public procurement spend.

    Every year, the public sector spends around £187 billion on goods and services. In Central Government alone, last year, that figure was £44 billion.

    But, back in 2010, only 6.5% of this procurement spending went directly to smaller businesses and the hoops smaller companies had to jump through to try to win a deal were simply endless.

    We had departments insisting that every bidder - even for the smallest contracts - complete long and complex forms.

    For Government to even consider your bid, you often needed insurance cover, three years of audited accounts and a certain level of turnover.

    The Coalition Government was determined to change this. We started with an ambition for a quarter of all central government spending to go to SMEs directly and indirectly.

    We then focused on drastically reducing the time, cost and reams and reams of paper work it took for SMEs to apply for these deals.

    Slowly, it's working. Last year Government beat its target - spending a record £11.4 billion with SMEs directly and across supply chains. That's over 26% of government spend.

    In the Liberal Democrats, we've got an even bigger ambition. In the next Parliament, we plan to push for a third of government deals to go to SMEs.

    According to our estimates, that would mean over £15 billion of central government contracts reserved for smaller businesses.

    To get us there, we'll see through reforms like the Coalition's recent abolition of lengthy Pre-Qualification Questionnaires for low value contracts.

    These forms can run to around 70 pages and take businesses days and days to complete, causing many to fall at the first hurdle.

    We'll also implement the changes set out in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill now completing its passage through Parliament to make government procurement more efficient.

    In conclusion, only the Liberal Democrats will ensure Government sticks to the stable, centre ground approach your businesses need.

    Only the Liberal Democrats can build the strong, modern open economy Britain needs to become Europe's biggest economy.

    We'll keep Britain's recovery on course and we'll invest in your future - giving you the opportunities you need to thrive.

    This is our plan for Britain's future - a stronger economy and fairer society.

  • Article: Mar 20, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will say in his speech to the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference speech in Aberdeen that the party "can and will win".

    He will say that "we will do so much better than anyone thinks" and "resilience will see off the SNP challenge in the seats we hold".

  • Article: Mar 20, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will set out new plans to revolutionise travel in the north, including a new "TransNorth" rail system and road investments.

    A report released today by the government and Transport for the North (TfN), sets out a long term strategy to connect up the north, create a single economy and allow northern towns and cities to pool their strengths.

  • Article: Mar 19, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has set out the party's tax and spending plans for the next five years.

    In a statement to the House of Commons, Danny announced that the Liberal Democrat fiscal plans designed to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, creating opportunity for everyone.

  • Article: Mar 19, 2015

    Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords can boast 4,000 years of campaigning experience between them. As the election approaches we are making the most of this.

    Three years ago, when I first became the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip in the Lords, I set our Peers a challenge. Before the election we would make 1,000 visits to help our local parties and campaigns across the country.

    Last week we made our 1,000th visit.

    But our Peers will not be resting on their laurels. As the General Election rapidly approaches I want to ensure our Peers our out and about across the country helping where they are needed most and I hope that you have seen them in your patch.

    If you'd like to tap into the years of experience we have in the group, please email our Visit Organiser Louise Furness (louise.libdems@gmail.com) who will do her best to provide a Peer for your campaigning event, Action Day, fund raising dinner or whatever else you are planning.

    To keep them on their toes in the final weeks of the campaign I have now called upon our Peers to knock on 50,000 doors before Election Day on Thursday 7 May. By getting in touch you can help us reach this target.

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    Article: Mar 19, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has set out a new plan to help people with mental health conditions return to work.

    Later this year, treatment will be available to people on benefits who suffer from a mental health problem at job centres across the country.

    The scheme will give people access to treatments such as talking therapy and online support in job centres, with the aim to help them return to work.