Local Scottish Parliament candidate and Rutherglen Councillor Robert Brown had a lead role at the Scottish Liberal Democrats Spring Conference in Edinburgh last weekend where Liberal Democrats approved proposals to invest £500 million to transform the prospects of young people in schools, pre-school care and Colleges across Scotland. Robert was responding to the debate of the Party’s important pre manifesto document which featured the Liberal Democrat proposal.
Robert also had the chance to meet UK Party leader Tim Farron MP.
During the debate, Robert Brown made an impassioned plea to give young people in care and leaving care a new deal which would make a step change in their life chances.
Key policies backed by the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference at the weekend included:
- A penny for education: an increase of 1p on income tax to raise £475m a year for a transformational investment in Scottish education.
- Changes to drug policy that will ensure addiction is treated as a health issue.
- Putting the treatment of mental and physical ill health on an equal basis in law.
- Increasing the proportion of NHS funds allocated to GP services to help address the recruitment crisis.
- Giving councils back the powers to set local taxation and remove the financial penalties used by the SNP government to exert control.
Robert Brown said:
“Recently I had the chance to talk personally to a number of young people who were in care or had experienced care. There are around 35,000 young people in care in Scotland. Nearly 50% of young people now experience higher education in Scotland - the proportion of people in care is 7%. The challenges faced by young people in care are often simply horrendous - challenges of parental failure, lack of the love and security which most of us take for granted, the resultant loss of education and opportunity due to moves of home, emotional and social crisis and mental health problems in many cases, individual stories many of hope and optimism, but many too of challenge, setback and obstacle.
There is nothing inevitable about poor educational outcomes for young people in care. We should cut through all the bureaucratic fudge, the official statistics, the professional explanations and make sure that they can use their talents and potential to the full.
This is part of the true meaning of the Liberal Democrat programme to invest in education, to make a difference to children like these. This is why the SNP government's approach of dither and delay is so unsatisfactory. Liberalism is about individuals and communities - about making sure that every child has a decent start in life, opportunity to realise their potential, the ability to have a happy and fulfilling life.
We will build a Scotland fit for the future, making up for the long lost "decade of dither" we have suffered under the SNP - a period when Scotland's schools have slipped down the international league tables, when Scotland's colleges have lost over 150,000 places - opportunities lost for many people who badly need them, when an unnecessary GP crisis has developed and our civil liberties have been eroded. And a period too when we have seen local funding slashed and local independence diminished by SNP centralism – SNP cuts made in Scotland by SNP Ministers.”