Robert Brown’s New Year Message – Time for strong Liberal voices!
The New Year is always a time for reflection – a blank page on which to write the future and a time of optimism and hope too.
For Liberal Democrats, 2016 is a vital year – the year when we stamp our presence again on the Scottish Parliament and give a stronger platform for the Liberal voice our country so badly needs.
Willie Rennie and his team have punched well above their weight in Edinburgh. Their record on defending civil liberties is impeccable – on excessive use of stop and search, clumsy centralisation of the police, unsuitable legal changes. It is no wonder that the SNP government have lost both their Justice Secretary and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland.
But that is not all. Liberal Democrats have also campaigned successfully for better mental health support and tackling the GP shortage, attacking the reintroduction of primary school league tables, fighting for Colleges and the extension of free nursery provision for hard-pressed families.
These are core Liberal issues – about extending freedom and opportunity to all our citizens, about fairness and championing the public interest, about giving the best possible start in life to young people right across Scotland.
What a contrast to the current Scottish government, obsessed as always with constitutional division and the politics of grievance but increasingly recognised as failing on public services. The recent SNP budget has dealt a death blow to vital Council services with additional cuts beyond what even George Osborne proposed.
And a contrast too to the Conservatives who are busy dismantling the support for green energy delivered by the Liberal Democrats, who were stopped by Liberal Democrats from slashing tax credits for working families, who are reverting to type in supporting the better off at the expense of the poorest in society.
The Liberal Democrats have a positive vision of a tolerant, open, fair, free, economically vibrant and opportunity rich country. To deliver this we need to win across Scotland and not least in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city. That Liberal Democrat voice is more needed than ever before.
And it is time to build a new partnership across the United Kingdom, putting the divisions of the referendum behind us and focusing on a new federal future which reflects the strength and diversity of all the nations and regions of Britain in the 21st century.
That is my aim and my wish for 2016. Will you join me?
Councillor Robert Brown is the Liberal Democrat lead candidate for Glasgow Region and the candidate for Rutherglen in the Scottish Parliament elections in May.