Devolving power back to the people

I have welcomed the benefits offered to local communities and Dundee City Council by the Liberal Democrats’ home rule plan.

I mentioned the report of the party’s Home Rule and Community Rule Commission earlier this week and it has detailed how a range of powers will be permanently transferred to the Scottish Parliament.

There is a clear real need to go further than simply transferring powers from Westminster to Scotland.     Under the SNP, Scotland has become more and more centralised in recent years, with Ministers trying to grab all the power to the centre, to Scottish Government offices in Edinburgh.

The Liberal Democrats are serious about transferring power away from capital cities, whether London or Edinburgh, and ensure we have a stronger and more effective system of local government that is more able to meet the demands of local communities.

The Home Rule Report has outlined how we can strengthen the relationship between councils and the local business community.  With the setting of business rates at a local level we can ensure that councils can respond more effectively to the needs of local businesses.   That is the way to ensure that councils play a greater role in creating jobs and growth.

I feel this is a very positive way forward in terms of devolving power back to the people.

The localism chapter of the Scottish Liberal Democrat’s Home Rule plan can be read at http://bit.ly/R4Dv9A.

From Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP … Federalism – the best future for Scotland

Dear Fraser,

We have published today the report of the party’s Home Rule and Community Rule Commission which I had the privilege to chair.

We were asked by the party conference last year to set out clear and detailed plans for achieving home rule for Scotland – substantial domestic powers while remaining part of the UK. We were asked to build on the report of the Steel Commission, and that is what we have done.

In fact the recommendations are much stronger on the need for federal United Kingdom than many commentators were expecting. That is in no small measure because of the large number of representations the Commission received from party members and the strong views expressed at our special consultation event at the spring conference in Inverness.

The report makes it clear that devolution alone will not do the job.   More devolution will not provide a stable future for the United Kingdom.

Our recommendations give Scotland the best of both worlds.   We get strong domestic powers, not least on social justice, wealth and the economy.   But we also get the strength, equity and global voice from being part of the United Kingdom.

We have set out how new powers for Scotland and a new relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom can be achieved ahead of similar change elsewhere in the UK. But we are clear that the best future for Scotland is within a federal United Kingdom.

I should also point out that we have included very strong recommendations to increase the powers that local communities and councils have over their areas.

This will be unique Liberal Democrat territory among the political parties.   We don’t think the decentralisation of power should end at Holyrood.    Our plans stop in their tracks the centralising controls of government ministers over local councils.

The Times has said, “the plan represents the most developed proposal for Scotland’s constitutional future yet from any of the opposition parties at Holyrood…with sweeping new powers for councils…and an end to the power grab.”

The whole package of proposals will be debated on Saturday 27th October at our autumn conference. I hope you will come to Dunfermline and be part of our debate. You can register through Dunfermline2012@scotlibdems.org.uk.

Best wishes,

Menzies Campbell MP

Chair, Home Rule and Community Rule Commission

Save RAF Leuchars

Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Iain Smith MSP write :

 

Sir Menzies Campbell MP

You may be aware that there have been a number of rumours about the future of RAF Leuchars.

We have launched a petition opposing any threat to the base and would like you to lend your support to the campaign. You can read about the launch here: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/News/National/article/7916/lib-dems-launch-petition-to-save-raf-leuchars.html.

You can sign the petition at www.SaveRafLeuchars.org.uk.

The defence case for the retention of RAF Leuchars is overwhelming. It is in the right place ant the right time doing the right job. It has been demonstrated time and time again that the strategic positioning of the Quick Reaction Alert at Leuchars has provided the necessary and effective response to any potential incursions into UK airspace and the deployment of the three proposed Typhoon squadrons at Leuchars has already begun.

There has been a huge amount of work done at the base over the past year with somewhere in the region of £40 million spent on this deployment including the necessary resurfacing the runway. This base is now poised for the deployment of all three planned Eurofighter Typhoon squadrons.

Ming Campbell in Dundee

Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, was in Dundee today (30th April) to visit the headquarters of Alliance Trust in the city and to also support the candidacy of John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West.

 
Pictured above are Ming and John with me at the Alliance Trust Headquarters.

Sir Menzies undertook a tour of the company’s impressive headquarters building in the city’s Marketgait and met Mr Douglas Connon, Alliance Trust’s Managing Director – Corporate Affairs

Thereafter Sir Menzies undertook a walkabout in Dundee City Centre to meet Dundee voters.

John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, said, “I am delighted that Sir Menzies came to the city to support my candidacy and visit the Alliance Trust offices. The Liberal Democrats have fought our most vigorous campaign in many years and it is clear that support is growing both in Dundee and right across the UK .”

John Barnett campaigning with Sir Menzies Campbell

John Barnett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee West, attended the adoption meeting of Sir Menzies Campbell, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, last Friday.

The adoption meeting took place in our neighbouring North East Fife constituency and, before a weekend of campaigning in Dundee West, John spent time campaigning in St Andrews with Sir Menzies.

Here is John pictured with Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Iain Smith MSP.

Ming in Dundee

Sir Menzies Campbell was in Dundee today, firstly to visit the Overgate Centre and hear the good news that the Centre is thriving despite the current economic situation – and secondly to support my colleague Chris Hall at the Maryfield Ward by-election.

Dundee was rather full of politicians today, starting with the media conference with John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth, at Discovery Point – to announce the further Scottish Enterprise Dundee Waterfront Funding. I attended this (as City Council Planning & Transport Convener) and am delighted at this additional funding for Dundee.

The Labour Conference is also in Dundee so the city wasn’t exactly short of political visits! Anyway, here’s a couple of photos from Ming’s visit (below) :