William Cowan Rennie – Liberal Democrat
William Cowan Rennie was born in Fife and grew up in Strathmiglo, where his family ran the village shop and still live today. His mother was secretary of the local community association and his grandfather was the local Minister. He lives in Kelty with his wife Janet and their two sons, Alexander and Stephen. He is a keen runner and is a member of Dunfermline’s Carnegie Harriers. He was also runner-up in the 2006 Scottish Coal-Carrying Championships held in Kelty. Rennie was one of the 50 MPs who ran a mile to raise money for Sport Relief finishing close behind the winner, David Davies.
He went to Bell Baxter High School in Cupar, Fife, before going to Paisley College of Technology, where he graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Biology. After that, he received a Diploma in Industrial Administration at Glasgow College. After college, Rennie spent most of his early career as a Liberal Democrat election campaigner and official before working as a public relations consultant in the private sector. He became the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dunfermline and West Fife after a by-election win in February 2006.
He lost this seat to Labour in the May 2010 UK general election but was subsequently appointed in the same month by the newly formed UK Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition as a Special Government Adviser (SPAD) working for the Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretaries of State Michael Moore then Danny Alexander at the Scotland Office. He later resigned from his special adviser role in June 2010 to stand for the Scottish Parliament in the May 2011 elections. Despite the overall collapse of the party in the election he was elected as a list member for the Mid Scotland and Fife region. He was soon after elected unopposed as leader of the decimated Scottish Liberal Democrat party, replacing Tavish Scott.
While a student at the Paisley College of Technology he was depute president of the student union. Rennie ran the Scottish Young Liberal Democrats (later reformed as Liberal Youth Scotland) and after graduation went on to work for the English Liberal Democrats in Cornwall. He then went on to work for the Liberal Democrats’ campaigns department, and was the successful agent in the 1993 Christchurch by-election in Dorset. After managing the party’s campaigns in the South West England region, securing the return of a sizeable number of new MPs in the 1997 General Election, he moved back to Scotland where he was Chief Executive of the Scottish Liberal Democrats from 1997 to 1999, and then the party’s Chief of Staff in the new Scottish Parliament from 1999-2001.
From 2001 to 2006 he worked for the small Scottish communications firm McEwan Purvis as an account director helping advise businesses and charities such as the Royal Society of Chemistry and Asthma UK. During his time at McEwan Purvis, Rennie was a press adviser to Fife Council’s Liberal Democrat Opposition Group and a member of the Dunfermline Focus editorial team, working with Dunfermline’s Lib Dem councillors on local issues.
Following the death of Rachel Squire MP, Rennie stood in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election on 9 February 2006 and overturned a huge Labour majority to win the seat. In the House of Commons, he was a member of the Liberal Democrat shadow defence team, chair of their parliamentary campaigns unit, and a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee. During his time as an MP, he campaigned on local constituency issues such as abolishing the bridge tolls, changing the law to protect female learner drivers from sex offenders, improvements to cancer services at Queen Margaret Hospital, and local jobs (including at Longannet Power Station and Rosyth Dockyard). In the General Election of 6 May 2010 Rennie lost his seat to the Labour candidate Thomas Docherty.
Rennie returned to front-line politics as an MSP when he won a regional list seat for the Liberal Democrats in the Scottish Parliament’s Mid-Scotland and Fife region at the Holyrood elections on 5 May 2011. He was the only new Lib Dem MSP to win a seat in this election. After the resignation of the Scottish Liberal Democrats’s leader, Willie Rennie was made their new leader. He vowed to stand up to the “SNP bulldozer” majority, and refused to distance his party from the UK Liberal Democrats.
The one obvious thing that should happen – but probably won’t – in the wake of the ground breaking result in Dunfermline is that the ludicrous Labour-LibDem coalition that purports to run devolved Scotland should come to an end. That way we might return, at last, to a bit of honest politics.
Able candidate that he is, the truth is that Rennie and the Liberal Democrats fought an entirely fraudulent campaign based on a wholly bogus prospectus. The plain fact is that, while that perennial curse of governing parties – the fed-up factor – as well as general disillusionment over things like the Iraq war played a part in turning voters against Labour, the big issues were local issues.
And whereas in the past the Lib Dem “pavement politics” enabled them to cash in on these local gripes they were, in those cases, a party of opposition. In Dunfermline and West Fife they were in part responsible for the causes of these local gripes. They are a party of government in Scotland but they pretend, when it suits them, to be something else.
The deciding role on the Forth Road Bridge tolls and the downgrading of Queen Margaret Hospital is the responsibility of the Scottish Executive, yet the Lib Dems come over all hurt and innocent – who us? – when you remind them that their ministers play key roles in that administration.
The writing was on the wall for this disaster for Labour last May when the Lib Dems finished second in 15 Westminster constituencies. I wrote then that Alistair Darling, for one, was getting mightily fed up of Holyrood Labour’s accommodations with the greatest bunch of chancers Scottish politics has ever seen. With just over one year to go before the elections to the Scottish Parliament, is Labour to continue allowing the Lib Dems to claim all the credit for what little good has come out of devolution, yet blame them when things come unstuck? If they do, they might well find that this cuckoo in their nest will oust them completely.
They must tear up the partnership agreement as soon as possible, form a minority administration and bring back some plain dealing into our political life. That way might threaten Jack McConnell’s continued tenancy of Bute House, but it would also get the Lib Dems out of their limousines and back on the buses. I suspect the pressure for this sort of draconian action must be ferocious right now from the likes of Mr Darling and his boss, Gordon Brown. Devolution is killing off what we used to know as the Scottish Labour Party.
Westminster Labour and Holyrood Labour is the real coalition in Scottish politics now. It’s not a proper party any more, merely a loose grouping of disparate politicians all pulling in different directions and held together by an increasingly distant folk memory of how things used to be. Devolution did this to them. And don’t let them say they weren’t warned. Only scrapping their dirty deal with the Lib Dems can save them. http://www.scotsman.com/news/make-the-coalition-chancers-come-clean-1-1409170
November 2006: Ban the bombs I helped sell! says Willie Rennie
This weeks’s Westminster PMQ’s were full of Fibdem screamers! Rennie (Libdem defence spokesperson) did not want to be outdone by his leader,(Clegg) so he decided to get in on the fibbing. He asked the Prime Minister:
Rennie (Dunfermline and West Fife) (LD): “After the conflict ended, cluster bombs used in Lebanon by Israel had resulted in 159 casualties, including 23 deaths so far. In Geneva last week, why did the UK not support calls from the UN Secretary-General, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 27 nations for urgent action? In Oslo next year, will the Prime Minister push for a ban on those indiscriminate bombs, or does he agree with the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, who has responsibility for the armed forces, who strongly advocates the use of such bombs?”
But he should have declared an interest. Faithful readers will be aware we flagged up Rennie’s past before and his association with Raytheon. He was a top PR man at McEwan Purvis who had the merchants of death as their client. Yes, it is the Raytheon – the weapons manufacturer. Looks like Oor’Willie is not only a political opportunist but the worst kind of hypocrite seeing as Raytheon is a proud manufacturer of, you guessed it, CLUSTER BOMBS.
You can see also see Willie meeting the Acting Director of Raytheon in a press release drafted by none other than McEwan Purvis! Of course he went to the factory in his capacity as a new MP. (Note the picture of the F-18 that carries the very same cluster bomb below. Also his ol’workmate’s email address at the top. Willie, Willie, Willie, we couldn’t even make this stuff up.) Is there no depth-charge to which two-faced fibbers will sink?
December 2006: The Dundee Courier – Willie Rennie – for whom the bridge tolls
The Lib Dems pledged their support for The Courier’s “Scrap the Tolls” campaign yesterday when they launched a petition to abolish the “Toll Charge” to cross the Forth. Until yesterday, the party had been sitting on the fence in relation to the Forth Road Bridge toll. Lib Dems sitting on the fence?!? Surely not! But it gets better.
Dunfermline and West Fife MP Rennie said he had been reluctant to jump on the anti-tolls bandwagon because of concerns about congestion. Really?!? This wouldn’t be the same Rennie who centred his Dunfermline & West Fife by-election swindle victory on a petition against an increase in tolls, would it?!?! I mean, there cannot be any photographic evidence of Willie being against tolling on the Forth Road Bridge, can there?
The article then continues at pace to point out that the person in charge of tolling on the Forth, is none other than our favourite road safety campaigner and property market guru, Ravishing Tavish-ing Scott. So, Willie, when will you be lobbying your own party hierarchy on this one then? Rather than duping the electorate with a “petition” which always seems to rear its head at election time? http://fibdems.blogspot.co.uk/2006_12_01_archive.html
February 2007: Rennie just can’t help himself.
After the fraudulent and bogus circumstances of his election which saw him take a low profile and the blasting he got for his hypocrisy and lack of commitment on cluster bombs, we have his latest initiative to con the good people of Fife – abolishing tolls on the Forth Road Bridge.
Obviously Rennie is desperate to protect his ill gotten seat by getting a FibDem MSP elected in the area. However this little local plan has now gone a bit awry leaving Rennie’s future as an MP after the next election a little forlorn.
In true FibDem hypocrisy the party most to blame for the continuation of tolls on the Forth Road Bridge is, erm, the FibDems since the Scottish Transport Minister is, aherm, a FibDem – aka the hapless Tavish Scott. It all came to head this week when a vote on abolishing tolls on the Forth Road Bridge saw Mr Scott lead the opposition and say it would be bad for the environment if they were scrapped. However Tavish seems to have missed how this statement has screwed up not only his party’s chances of taking Dunfermline West from Labour but effectively ended Rennie’s future as an MP.
No wonder Rennie was squirming on Politics Scotland as Isobel Fraser skewered him into saying he had “faith” in Tavish after exposing the lack of “credibility” he now has on the issue of tolls. Poetic justice indeed. Elected on the issue of tolls and exposed and rejected on the issue of tolls.
May 2008: Rennie enjoy’s a fully funded 5 day trip to Israel
Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI). Air travel, transport within Israel and West Bank and some hospitality paid for by LDFI. Accommodation paid for by our hosts the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
July 2009: Willie Rennie in sleaze probe
A Parliamentary sleaze probe is to be held into expense claims made by Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie MP who paid his local party £14,000 for an office which cost them half that to lease. John Lyon, the parliamentary standards commissioner, has agreed to Labour Party calls for an investigation into the rental arrangements of Rennie, Lib Dem MP for Dunfermline.
Last month, it emerged that Rennie and fellow Lib Dem MSP Jim Tolson had paid a total of £21,000 in rent to the local Lib Dems who paid just £7,050 to lease the property in the Fife town. Rennie denies channelling funds to his local party and insists that the sums he and Tolson pay are justified as they include bills for telephone and electricity costs which, he says, make up the difference between the two amounts. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-20528679.html
May 2010: Former MP Willie Rennie to repay £2,000 in office costs
Rennie, the former Liberal Democrat MP, who lost his Dunfermline and West Fife seat at the general election and now working as a SPAD for the Scotland Office has apologised after he wrongly claimed for office costs on his local office, premises shared with his local party. He has accepted he will be required to pay back more than £2,000.
House of Commons authorities found that Rennie, who now works as a special adviser to the Scottish Secretary, was paid £2,647 too much for the upkeep of the office and equipment since 2006. Political opponents said the findings were “deeply embarrassing” for the Lib Dems as they accused him of trying to divert funds to the party’s election campaign.
Thomas Docherty, the Labour MP who unseated Rennie at the general election, said: “(Rennie] has been ordered to repay thousands of pounds of money and has had to apologise for the misuse of his expenses. “He wrongly directed public funds towards the Lib Dem election drive.”.
Mr Docherty also questioned the decision to appoint Rennie to such a high civil service role, adding: “Now he has been rewarded with a job as a special adviser, a political appointee who has access to extensive government facilities, (the Scottish Secretary] must guarantee his new employee does not misuse public resources once again.”
Rennie defended his conduct, saying: “The matter, as far as the standards commissioner is concerned is now concluded. There were end-of-year adjustments and mistakes made in the paperwork, but I have agreed to settle all of those matters.” http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/former-mp-willie-rennie-to-repay-163-2-000-in-office-costs-1-806396
Comment: Despite the foregoing nonsense Danny “Beaker” Alexander the newly appointed Chief-Secretary to the Treasury, gave Rennie a job as his SpAd after he lost his seat to Labour in the general election.
Rennie was using a scam widespread amongst LibDem MPs, renting his constituency office off his local LibDem constituency party and shifting his campaign costs onto his parliamentary expenses. It is usually difficult to prove, Rennie was unlucky to get caught, it was only that his campaign team made canvassing telephone calls to Labour activists from a phone number paid for out of parliamentary funds that also appeared on his party letterhead that did for him.
Rennie was according to a report in the Scottish Sunday Post renting the office space off his party, which meant that Commons expenses cash was going directly into the local LibDem coffers. Effectively the local LibDem party was his landlord and taxpayers’ money was being used for LibDem campaigning. Not a frugal sign from the right-hand-man of a Chief Secretary charged with cutting public expenditure.
Just under three weeks before the election the Sun gave it’s backing to the SNP. Rennie was not happy and started to stir the ****, but without foundation his attempts at smearing Alex Salmond were doomed to fail.
It was the judgement of the public that the decision to support the SNP had been based on blatantly obvious commercial logic. The Sun’s main competitor, the Record, being unshakably Labour, a traditional position it has taken for decades.
Taking a contrary position to the Record made obvious sales sense, particularly outside the Record’s core area of Glasgow, but the Sun could equally be agnostic; after all, not all of its readers would vote SNP. Insiders say the paper likes winners, and since in the last election when it unfairly suggested Scotland might need to consider suicide if Salmond was elected, it evidently decided this time round that the SNP leader was indeed a winner.
They also argue the SNP’s aspirational tax-cutting, and upbeat electioneering is more in tune with their readers’ outlook than the Record’s more biased reporting. Sun readers are younger, more upwardly mobile, as are SNP voters. Salmond’s advisers deny that the first minister and Murdoch have recently met, but do not deny that conversations have taken place at a senior level between Salmond and senior News International (NI) officers.
Other political observers – including those with powerful Tory allegiances – took a more jaundiced view of NI’s motives. Preventing Labour from winning back power in Edinburgh suited the Tories in London very nicely indeed, cynics say.
So with Salmond happy to do business with the Tories at Holyrood and clearly unable to deliver independence in the near future, backing the SNP is a much more attractive short-term bet for Wapping. At least, that is the very strong suspicion, and in Tory quarters too.
“Dear First Minister, In light of the deeply shocking events, (phone hacking) that have unfolded over the last week, I am writing to urge you to disclose the details of your dealings with News International while seeking their endorsement. Following the criticism that you levelled at the corporation this weekend, it is inconsistent for your party to continue to accept News International’s support.
The allegations that have surfaced over recent days are dreadful, yet these follow on from those that were made a number of years ago. People in Scotland want to know what questions you asked of News International before accepting their backing for the election in May. Did you raise any concerns about phone hacking during these discussions and, if so, what assurances did you seek about the previous allegations? This scandal has shocked people throughout the country and I believe that, as First Minister, you must now make your position clear. Will you now set out the details of all discussions and negotiations between your party and News International?
comment: As the old saying goes “Empty vessels make the most sound” and Rennie is just confirming that. For a career politician I suppose that is all he has had any experience at just to please his boss Nick. The Sun endorsed the SNP on the 19th of April less than 3 weeks before the election because they saw that they were going to be the winners. See previous post
Rennie took over from Tavish Scott when the deadline for the contest passed at noon without any other candidates stepping forward. The Lib Dems were reduced from 16 to just five MSPs in a disastrous election result earlier this month. The other Lib Dems re-elected to Holyrood are Alison McInnes on the North East list, Jim Hume on the South of Scotland list and Liam McArthur, in the Orkney constituency. Two days after the election, Shetland MSP Mr Scott resigned as leader with immediate effect.
October 2011: Willie Rennie involved in a controversy over an unjustified attack on Alex Salmond
Rennie was at the centre of controversy after an offensive cartoon was published in his name depicting Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond MSP in Arab dress with his skin apparently artificially darkened. The cartoon, which was published on Rennie’s Facebook page and through his Twitter feed, followed a comment in which Alex Salmond noted “remarkable similarities” between Scotland and Qatar.
The cartoon suggested an independent Scotland would share such attributes of Qatar as an absolute monarchy, the rejection of gay rights and the imposition of the death penalty. Rennie later publicly apologised for the cartoon.
November 2011: Rennie highlights independence threat to Scottish research funding
He said: “Scotland is at the cutting edge of research and development work in the UK. Our universities are doing work which is producing technologies which the applications for could almost be limitless. The expertise exists in Scotland, but we could not do all of this exciting new research without the extra bonus funding that we receive from across the border.
The real danger of splitting Scotland from the UK is that you also split our universities from this vital source of funding which helps to fuel the innovation. We do not want to see a repeat of ‘Silicon Glen’ or cause a brain-drain to better funded projects south of the border.
Scotland is punching well above our weight in terms of funding. I am puzzled why the SNP would want to jeopardise this. Mr Salmond cannot guarantee that there would be alternative funding sources to fill the funding gap of £210 million every year.
It is clear that remaining a strong and prosperous part of the UK is best for Scotland’s bright future in research and development.” http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/rennie-highlights-independence-threat.html
Comment: Usual Rennie twaddle. Read these: https://caltonjock.com/2014/08/30/research-funding-scares/ https://caltonjock.com/2014/08/28/major-indian-medical-and-biological-research-institutions-with-scottish-universities/
December 2011: Wise words from Willie Rennie at Christmas
This is a brief extract from Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Rennie’s 2012 Christmas message: “While the Nationalists play a game of political poker, bluffing their way from one missed opportunity to the next”
“A sad and inaccurate statement. But just what we’ve come to expect from Rennie. Sold out in England and nasty in Scotland with no Christmas spirit of goodwill. Oh and remember that the cuts in Scotland are due to the imposition of much reduced financial allocations from Westminster don’t you ? From Danny and his team ? You know Danny from up in Moray who closed Leuchars and kept Lossie open ? And that the Lib Dems reneged on their pledge to scrap tuition fees in England ? Just checking.”
January 2012: Rennie Raises Salmond’s disrespect in Parliament
Ever the opportunist, Rennie complained that Alex Salmond arranged news interviews, where, appearing in front of a cosy fire and saltires at Bute House, he made his announcement of the referendum date before briefing his MPs who were in the Commons listening to Moore. It had all the impression of being done completely on the spur of the moment. But, why the need for the high drama? Why not just make a statement to Parliament on Wednesday lunchtime? and it was disrespectful to the Holyrood Parliament. He said:
“On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Yesterday, Scotland’s ministers at Westminster set out the United Kingdom Government’s proposals for a fair, legal and decisive referendum in two statements: one to the House of Commons and one to the House of Lords. They took 47 questions from members of Parliament.
In Scotland, the First Minister announced his date for the referendum, not to the Scottish Parliament but to Sky News. Given that the decision relates to what the First Minister called the biggest question for Scots in 300 years, and given that the Scottish Government is always concerned about the respect agenda, has the Scottish Government made a request to make a statement to this Parliament today?
Is there any reason why you, Presiding Officer, would not be able to respond positively to such a request if it were made by the Scottish ministers?” Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick said she’d not had any request for a statement.
Rennie followed up outside parliament “This shows the SNP’s disrespect for the Scottish Parliament. Instead of choosing to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Scotland’s biggest question for 300 years, Mr Salmond instead chose to make his statement to the media. With the SNP’s majority in Parliament, it is obvious that they feel they can do anything. The bulldozer is out of the garage.” http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/rennie-highlights-salmonds-disrespect.html
Comment: I think the headline should read “Rennie highlights his total lack of judgement yet again”.
It is public knowledge that Salmond expressed only his PREFERRED TIMELINE for a Referendum in advance of publishing a CONSULTATION document. Therefore, whatever the language used, there is no question that ‘the date of the Referendum was announced’ anywhere other than in Rennie’s head. All that has been done is an expectation set. And by the way, why should Salmond announce anything to the Scottish Parliament when, in Rennie’s view, the Scottish Parliament doesn’t have the competence to legislate for the Referendum? Rennie’s intevention yesterday was sheer petulance probably borne out of frustration that Michael Moore was getting all the attention after he had been chosen by his Tory bosses to make a clown of himself on Tuesday. I don’t think Cameron could believe his luck that he found such a willing and able stooge.
March 2012: Rennie attacks Alex Salmond stating he would dine out with Devil to further independence cause
Rennie alleged “By seeking to exploit Rupert Murdoch’s spiteful revenge for phone hacking the First Minister has confirmed that he will dine out with the devil to get his way on independence. The First Minister has already defended News International in his recent Sun on Sunday column and now he’s seeking a grubby deal with the media tycoon to support splitting Scotland from the rest of the UK.
This is a cynical attempt to exploit Rupert Murdoch’s personal grudge and grievance against UK politicians who rightly criticised the News of the World and the Sun over phone hacking. The real substance of last week’s cosy fire-side chat with Rupert wasn’t jobs but his revenge over Leveson. Has the First Minister no shame?” http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/rennie-salmond-would-dine-out-with.html
Comment: Alex Salmond is well aware he is taking a risk being seen with Murdoch but until it is proven that he was doing anything other than his job as Wee Rennie’s comments are, as usual, an attempt to smear his and the SNP’s name!!
Speeches by libDem leaders at their conference showed an incredible level of duplicity on Home Rule and disgusting slurs on the party you hate show much..I hope there is somewhere for the membership to go when the LibDem party is cast into the wilderness for a generation.
In fact their only hope for the future is Independence when honest Scottish Liberals may be able to regroup – having fired their previous leaders!
Lets just look at how the two partys compare. Alex Salmond meets Rupert Murdoch who through his large shareholding in Sky TV has 6000 employees in Scotland.
The Lib Dems take £2.5 million of what turns out to be stolen money from a donor. Now any party that is happy to criticise another party over just about anything, and had any scruples themselves, would return that money, but it appears the Lib Dems have no such scruples.
Keep up the moral indignation all you Lib Dems, you will find out in May just what the Scottish electorate think of you.
Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said that First Minister Alex Salmond had been sullied by James Murdoch’s revelations at the Leveson Enquiry. Amongst e-mails filed for the Enquiry to consider, was one from Frederic Michel, News International’s Director of Public Affairs, about a meeting with Alex Salmond’s advisers on 15 June 2010: Rennie called for an urgent investigation into the circumstances behind this exchange. He said:
“It is difficult to understand why the First Minister has allowed himself to be sullied to such an extent. When the troubled media mogul said jump, it is clear that Alex Salmond was quick to say ‘how high?
We need an immediate investigation into the circumstances which led to such an outrageous exchange taking place. Alex Salmond will do anything to split Scotland from rest of UK, even cosy up to a disgraced media tycoon. http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/willie-rennie-murdoch-says-jump-alex.html
I agree that there should be an inquiry into the alleged suggestion that a News International (NI) employee emailed advice that Mr Salmond could seek to influence “Hunt” if he was asked to. (Rennie seems to be keen to accept without question what an NI employee had written about what spokesmen for the First Minister might have have said. I’m sure there must be some doubt about the credibility of NI staff…?)
Mind also that Hunt was always 100% for Murdoch in the first place, so any need for a functionary of the FM to contact Hunt would be in doubt. A note to Cable, who had declared war on Murdoch would have been a different story.
But yes. Absolutely 100% let’s have an inquiry into Salmonds relationship with Murdoch, Hunt, Cable and anyone else. We absolutely need to know that despite the LibDem Westminster government being corrupt beyond belief and having no regard whatsoever for the law, the Scottish government and its first minister MUST be above that.
Incidentally the gripe about only the two possible first ministers debating in Scotland: The LibDem’s were happy to take part in a debate that ignored anyone but the three party leaders from England. No UKIP, BNP, or Celtic country parties involved.
The LibDem’s are given mention twice in the “extracts” supporting Murdoch’s bid? Very strange. They further quote the support of the Scottish LibDems.
Tavish Scott has already denied this. But, is Tavish to be believed yet Salmond must be a liar? Seems to me Willie Rennie is making an excellent attempt to steal Labour’s mantle for hypocrisy. http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Exhibit-KRM-18.pdf
August 2012: The Herald and Willie Rennie accuse the SNP of secret push to obtain a devo max option
Private correspondence obtained by The Herald shows Mr Salmond’s office had been helping campaigners wanting to widen the referendum to build the case for putting “devo max” to voters in the poll. Publicly Mr Salmond has maintained his preference is for a single question on independence, while leaving the door open in case other options emerge.
He has argued it would be his duty to include a second question if there is a groundswell of support. However, an email obtained by The Herald shows the First Minister has been working behind the scenes to generate such support.
The message was sent from Mr Salmond’s special adviser Alex Bell to Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Services (SCVO) and a leading proponent of a two-question poll.
The SCVO is the driving force behind the Future of Scotland group, a loose coalition of charities, churches, student organisations and trade unions which, since launching earlier this year, has been developing a possible second question on greater devolution.
Mr Bell’s email, on June 14, provides a link to an internal report by the Unite trade union showing 62% of their members favoured a second question on devo max, according to a poll. A message attached said simply: “Read this.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Rennie said: “Despite his public protestations, Alex Salmond is increasingly desperate to get a second question on the ballot paper. The fact his henchmen are manipulating independent organisations behind the scenes to achieve that second question shows just how desperate he is.”
Yesterday, an SNP representative said “Unlike the anti-independence parties, we acknowledge the strong support within civic Scotland for a second question, as underlined by the poll of Unite members.” http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/salmond-in-secret-push-to-obtain-a-devo-max-option.18556202
But, determined to make mischief, as is his want Rennie put pen to paper and wrote to Alison Elliot, the Convener of SCVO, asking her to consider the position of Martin Sime. His letter said:
“I am sure your members will be dismayed to learn that Mr Sime is allowing the SNP to use the SCVO as a front organisation to make its case for a second question. As you are more than aware the SVCO exist to represent the views and interests of Scotland’s third sector.
Mr Sime has displayed poor judgement by involving himself in a highly polarised debate on matters of process regarding the constitutional referendum. SCVO provides expert opinion to decision makers on a range of subjects including health, education, justice and regeneration.
I value the critical role the organisation plays. However, Martin Sime is undermining the impartiality of that opinion by backing the SNP in a highly polarised debate on constitutional process matters on which he has neither locus nor expertise. I believe that Mr Sime should consider his position as Chief Executive of SCVO.”
Alison Elliot’s reply: “I consider your allegations preposterous, your interpretation of the incidents fanciful and your attempt to interfere in the business of an independent organisation unworthy of a public leader. I have no intention of asking Martin to resign.” http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/scvos-alison-elliot-proves-willie.html
Rennie’s further comment: “I’ve clearly touched a raw nerve. These are serious concerns about the impartiality of the Chief Executive of SCVO and clearly deserve a better response. I think people will be concerned that SCVO has taken one side of a highly polarised, political debate.
First we had the attempt to undermine the launch of Better Together and now hard evidence of collusion with one of Alex Salmond’s close advisers. SCVO are in serious danger of undermining their reputation.”
Final comment from Rev Stu: I’m still keen to hear what Mr Sime actually did to merit Willie Rennie’s ire other than RECEIVE an UNSOLICITED email. Perhaps there’s a vital aspect of the story I’ve missed, because it’s staggeringly, blindingly obvious even to a total idiot that calling for someone to lose their job because SOMEONE ELSE sent them an email is a twisted, moronic absurdity.
August 2012: Willie Rennie attacks Alex Salmond for “pandaing” to China over Dalai Lama
So, now we know. Rennie was right all along. Scotland’s First Minister didn’t put up any sort of a fight when China sent the boys round to talk about the Dalai Lama. Today’s Scotsman has the details.
The Scottish Government didn’t get involved in meeting the Dalai Lama when he visited Scotland between 21 and 24 June. Alex Salmond refused point blank to meet him, and nor did any other member of his Government. He had no problem giving time to the Chinese Consul General two weeks before, though. The Scotsman have obtained a record of that meeting and it makes no mention of any discussion taking place on human rights.
This is what the note says about the Dalai Lama’s visit:
“The Ambassador asked the First Minister about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Scotland in June. The First Minister clarified that is a private visit at the invitation of the Conference of Edinburgh’s Religious Leaders and the Edinburgh Interfaith Association, amongst others. The Scottish Government is not involved in the visit.”
It almost sounds apologetic. A “Yes, he’s here, but it’s now’t to do with us.” Not “We welcome the fact that he’s coming. He’s an important figure in the world who stands for peaceful protest and human rights. I’m going to meet him. I know you don’t like it, but that’s the way it is. I hope that you’ll reflect on the way your Government treats your citizens.” http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/willie-rennie-was-right-alex-salmond.html
Comment: Rennie Quote – “This is what the note says about the Dalai Lama’s visit:
“The Ambassador asked the First Minister about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Scotland in June. The First Minister clarified that is a private visit at the invitation of the Conference of Edinburgh’s Religious Leaders and the Edinburgh Interfaith Association, amongst others. The Scottish Government is not involved in the visit.”
So – it was a pastoral visit, not a political one, as I believe the Dalai Lama himself confirmed. No Government ministers anywhere in the UK met with Tenzin Gyatso during his recent visit. When he visited the religious communities, the Dalai Lama did not request a meeting with any political figures in the UK. Why should Scotland’s First Minister be the only one in the UK to be criticised for not forcing his presence on this homophobic, pro-life, CIA-backed religious leader? If Rennie care’s so much about Human Rights, then why didn’t he take up the issue of the Dalai Lama’s persecution, discrimination and repression of the Dorje Shugden sect?
August 2012: Rennie questions Alex Salmond’s £400k spend on “London embassy” for the Olympics
The Scottish Government, understandably enough, had decided to showcase Scotland to the representatives of business and government from all over the world who are currently visiting London for the Olympics. Showing Scotland off is never a bad thing, especially when we are hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2 years’ time. http://wayback.archive-it.org/3011/20130201200407/http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/07/FM-Scotland-House27072012#
“They have, bizarrely, blown £400,000 on hiring the Army and Navy Club in Pall Mall and renaming it Scotland House. There, according to First Minister Alex Salmond, visitors can see what a great place Scotland is to have a holiday or do business in, and what wonderful food and drink and culture we export all across the globe – not to mention our pride in our sporting history, personified by heroes like Eric Liddell.
That’s all very well, but it turns out that they were offered the use of rooms in Dover House, where the Scotland Office is based not just at cheaper cost, but at no cost whatsoever. Not only that, but that building overlooks Horse Guards Parade, so they would have been able to take in the Beach Volleyball at the same time. What possible reason could they have had for refusing that offer?”
It’s a bit rich for Mr Salmond to complain about a lack of funds for schools and hospitals while spending almost half a million pounds on a plush London address during the Olympics. Spending the equivalent of a nurses’ annual salary every day on the exclusive Pall Mall address when Dover House was available free of charge is a colossal waste of money.
An invitation was made to the Scottish Government to use Dover House to promote Scotland, something that both the UK and Scottish Government are keen to do during the Olympics. It is one of the government’s finest buildings and Michael Moore has already hosted receptions there this week to take advantage of its prime location to promote Scotland on the world stage.” http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/rennie-questions-salmonds-400k-on.html
Comment: Widely distributed, Westminster Council Public Notice: “The area where Dover House is located will be extremely busy throughout the entire Olympic Games as Beach Volleyball is also taking place at Horse Guards Parade. Whitehall and Parliament Street will be access only 6am – midnight between 25 July – 14 August as the road will be used for athlete and other Olympic Family members to access the Horse Guards venue. Roads in the area (particularly Trafalgar square, Parliament square and Victoria Embankment) will be busiest when spectators, workforce and members of the Games Family are travelling to and from venues before the start and after the end of sessions. There we have it. An underhand offer from the Lib/Dem Scottish Minister of State. Use of Dover House would have been a disaster.
But surely this can’t be right, cynical, or at the very least, Wee Rennie (the man who can do no wrong) must not have been aware of that fact. After all, Wee Rennie is a man of integrity.
Recently, after writing to the head of Scotland’s civil service to complain about their politicisation, he was straight on the blower to Whitehall, complaining about the UK government using departments such as DWP and HMRC to come up with positive arguments for the Union. Oh, wait, I remember now, “No” he didn’t because he has no integrity, no principles and absolutely zero credibility. To say Dover House would not have been suitable simply makes no sense. It smacks of putting party politics ahead of taking advantage of the Olympics to benefit Scotland.
October 2012: Willie Rennie’s leader’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Dunfermline.
I am not printing it but you can read the entire long winded diatribe here: http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/willie-rennies-speech-in-full-to-lib.html
“I.AM. Jolly is funny. Wee Rennie is just pathetic. Congratulating a council candidate who came third in a three horse race! How high the fortunes of the Lib Dems are at present. If you ever come second any place will you have aparty?
“I was going to read Rennie’s speech but I see that its only slightly longer than the Gettysburg Address so I can’t be bothered. The first few gripey lines are enough to more than set the tone and calibre of all the rest.
“Rennie and his erherm….”parliamentary party” turned up in a Mini. And instead of an inspiring eulogy he delivered a 3,000 word address that was an inspiration to nobody at all. Full of catty remarks, trite rather than pithy and much much too long. Clearly he has not heard that brevity is the sole of wit!
March 2014: Willie Rennie unhappy with his own party’s bedroom tax said in a BBC webcast that the bedroom tax ‘should just go’.
Lib/Dem leader Rennie has called for the bedroom tax to be axed because the controversial welfare reform isn’t “working as intended.”
The measure has been at the heart of the welfare reforms being imposed by the Coalition Government and Rennie has steadfastly defended it. But, in a shock climbdown today and contrary to his own party policy, he said it should be scrapped. Asked if the “tax” should go, he told the BBC: “I don’t think it should stay.”
Rennie had always described the changes to housing benefits as “tough”, but had never signalled that he may be in favour of scrapping the policy altogether. But he said in a BBC webcast today: “The principle behind [the spare room subsidy] I can understand, but to be honest I don’t think it is working as it was intended and I think it should just go, and it should go quickly.”
Meanwhile, his Westminster colleagues continue to support the tax on the poor. Here are the names of 7 Scottish LibDem MPs who voted against scrapping the bedroom tax:
Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Sir Menzies Campbell (Fife North East), Alistair Carmichael (Orkney & Shetland), Michael Moore (Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk), Sir Robert Smith (Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine), Jo Swinson (Dunbartonshire East), John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross.)
And the names of 3 Scottish LibDem MPs who abstained from voting against the bill:
Danny Alexander (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey), Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye & Lochaber), Alan Reid (Argyll & Bute.)
April 2015: GPS tracking system puts Willie Rennie in the spotlight after he leaves it on following a bike ride only for it to record his car breaking the speed limit.
Rennie had just led the Fife feeder ride to a “Pedal on Holyrood” event on Saturday using a state of the art tracking application called Strava to log his route and time. The application, popular with runners and cyclists, uses GPS sateliite technology in mobile devices to map a user’s position and speed. Users sign up to the service and can then share their journeys publicly. Throughout the event the 47-year-old was logged at an average of a leisurely 11mph.
But after returning to Inverkeithing it appears he got into his car to drive home and forgot to switch off his GPS. Strava then tracked the MSP’s journey back to his home near Kelty, Fife. At one point on the M90, near Hill of Beath, the tracker clocked him travelling at 81.2mph. A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “This is an app for measuring running and cycling, not cars travelling on motorways. “Willie always tries to stick to the speed limit and does not believe he broke it on this drive, but it is always worth everyone remembering the importance of driving safely.”
April 2015: Before the general election – For Willie Rennie, the Scots Lib Dem leader, it seems tactical voting has begun to haunt his dreams.
Here is his favourite story from the campaign trail so far. “I met a lady in Crammond,” he says. “She said to me, ‘I hate you. I hate your leader. I hate your party. You’ve done nothing in the coalition. I love Ruth Davidson. I love the Conservatives, I’ve always voted for them. But I’m going to have to vote for you to stop the SNP’. “If we can get people like that voting for us, anything is possible.”
Such unabashed talk of tactical voting is a sign of how the country has split down the middle since the referendum. It is also an unsubtle commentary on the Lib Dems’s whole campaign.
He laughs a lot, Rennie. It is a contagious chuckle, the kind blurted by a duvet-cloaked schoolboy tearing through a Beano annual by torchlight. Contrition, though, is his main thing. An outmoded virtue, perhaps, but the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats happily admits to some conservat… well, let’s say old-fashioned values.
This is a man worth the watching. Strives to present as affable yet underneath that is a chauvinistic nature. In debate with Nicola Sturgeon he repeatedly said ‘she’ and ‘her’ as if she didn’t warrant enough respect to be called by her name.
Comment: This is a joke right? Why is this clown being given media coverage, he is an embarrassment, his party is poison, Its Ex leaders Steel and Ashdown covered up and protected paedophile Cyril Smith, offered him up for a knighthood and refuse to discuss the child sex abuse scandals which their MP was involved in. and this paper gives them good press. What a joke.
The Liberal Democrats are running their election campaign on double-standards, the Scottish Conservatives said, today. LibDem leader Rennie is quoted as openly criticising plans for English votes for English laws (EVEL) today. However, in the UK Government paper on the issue, the Liberal Democrats section reads:
“It cannot be right that a future government could pursue policies in England in areas devolved to the Scottish Parliament using the votes of Scottish MPs, even if this was not supported in England.
The so-called West Lothian question can no longer go unanswered. The Liberal Democrats believe that English MPs at Westminster should have a stronger voice and a stronger veto over purely English only issues.”
April 2015: Rennie appeals to public for tactical voters
Rennie has backed an anti-SNP tactical voting strategy in the hope that it will shore up his party’s dwindling support going into the general election.
The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats said that unionist Scots were already backing the party in some seats to stop the Nationalists. He made a direct plea to others who “might oppose a lot of what we say” to use “smart thinking” when they voted.
May 2015: Before the general election – Vote intelligently says Willie Rennie
The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader said the choice voters are facing in the general election is “quite straightforward”, adding: “No one party will have a majority, so therefore we have to decide who do we want to have the biggest influence in the next parliament?
Comment: The hatred of the SNP knows no bounds from these utter cartoon politicians. Willie Rennie is a complete balloon, whom, like his lapdog Unionist companions are saying absolutely anything to win votes, I heard him this morning literally trying to take credit for anything that was remotely positive.
He forgets that the facts are public knowledge and he and his party sold their political soul 5 years ago never to be forgiven. As soon as they are gone the better it will be for Scotland. We do not need two faced political parasites and that is what the Fiberals are.
May 2015: Post election – Willie Rennie claims he is ‘hopeful for the future’ after SNP tsunami sweeps across Scotland.
The Liberal Democrats lost 10 of the 11 Scottish seats they had held at Westminster.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party now has 56 MPs, with only Alistair Carmichael, who had been the Scottish Secretary in the coalition government, managing to retain his Orkney and Shetland seat.
Despite that Rennie said: “Our vision for Scotland is hopeful for the future, founded on opportunity and liberty for all.
May 2015: Post election – Message to Liberals from Willie Rennie
“We have an ongoing duty to the people who voted for us to promote liberal values.”
Comment: I’m sorry but Rennie has his head in the sand. I can’t understand why, as a failed leader, he hasn’t come under pressure to stand down in the same way that Murphy has. I think it is more to do with the fact that he is not taken seriously really by anyone in politics.
Alex Salmond has been named SNP foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster. Lib Dem Leader Willie Rennie said “Alex Salmond’s recent mantle of foreign affairs spokesperson for the SNP is the equivalent of putting Mr Bean in charge of the World Bank.”
Comment: The bile from Rennie knows no end. His blind hatred of Alex Salmond and the SNP is well documented and the Scottish public are fed up with the constant “SNP Bad, Bad, Bad,” utterings. Rennie should do the honourable thing and resign his position as have other political leaders tarnished with the mantel of failure.