'Game on' for next election - Scottish LibDem leader

Alex Cole-Hamilton
Alex Cole-Hamilton

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader has declared it is "absolutely game on" for his party at the next general election

Alex Cole-Hamilton told his party's autumn conference they would unseat both SNP and Conservative MPs.

He said he backed scrapping SNP plans for a national care service, and called for clinics for long Covid sufferers.

Mr Cole Hamilton said it would be a "change election" that offered "real opportunity for our party".

He said: "There is a jar of tamarind extract in my fringe that actually goes off after the last possible date for the general election. It really is that close."

He told supporters in Edinburgh: "It's absolutely game time. So we need all of you firing on all cylinders."

Mr Cole-Hamilton, whose party currently has four Scottish MPs at Westminster, declared: "It's not just the blue wall of the Conservatives in the south we will be taking down, we have our grappling hooks in the acid yellow wall of the SNP.

"Only the Liberal Democrats can beat the nationalists in huge swathes of Scotland. From Milngavie to Mallaig. Cupar to Cape Wrath."

He blamed the Conservatives for "Brexit, Liz Truss, skyrocketing mortgages", telling party supporters it was "hard to overstate the damage that the Conservative government has done to our politics, our institutions and our way of life".

But he also hit out at the SNP, who he said had "failed Scotland for 16 years".

Water clean-up

He went on to tell the conference: "There is a cigarette-style warning that deserves to be affixed to every nationalist leaflet in Scotland - Voting SNP is bad for your health."

He said the Liberal Democrats would seek to scrap Scottish government plans to create a national care service, branding this a "billion-pound takeover of social care".

And to improve the NHS, he said LibDems would establish specialist clinics for long Covid sufferers, "save" NHS dentistry and work to bring down waiting times and retain staff.

Mr Cole-Hamilton also vowed his party would act to tackle pollution in Scotland's seas and rivers

He pledged the Liberal Democrat manifesto for the next Holyrood elections in 2026 would set out plans for a Clean Water Act, which would ensure that Scotland's Victorian sewage network is updated and would also ensure that sewage dumps are monitored, with "binding targets" to reduce these.

Mr Cole-Hamilton also promised there would be a "complete ban on the release of sewage in protected areas such as bathing waters".