Mike Rumbles wins the award for being quick off the mark in response to the questions I sent to the leadership candidates yesterday. Here's the reply I had from him:
Thanks for your e-mail. If I can start to tackle the questions you raise in reverse order:
1. The answer to the real problems we face over alcohol is to enforce the laws we already have properly. Not one person has been prosecuted for selling alcohol to someone already under the influence of drink. There have been only 70 prosecutions for selling alcohol to under 18's. We need to enforce our laws but also to address the issues of boredom and inactivity which many of our young people face through better support of youth workers and others in the voluntary sector.
2. This is a major issue for me. Our party members at Conference are supposed to make Party policy - the leadership should lead the way in it's implementation as best it can. Our party conferences have turned into rally's and we have unanimous votes on motherhood and apple pie. I want to engage with our members and ensure that it really means something to be a member of our party. Major and controversial decisions should once again be made by our members at conference.
3. We need to reach out to people to show that they can and do influence the decisions that are being made on their behalf. We can start this process by engaging in meaningful changes to the way in which we engage with the members of our own party - see my previous comments.
4. I think we will have a major task in scrapping the Council Tax and replacing it with a LOCAL income tax (Not the national tax of the SNP). I see no reason why in the future we cannot go further down this route but I would say that we need to tackle this issue first.
5. I am different to the other candidates in as much as I would like to see Scotland in control of the economic levers of power. We need to be in charge of our own economic affairs. A Scotland running it's own affairs within the Union.
6. There are huge improvements which are needed in our relationship with the Federal Party. I am not at all convinced that we are truly a 'Federal Party' - it seems to me that we have a Scottish Party, a Welsh Party and an English Party - pretending to be the Federal Party. This must change.
7. We need to spend a great deal of time on this issue. We do not operate and mustn't try to operate in a vacuum. We need to engage with organisations in every sector including those which you mention if we are to be effective.
8. We are only starting to make use of technology effectively. Much more needs to be done. Even within our own party membership, only 50% or so of our members have an e-mail address which we can access.
9. We have always 'specialised' in targeting first past the post seats. While we cannot abandon this we do need to campaign at a national level across the country. The best way of doing this is actually to have a worthwhile message for people to vote for us. People across Scotland must see us as relevant and they will vote for us. My own heart sank last year on the day before polling when the BBC message to the nation from us was that we wanted to see an extra days physical activity for children. Never again must this be allowed to happen. We are the only party which can offer what most Scots want. Control over our own affairs within the Union. We should get this message across!
10. My vision for a liberal Scotland is highlighted by my 6 point programme which will be in my election address going out to members with the ballot paper on the 31st July. I will also be sending out an e-mail at around this time with much greater detail of my programme attached.
I hope my response has been helpful to you. Mike
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