Scottish Lib Dems start campaign for next local elections now, aiming to double numbers

Alex Cole-Hamilton attacks ‘mirror image identity politics’ of Tories and SNP

The Lib Dems will seek to almost double their number of councillors at the 2027 Scottish local government elections, party leader an Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton announced at their autumn conference.

Even though the elections are still years away, he said they would start the campaign now and build on the gains the party had made at the last local elections earlier this year. He told the delegates in Hamilton: “We will grow from the 87 councillors we won in May and return 150 or more in just four years’ time.”

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He made a pitch to Green voters, claiming the party leaders had “abandoned their environmental roots for nationalism” and suggesting disappointed supporters could find a home with the Lib Dems.

And Mr Cole-Hamilton used his speech to attack the “mirror image identity politics” of the Tories and the SNP. He said: “Now more than ever, we are in need of strong, progressive liberal voices across the United Kingdom.

“Our country is on its knees, after the chaos of Brexit, came the calamitous handling of the pandemic. Covid contracts for rich Tory mates, Partygate and a crushing cost of living emergency turbocharged by a reckless Tory budget. Conference, make no mistake, the Conservatives have trashed our economy. They have sent mortgages skyrocketing. And they have diminished the great offices of state. They can shuffle the ship’s crew all they like, but their moral compass is fundamentally broken.”

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He described Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross as looking “lost at sea”. “He will never run Scotland. He can barely run his own party.”

And he continued: “For years now, our politics has been characterised by the regressive, narrow-minded, mirror-image identity politics of both the Conservatives and the SNP. Nationalism defines their response to everything, from the cost of living crisis to the climate emergency. It is a politics of deflection and blame. It takes people for granted. It promises superficial solutions to complex problems. It is long past time that we got shot of it.”

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Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton says there is a "golden opportunity to reimagine the UK". Picture: Lesley Martin/PA Wire

Market turmoil and sterling collapse were not reasons for independence but a warning against it, he said. “Chaos is still chaos whether it comes wrapped in Tory blue, or the acid yellow of the SNP. I believe that we are at last in the end game of the clash of nationalisms that has held this country back for so long. We may finally be nearing a time where the constitution no longer suffocates our politics.

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“A golden opportunity presents itself for us to reimagine our United Kingdom. Home rule, federalism, a more empowered Scotland in a strengthened family of nations.”