Scotland

Best of the rest at Scottish Lib Dem conference

  • 7 March 2011
  • From the section Scotland

The Scottish Liberal Democrats voted to continue their opposition to RAF closures in Scotland, despite a plea by a young party pacifist to close the bases.

In an emergency debate submitted by the North East Central and Fife Lib Dems at the party's conference in Perth, party members noted the contribution RAF Leuchars and RAF Lossiemouth make to Scotland's defence and the "economic and social fabric" of the surrounding communities.

The future of the bases are currently uncertain following the UK Government's strategic defence review which ordered cuts in RAF spending.

Liberal Youth Scotland member Robbie Simpson argued that the strategic defence review was taking "tough decisions" for the 21st century.

Lib Dem North East Fife MSP Iain Smith said that, since 2005, RAF Leuchars has engaged around 50 times with foreign aircraft attempting to enter UK airspace, including three times this year.

Heroin users should not be imprisoned or fined and should be given the drug on the NHS, Liberal Democrat members agreed.

The conference voted in favour of campaigning for the introduction of diamorphine maintenance treatment and better use of drug treatment and testing orders.

Users would be given clean diamorphine, the medical name for heroin, to cut down on deaths from tainted street heroin and deter them from turning to crime or prostitution to feed their habit.

Election candidate Callum Leslie, said: "A fine will make it much more likely for a drug user to turn to a life of crime to fuel their habit."

Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Robert Brown branded plans for a single Scottish police force "undemocratic".

He said opposition to a single force was a "Liberal Democrat policy par excellence" in light of Labour and the Conservatives' support for a single force, and the Scottish government's present indecision on the matter.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has launched a consultation on the future of Scottish policing offering three options: the "untenable" status quo, a reduced number of forces or a single force.

However, Mr Brown attacked the SNP administration's public indecision as an electoral ploy to safeguard votes in the Highlands, where he said the plans are unpopular.

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