Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Our Future Free From Racism

We have learnt a lot over the past year about Scotland and the people who make this country great. In looking to our future, we have explored our shared past, discussed our common values, and celebrated our differences. For the overwhelming majority the debate was respectful and mature.

But on occasion there was prejudice and intolerance. That is damaging to us all and there is no place for it in modern Scotland.

Since last year’s rally, we have lost a giant in the global fight against racism with the passing of Nelson Mandela. The circumstances in which he was fighting prejudice and intolerance may have been hugely different, but a belief in the power of education to change the future transcends all.

The anti-apartheid icon said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I could not agree more; because from the poorest of countries to the richest of nations, education is the key to moving forward in any society.  

I said that the debate on our constitutional future was respectful and mature. I was proud that nowhere was this better demonstrated than when I spoke to young people. Extending the voting franchise to 16 and 17 year olds was seen as a risk by some but Scotland’s young people proved their critics wrong.

That is why I have no doubt that we will build a truly liberal, open, welcoming Scotland. A Scotland where individuals are judged on their character, not their colour; on their person, not our prejudice. A country which shows no tolerance to narrow-mindedness and where equality stands front and centre.

With the eyes of the world on us, people across Scotland have shown that they want substantial and meaningful change which is bold and ambitious. I say to those joining the rally today that we need to be as bold and as ambitious in our vision for a future free from racism. From the young people I met during the referendum campaign, that future is in good hands.

Willie Rennie
Leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats

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