|Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats|
17 May 2011
|Preceded by||Tavish Scott|
|Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Mid Scotland and Fife
5 May 2011
|Member of Parliament
for Dunfermline and West Fife
9 February 2006 – 6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Rachel Squire|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Docherty|
27 September 1967 |
|Political party||Scottish Liberal Democrats|
|Alma mater||Paisley College of Technology|
William Cowan "Willie" Rennie (born 27 September 1967) is a Scottish politician and current Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
After college, Rennie spent most of his early career as a Liberal Democrat election campaigner and official before working as a public relations consultant in the private sector. He became the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dunfermline and West Fife after a by-election win in February 2006.
He later lost this seat to Labour in the May 2010 UK general election but was subsequently appointed in the same month by the newly formed UK Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition as a Special Government Adviser working successively for the Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretaries of State Danny Alexander MP and Michael Moore MP at the Scotland Office.
He later resigned from his special adviser role in June 2010 to stand for the Scottish Parliament in the May 2011 elections. Despite the overall collapse of the party in the election he managed to be elected as an additional member for the Mid Scotland and Fife region with 5.9% of the regional list vote. He was soon after elected unopposed as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrat party, replacing Tavish Scott.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early political career: 1990–2001
- 3 McEwan Purvis: 2001–2006
- 4 U.K. Member of Parliament: 2006–2010
- 5 Special Adviser and consultant: 2010–2011
- 6 Elected MSP and Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats: 2011–present
- 7 Career timeline
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and education
Rennie was born in Fife and grew up in Strathmiglo, where his family ran the village shop and still live today. His mother was secretary of the local community association and his grandfather was the local Minister.
He went to Bell Baxter High School in Cupar, Fife before going to Paisley College of Technology, where he graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Biology. After that, he received a Diploma in Industrial Administration at Glasgow College.
He lives in Kelty with his wife Janet and their two sons, Alexander and Stephen. He is a keen runner and is a member of Dunfermline's Carnegie Harriers. He was also runner-up in the 2006 Scottish Coal-Carrying Championships held in Kelty. Rennie was one of the 50 MPs who ran a mile to raise money for Sport Relief finishing close behind the winner, David Davies.
Early political career: 1990–2001
While a student at the Paisley College of Technology he was depute president of the student union. Rennie ran the Scottish Young Liberal Democrats (later reformed as Liberal Youth Scotland) and after graduation went on to work for the English Liberal Democrats in Cornwall.
After managing the party's campaigns in the South West England region, securing the return of a sizeable number of new MPs in the 1997 General Election, he moved back to Scotland where he was Chief Executive of the Scottish Liberal Democrats from 1997 to 1999, and then the party's Chief of Staff in the new Scottish Parliament from 1999-2001.
McEwan Purvis: 2001–2006
From 2001 to 2006 he worked for the small Scottish communications firm, McEwan Purvis as an account director helping advise businesses and charities such as the Royal Society of Chemistry and Asthma UK. During his time at McEwan Purvis, Rennie was a press adviser to Fife Council's Liberal Democrat Opposition Group and a member of the Dunfermline Focus editorial team, working with Dunfermline's Lib Dem councillors on local issues.
U.K. Member of Parliament: 2006–2010
Following the death of Rachel Squire MP, Rennie stood in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election on 9 February 2006 and overturned a huge Labour majority to win the seat. In the House of Commons, he was a member of the Liberal Democrat shadow defence team, chair of their parliamentary campaigns unit, and a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee.
During his time as an MP, he campaigned on local constituency issues such as abolishing the bridge tolls, changing the law to protect female learner drivers from sex offenders, improvements to cancer services at Queen Margaret Hospital, and local jobs (including at Longannet Power Station and Rosyth Dockyard).
Special Adviser and consultant: 2010–2011
Elected MSP and Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats: 2011–present
Willie Rennie returned to front-line politics as an MSP when he won a regional list seat for the Liberal Democrats in the Scottish Parliament's Mid-Scotland and Fife region at the Holyrood elections on 5 May 2011. He was the only new Lib Dem MSP to win a seat in this election.
After the resignation of the Scottish Liberal Democrats's leader, Willie Rennie was made their new leader. He vowed to stand up to the "SNP bulldozer" majority, and refused to distance his party from the UK Liberal Democrats. He was highly praised in the wake of his election including the Lib Dem MP Michael Moore, who said of Rennie, "His energy, integrity and commitment make him the right person to lead our party in Scotland. As an experienced politician and a veteran campaigner he is ideally placed to promote our values in the new Scottish Parliament and throughout Scotland too." 
Home Rule commission plan
On September 2011, Willie Rennie announced plans for a commission building on the work of 2006 Lord Steel Commission to develop a blueprint for Home Rule and full fiscal federalism that would map out further devolution of powers after the 2011 Scotland Bill is passed into statute. He explained: "We now want to look towards developing a home rule parliament where roughly the money that we would spend in the parliament we would raise. That would give the Scottish Parliament control over its own destiny and it would allow it to shape the future of Scotland in a more independent minded manner without actually separating Scotland from the rest of the UK."
On 31 October 2011, Willie Rennie was at the centre of controversy after an offensive cartoon was published in his name depicting Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond MSP in Arab dress with his skin apparently artificially darkened. The cartoon, which was published on Willie Rennie's Facebook page and through his Twitter feed, followed a comment in which Alex Salmond noted "remarkable similarities" between Scotland and Qatar. The cartoon suggested an independent Scotland would share such attributes of Qatar as an absolute monarchy, the rejection of gay rights and the imposition of the death penalty. Willie Rennie later publicly apologised for the cartoon, saying he had not authorised its publication.
- 1979–1985: Bell Baxter High School
- 1985–1989: Paisley College
- 1989–1990: Glasgow College
- 1990–1997: Liberal Democrats Campaigns Department (South West England region)
- 1997–1999: Chief Executive of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
- 1999–2001: Parliamentary Party Chief of Staff, Scottish Liberal Democrats
- 2001–2006: consultant, shareholder, director and account manager at McEwan Purvis, a public/media relations consultancy
- Press adviser to Liberal Democrat Fife Council Opposition Group
- February 2006 – May 2010: MP for Dunfermline and West Fife
- Chairman of the Liberal Democrats Campaigns and Communications Committee (appointed in 2007-2010 Shadow Cabinet of Nick Clegg)
- Shadow Minister for Defence (Liberal Democrat Frontbench Team, 2006–2007, 2007–2010)
- Member of the Commons Defence Select Committee (2006–2008)
- appointed as a Parliamentary Whip in 2008
- May–June 2010: Special Adviser at the Scotland Office to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Danny Alexander MP and latterly Michael Moore MP
- August 2010 – 2011: Self-employed communications consultant
- May 2011–: MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife
- May 2011: elected Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
- [BBC News, 10 June 2010]
- Welsh glory as MPs run a mile for charity - Western Mail 28 February 2008
- Biography pages at the Scottish Parliament website
- Willie Rennie on Twitter
- Willie Rennie MP official Liberal Democrats profile
- Willie Rennie MP official Scottish Liberal Democrats profile
- Dunfermline and West Fife Liberal Democrats
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- BBC Profile
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Dunfermline and West Fife
|Party political offices|
|Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats