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Sunday, 8 May 2011

Tavish Scott resigns as the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats - my view

Thursday night and Friday was hard for me to take as many candidates (and friends) across Scotland were losing seats and deposits as the domino effect of the SNP majority was happening before our very eyes.

The whole team had worked so incredibly hard, some candidates and their teams doing the volumes of door knocking and leafleting they hadn't seen since the early 1980's.

We had deliberately reduced the team in Clifton Terrace, our Edinburgh HQ from the levels of the 2007 campaign because we knew we had to get our teams out in the constituencies.

Despite some criticism from people we did not take our voters for granted in any area, in fact more resources went into some of these areas than originally intended.

When I left the office on Friday I had been awake and out of bed for 35 hours, when the final result came in from Mid Scotland & Fife regional list, announcing Willie Rennie as our 5th MSP, I was exhausted and needed sleep, badly - I'm not as young as some of my team.

I had actually left the office at 7.30am to go to the hotel to get some kip, unfortunately as I fell asleep Sir Robert Smith MP telephoned, closely followed by Elspeth Finlay. So much for that idea.

I awoke on Saturday morning around 8am, as Loco, my cat was scratching the door and miaowing - she wanted breakfast, and wasn't letting my lack of sleep or the SNP get in the way.

I then fell asleep in the chair and awoke just in time to head into town for a staff meeting with Tavish and the new parliamentary party ahead of a meeting of the Scottish Party Executive.

It was at this meeting that Tavish dropped his bombshell, he was resigning with immediate effect!

If my emotions weren't all screwed up already, then this news gave them another bash.

In his resignation statement he said:

“I want to announce that I am resigning the leadership of the Scottish Liberal Democrats with immediate effect.

“Thursday’s Scottish General Election result was disastrous and I must and do take responsibility for the verdict of the electorate.

“The party needs a new direction, new thinking and new leadership to win back the trust of the Scottish people.

“I am honoured to serve as Shetland’s MSP in this Parliament.”
I have only been in Scotland since the end of May 2008.  Tavish became Leader in August of the same year and we had enjoyed a good relationship since, we didn't always see eye to eye, but we always had the debate.

I will certainly miss working with Tavish and look forward to working with the new leader - whoever that should be.
Since the General Election, Tavish had known that this election was never going to be just about Scotland, firstly we thought the AV referendum would divert attention but then as time went on we knew the coalition would be the focus.

I will also say I have continued to be disappointed by some strands of the Scottish media for not being fair on Tavish.  Glenn Campbell for one in the Leaders debate often cut Tavish off mid sentence and got his own personal digs in on the coalition, but never did the same to Annabel Goldie.
I'm not playing cry baby about this, but Scottish journalists need to learn to be consistent across all parties, not behave like Premiership referees and respond to behaviour from some angles favouring one party or another.
Tavish didn't need to resign yesterday, he could have made the announcement and then set a date in the future, but he stood up and took full responsibility for the result.
In the short term, Jo Swinson MP, currently the Deputy Leader becomes acting leader. The timetable for the election of the new leader will be announced in due course.

1 comment:

GHmltn said...

I hope Tavish comes back as a senior character in the party and in the Scottish Parliament.

We need every bit of substance we can muster.

Personally I hope Willie Rennie comes to the fore as the new leader.

What we need now are men and women of ideas so that LibDems are in the forefront of the Thought Leadership in parliamnet and of our nation - building a distinctive, innovative and positive vision for Scotland.

Then people will remember why they liked us and start to vote for us again!


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