Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Blimey! Nicol quits

Another day, another Scottish political leader resigns.

But unlike Wendy Alexander's departure at the weekend, Nicol Stephen is going for entirely honourable reasons. It is refreshing to have a political leader who recognises that the needs of his family come first. If doing the job of party leader was, as he says, putting a lot of strain on his family, then he has done entirely the right thing to put their needs first.

However, I do wonder whether he would have made the same decision had the Scottish Lib Dems still been in government. Being in opposition can be a real grind and doesn't have the compensation of being able to get things done in any substantial way.

I wish him well for the future and also thank him for the leadership he has shown over the past few years. Although the Scottish Lib Dems had a somewhat disappointing result in last year's Scottish parliamentary elections, I don't think that was down to Nicol. Indeed, I think people generally liked and respected Nicol as a person. And to keep Scottish Lib Dem losses down to just one seat last May at a time when the SNP was riding a wave of popularity was not too bad a result.

Thoughts now also turn to who should be Nicol's successor. I voted for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MSP Mike Rumbles last time and would certainly consider doing so again if he puts his hat in the ring again.

However, I think there is another candidate who would potentially make a better leader. Tavish Scott, MSP for Shetland, is a talented politician who comes across well and can articulate the Lib Dem case very ably. Had he stood in the leadership election last time, I think I would probably have voted for him then. He is both intelligent and passionate, and doesn't take any nonsense from our political opponents.

But whoever becomes leader, I hope that person will be able to express a clear Lib Dem narrative. With the Gnats still riding high, and the prospect of a referendum on independence in a few years' time, it is vital that we're able to put across a clear liberal vision of Scotland's future. I will be voting for the candidate who is most able to do that.

No comments:

Liberal Democrat Blogs