Friday, 8 August 2008

The Leadership Campaign: Literature

OK I realise that tomorrow is the Edinburgh Leadership hustings for the leadership of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and I've so far been fairly quiet on that front. (Although there are 4 unpublished drafts back here which you lot can't see) Bernard Salmon has asked his questions and got his answers from the three aspirants. Both he and J. Arthur McNumpty also point out the sad state of online presence that this entire campaign seems to lack. So I'd thought I'd take an objective look at the literature that arrived on my doorstep last weekend along with my ballot paper (plus the one that Jim Wallace sent me on behalf of Tavish as I've forgotten which leaflet was which). I'm waiting for the comments tomorrow as I suspect I know who may be behind a couple of them.

Policy/Attitude to Leading:

This is clearly of vital importance when making a decision such as this. let's look at them one by one.

Tavish Scott: pretty light on details of policy, lists a number of key core Lib Dem value issues and a couple of non-controversial areas of policy we all agree on. Echos Nicol Stephen's leadership approach to leadership when he says he too will be out campaigning with local parties every week. focuses on his communication skills and strengths with little application of what these will achieve. Seems to be putting across a business as usual message, no change here, almost a complacent approach from the media perceived front runner.

Ross Finnie: Acknowledges that the 'political landscape is changing fast', that is though and that 'stormy waters' need to be navigated when necessary. These could apply both to the party and the parliament. He promises to take on the other parties on his terms, suggesting taking the fight on issues to them proactively rather than reactively and says he will position the Lib Dems to wins. Suggests that change may come.

Mike Rumbles: Goes further still acknowledges we're now in opposition, which he states needs a more robust sort of leadership. He's not afraid to mentioned 'perceived failings' at grass root and media level of the party in the past 14 months or so. Says he has a duty to listen, work with other party's where possible and oppose where that is needed. Also states that conference has lost its nerve to debate controversial issues and as a result the party may have lost its cutting edge. Not merely hinting change but saying it is most certainly required.

I think the three of them have set out pretty clear stalls on where exactly they stand as regards taking the party forward.


Its always interesting to see the diversity of supporters given on the back page of these leaflets.

Starting with Mike who picks just 4 pictures each with comment, one each of MP, MSP, Councillor and ordinary member. Given them more prominence than his own political CV on the back page expressing a man of the people approach.

Ross has ten pictures, a couple of MSPs, Cllrs and ordinary members although some are ex-office bearers in Scotland. Three comments next to bigger pictures prominent at the top of what for his is a two sides A4 style leaflet. His CV is one the front. but bullet pointed reasons to vote below the supporters.

Tavish's list reads like a who's who it would appear that any elected official (and to be fair there is a fair number) who has pledged support is listed Lords, Ladies, MPs, MSP, Cllrs, PPCs, PSPCs. Even the 'ordinary members' are actually far from ordinary. Clearly presenting himself as the establishment candidate again.


Ok both Ross and Tavish mix a selection of press and members quotes. Of course very few of the press quotes give a clear context of just what they are about the name and some choice words heavily edited. Mike avoids these (honestly because the media don't like Mike and getting good quotes from them would be impossible).

However, I'm choosing one each of the members quotes which stand out because they aren't gushing the usual vitriol and hyperbole of politicianspeak (I guess that statement is also going to get me into trouble with friends who quotes I've not used below).

"Ross is just what a Liberal Democrat should be - warm and witty, and talking language we can all understand" Cllr Margot Clark

"They [the other parties] will know that they are not in for an easy ride with Mike as leader." Mike Pringle MSP

"I've been impressed with Tavish's ability to convey our message to the general public." Shabnum Mustapha PSPC Glasgow Cathcart


Obviously common themes though all three, the candidate campaigning, the candidate with some link to the fishing industry (from Tavish in waders with nets, through Mike with Crab pots, to Ross sampling and talking to industry employees) and the obligatory picture of them all in front of their named giant diamonds (they are elected Lib Dem MSPs after all). However, only the ones holding Tavish Scott diamonds seem shy in showing their faces. Not much difference in them all except Tavish has one of him in front of a media camera as if trying to assert that he is the only Lib Dem in the whole of Scotland with media training.


  1. Remember that Ross now also has the backing of people like David Steel, Dobbie Aldridge, Paul Edie, Judy Hayman, Cllr Elizabeth Riches, Cllr Keith Legg, Nora Radcliffe, former MSP for Gordon, Roy Thomson, past President of the Party and me.

  2. True Caron however this entry is only regarding the literature that they sent out. I also don't think I passed any value judgement on any of them, except Tavish (who was lording his support over everyone) , for the quantity.