Sunday, 28 February 2016

I'll nae be hasting back to Scotland

Eight days after the 2010 General Election I took the momentous decision to no longer solely seek election in Linlithgow and threw my hat into the ring for a winnable seat for the 2011 Scottish elections.

In the end within weeks of the General Election then I was back on doorsteps of party members seeking their nomination for the seat of Edinburgh Central. Although I didn't win that selection losing out to the excellent Alex Cole-Hamilton I put the experience down as a learning one for the next time I contested a winnable seat.

Of course life between then and 2015 didn't go as intended and I had every intention of not even seeking selection for 2015 until I was approached to stand in a seat that had yet to select a candidate in the early part of last year.My experience as a candidate and running the referendum campaign was utilised through various media to try, in vain, to stem the tsunami that overcame us.

In the hours after the 2015 as I travelled back to Northern Ireland I wrote I would be looking to secure a full time job in either England, Scotland or Wales, to be part of the Lib Dem Fightback. Little did I envision that within a year as I was starting to look elsewhere for a move into a new full time job that I might as well remove Scotland where I have spent the majority of this millennium out of the reckoning.

The reason of course is that Scottish conference decided at the weekend that the chance of them returning their first gay man as an MP was considerably reduced when they voted that the top five target seats would be selected using All Women Short Lists (AWS)I hope that at least one of those five selects an LGT or BAME or disabled candidate as those minorities at least have a higher chance of selection. But if the Scottish Liberal Democrats can only manage to get to 50% of the 2010 number of MPs the chances of any gay man like myself getting elected if low and we would have to compete against men, women and everyone else for the lesser mortals.

Don't get me wrong when I said I was prepared to get back into the fray I meant all the hard work of going around the constituency week in week out. I did plenty of that, mainly on my own, in Linlithgow and East Falkirk between 2005 and 2010 enough that many still thought I was the candidate not only ahead of 2011 but also 2015. But it is making it harder for me to contemplate what may well be a two election cycle to get one of the targets from 6 down into a winning position.

I know that only AWS or all disability lists are legal, but to make all five of the most winnable AWS does not bring about equality of the situation if successful it brings a different imbalance that would have to be addressed against incumbency factors for 2025 and beyond.

I'll be watching to see what is decided by Federal Conference decide in York next month and then how the regions decide to implement those proposed powers to see if it is worth me even considering seeking work to try and work a seat. However, if too many of them do follow the lead of Scotland and make their top five targets AWS it may well be that instead of looking beyond my result in Sedgefield, I bow out of standing for election.

It is a pity that it may come to that, it is not what I envisioned after 40 hours without sleep from polling day morning, to mulling over the aftermath in May.


  1. The motion passed looked too divisive to me, but I don't think many have cared about its divisiveness because they think it is a way of making the party look "more progressive", but many progressives are against it too.

  2. What Eddie said. It's all window-dressing.

  3. What Eddie said. It's all window-dressing.