Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sad Loss to Party of Hugh Voice of Common Sense

When I last saw High O'Donnell at the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference earlier this month, he did hint that he was going to take the fight about the way the party was going to the next stage. I told him I'd be taking that fight to Sheffield and the Federal Conference the following week and beyond, but what he hinted at to me then was something more.

Therefore I'm not that surprised to hear of his resignation today, but I am saddened by it. In my opinion the heart and soul of the party has not changed, that was clear from my weekend in Sheffield. Some of those in the heart and soul are determined to fight to maintain that identity of the party they have spent many years working for and fighting to get into the fore of politics. I do think that sometimes our parties leaders at the moment are forgetting that the members speak for the party and not them. I think that the party is trying to speak to the leaders about a number of issues, especially the NHS over recent weeks, yet some of the leaders are choosing the ignore the depth of feeling from there.

As for Hugh, when I first stood for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, he, over a quiet drink, gave me some useful advise about the parts of the constituency that were outwith West Lothian Council but within his region. We through the years have had some serious discussions about the direction of the party and I would have placed us in the same section of the party. Voices like his in elected positions were what we needed from time to time. His was often the voice of common sense, of the common people that needs to resonate within our party. It still needs to resonate through our party some of the rest of us will have to step up and be that voice.

Update Writing in Sunday's Mail on Sunday Hugh said:

"Instead of fighting for the causes so many of us believe in, [the party leadership] devote their energy to quashing dissenting voices, views, people and policies."

In regards to the coalition at Westminster he added:

"Since that fateful day, I have watched helplessly from the sidelines as this government at Westminster has attacked every vulnerable group in Scotland, from carers to disabled students to migrants, with some of the most draconian policies I have ever seen in the name of cuts.

"Not a word of criticism from the party leadership in Scotland has been uttered - even though the contempt shown for Scotland and, indeed, the federal structure of the party knows no bounds."

He was also critical of the way the party was asked to vote at times in Holyrood, in his words being asked to vote tactically instead of on principle. He added:

"This is not the same party I joined, full of enthusiasm, all those years ago.

"I can no longer be party to the control freakery, the 'image is everything' attitude, and the dictatorial style of doing things.

"It is a party I no longer want to be part of and neither should other principled Liberals."

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