Letter from Edinburgh 11.07.08

I USUALLY touch on politics in this column but don’t major on subjects that are beloved of politicians but not of enormous interest to real people in the real world. But this week I thought I had better answer the why question.

The leadership of a political party is a challenge. It is a challenge in all parties. Look around. Labour will elect a new Scottish leader in Sep­tember. If they lose the Glasgow East by-election the n I would lay money on Gordon Brown being deposed as Prime Minister.

In passing I cannot quite under­stand why the SNP are so reluctant to say they can win. They are talking down their chances. That is the opposite of their strategy in Glasgow Govan all those years ago where Jim Sillars won. Liberal Democrats have had great successes in by-elections, most recently beating Labour in previously impregnable Brent East, but they are based on what the Americans call the big mo. Momen­tum. It is built up and worked with the media so they believe that it’s going to happen. But an uncharac­teristic lack of conviction from Mr Salmond is good news for the Lib­eral Democrats. I can see our team being very encouraged by that.

Overall, politics has never been more fluid or flexible. Labour have been the political establishment of Scotland for decades. That has gone. But I don’t get a groundswell of feeling here at home or across the Scottish mainland that people are champing at the bit for independence. A new government has that advant­age – it’s new. A wave that Tony Blair surfed for some years; the wave hits the beach eventually but it will hit the beach.

That’s why I want to push some new ideas and thinking into the Scottish Liberal Democrats and at a national level, get the party noticed. In some ways a leadership election helps. My two opponents for the leader’s position are both friends. So in classic liberal fashion – I sense a decent discussion on the future of the party, but not a bloodbath so beloved of media commentators.

I am what I am because of these islands. Shetland has shaped my politics and especially what I believe to be community. It’s a hackneyed phrase used by politicians as a cover for almost anything. But local life here is about knowing and looking out for neighbours, community enter­prise whether on a hall commit­tee or a new football pitch, and the enormous island campaigns on such issues as the Walk for Life or stopping Sakchai Makao being removed from our midst. That’s community – and it mat­ters. That’s why I’m standing – because other parts of the country would be all the stronger for a little of that.

Greta Anderson passed away last week. She was Bressay’s nurse for many years and most people across the isle had been successfully cured of this and that during her time looking after one and all. She was a great lady, with a strong sense of humour which I suspect you need to deal with complaints of the public.

Tavish Scott MSP


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