Disastrous election performance provokes Scott to stand down as party leader

Tavish Scott resigned as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats today after the party’s disastrous showing in the Scottish Parliament election on Thursday.

Although he retained the Shetland seat with a significantly reduced majority after a strong showing by independent candidate Billy Fox, Mr Scott was one of only two constituency MPs who made it back to Holyrood. The other was Orkney MSP Liam MacArthur. The party’s other three MSPs, making five in total, down from 16, were elected on regional lists.

In a statement, Mr Scott said: “I want to announce that I am resigning the leadership of the Scottish Liberal Democrats with immediate effect.

“Thursday’s Scottish general election result was disastrous and I must and do take responsibility for the verdict of the electorate.

“The party needs a new direction, new thinking and new leadership to win back the trust of the Scottish people. I am honoured to serve as Shetland’s MSP in this Parliament.”

Mr Scott’s decision to stand down as party leader follows that of Labour leader Iain Gray, who announced yesterday that he would quit.

Mr Scott admitted that the Liberal Democrats’ decision to form a coalition government with the Conservatives, which is striving to reduce the nation’s debt by imposing deep cuts on government spending, had damaged the party in the contest.

Other possible party leaders, such as former cabinet minister Ross Finnie and chief whip Mike Rumbles, who challenged Mr Scott for the leadership after Nicol Stephen stood down in 2008, failed to be returned to Holyrood on Thursday.

That means Willie Rennie, the party’s only new MSP, could become leader. The others are Alison McInness (north-east list) and Jim Hume (south of Scotland list).

Orkney and Shetland MP and Lib Dem chief whip at Westminster, Alistair Carmichael, said his party had been given “an absolute shellacking”.

Mr Carmichael said: “We’ve got a small group in the parliament who are going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting.”


Add Your Comment
  • Andy Weir

    • May 7th, 2011 17:32

    I would have thought Shetlanders would have voted Tavish out as their representative when he has shown in the past that he would vote for what his party wanted and not what was right for his constituents

    It’s a pity that Billy Fox didnt defeat him though he came close

  • Lewis Munro

    • May 8th, 2011 11:56

    I think Tavish should not shoulder the blame for what took place at the past election but Nic Clegg has a lot to answer for and should consider his future as leader of the Lib-Dem’s!

    A Clegg in orkney is an insect that gives you a bite and leaves a nasty swelling, this Clegg has destroyed the all the hard work the Lib-Dem candidates have put in, what a price to pay for being Camerons deputy poodle! Others who took office for power over politics should learn the lesson, there turn will come!

  • James J Paton

    • May 9th, 2011 14:39

    At least Tavish, unlike Clegg has done the decent thing. He now needs to rebuidl trust with the Shetland people and should go further and resign from the Lib Dems given their national betrayal of the electorate following the trust given them national at the last election.


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