The papers have been full this weekend of reports of a leaked e-mail from my old boss and top of the Liberal Democrat Mid Scotland and Fife top of the list candidate Willie Rennie. In it he said that we had gone into coalition with the Tories to stop them doing their worst, avoiding the damage they had done during the 80s when he (and I, and Tavish Scott among others) were growing up)and that he was anti-Conservative and pro Coalition. Wow! That’s a revelation. Whoever would have thought that?
This has led to Labour and the SNP calling him all sorts of names. Coming from the SNP, who’ve had a very cosy relationship with the Tories in Holyrood for the past four years, this is particularly extraordinary.
There isn’t a single Liberal Democrat on this planet who would describe themselves as pro Tory. I wrote the other day that my feelings about the Conservatives were best described as fear, distrust and a generous helping of loathing. You don’t have to like someone to work with them, though. You don’t have to share all the same ideas.
Despite the behaviour of some (that’d be you, Mr Gray and Mr Salmond, and your weekly grandstanding at First Minister’s Questions), I think ordinary people expect their politicians to put aside their personal feelings and work together for the good of the country.
The thought something being leaked e-mails tendsadd a sensational, secret dimension. It’s as if you’re reading something that the person didn’t want you to see, exposing some hidden flaw. Well, oor Willie, as his former constituents in Dunfermline will recognise, is pretty open about how he feels about things. The views in this leaked e-mail are pretty much exactly the same as he’s been expressing publicly on his Facebook wall for some time.
When Willie was MP for Dunfermline, the people who came to him, however they voted, realised that he was genuine, down to earth and on their side. It was quite an experience going around with him doing surgeries and the like. How many MPs do you know who would have been recognised by young folk and in a positive way, as he walked through the town centre? He spent 4 years getting out there and doing what he could to help people. If the folk of West Fife want to see his particular brand of openness and good sense in Holyrood, they can have him back by voting Scottish Liberal Democrat on their peach ballot paper on 5th May.