Sunday, May 22, 2011

Willie Rennie announces his new team #sp4

Willie Rennie has announced the portfolios for his MSPs at Holyrood. With only five of them, it's going to be hard to cover every issue in depth, but this is a very sensible allocation of jobs, making best use of his team's aptitudes and interests.

The spotlight is likely to fall first on new Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes, who will have to frame our response when the SNP Government introduces its Anti Sectarianism legislation. While everyone agrees that sectarianism has to be dealt with, I think it's important to make sure that the legislation doesn't go too far. It would not be acceptable, for example, to limit freedom of expression so far that it could prohibit criticism of religion. Alison will also be covering health.

Rural affairs is the natural portfolio for Jim Hume. Yes, he knows about farming because of his positions in the NFU, but this job has so much more - opportunities for young people, rural housing, poverty, local services, transport.

Tavish Scott earned the respect of the business community during the last parliament and stood up for businesses who found themselves, during a recession, facing massive business rates increase with no transitional relief, or who found themselves struggling with inflexible banks or government support. It makes sense that he has the business and economy brief.

Liam MacArthur will have my beady eye on him most, I reckon, because he'll have to make sure the SNP Government is delivering on educating my daughter. She's been flourishing under the Curriculum for Excellence in primary school, but there are a few questions about how it's operating in secondary schools and it's important that the new qualification structure to be introduced during this parliament gets the best out of our kids. We can't afford any muck ups with the kids starting secondary now. Liam will also be speaking on energy.

It's going to be a tough few years for us. I hope that our team will not try to spread themselves too thinly, but to concentrate on those areas when a clear and strong liberal voice is needed. I think that the MSPs should also make use of the experts we have in the party outside Holyrood.  Alex Cole-Hamilton knows about issues affecting children, for example. Our policies are generally quite practical because they are made up not by remote policy wonks but by ordinary party members with expertise in particular areas. We need to make sure that we know about and harness their knowledge. In the run up to the 1999 election, we had a number of spokespeople who weren't in Parliament. Maybe we should go back to that again.

Our five are a much smaller group than we've had before - and that hurts every time I write it - but they're a fantastic team and I'm sure they will punch well above their weight.

And as for that Rennie man - I want to see him on tv, in magazines, in the newspapers, lots. I think people will take to his direct manner and sense of humour. He needs to get out of that bubble and build a national profile so that everybody knows who he is. I reckon that the more people see him, the more they'll like him. He has the opposition stage as new leader pretty much to himself until the Autumn and he has to use that to show people that he understands their concerns and can offer practical ideas to help them.

1 comment:

KelvinKid said...

"Our policies are generally quite practical because they are made up not by remote policy wonks but by ordinary party members with expertise in particular areas."

No they're not. That is precisely the problem with them.


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