One of the very first Liberal Democrats I met when I came back to Scotland after 11 years in the East Midlands was Derek Barrie. We very quickly forged a firm friendship, based mainly on him taking the mickey out of me and referring to me (in public) as the Wicked Witch of West Lothian. In return, he became my Grumps. I had wondered if I might take a break from political activism, but he ruined those plans by dragging me in ever deeper to election training and preparations. When I later spent 3 years as Convener of the Scottish Party's Campaigns and Candidates Committee we worked very closely together on selections and elections. Our finest hour was the 2005 Westminster election where, along with Iain Smith, we tried to provide the best support we could to our candidates and campaign teams across the country.
Derek and I were also responsible for implementing the development day candidate approval system in Scotland way back in 2002. Together with a brilliant team of assessors, we approved the likes of a certain D Alexander and W Rennie.
As the Scottish Party's Campaigns Officer and later Chief of Staff, and ALDC's Scottish Officer for many years, everyone in the Scottish Party will know him and most of them will love him too. What they may not know, because he's kept it very quiet, is that he turns 70 today. Although he allegedly retired in 2008, he is working just as hard as ever he did. He was invaluable during this year's Council elections and has just taken over for another stint as North East Fife's Strategy Vice Chair. He is also on the Scottish Party's Executive and takes the minutes for its meetings.
So, I'm sure you'll all join me in raising a glass (a virtual one, it's early yet) to Derek and wishing him a wonderful day and a fabulous decade to come.