McInnes backs Rennie to settle Lib Dem qualms

Ellon-based Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes has ruled herself out of the running for the Scottish Liberal Democrats leadership, announcing her backing instead for the former Dunfermline and West Fife MP, Willie Rennie.

The Lib Dems have been in search of a new leader following the resignation of Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who stood down after a poor result for his party at the Scottish Parliamentry elections. Mr Rennie was the sole nominee for the leadership position, which can only be filled under the party constitution by a Member of the Scottish Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats lost 11 MSPs at the election, falling from 16 to just 5 MSPs. The party also lost 25 deposits across Scotland, after failing to secure more than 5% of the vote in those individual contests. The party secured constituency members in both the Orkney and the Shetland seats, as well as single regional list members in North East Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife, and the South of Scotland regions.

Speaking on the Monday before nominations closed, Ms McInnes said that she felt Mr Rennie had the “energy and enthusiasm” for the task of rebuilding the party across Scotland.

“Willie is a former MP and Chief Executive of the party”, she said, “which means that he can bring a wealth of experience and a lot of useful links to the post.

“I think he’s got the energy and enthusiasm needed for the task, and I’m happy to offer him my personal support”

Mr Rennie, newly-elected on the regional list for Mid Scotland and Fife, announced himself “ready for the challenge” of leading his party.

“Scotland needs a Liberal voice in its Parliament. The Liberal Democrat group at Holyrood may be small, but we’ll be that strong Liberal voice”, he said.

“I believe local people know best, that Scotland should have opportunities for all, no matter what your background. And Scotland should be built on ideas for the long term, a sustainable Scotland”, he continued.

“We’re listening to the message sent by voters last week. They were angry – we understand that. It’s my job together with the team to rebuild and stand up against the bulldozer SNP Government for Liberal values.”