Today I am writing my congratulations to George Lyon who has this morning become Scotland’s new Liberal Democrat MEP. We have, once again, confounded the media commentators and our opponents who said that we could not hold on to any representation because of the reduction in seats in Scotland.
I am particularly pleased that we were able to win whilst remaining true to our party’s important principle that we are “stronger together and poorer apart” when it comes to the European Union. Our campaign showed the practical action that can make our country safer from international crime, more effective against climate change and stronger is the face of the global economic challenge.
The result across Scotland shows some real strengths in the constituencies we already hold at Westminster or hope to gain at the next General Election. Some of our target seats won their best ever results. And it was great to top the poll in the Highlands and – as we would expect – in the Northern Isles!
My thanks go to everyone for their hard work for this campaign. Our margin of victory was not huge, so every hour spent on the campaign trail made a difference.
A lesson that we should take away is that our campaigning is “stronger together”. All of our candidates, MPs, MSPs and councillors need to be strongly and actively committed to each other’s election campaigns. Not only does it add real depth to our work but it helps all of our elected representatives to stay in touch with the electorate in their constituencies. Liberal Democrats at every level of government can’t afford to sit in our offices. We need to be active, out and about in our communities, speaking to voters and listening to their voices not just every four years for their own elections.
I should also remark that the other parties did not live up to their own expectations. The SNP did not gain the extra seat they had convinced the media they were on course for, their vote share was lower indeed than they achieved in 1994. And last Thursday you may have seen that they lost two of their council seats in by elections – to Labour of all people. The Conservatives did much less well that they told everybody they would do, got a lower share of the vote than in 2004 and have one fewer MEP in Scotland than they had before. The Greens published an opinion poll last Wednesday predicting they would win 18% of the vote. They were out by a factor of nearly three. And Labour? Well we have all seen the remarkable destruction and self-destruction wrought on that Party. The call for a General Election can surely only get louder. Our Party in Scotland is up to the challenge of gaining seats from Labour whenever it comes.
So, a big “thank you” for all the work. I look forward to George being a colossal asset to our Party and Scotland over the next five years.
Tavish Scott MSP