Those of us who have been long-standing members of the Scottish Liberal Democrats (and before that, the Scottish Liberal Party) were saddened to learn of the death earlier this week of Lord Russell-Johnston.
Russell became a Liberal MP in 1964, and later, as a Liberal Democrat MP, he served in the Commons until 1997, representing two seats – firstly Inverness for 19 years, and then, Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber, for fourteen years.
He was Chairman of the Scottish Liberal Party from 1970 to 1974, and became Leader of the Scottish Liberal Party in 1974 – a post he held for 14 years, remaining as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats between 1988 and 1989. From 1988 to 1992 he was also Deputy Leader of the UK Liberal Democrats.
I first met Russell when I was 18 or so, when he attended a Liberal Party event in Dundee in the early 1980s … a thoroughly engaging man, whose contribution was crucial to the growth of Liberalism in Scotland – particularly in the Highlands – from the 1960s onwards.
Former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Lord (Jim) Wallace said yesterday :
“It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Russell Johnston, a friend and colleague for the best part of the last thirty years.
“It was during my last year at secondary school when I read Russell’s pamphlet ‘To be A Liberal’ and joined the Scottish Liberal Party. The core liberal values which he articulated then, together with his commitment to Scotland and Europe, still resonate today.
“That is why his memory will be cherished within the liberal family, at home and abroad, for a very long time to come.”