Scottish Lib Dem leader steps down

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has stepped down from his post after a "disastrous" result for the party in the Scottish Parliament elections.

Tavish Scott said his party had been "up against it" since the coalition between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives took power in Westminster last year.



The Scottish Liberal Democrats suffered a heavy defeat in the Holyrood elections, losing deposits after 25 constituency candidates failed to gain 5% of the vote.



The Scottish Parliament will have just five Lib Dem MSPs, with no constituency seats on the mainland. They had 16 MSPs in the previous parliament.



Mr Scott told Sky News yesterday: "I have just no doubt that since last May we have been up against it because of the formation of a UK Government where the Liberal Democrats were seen to be propping up the Conservatives. And that's, I think, in Scotland, a pretty disastrous and toxic mix in politics.



"It's for the party now to decide how to move forward and I think that's best done with a new leader."



In a statement Mr Scott, who was elected leader of the party in August 2008, said he was resigning the leadership with immediate effect.



He said: "Thursday's Scottish general election result was disastrous and I must and do take responsibility for the verdict of the electorate.



"The party needs a new direction, new thinking and new leadership to win back the trust of the Scottish people.



"I am honoured to serve as Shetland's MSP in this Parliament."



Mr Scott held on to Shetland with a reduced vote share.



Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said Mr Scott was "handed mission impossible" in the Scottish elections, given the "current coalition unpopularity".



Paying tribute to him, Mr Kennedy said: "I am extremely sorry to learn of Tavish's decision to step down.



"He was handed mission impossible in the Scottish elections, given the current coalition unpopularity. That was always likely to be the case, as some of us warned at the time one year ago.



"Tavish is one of our country's most talented politicians and his response today is characteristically honourable. It deserves to be met by a response at a UK Liberal Democrat level which is similarly honest."



The Liberal Democrat leader, Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg, said: "I was very sad to hear of Tavish's decision.



"He has been an excellent and energetic leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats at an extremely difficult time, as well as a good friend and colleague.



"I'm sure he would have done a brilliant job leading the fightback for the Lib Dems in Scotland but I fully respect his decision.



"I know that Tavish will continue to play a central role in supporting the new Lib Dem leader in Scotland and in Scottish politics as a whole."













Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: "Tavish Scott has served his party energetically and I am sure he will continue to serve his constituents diligently and effectively. I wish him well for the future."



SNP leader Alex Salmond said: "I have great respect for Tavish Scott, a distinguished parliamentarian with a significant contribution to continue making, and he carries my very best wishes for the future."



Earlier yesterday, the SNP's finance spokesman John Swinney said Mr Salmond, who has led the party to the first parliamentary majority in Holyrood history, told the Prime Minister that the party's resounding victory was a game changer.



Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "The First Minister made clear yesterday his intention to discuss with the Prime Minister the importance of recognising the difference that Friday's result produces for Scotland.



"The difference is the people of Scotland have made it very clear that they want to see progress made on the questions of economic opportunity in Scotland, and on constitutional progress.



"The short-term opportunity to do that is by improving and strengthening the Scotland Bill, currently going through the UK Parliament, and that is the message that the First Minister gave to the Prime Minister."



The Scotland Bill is designed to give Scotland greater financial accountability but the SNP has argued it does not give the Scottish Government sufficient levers to grow Scotland's economy.



The Bill passed its final stage in Holyrood in the last term and is being debated at Westminster, but Mr Cameron has been told the outcome of the Scottish election should have a bearing on the outcome of these deliberations.



Mr Swinney, who led the SNP between 2000 and 2004, also rejected suggestions that Westminster could interfere with an independence referendum in Scotland.



He said: "We can legislate for there to be a referendum on independence within Scotland, and we will do that in the latter part of the parliament.



"But the early priority is to get the necessary economic and financial powers that will enable us to work our way out of the economic challenges that we face.



"We've done a lot in the last four years to deal with an exceptional period of economic turbulence."



He added: "The reason we need more economic powers is to better respond to that, and to deliver the type of opportunities the people of Scotland asked of us when they gave us such a handsome mandate in the election."



Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser called on Mr Salmond to "bring it on" and launch an immediate independence referendum, otherwise there would be a "very persuasive argument" for Westminster to steal his thunder.



He said: "Nothing would be more damaging for Scotland than to have four or five years of a long-running debate over whether we will be independent or not."



Scottish Labour deputy leader Johann Lamont recognised the challenge her party faces in choosing a new leader following the planned resignation of Iain Gray after the party was reduced to 37 MSPs.



She added: "It's a simple fact that if you lose as many seats that we've lost then you're choosing from a smaller pool of people."



Ms Lamont tentatively suggested that she could be up for the job.



She said: "I'm a potential leader because I'm deputy leader, but I've barely slept since Thursday so I'm not going make that decision now."



Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "Tavish has played an important role in the Scottish Parliament as a former minister and as leader of his party. He has always conducted himself with courtesy and dignity. I wish him well for the future."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)