Wednesday, 18 May 2011

He's saved the party before, he can do it again.

A two word message was telegraphed to the fleet when Churchill was reappointed First Lord of the Admiralty:

'Winston's back'

The message came as some degree of comfort to officers and enlisted men of the Royal Navy who knew that in time of great peril you put people of experience in charge. Times such as those called for heroes who had shown their metal before, for street fighters.

Whilst parallels with Churchill are melodramatic and we don't have legions of Nazi's eyeing up our back yard as potential Lebensraum, a blitz-like mentality has taken hold in the Scottish Party.

Indeed it is widely agreed by activists and supporters that the one small piece of good news to come out of the charnel house of May 5th was the election to the Scottish Parliament of Willie Rennie.

As far as saving the party goes, the man has form. Celebrated as the architect of the crucial Christchurch By-election, Willie Rennie has slogged his guts out for the Liberal Democrats since he was recruited to the party from the unlikely breeding ground of Paisley University. He has held roles in the back room, as part of the high command, as Chief Executive and as a key figure in the early days of devolution, advising the parliamentary group and acting as a chief negotiator and strategist for the party in coalition with Labour.

Without question however his deliverance of the entire Liberal Movement through victory in Dunfermline was his and arguably the Scottish party's finest hour. Coming as it did as oil for the troubled waters of scandal, plummeting poll ratings and a fractious leadership campaign, the incredible feat of winning a by-election in Gordon Brown's back yard immediately righted the ship and silenced battalions of critics circling a struggling party that they had expected to be nothing more than political carrion within weeks.

News of his uncontested election to the leadership of the party, noon yesterday, had much the same affect as a two word telegraph might have, sent out to the remnants of the battered compliment of Scottish Liberal Democrats still barely afloat after the tempest of electoral annihilation.

'Willie's back'.

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