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Friday, May 7, 1999 Published at 05:59 GMT 06:59 UK


Wallace: The kingmaker from Orkney

Jim Wallace: Quiet and modest politician

Jim Wallace ended the campaign as he began it, voicing his hope that the Scottish Parliament will engender a new era of consensual politics.

A quiet and modest individual, he has kept a level head throughout, and as a former advocate has kept his own counsel over his possible role as kingmaker in a coalition administration.

He was forced to deny allegations of a long-standing deal with Labour, insisting the Lib Dems would negotiate with the largest party.

But after election in the Orkney constituency he once again hinted his party may see a Labour U-turn on tuition fees as the key bargaining chip.

Mr Wallace, MP for Orkney and Shetland since 1983 and Scottish party leader since 1992, has focused much of his energy during the campaign on education.

A graduate of Cambridge and Edinburgh universities, he has pledged extra teachers and, along with the Tories and SNP, the scrapping of student fees.

And he is proud of his party's support for federalism and sees the Liberal Democrats as the true advocates of devolution.

Speaking after his election, he refused to be drawn on the details of any coalition with Labour.

But he said it was clear what would be on the table in any negotiations with Labour over a pact.

"I think it will be very obvious what will be on the table because we have just fought an election on the manifesto. We will want to negotiate items in our manifesto."

He added: "I have taken the view that first and foremost we should negotiate the terms of a partnership programme for government and then deal with ministries and personalities."

On tuition fees, Mr Wallace said if there was a majority in opposition to tuition fees he would hope to be part of that majority to abolish them saying: "Obviously if it could be done by agreement rather than having to force it to the wire in a vote in the Parliament so much the better, we want rid of tuition fees."



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