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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK
Have Your Say: Wallace steps down
Jim Wallace and Charles Kennedy
Jim Wallace and UK party leader Charles Kennedy
Jim Wallace has announced his decision to step down as the Liberal Democrats' leader in Scotland.

The Orkney MSP will also leave the Scottish Parliament at the next election in 2007.

He said it was time to hand on the leadership to fresh blood, following the Lib Dems' success in last week's general election.

We asked what you thought of his decision to stand down, his timing and what his legacy in Scottish politics will be. The following represents a balance of comments received.

Plainly a good and decent man who has quietly done an effective job for both his party and his country. Shame there aren't more like Jim Wallace.
Gordon, Edinburgh, Scotland

I've followed his career since I interviewed him for the BBC on the morning after his selection as Orkney and Shetland candidate 20 years ago and I can say with I hope some authority that he's one of the straightest and ablest people in Scottish politics. He puts an immense amount of work into his constituency and to do that and to combine it with so much work for his party and for Scotland requires total selflessness and dedication. It's because of that selflessness that he's been able to make a coalition work in Scotland and to gradually draw that coalition into new policies. I'm not a member of any political party or commenting on any particular policy, for or against, just putting on record respect for a man of ability and integrity.
Howie Firth, Elgin, Scotland

As a former Liberal, I left the party over Jim Wallace's leadership. The Liberals are a democratic party, yet not one party member ever voted for Wallace to be leader. He has held the position of leader & deputy first minister without anyone voting for him to do so. I can only hope a democratically elected leader shall emerge, and not another dictator.
David Lees, Edinburgh

Thank you Jim for all your hard work over the years. Best of luck to you.
Clare, Orkney

Jim Wallace is a good, hardworking, modest man, and his achievements will speak for themselves. But what a strange, sad little life some of your correspondents have. The one who thinks the Scottish Parliament has achieved nothing. I'd be happy to see if we can negotiate an exemption clause for him from all its policies - so he can start paying again for his eye and dental checks, and his free personal care costs in old age, as well as full tuition fees if he is a student (with no chance of him getting a student grant of course). He can also stop travelling free on the buses if he is a pensioner and should he ever become homeless, he can opt out of the Act that makes it a legal requirement for councils to offer him a place to stay and also the one that sets a decency standard on all Scottish housing.
Douglas , Edinburgh

A classic example of the parochial 'gravy train' politician who has had his snout buried in the trough for years. I bet he is a millionaire, simply by being an MP. A disgrace. He should be birched and have his pension confiscated.
John Donnelly, Scotland

Jim Wallace. An enterprise minister too spineless to give Scotland the powers she needs to become enterprising - independence. A total waste space and money. Good riddance.
Angus Fraser, Elgin

Jim Wallace is Orkney and Shetland's MSP. He did (and is still doing) his best to represent his constituency - and he has done this more successfully by being in a position of joint power. Good luck Jim!
Katy, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland

He was a politician who, whether you agree with his views or not, was clear about the needs of his party and his country and stuck to his principles. I wish more of his Lib Dem colleagues in England were from the same mould.
Alan, Crowthorne, Berkshire

Well the man who claimed to have scrapped tuition fees has finally gone. Good riddance, for too long students in this country and voters have been lied to by Wallace and his fellow New Labour lapdogs regarding tuition fees. The Graduate Endowment is still a tuition fee no matter how much spin Wallace puts on it. Bring on 2007 where the people of this country will see through the lies and spin that the Lib Dems have spouted and get off their knees and take their place as people of an Independent Nation.
Gareth Finn, Clydebank

I think he was magnificent in a non controversial manner. Pity there are not more good guys like him. Job well done.
Kevin McColgan, Glasgow

Fantastic news - hopefully the whole party, that seems to exist solely for the purposes of a 'protest vote', will now follow suit and disband too. I've always found the Lib Dems to be so full of themselves, full of great ideas, but, generally unable to deliver. Oh, mind you, Jim Wallace in my opinion would make a fantastic look-a-like Homer Simpson should he ever decide on a change of career from Holyrood to Hollywood.
Vince Bertonesi, Glasgow

Jim was a magnificent man I say and it's a pity there is not more like him.
Kevin McColgan, Glasgow

Does it matter? As Enterprise Minister he doesn't want Scotland to have the powers of other nations. Therefore, by his own definition, he is irrelevant.
Donald, Oban, Scotland

Did nobody else notice that the Lib Dems in Scotland polled a 2% higher swing to them than the Lib Dems in England? All the talk so far has been that this was the Iraq factor yet in England there was only one party to give your protest vote to, in Scotland there were four. The only explanation can be that people see that the world has not come to an end because Lib Dems are in government in Scotland - in fact we have many things now that people in England would love to have. That is Wallace's legacy and it should not be forgotten. He made the Lib Dems a serious party by winning them serious power.
Gregg, Saline

Jim Wallace is doing the right thing by making way for new blood - but sadly, individuals in politics today all seem to come from the same 'factory'. Few, if any, provide inspiration. As a voter and (heavy) tax payer, I genuinely feel that politicians, both in the Scottish and national context give no real sense of energy, vision, excitement or individual inspiration. Politics should be about providing a vision, a platform for development, a route and a plan that gives the electorate direction and belief. Political parties today, and the people representing the 'machines' with the parties do not, in my view, provide any of this - they are all far too focused on self preservation...so at least Jim Wallace through his decision recognises this in his 'own' way.
Jeremy, Inverkip, Scotland

So Wallace leaves with his party in second place, share of the vote up, and with more MPs. He also leaves a party which despite the public criticism is now respected as a party of government. Labour must be really worried. But have they realised that the real sting in the tail from Wallace will come two years from now when PR for local government wipes out Labour councillors and with them the major base of Labour party power and organisation across Scotland.
Tom, Aberdeen

I am a little bemused as to why Wallace should decide to resign at this stage, he is after all still a relatively young man. Perhaps it'll come out in the wash. However, he was not in my opinion a man of great deeds or insight. Indeed, without the goading pressure from his back-benchers he, Finnie and Stephen would simply have rubber stamped anything McConnell's mob decided to do. No, he's is tasteless, colourless and odourless. A political non-entity who will scarcely be missed. Let us just hope that Finnie doesn't develop any promotional ambitions and let us not be at the mercy of Nicol Stephen. Most people have never even heard of him much less seen any sign of activity from him.
John, Greenock

All the carping from the SNP and Tories about Wallace is simply jealousy that they will never (thank god) get to put their policies into action when Wallace could. The carping from Labour is nothing but fear that their continued decline will simply feed a resurgent Lib Dem party.
Sandy, Kirkcaldy

Anyone who thinks that Jim Wallace was out for himself clearly has no idea what they are talking about. Jim Wallace was a great leader but in government it is quite clear that there were many times when he put the people of Scotland before his party and his own personal standing. Now that is a mark of a great man. I hope that Jim keeps some kind of role in public life or we will all be poorer without him.
John M, Annan

Thanks to Jim Wallace Scottish students like myself don't have to pay tuition fees and the tolls on the Skye bridge have been scrapped. All I can do is thank him for creating a better Scotland for me and wish him well.
Rona Smith, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

If there is a powerless politician in Scotland it is Jack McConnell, not Jim Wallace. Wallace has won all the major battles. The only thing McConnell managed to win was anti-social behaviour legislation and it is becoming increasingly clear that it was all spin and no substance. On the other hand Wallace has delivered the real improvements in Scotland - I wish him well.
Chrissie, Dundee

Am I the only one who thinks that Wallace should be congratulated for his dignified departure? If Wallace was in it for himself then why did he give up his so-called 'ministerial Mondeo' and all the other trappings of power if that is all he cared about? I think it shows that all this talk of the Lib Dems being unprincipled is just nonsense from a bunch of cynics.
Suzie, Forfar

So Jim Wallace was a powerless politician was he? Just goes to show how little some people know. A politician from the fourth party able to deliver abolition of tuition fees, free personal care, massive funding for universities and colleges, record police numbers, putting the environment at the heart of government, Skye Bridge tolls abolished, Borders Railway back on track, PR for local government, and taking the party from fourth to second place in the popular vote. Powerless politician? Don't make me laugh.
Stuart, Leith

Just look at his record. Free personal care for the elderly, tuition fees scrapped, land reform, a fairer voting system for local government. None of that would have happened if Labour were in government in Scotland by themselves. If only more politicians delivered in the way Jim Wallace and the Liberal Democrats have.
Ian, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

So Jim Wallace retiring is dull? So dull that so many people have thought it important enough to give us their views on the topic. Well thanks for your great thoughts and insight on a man who has been jointly in charge of a 25bn budget for the past six years. Pathetic.
Brian, Peebles

Jim should be applauded for his contributions to both UK and Scottish politics. Although I would not profess to agree with every decision he has made, there are many more for which he deserves recognition and credit. I too, hope a successor is found who will continue to appreciate and represent the aspirations of those outwith the narrow-minded, lobotomised 'my Da' voted Labour so I vote Labour central belt. Good luck to Jim for the future.
Doug, Edinburgh

Jim Wallace was a nice chap (not much of a qualification a polician, mind). In the referendum Wallace campaigned for Orkney & Shetland to say yes, promising to win them wide autonomy from Edinburgh as part of the deal. They did. He asked. Blair refused. Without their MSP's presence in the executive, should Orkney reassess their need for protective autonomy?
Rupert Barnes, Hertfordshire, England

They say you get the politicians you deserve....On the evidence of the pathetic soundbite bampots who have sent in their petty entries below this was not true of Jim Wallace - because he's much better than that. Good luck to Jim and whoever replaces him. Putting the brakes on Labour will never be easy given the size of their vote but JW and team have done this effectively on behalf of the majority who chose not to vote Labour at the Holyrood election.
Ken, Edinburgh

Jim did OK in his job - better than most in power, and at least he represented rural Scotland in a parliament dominated by time-serving labour politicians from the central belt.
Alex, Aberdeen

If only his coalition partner would do the same.
Bryan, Glasgow, UK

The bitter comments from some of the correspondents say more about them than about Jim Wallace. I have no doubt that many of these people support the most vocal but least effective politicians, of which the SNP seems to be the natural home. As for getting into bed with Labour - isn't getting about 80% of you policies implemented better than getting 0% of your policies implemented? Get into the real world and give Jim Wallace the praise he deserves.
Steve, Dumfries, Dumfries, Scotland

A largely powerless politician, for a largely powerless parliament. Until we have total independence it doesn't really matter anyway. Seems to me that all the Scottish Parliament has achieved so far is to waste an awful lot of money. Jim Wallace is another faceless name, one that we will have forgotten before the turn of the decade.
Edi, Stirling

The Scottish Parliament will be less fresh with the departure of Jim Wallace. I am not a Lib Dem supporter but he always spoke sense and had the kind of persona that was good for our country. Maybe he should think of replacing Charles Kennedy at Westminster.
Jim Taylor, Falkirk, Scotland

I am not a Lib Dem, and I don't particularly like Jim Wallace (he was often brittle, foolish and not in command of his brief, making a number of mistakes - for example, the ludicrous graduate tax/tuition fee system and prison privatisation being among them). It is absurd to condemn him as just a time-server, or just a stooge, since it patently isn't true. These terms should be reserved for people they do apply to.
Bob, Brussels, Belgium

Record spending in our universities and colleges at over 1bn for the first time ever - that seems a pretty good legacy to me and one that well serve Scotland well for years to come. Well done Jim and best of luck for the future.
Peter Jones, Oxford

If Jim Wallace was so useless, as some people seem to think, why did the Lib Dems increase their share of the vote at every single election since he took over? I think most sensible people realise that he is a rare thing in politics today - a decent guy who is not out for himself.
Chris, St Andrews

Jim delivered when he could, McConnell just moves along on his lead firmly held by Tony. Yes, Jim crumbled on a few decisions, but mostly he delivered what he said and without the Labour spin. Tony and Jack join Jim and go now.
Paul, Peebles

Jim Wallace should be remembered for making sure that the Labour party in Scotland didn't run all over the people like they did in England. I think it's quite clear - Lab/Lib in Scotland = no tuition fees, free personal care and an anti-nuclear policy. Lab in England = top up fees, no free personal care and plans for more nuclear power stations.
Robbie, Western Isles

He lost his integrity from the start, when he fudged his principles on student fees in order to gain a seat at Labour's right-hand.
John Kidd, Haddington, East Lothian

Jim Wallace is one of the greatest figures in Scotland's history. By his inspired leadership he defeated the SNP and saved the Union. A true Scot and a true Brit. Happy retirement Jim, you've deserved it.
Tam Davey, Ayr, Scotland

I think he's right. It's time for fresh blood at the top. Someone who can inspire and who is party orientated and not Nichol Stephen.
Gordon, Aberdeen

Does this mean that Wallace can keep his Mondeo?
Malcolm, Dundee

A harmless, if anonymous, member of a decent party. Did nothing spectacular but didn't do anything horrendous. His legacy is going to be unclear.
Graham, St. Petersburg, Russia

A dull MSP standing down in dull parliament makes for dull news...(sigh).
Joe Rooney, Glasgow

Without the powers of full independence Jim Wallace and the Lib/Labour coalition will remain over-paid, unaccountable cronies. They talk big but can't even acknowledge they lack the powers to really make Scotland a better place, or in Jim Wallace's case, more enterprising. If Jim Wallace was doing his job properly he'd have pushed for greater fiscal powers in Scotland. Instead he gave lots of empty speeches at dinner parties.
Stephen Mackintosh, Inverness

A decent and honourable politician who has made a huge impact on Scotland. A boring image perhaps, but image is a side issue and a distraction from making a difference. He is someone who has led a team that really gets things done for education, the elderly and other areas in a determined and focussed way.
Martin , Aberdeen

Thank goodness, this is the man who said he had done away with tuition fees only to reintroduce them through a student endowment charge. Not to be trusted in my opinion.
Stuart, Gourock

Before leaving he should be made to list all his achievements and demonstrate with specific examples the contributions he specifically has made to the well-being of his fellow countrymen.
John McDougall, Dunbar, East Lothian

Jim Wallace will be remembered for having shored up a clueless Labour executive which has trumpeted its patriotic credentials but presided over a process of relative decline in Scotland. As for taking the credit for the Scottish Parliament's establishment - does anyone really believe it was anything other than a failed Lib-Lab strategy to derail the SNP?
Alan Reid, Cupar, Fife

I stopped voting Labour when they agreed to Wallace acting as Enterprise Minister. The idea of a Lib Dem lawyer being in charge of arguably the most important portfolio in the executive just struck me as joke. Let's hope that this time they will appoint someone who actually does have some understanding of business and industry and can act as a champion for the Scottish economy.
Dick, Aberdeenshire

I never rated him at all as a leader or politician. Don't think he was cut out for either, despite his party's claims of leaving on a high. He's just leaving before he gets the blame for a lack of growth in Scotland's economy. Perhaps, however, fresh blood will bring fresh ideas? However, there's not really another Lib Dem who is leader material - same old story.
David, Edinburgh

What the people of Scotland voted for was not a Lib/Lab pact in the Scottish Parliament, but that the Labour party should be answerable to the whole parliament for their actions. Jim Wallace saw to it that this would not happen. It is good for Scotland that he has gone.
Charles Dunbar, Newtonmore, Scotland

I think Tony Blair should take a leaf out of Jim Wallace's book and go now.
Jimmy Brown, Freuchie

I wish Jim Wallace well. I think he has been a pretty decent politician through the years and he's definitely done more good than bad in government.
Jim, Greenock

Good Bloke - did a good job for Scotland. Whatever we think about his politics I think he showed that devolution and coalitions can work.
Joe, Edinburgh

All this talk of selling out for Mondeos is just rubbish. People want politicians to deliver what they say they will when in government. Wallace delivered tuition fees, free personal care, record investment in higher education, free bus travel for pensioners, the end of the feudal system - the list is endless. For once a politician kept his promises in government and he should be congratulated not berated.
Nick, Stranraer

Like Blair he is a former advocate/barrister who got carried away with his own self-importance. Neither will be remembered for achieving anything of note.
Tom Mackay, Edinburgh

Shame for the people of north Scotland. I just hope they replace him with another northern MSP. The Lib Dems have protected us from Central Belt Labour politicians who ignore anything north of the Grampians.
Graham Angus, Aberdeen

Mr Jim will be greatly missed
Bill Dowdall, Cumbernauld

It's no wonder that decent people don't go into politics when all they receive is bile and venom from people who clearly have no idea what public life is all about. I wish Jim Wallace well.
Jenny, Edinburgh

Brilliant! Very well done Jim Wallace. We are fed up of politicians that cling on to their posts forever, fuelled by naked ambition and little else. I wish Tony Blair were next.
Oscar Mendoza, Glasgow, Scotland

I've never heard such a lot of bitter nonsense as some of the comments I've read on this page. Jim Wallace is clearly a decent, honourable man. I don't always agree with his politics, but it is self-evident from the way he conducts himself that unlike most politicians he has integrity.
Robert, Inverness

Golly! I wonder why he's going - because it sure as hell isn't for the reasons given - he's a time-server, and they don't go unless they have to.
Dougie Lockhart, Dumbarton, Scotland

I voted Liberal Democrat at the last election because they were in government and able to do some good. I receive a grant for going to university because Jim Wallace is in government. If he wasn't I'd be paying top up fees now.
Claire, Stirling

Best wishes to Jim Wallace. Thank God he was in government because without him my mother would still be faced with selling her home to pay for personal care, just as pensioners across England still do where Labour are in government on their own.
Bob, Falkirk

I hope the new leader will make a promise never to take the Lib Dems into coalition again. Because of this, I'd support Mike Rumbles ahead of Nicol or Tavish. I voted Lib Dem on Thursday but would never do this in a Scottish election as it is effectively a vote for the Labour party.
Jenny, Edinburgh

I'm sorry to see Jim Wallace step down, but wish him well for the future. He is a thoroughly decent man and has made a huge contribution to the early years of the new Scottish Parliament.
Matthew Ross, Brussels, Belgium

Another useless MSP who was happy to waste taxpayers' money.
Neil Small

Jim Wallace is a political nonentity, who sums up all that is wrong in Scottish politics. Let's hope that Scotland's other great political waste of space, Jack McConnell, takes Jim's lead and resign as well.
Andrew Fallon, Perth

Under Jim Wallace there have certainly been gains for the people of Scotland re: personal care and tuition fees (the graduate endowment is to me, a sick joke that the Liberals pretend isn't even there, however) but the fact that his party have sold out to Labour is a shame to the consensus politics we were supposed to have in Scotland. I sincerely hope that his replacement has more guts for his own principles and stands up to Labour.
Iain, St. Andrews

Good!! If there was ever a prime example of selling your soul for a ministerial Mondeo then Jim Wallace is it. Let's just hope all the wishy-washy Liberals in the Scottish Parliament follow his example. It's ridiculous to think that the more Scottish people voted for the SNP but we got stuck with a Lab-Lib pact. The rules should be changed so the winning party is forced to form a coalition with the second placed party so that we don't end up being governed by the likes of Wallace and his cronies who came third in the Scottish Parliamentary elections.
Brian, Paisley, Scotland

Good riddance. Another surplus idiot has gone from the monument to hypocrisy. Roll on 2007 when the remainder will be gone voluntarily or involuntarily
Denbo, Edinburgh

Thanks to Jim Wallace I don't have to pay tuition fees. I think Scotland is a better place from having his party in the coalition.
Neil, Edinburgh

Jim Wallace has done a better job as deputy first minister than the line of Labour first ministers. Perhaps it's time for our first to consider his position so that both the Liberals and Labour can get a fresh start in the approach to the elections in 2007. Jack McConnell must be as much of a good luck charm to Scottish Labour as Tony Blair was nationally.
Keith, Lothian

Jim Who?
Robert, Airdrie

Jim Wallace's legacy on Scottish politics will be one of broken promises and hypocrisy. He is a Liberal Democrat, but to get a ministerial position he jumped into bed with Labour. This indicates that he is a man who is only interested in glory rather than standing up for what his party stands for. Shame!
Darren Drummond, Whitburn, West Lothian

I have always been a subscriber to the conspiracy theory of life. One is left wondering why leave now if the flowers are so beautiful in the garden.
Iain Miles, Auchtermuchty. Fife

He did sell out on a lot of issues in the parliament, e.g. GM crops and M74 expansion but he got us a fairer voting system for local government in 2007 so he has lots to be proud of as he leaves.
Chris Morris, Burntisland

Jim Wallace is one of the few politicians for whom I have complete respect. I will be sad to see him go, but his decision to resign while he is still popular adds to my respect for him and is an example that certain other political leaders would do well to notice.
Russell Simpson, Edinburgh

Another hopeless liberal with nothing to say leaves politics, excuse me while I yawn. Legacy? Mealy-mouthed politics with wet behind the ears politicians masked as intellectual thinkers.
Rob, Glasgow

When Joe Grimond stood down there were signs painted on outhouses in Shetland saying "No Joe No Vote". How do they feel now?
Tom Parkinson, Falkirk

Lib Dem leader Wallace steps down
09 May 05 |  Scotland


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