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Friday, May 14, 1999 Published at 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK

UK Politics

Trio who dented Lib Dem unity

Keith Raffan has been emphatic in opposition to concessions

The Scottish Liberal Democrats' reputation as a party of unity has been dented following the rebellion by three of its MSPs.

Despite persistent efforts by the leadership, Donald Gorrie, John Farquhar Munro and Keith Raffan refused to bend in opposing the party's concessions on tuition fees in the coalition agreement with Labour.

The trio voted against the coalition deal which was accepted by their 14 parliamentary colleagues.

Leader Jim Wallace must now attempt to draw the three back into the fold, but faces a tough job and three very different personalities.

Persistence may well be the name of the game in persuading Donald Gorrie - indeed it could be his middle name.

[ image: Donald Gorrie: Party stalwart who will not be swayed]
Donald Gorrie: Party stalwart who will not be swayed
Mr Gorrie, a regional MSP for Central Scotland, is a seasoned and determined politician, evidenced by his frequent attempts to win a Westminster seat.

He was finally elected in Edinburgh West in 1997 after failing on four previous occasions.

Despite his long service for the party, Mr Gorrie ironically lost the selection for the Edinburgh West seat in the Scottish Parliamentary elections to Margaret Smith, who had been his campaign manager in his successful Westminster campaign.

The 66-year-old grandfather is the party's local government spokesman and was first elected as a councillor in 1971. He was eventually elected the Liberal Democrat group leader on Edinburgh City Council.

Oxford-educated Mr Gorrie is clearly disappointed at the Labour and Liberal Democrat pact and said Scotland would be better served by a minority government - "changing the climate from Westminster to the new politics".

Donald Gorrie warns against Labour "spinning "
He conceded that referring to Labour as a "bunch of liars" when cautioning against the deal was not one of his "most brilliant remarks".

But he said his aim was to highlight the dangers of being manipulated by the "Labour spinning machine".

Keith Raffan, who won a seat on the regional list in Mid Scotland and Fife, was most vocal in his opposition to the deal on student finance.

A lively character, Mr Raffan first came to political attention in Scotland in last year's north east euro by-election.

Political experience

Born in Aberdeen 49 years ago and educated in the city and at Cambridge, he has considerable political experience, although not with the Lib Dems.

He was the Conservative MP for Delyn in North Wales from 1983 until 1992.

A former television presenter and journalist, his talents for the soundbite and stratospheric delivery have been very much in evidence at the parliament already.

Raffan was at his most emphatic when asked about tuition fees.

"I will never, ever compromise on tuition fees," he boomed.

His flamboyance is also a notable trait; Mr Raffan was the only MSP to dress in a kilt at the swearing-in of MSPs.

Campaigning spirit

John Farquhar Munro's stand on tuition fees is symbolic of his campaigning spirit.

The pipe-smoking MSP for Ross Skye and Inverness West has fought tirelessly against the imposition of tolls on the Skye Bridge and has been heavily involved in electioneering for Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy - now a contender to replace Paddy Ashdown at the head of the party.

A Gaelic speaker, he is a veteran councillor, chairing Highland Council's roads and rail network committees and leading the council's Liberal Democrat group.

The 65-year-old is viewed as very much his own man but media attempts to fashion him as a rebel do not sit well with him.

Speaking of his stance on tuition fees, he said: "I do not think it is a rebellion, it is a matter of making one's position clear."

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