Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 14:03 UK

Lib Dem front bench at-a-glance

Nicol Stephen - Scottish Liberal Democrat leader
Nicol Stephen (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Nicol Stephen may be seen as a Mr Nice Guy and committed family man, but beneath the gentle demeanour lurks a tough persona.

The former lawyer, councillor, MP and champion of young people became leader when predecessor Jim Wallace decided to stand down - a position which saw him taking on the job of Scottish deputy first minister.

The Aberdeen South MSP, also a previous transport minister, stuck to his guns over pressure to enter into coalition government with the SNP after the 2007 election, citing his party's opposition to Scottish independence.

Ross Finnie - Health
Ross Finnie (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Ross Finnie, the former rural development and environment minister, was Holyrood's longest serving minister in the same job.

In his time, Mr Finnie tackled many demanding issues and was required to act as the face of the Scottish Government during several major events, including the foot and mouth crisis; the Glasgow water scare of 2002 and the UK's first case of bird flu in the small Fife village of Cellardyke.

The West of Scotland MSP, who bounced back to ministerial duty after a double heart bypass, has built a reputation as a precise and confident operator and is known for his unique use of the English language, as well as bearing a passing resemblance to Captain Mainwaring of the TV comedy Dad's Army.

Tavish Scott - Finance
Tavish Scott (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Tavish Scott, one of the parliament's most confident performers, drew some surprise when he decided not to stand for his party's leadership.

The Shetland MSP, a former councillor and farmer, instead masterminded Nicol Stephen's successful campaign and was rewarded with a promotion to the post of transport minister from the deputy finance brief.

Mr Scott took key roles in the Scottish Liberal Democrats' 2007 election campaign and Labour/Lib Dem coalition negotiating team in 2003 before the minister agreed later that year not to campaign for the abolition of the Common Fisheries Policy, an agreement about which he had voiced concerns.

Margaret Smith - Justice
Margaret Smith (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Margaret Smith previously convened Holyrood's high-profile health committee, dealing with free personal care for the elderly and the MMR vaccine.

The MSP for Edinburgh West showed a rebellious side by voting against the previous Scottish Executive in 2003, over giving councils powers to close fire stations - a measure the government was accused of trying to "bludgeon" through.

Away from politics, Ms Smith pleads guilty to being a fan of crime thrillers and also plays the odd game of golf.

Jeremy Purvis - Education
Jeremy Purvis (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Jeremy Purvis has built his profile through an assertive style and promotion of his assisted suicide bill for the terminally ill.

The former Lib Dem finance spokesman had described the previous Lib/Lab government's decision to transfer the headquarters of Scottish Natural Heritage from Edinburgh to Inverness as "highly questionable".

The Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale MSP previously worked for party veteran Sir David Steel in the House of Commons and then the Lords.

Mike Rumbles - Rural affairs and environment
Mike Rumbles (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Mike Rumbles has carved out a reputation for himself as one of the more independently-minded MSPs and is known for his mischievous streak.

The former army major and Lib Dem health spokesman spent time questioning the last Scottish Executive on several aspects of that portfolio, including the retention of rural dentistry and maternity services.

The West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MSP, who as convener of Holyrood's standards committee presided over the "Lobbygate" inquiry involving allegations surrounding a PR company and access to ministers, stood against Nicol Stephen in his party's leadership contest and, despite being soundly beaten, was quick to congratulate the winner.

Robert Brown - Parliamentary business
Robert Brown (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Robert Brown has moved to new frontbench territory, having previously been deputy education minister and education committee convener.

The Glasgow MSP took a leading role in drawing up Liberal Democrat manifestoes between 1997 and 2003 and held an un-enviable position on Holyrood's corporate body when controversy over the Scottish Parliament building project was riding high.

Mr Brown, despite lacking the out-going personality of other MSPs, has a proven track record both in and out of parliament - he was the first Liberal councillor elected to Glasgow District Council and a former senior partner at a Glasgow law firm.

Iain Smith - Europe and culture
Iain Smith (Pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Iain Smith has been at Holyrood since the start of devolution, representing his home constituency of North East Fife.

He was one of Donald Dewar's so called "second eleven" of junior ministerial appointments in the first Scottish Executive, serving as deputy minister for parliament, but left office when Henry McLeish took over as first minister.

The former Lib Dem leader of Fife Council - a big fan of live cricket - previously convened Holyrood's education committee, raising concern over the previous Scottish Executive's proposals to enhance child protection, and is viewed as playing a crucial role in smoothing divisions in the previous Lib/Lab administration over student tuition fees.

John Farquhar Munro - Gaelic and Highland culture
John Farquhar Munro (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

John Farquhar Munro could be described as the unofficial father of parliament, but has shown no sign of letting up despite being the oldest MSP.

His unusual frontbench role is not one held by other parties, but if anyone could be an ambassador for Gaelic and Highland culture, JF's your man.

The MSP for Ross, Skye and Inverness West and former councillor campaigned for abolition of the Skye Bridge tolls and, in the last parliament, failed in a bid to require people to opt out of organ donation, a move which was backed by the British Medical Association.

Liam McArthur - Enterprise, energy and tourism
Liam McArthur (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Liam McArthur has moved from a position behind the scenes to take centre stage as the MSP for Orkney, succeeding Jim Wallace.

The former special adviser to Mr Wallace during his time as deputy first minister also worked for the former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader at Westminster and as a political consultant in Brussels and London.

Mr McArthur, a big football fan, is also a keen backer of organisations which support the victims of serious sporting injuries.

Alison McInnes - Transport, infrastructure and climate change
Alison McInnes (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Alison McInnes is one of several new Lib Dem faces at the Scottish Parliament, but has been a long-time supporter of the party.

The North East Scotland MSP, who set up a media production company with her husband, has built up interest in her frontbench role during her time as a councillor in Aberdeenshire.

Her interests range from the performing arts to gardening.

Hugh O'Donnell - Schools and skills
Hugh O' Donnell (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Hugh O'Donnell previously worked as an aide to Central Scotland MSP Donald Gorrie, before he was elected to serve for that region.

He also worked in the retail and property sectors, community care and as a college lecturer before arriving at the Scottish Parliament.

Mr O'Donnell's interest in Tai Chi may prove vital if he needs to chill out following any particularly hefty Stage 3 debates in the Holyrood chamber.

Jamie Stone - Public health
Jamie Stone

Jamie Stone, despite his occasional shambolic but endearing style, is a popular character among MSPs and especially his constituents.

As a member of the dreaded Holyrood progress group, he defended a decision to spend 88,000 on its reception desk as well as claims that MSPs' offices were badly designed, all at a time when public feeling over the cost of the building project was running high.

The Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MSP - who raised eyebrows after once calling the SNP xenophobic - has led a varied career, including working at a fish factory, in the oil industry and with the family cheese business.

Jim Tolson - Communities and sport
Jim Tolson (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Jim Tolson is a seasoned Fifer - the son of a local coal miner spent 19 years as a worker at the dockyard in Rosyth.

The former councillor pulled off the Holyrood equivalent of the Dunfermline West Westminster by-election, winning the seat from Labour in 2007.

Mr Tolson, who previously worked as a sales advisor for Sky Television, has a keen interest in motor sports and has abseiled down the Wallace Monument.

Mike Pringle - Public safety
Mike Pringle (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Mike Pringle entered parliament in 2003, when he won the Edinburgh South seat from Labour's Angus MacKay, a former minister.

He sparked wide debate during the last parliament with a bill to charge a 10p levy on plastic bags and later withdrew it, citing improvements which the discussion had caused, although the proposals had been dismissed by Holyrood's environment committee.

Mr Pringle, a former Royal Bank of Scotland employee and councillor, was banned from meetings of the last parliament for a week after he leaked information about the Shirley McKie fingerprint case to the media - a decision he described as "a bit over the top".

Jim Hume - Environment
Jim Hume (pic by the Scottish Parliament)

Jim Hume is proud to be born and bred in the South of Scotland, the region where he was elected to serve as a Lib Dem MSP.

The farmer has served in several prominent posts for the National Farmers Union of Scotland, including vice-chair of environment and land use and chairman of the Lothians and Borders branch, having to play an active role during the foot and mouth crisis.

In his time, Mr Hume has lobbied with and against ministers both at home and in Europe, something he will aim to continue as an MSP.


SEE ALSO
Cabinet and ministers at-a-glance
25 May 07 |  Scotland
Labour front bench at-a-glance
29 Aug 07 |  Scotland
Tory front bench at-a-glance
09 Jun 07 |  Scotland
Political news from Scotland
29 Aug 07 |  Scotland

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