Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 14:41 UK

'Shetland made me', says Scott

Tavish Scott, MSP for Shetland, has decided to stand as Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, following the resignation of Nicol Stephen.

The Shetland MSP was the third candidate to throw his hat in the ring, after Mike Rumbles and Ross Finnie.

Here is Mr Scott's full declaration statement:


I want to lead the Scottish Liberal Democrats at a vital time in our country's future. Over the past 12 months, Scotland's political landscape has radically changed.

The Nationalists have formed their first government - and have shown themselves to be as opportunistic in office as they always were in opposition. Labour is sinking under the weight of its own internal strife - and on the watch of its own Scottish captain. And the Scottish people are being sold short as never before.

Because, amid all the fervid noise and bitter acrimony between Labour and the SNP, peoples' worries are being ignored.

Scottish families are feeling the pinch. The pressure on the jobs market, the rising cost of food and fuel, the increasing cost of housing.

Scots are asking their government for help. But their voices are being drowned out by an ever more acrimonious and pointless feud between the SNP in Edinburgh and New Labour at Westminster. That's not good enough.

Our party must speak to Scotland's people about those things that most concern them and not just those that most interest politicians.

I was brought up in Shetland. I am what Shetland made me

So I want the Liberal Democrats to transcend the nastiness and narcissism that characterises so much of Scottish politics today.

I want to energise our party with new thinking and a fresh approach that speaks to the needs and concerns of Scotland.

Scotland needs a parliament that helps families worried about paying their bills Scotland needs a parliament that can improve our schools and hospitals at a time when there is less new money to invest.

And we must ensure that the rights and freedoms of every Scottish man and woman are protected. We'll need big thinking to tackle these challenges.

But big thinking is what the Liberal Democrats do best. The big achievements of the Scottish Parliament's first eight years were Liberal Democrat ideas.

But time has moved on and so must we.

So, under my leadership, I want the Liberal Democrats to take the lead in setting the agenda in Scottish politics.

'Ideas matter'

Our agenda must address the needs of every community in Scotland.

I was brought up in Shetland. I am what Shetland made me.

And I've had the good fortune to represent this community in the Scottish Parliament for nearly 10 years.

This is where I've learned at first hand what community means. This is a strong community where people know each other, trust each other, and help each other.

I entered politics because I recognised that Shetland has its own needs and circumstances. And that our community needed a local voice to speak up for our concerns.

So I want our party to look at ways to improve life for every Scottish community. What I do for Shetland, I want to do for Scotland.

Above all, I believe that ideas and policies still matter in politics. Tony Blair took the politics out of politics.

That short term advantage for New Labour has left more people than ever disillusioned, disenchanted and switched off from party politics. It's time for politics to mean something again.

Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats will be the party that tackles the issues, provides the solutions and is not afraid to tell the truth.

We must connect our core values of freedom, fairness and community to the problems that are facing Scotland today. And show that while others bicker and carp we are ready to provide the answers.

It will require consistency, clarity and courage to get that message across. I have the experience to deliver that change, and the hunger for that challenge.

And that's why I'm standing.




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