Page last updated at 09:00 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 10:00 UK

Finnie says Lib Dems lack clarity

Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie: "I believe I have the ability to provide leadership"

Scottish Liberal Democrat Ross Finnie has said his party's message has become blurred and lacks clarity and cohesion.

The former minister made the statement at the launch of his bid to become the Scottish Liberal Democrats' new leader.

Mr Finnie said: "I am standing in this election because I believe I have the ability to provide leadership and direction to drive the party forward."

MSPs Tavish Scott and Mike Rumbles are also contesting the post which has been vacated by Nicol Stephen.

The former leader stepped down as party leader after saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife and four young children. He will stay on as an MSP for Aberdeen South.

Mr Finnie, who is MSP for the West of Scotland, was the only Lib Dem to serve as a minister throughout the full eight years of coalition government in Scotland.

Our message has become blurred and lacking a distinctive Liberal Democrat edge
Ross Finnie
Scottish Liberal Democrat
Commenting on his time as minister for the environment and rural development, the politician said: "I believe I achieved positive outcomes for the environment, for the agriculture and fishing industries and for the people of much of Scotland.

"I believe I demonstrated the ability to exercise good judgement, to handle crises, to take tough and difficult decisions, to remain calm under pressure and still retain my sense of proportion and my sense of humour."

But Mr Finnie attacked his party, insisting it had not made progress in electoral terms.

He said that although the Lib Dems had made a number of effective attacks on the SNP Government, it had "failed to connect with the voters as to why they should turn to the Liberal Democrats".

Ballot results

Mr Finnie added at his election bid launch: "Our message has become blurred and lacking a distinctive Liberal Democrat edge.

"We lack a political narrative that brings clarity and cohesion.

"As a consequence, we find it difficult to set the terms of debate and all too often find ourselves responding to a debate, the terms of which have been set by another party."

The would-be leader said he wanted to change that perception "radically and permanently".

"I want to lead a party whose every comment makes clear what Liberal Democracy is about and, critically, why Liberal Democrat values and policies are relevant to the needs of every individual in Scotland," said Mr Finnie.

The result of the leadership ballot is to be revealed on 26 August.


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