Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 11:39 UK

Lib Dems lay out case for top job

(From left to right) Tavish Scott, Mike Rumbles and Ross Finnie
The Scottish Lib Dem new leader will be confirmed by 26 August

The three candidates bidding to become the new leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats have made their case for why they should have the job.

Former transport minister Tavish Scott, ex-environment minister Ross Finnie and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MSP Mike Rumbles are vying for the post.

It became vacant after Nicol Stephen resigned to spend time with his family.

The new leader will be announced in two weeks, with the results of a ballot of party members due on 26 August.

Mr Scott told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland: "I think our party has to concentrate on the economy."

He spoke about the "real challenges" in the current economic climate, such as house repossessions and rising food price inflation.

He said: "I would like the Liberal Democrats to concentrate very strongly on making sure we've got solutions for Scotland on the issues that confront families, individuals and businesses at this really tough time in our economic circumstances."

'Biggest job'

Mr Rumbles told the programme he was "offering real change to the Liberal Democrats".

He said that with the SNP advocating independence, and Labour and the Conservatives supporting "devolution-lite", there was an opportunity for the Lib Dems to put the case for Scotland to have control of its own affairs while remaining part of the UK.

"I'm offering the Liberal Democrats and I'm offering the people of Scotland through them, control of our own affairs within the United Kingdom," he said.

Meanwhile Mr Finnie, also speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, argued the new leader needed to focus on persuading people that the Lib Dems were relevant to them.

He said: "The biggest job for the new leader is to use the personality of the leader and also the persuasion of the leader to tell the people of Scotland that Liberal Democrat policies and Liberal Democrat values are relevant to them."

He claimed at the moment the party had failed to explain to people why they should vote for them.

"I think we need right across the whole policy field a much clearer, crisper, Liberal Democrat infusion into that message," he added.


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