Scottish Election: Michael Russell to stand for SNP selection for Argyll and Bute

Michael Russell addressing the Economic Club of Canada

Senior government minister, Michael Russell, currently Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, has told us that he has decided not to offer himself for selection in Dumfries again but to accept nomination to contest the SNP’s selection process; with the ambition of retaining Jim Mather’s seat in the Scottish Elections 2011 and of representing Argyll and Bute at Holyrood.

There are two sides to this decision – leaving Dumfries and championing Argyll.

Mr Russell speaks warmly of his experience as MSP for the South of Scotland and of what that energetic region has achieved during his tenure. He says: ‘I have enjoyed both stints as a member for the South of Scotland and have had lots of very valuable and welcome support. But this is a new and exciting challenge and I am looking forward to it’.

The Minister’s relationship with and commitment to Argyll is not new.

  • He lives in the constituency, has done so for almost 20 years – and is an active participant in community development in his area.
  • He is aware that the contest in May 2011 will be hard fought and hopes that his candidacy would help bis party’s cause here, capitalising on Jim Mather’s many achievements in what he would make a positive, forward looking campaign.
  • Given his wide experience at ministerial level in this government – he has successively held the porfolios for Environment, Culture and now Education – there are a lot of contributions he says he would like to make here, relating to: ‘… education, environment, crofting and farming, culture, language, rurality  and a host of other areas in which I have been lucky enough to work in recent years and which still interest me very greatly’.

So what’s the process?

The final decision is for the SNP’s constituency members’ to make. Nominations close on 8th July. There will then be a postal ballot, the result of which will be declared in early August.

Those nominated will present themselves at a variety of hustings , the first of which will be at the SNP’s Argyll and Bute Constituency Association meeting next Sunday – 4th July 2010.

Russell says that he is taking nothing for granted and at the moment is concerned to make sure that members hear the arguments and can make their decision with the fullest possible evidence.

What’s the picture?

Our own analysis suggests that the fight for Argyll and Bute in the 2011 election to the Scottish Parliament will be a tough one for the SNP.

Jim Mather’s success in 2007 was outstanding, converting the Liberal Democrat sitting tenant, George Lyon’s majority of 4,126 to an SNP majority of 815. This was achieved in a climate which was much more favourable to the SNP than is the case today. In these different times, a majority of 815 is a nervous one.

The current Scottish Government has taught Scotland what government means. It has not meant taking orders from somewhere else in the primary interests of another place. It has meant putting Scotland first. Nationalist and non-nationalist alike has responded to that.

The other side of the coin, though, has been the cost of increasing exhaustion, as a small core of highly capable ministers in a shallow talent pool, manage the burden of recession within limited authority and carry some colleagues whose abilities are more erratic and, on occasion, damagingly so.

The government has patently been tired, unable to refresh its vision, considerably less nimble than before and increasingly accident prone.

  • There have been errors of judgment – like persisting with the independence referendum regardless of national nervousness after the collapse of the banks. This was never the time to ask Scotland to take a punt on anything.
  • There have been errors of commission  – like funding the demonstrably incompetent Lord Sempill willy-nilly to ‘run’ The Gathering.
  • There have been weaknesses in internal discipline  – like, now, Housing Minster Alex Neil selling his taxpayer-funded second home before the coming rule change – so that he can pocket the £100,000 profit we’ve made him).

Largely strong in government as it has been, these things have done the SNP harm – and waiting in the wings is the electoral pyromania that is the Gourock-Dunoon ferry provision.

The party itself will struggle to retain its current standing at the next election, It cannot afford to play anything other than the strongest card it has in seats newly taken in 2007, as was Argyll.

Kathleen and Michael Russell canvassing

What shape is Argyll in?

Argyll has got used to a political life operating at a very much higher level of commitment, activity, challenge, achievement, ambition, accessibility and participation than it had known.

This has given the area a new sense of itself and of what is possible; a growing self confidence; and an encouragingly marked willingness in many communities to act on the perception that no one will manage their road to sustainability as well as they will themselves.

The progression of serious, innovative and complex initiatives to use ‘community right to buy’ legislation to bring major local assets into community ownership in Argyll is clear evidence for this. Here is a development that will reward nurturing.

It is important to recognise that the introduction of this measure into the Land Reform Act (Scotland) of 2003 – and the act itself – has been the most radical and game-changing political action since devolution and is very much to the credit of the Labour-Lib Dem coalition under which it was enacted.

Argyll is simultaneously a rich and wonderful place and a fragile one. It has astonishingly rich natural resources to support an almost limitless spectrum of relevant lifestyle choices and of activity and wildlife tourism. It has a topography which makes the economies of centralisation impossible – although this creates stronger communities and more diverse and pronounced microcultures.

Nothing in Argyll is cheap or easy or stereotypical but everything in Argyll is distinctive.

In those tensions lie the challenges and the opportunities.

So is Michael Russell the right candidate for the SNP?



In the SNP selection contest?

Following Jim Mather, who has made his mark in and for Argyll in significant measure and who is held in widespread respect and affection, is likely to swamp any candidate with less political experience and with lesser skills in bringing together in common purpose those with conflicting and often mutually hostile perspectives.

The bar is a high one. Argyll has been taught to raise its expectations. It would be a retrograde step to retreat from having strenuous expectations.

The territory has been undermined by the current standing of the SNP government, as outlined above.

In the SNP’s interests, any capable analysis indicates that unless it can mount the most energetic possible campaign behind the most obviously able and proven candidate, it will not retain Jim Mather’s seat.

In different times, there would be a strong case for the seat becoming a political nursery for capable emerging players – who exist in Argyll at the moment. The SNP, like all of Scotland’s party groups, needs a much deeper and more extensive talent base.

But these are not those times. This will be a fight for survival and in such circumstances every party needs to send out its doughtiest, established champion.

Russell is a warrior. The description above fits him very comfortably.

And, later, in the contest for the seat?

The big question is how likely Argyll is to vote for, or settle for, less than it has at the moment?

Since 2007 Argyll has become accustomed to the unfamiliar position of being noticed, of being represented by a Government Minister whose brief and whose capabilities carried Argyll itself on his back into national and international consciousness. Argyll has warmed to and grown into being of some account, of potentially being a player.

Would it accept a retreat from this at a time when Scotland, like the rest of the UK, must pay hard for the social and financial dereliction inherited from the former Labour government – and must steer a precarious course through the economic shoals?

All the political parties who will contest Argyll will need to take this factor into account in their selection of candidates. Whichever party wins Argyll and Bute will need to give us a potential Minister. Argyll is on the move and nothing else will do. That’s the reality of the ambition we’ve been exhorted to develop.

This description, too, fits Michael Russell.

The photographs accompanying this article show:

  • top, Michael Russell in Canada, addressing a key business audience during Homecoming Scotland 2009
  • Cathleen and Michael Russell canvassing in the 2010 General Election campaign.
· · · · · · · · ·

Related Articles & Comments

  • There are at the moment three other candidates probably to chose from and I’m surprised you should seek to marginalise them in this way at this point.

    As a matter of information the SNP is now at a higher point in the opinion polls than it was at this point before the last Scottish Election and was in fact the only party to actually improve its position at the recent election so I would say that whoever is the SNP candidate is perfectly likely to do well and hold this seat.
    The latest reliable opinion poll (ComRes) has the SNP well in the lead nd the LibDem vote collapsed

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 27, 2010 10:27 pm Reply
    • For Dave McEwan Hill: This is an honest objective analysis in assessing the SNP’s position in Argyll as we see it. There will be other candidates, some we know and greatly respect but, in our opinion – and we’ve worked to give some indicative evidence for why we see it as we do – there is too much of a tide against the party at the moment, requiring a more experienced swimmer.

      We are aware that there is ‘form’ around Michael Russell in his relation with other figures in the party. We are also aware that it may be hard for some members of the party at all levels to set this aside – whatever were its ins and outs – but just as there is no smoke without fire, there is no fire without kindling.

      Argyll may be a test of the SNP’s maturity – its ability to recognise the reality of a situation and to play the right card for the game in hand, regardless of old wrongs and resentments.

      Argyll has had the best possible representative in Jim Mather, a man of real ability, integrity, curiosity and generosity of spirit. There have been differences between these two men in the past. The irony – and it would probably be just that – may be that only Mr Russell can retain Mr Mather’s seat for their party.

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      newsroom June 27, 2010 11:21 pm Reply
  • Hello, for Argyll. Nice to meet you.
    SNP has no chance of holding Argyll. They only won it because the LibDems made a mess of the Dunoon Ferry and the SNP has betrayed the voters on this issue since they won it.
    If the Tories make a comeback in Scotland it will probably start here in Argyll.
    The SNP also tried to bring forward a scheme to sell of Scotland’s forests. That got Michael Russell the sack as Forestry Minister so I can’t see him improving SNP prospects around here either.
    What is wrong with the seat Michael Russell holds at the moment?

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    kilmory125 June 27, 2010 10:57 pm Reply
    • For Kilmory 125: And nice to meet you too. We’re assuming that you are anticipating, as are most people, that when the Gourock-Dunoon ferry situation plays out, there will be another almighty row?

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      newsroom June 27, 2010 11:27 pm Reply
  • The SNP is very confident of holding Argyll and Bute with whatever candidate it selects and I fully expect a sensible solution to the Dunoon Ferry issue to be in place long before the election. Most voters in Scotland recognise that votes for the Scottish Parliament Election are different from votes for the UK election now and that the recent election has no bearing on how people will vote at next year Scottish Parliament Election.
    They voted LibDem in Argyll and Bute to prevent a Tory Government and saw the LibDems bringing in a Tory regime. So I’m not surprised that the LibDem vote is showing at around 12% again.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 27, 2010 11:25 pm Reply
  • I am sorry to have to point it out to you again – but the last two Opinion Polls in Scotland show the SNP in Scotland in a very strong position again. The latest one (ComRes, carried in the national press on Tuesday) has the SNP 10 points clear of Labour with the Tories and the LibDems at 14% and 12% respectively. The General Election was an aberration as Scots dropped all other considerations except finding the best way to stop a Tory Government. Significantly the SNP significantly improved its position in the seats it held which rather proves the point.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 27, 2010 11:32 pm Reply
  • Too old for this late night stuff. Jim Mather is a nice guy but his ministerial position has meant that he has not had the time to do justice to all the hundreds of little things about this constituency that a less elevated MSP would have done.
    Same thing happened to John McKay who became a minister when I was in my active days and lost Argyll because of it. That is why Alan Reid has done so well even though he appears very ordinary. He can concentrate on the concerns of the voters across this huge constituency because he hold no ministerial position.
    As I said I believe the SNP has no chance of holding Argyll, I am told the Ferry issue will not be solved and I know of SNP members who will resign after this.

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    kilmory125 June 27, 2010 11:45 pm Reply
  • Jim Mather is the hardest working political figure I have ever met and every body who comes to him gets the best of attention. His only weakness is that he doesn’t boast about the amount of work he does while Alan Reid , who does actually very little of consequence, boasts all the time. The SNP will hold Argyll and Bute next year.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 27, 2010 11:58 pm Reply
  • Sorry. I’ve been away for a few minutes enjoying myself on English football sites.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 28, 2010 12:43 am Reply
  • Dave:
    I wish I shared your optimism – but Kilmory I25 is right when he points out the electoral fallout which will come from the ferry issue – which will be considerable.
    It’s certainly curious that June is now nearly over and there is still no word on what, if anything, is happening.
    To balance this, however, is the potential damage to the LibDem vote arising from their unholy alliance with the Tories. It’s surely significant that Mr Reid, whose propaganda machine used to rival Doctor Goebbels both in its level of output and the laughably inaccurate quality of its content, has been running in a very low gear of late – even his weekly outpourings in the Dunoon Observer have dried up.
    Unlike Mr Reid, Mr Russell has a track record of responsibility, which should make him a good choice of candidate. In the interests of impartiality, however, it would make sense for the other candidates’ cvs and assets to receive a similar airing.

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    bill jardine June 28, 2010 11:05 am Reply
    • For Bill Jardine: Other candidates will certainly get focused coverage. We are aware of potential candidates who will be serious and worthwhile. We will be interested to analyse the strengths of their cases and invite them to keep us up to date on their intentions and the cases they will make.

      We have made a judgement call specific to the very particular circumstances which obtain and have shown the basis for that judgment. It does not mean that we undervalue other potential candidates. Politics is a horses-for-courses game and situation analysis starts with the course.

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      newsroom June 28, 2010 12:53 pm Reply
  • Having already pinned your colours to one candidate anything you do with other candidates is completely devalued.
    Some members I have talked to today resent what is supposed to be our internal process being conducted in the public press

    May I point out again that we effected a 27% increase in the Westminster vote for the SNP at the recent election and performed well ahead of the SNP national vote (except, as I pointed out, in the seats we already held). If we carry this forward we win Argyll and Bute next May with a very substantial majority and I am sure whatever candidate we chose will do exactly that.
    I don’t know where you get the doom scenario on which the whole of your analysis is built or the suggestion that there are serious stresses.
    Did you make this up yourselves or were you prompted?

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 28, 2010 8:36 pm Reply
    • For Dave McEwan Hill: First – we always cook our own stews. Second – the more open the process the most vote-worthy the outcome – and one assumes that tha’s the name of the game.

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      newsroom June 28, 2010 9:24 pm Reply
  • Back to normal then?
    It would be a strange day indeed if the SNP members weren’t fighting like weasels in a sack.

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    kilmory125 June 28, 2010 8:58 pm Reply
  • So you made it up!
    As SNP Constituency Organiser I don’t recognise the Argyll SNP you describe. I have no idea why you would make up stuff like this.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 28, 2010 10:14 pm Reply
  • The process of chosing a SNP candidate for Argyll and Bute is not an open process.
    We operate a OMOV system.
    Each member inj this constituency has a vote to chose the candidate and each candidate has the opportunity through HQ mailing of sending his or her election address to every member in the constituency. Each candidate can also visit members or attend branch meetings or branch hustings
    Candidates or their agents are not allowed to campaign through the public press.
    You are in the process of destroying our carefully designed and completely fair internal election process.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 28, 2010 10:24 pm Reply
  • For Dave McEwan Hill
    Aren’t you the SNP fanatic who recently predicted the nats would win Argyll & Bute Westminster seat ? when infact the snp came a poor fourth for the THIRD general election in a row !
    Nobody takes your views seriously , not even your fellow deeply riven nats .
    It is quite likely ,given the pathetic performance of the snp at holyrood that you will end up in FOURTH place inArgyll & Bute behind Labour , the Conservatives and the Libdems .

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    kintyre1 June 28, 2010 10:27 pm Reply
  • I think this is a pretty reasonable analysis from for Argyll. There is no question that this seat will be a real challenge for the SNP to hold. I do worry about David McEwan Hill’s complacency here. As a fellow Nat I was concerned about that complacency during the Westminster Election and was unfortunatly proven right. 27% increase from a low point in 2005 is nothing to shout about when you you finish 4th. He is wrong to say that whatever candidate can carry a substantial majority. Mike Mackenzie should have carried the momentum that Jim Mather had generated but failed miserably to do so. Although this is partly down to the candidate … I know Mike worked hard… it is also down to the National trend, the very ineffective Party Campaign and a very questionable local campaign for which as the Constituency organiser David McEwan Hill must take some if not a fair whack of the responsibility. Others too must take a look at themselves before selecting their candidate. Michael Russell has a huge profile and it will take someone of his stature to successfully defend this seat for the SNP. My own membership is with a branch outwith the Constituency so I am not sure if I will get a vote as I only live here part time due to work but the place is dear to me, I did help on the campaign here in 2007 to see that work undone would be a disaster. McKenzie has been rejected by voters twice, we cant risk a third time as it was this seat that won the Parliament the last time, we neet to hang onto it. The alternatives are unthinkable.

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    Oban Nat June 29, 2010 6:15 pm Reply
  • I must admit that I was stunned at the SNP candidate selected for the Westminister election and completely agree that this seat should not be treated as a political nursery for inexperienced wonnabees for either Holyrood or Westminster seats.

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    Lowry June 29, 2010 8:29 pm Reply
  • I never fail to be impressed by the level of debate on this website, which is generally well-informed. It does contain a strong SNP bias, but that’s simply because most of the participants are either members or supporters of the SNP.
    It’s a pity, therefore, that the main body of opposition comes from Kintyre, who labours under the delusion that insult is a substitute for debate.
    He has a short memory -if he regards the SNP performance at Holyrood as pathetic, just what yardstick does he use to measure the performance of its Labour/LibDem predecessors, not to mention the utterly useless George Lyon?
    It would be good to see some reasoned argument from the opponents of the SNP on this site; unfortunately Kintyre’s contributions are a long way short of that.

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    bill jardine June 29, 2010 10:20 pm Reply
  • As I have not expressed support for any of the candidates in any of this I think we can all recognise a collection of pretty crude put-up jobs in some of the comments above.

    The fact of the matter is that For Argyll is trying to interfere in the internal selection procedures of the SNP in Argyll.
    Most candidates will decline to conduct an internal selection contest in the public media and I will do exactly the same.

    I could point out – again – that Argyll and Bute was one of the few seats in which there was an improvement in the SNP position at the last election, a fact which appears to have escaped Oban Nat – if such a person actually exists.
    Presumably he/she has a name but is to coy to use it.

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    David McEwan Hill June 29, 2010 10:22 pm Reply
  • That of course should read “too coy”

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    David McEwan Hill June 29, 2010 10:24 pm Reply
  • Some pretty evident vicious ill will in the SNP camp as usual.
    “Oban Nat”, who is doing his party no credit whatsoever, is on shaky grounds with his point about election defeats.
    How many first post the post victories has Michael Russell under his belt? Or, rather, how many first past the post defeats has he accumulated? Does this make him unfit to be candidate?

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    kilmory125 June 29, 2010 10:47 pm Reply
  • kilmory125

    I don’t believe Oban Nat is in fact an SNP member. No decent member would discuss the party’s affairs and attack other members in the public media. It is, of course, a disciplinary matter to do so. Matters such as the above are discussed at branch and CA meetings.

    As is the selection of candidates.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 29, 2010 10:55 pm Reply
  • I must agree – Oban Nat is certainly on shaky ground on the topic of election defeats. Mackenzie has been rejected three times by the voters – not two. He stood in 2003 and came 3rd out of three. He seems to have only recently joined the SNP – perhaps in a vain attempt to win by jumping on the popular bandwagon?

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    Lowry June 29, 2010 11:01 pm Reply
  • Michael Russell unfortunately suffers under 3 strikes in this contest, which he obviously wants to wage in the public media – against all the rules of the Party which are there to protect those candidates who do not yet have the access to that media.
    These are
    1. He stood against Jim Mather in 2007 on the campaign that he had more experience and commitment than Jim – he failed.
    2.He has an unfortunate history of disloyalty to the Party leadership, using the outside media rather than the Party forums to disagree with or attack that elected leadership.
    3. Similarly, as with the forestry question , and the criticism you obviously picked up from your talks with him -an undemocratic tendency to float his own brilliant ideas as if he represented a Party agreed policy – never being willing to put such ideas to debate and vote within the Party he wants to represent!

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    Gerry Fisher- ancient active loyal SNP yin June 30, 2010 1:39 am Reply
    • For Gerry Fisher: As analytical political agnostics, we have no insights into the internal events of any party -nor do we want to go there. Any and every political party is internally factional, as, largely, are even the best pf teams. It is in the nature of the individual to believe in their own perspectives.

      What separates the good from the bad from the ugly in team – or party – terms, is the capacity of all involved to raise their gaze to the panorama of public perception.

      From our analysis of the situation in Argyll and Bute, including events yet to be enacted – like the Dunoon-Gourock ferry contract – we have made a political judgment in this case and remain convinced of its accuracy.

      Whatever decision emerges from the SNP’s selection process, the issue for the party, as we see it, is: does it want to try to retain the Argyll and Bute seat?

      This is by no means certain, whoever is its candidate but, in our view, for the reasons we spelled out, Mr Russell is the only one who has a chance with the general electorate across the constituency.

      We’ll be publishing later today our overall scrutiny of the fight for the seat, as we see the likely picture of the election contest. Each one of the parties concerned has a very specific selection decision to make. We will be looking at what those are and what the consequences of the possible outcomes are likely to be.

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      newsroom June 30, 2010 9:02 am Reply
  • Far be it or me to assist the SNP in their deliberations but I am surprised that there is not a lot more high profile potential candidates for a seat the party presently holds.
    Do most of these possibles realise the SNP has no chance of holding this seat because of their betrayal of Dunoon on the ferry issue?
    Mr Russell indeed is a skilled self publicist. Whether this will be enough as he faces the autumn of turmoil and teachers strikes over his Curriculum for Excellence proposals I very much doubt. I see his latest stunt coming apart at the seams in today’s papers. A bit like his proposals to sell off Scotland’s forests which caused a huge anti SNP backlash in this area.
    If I were to pin my colours to the mast I would call myself an “ancient active Loyal Tory yin” with a grudging admiration for Jim Mather and indeed a degree of a satisfaction with some of the impulses of the SNP in our wee Parliament.
    I actually had Mike MacKenzie at my door on a very wet Saturday morning a few moths ago and a very serious and sensible young man he seemed to be (apart from the Independence bit). I should record that I saw neither hide nor hair of any Tory, Liberal or Labourite.
    But I have to say I am deeply repulsed by some of the fairly nasty remarks from some purporting to be SNP members on this topic.

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    kilmory125 June 30, 2010 10:33 am Reply
  • I think I have said enough on this topic. I hope For Argyll shows a better balance in future.
    If I had a suspicious mind I would wonder if the article that intoduced this topic was written to damage the SNP.
    Surely not.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 30, 2010 12:08 pm Reply
  • I am puzzled by the comment above from Lowry. Mike Mackenzie stood for the council at the last local elections as his first foray into political elections and missed election by a handful of votes and then he stood at the recent Westminster election. That’s all.

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 30, 2010 3:14 pm Reply
  • I’ve looked it up and as far as I can see Mr Russell has lost at least three FPTP elections and has been in Parliament on two occasions only because of a high position on the SNP regional list. In a intervening period he dropped down the list and failed to get into Parliament so I’m not sure that this makes him the big hitter the article would like us to believe. I’m sure however he would be more certain of re-appearing in the next Parliament from that safer platform than on a very dodgy ticket in Argyll and Bute.
    We may be in a different political landscape come next year’s election so it is hard to know how things will pan out but I would say that the fall in the Liberal vote which is going on now is very good news for the Tories who have started well with their attitude of respect to the Scottish Parliament. Where this puts the SNP is anybody’s guess but another Minister with a huge,demanding and perhaps very troublesome brief is not neccesarily in the best interests of the folk of Argyll and Bute.

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    kilmory125 June 30, 2010 5:57 pm Reply
  • For Bill Jardine
    How ridiculous for you to accuse me of using “insult” when in the same piece you call George Lyon “utterly useless “

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    kintyre1 June 30, 2010 7:32 pm Reply
  • Golly. How else would describe George Lyon?

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    Dave McEwan Hill June 30, 2010 8:20 pm Reply
  • I think we have an embarrassment of riches in the candidates that are coming forward to seek the nomination. At the end of the day all without exception are good people, committed to their Country, and their County, all of them voluntarily commit many hours to the Party cause. All the Candidates deserve at least some respect for putting their heads above the parapet, which is a big decision to take. I read some of the above comments with more than a degree of discomfort and some embarrassment for those who have written them. I hope that as the internal process develops that those with an allegience will dwell on the postive merits of their chosen favoutite and avoid trying to diss and find fault in the others. People are tired of that type of Politics and it would be fantastic to make our selection on a positive and respectful basis and refreshing to take that forward into the campaign on the same principle.

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    Ron Simon June 30, 2010 9:08 pm Reply
  • As a Unionist , I take heart from the knowledge that the SNP , locally and nationally are riven by policy and personality differences .Any party on a downward spiral turns on itself and the SNP are masters at self destruction . Whether the candidate is an agnes samuel , isobel strong , mike mackenzie , a mccormick or a russell is of little consequense to most of the electorate .
    While the SNP fight out their differences in public , their rivals will quietly get on with the job of selecting candidates to represent the constituency and it’s many pressing issues . Separation is as irelevant as ever .

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    kintyre1 July 1, 2010 1:21 pm Reply
  • Agreed – but Mr MacKenzie didn’t stand for the SNP at that election.

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    Dave McEwan Hill July 1, 2010 3:57 pm Reply
  • kintyre1 (The one with the upper case letters this time)

    You describe any political party or, in fact, any human organisation.
    The only political parties that don’t have robust and vigorous disagreements are those which don’t have any political principles. LibDems, for instance, though it could be argued they have many very often contradictory political principles which they deploy to suit.

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    Dave McEwan Hill July 1, 2010 4:04 pm Reply
  • Oban Nat stated that Mackenzie had been rejected twice – he did not mention SNP.

    Dave McEwan Hill stated:

    “I am puzzled by the comment above from Lowry. Mike Mackenzie stood for the council at the last local elections as his first foray into political elections…”

    Again, no mention of SNP.

    I simply corrected those statments.

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    Lowry July 1, 2010 4:56 pm Reply
  • For once Kintyre2 has made a valid point – the high profile disputes that have plagued the SNP locally for years, and which do little to enhance its image.
    Dave Hill, however makes an equally valid point in terms of the LibDems – it will be interesting to see how many more principles are thrown on the bonfire of expediency in order to retain their tenuous grip on power.
    Kilmory125 comments: “Do most of these possibles realise the SNP has no chance of holding this seat because of their betrayal of Dunoon on the ferry issue?”
    Absolutely right, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that this betrayal started with the Tories back in 1982 and has continued under all the parties since then.
    Alan Reid has had huge swathes of text in the letters page of the Dunoon Observer slating the SNP for ‘breaking their promises’ on this issue – conveniently forgetting the promises broken by LibDem transport ministers at Holyrood.
    That doesn’t excuse the SNP on this. The silence from the Transport Minister has been deafening, and it’s surely valid to ask why a politician of such minimal talent retains a ministerial brief.
    Kintyre2 also accuses me of insulting George Lyon by calling him ‘utterly useless’.
    The point I was making, and I am sure Kintyre understood it perfectly, referred to his own habit of insulting other posters, which does nothing to raise the level of debate.
    As for George Lyon being useless, he was – and that’s not just my opinion, it was also the judgement of the electorate.
    The fact that as a failed MSP he was regarded as the best the LibDems could send to Europe says it all, does it not?

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    bill jardine July 1, 2010 6:10 pm Reply
    • For Bill Jardine: Good not to be a lone voice in drawing attention to the serious weakness of Stewart Stevenson, especially in a job as central to Scotland as transport.

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      newsroom July 2, 2010 10:29 pm Reply
  • A very interesting selection of views to stumble into. Who said thats enough of politics for a while after the General Election?

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    Willie McEwan July 1, 2010 6:25 pm Reply
  • Come home, Bill Jardine. The local press needs you.

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    Dave McEwan Hill July 1, 2010 6:28 pm Reply
  • Thanks, Dave, but no thanks – I’ve got two dogs, an infant tomato plant and a wife to look after.
    Not necessarily, I hasten to add, in that order…..

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    bill jardine July 2, 2010 9:21 am Reply
  • I think that all that has to be said on this subject has been sensibly said.
    As a matter of information the SNP never at any point suggested selling all or any of Scotland’s forests. An option to lease ( ie rent out at a price) some mature forest to commercial operators for felling etc which would have provided much needed finance to the Forestry Commission for expansion of the forestry estate was one of the options in consultation exercise about the future of our forest estate.
    It was Alan Reid and George Lyon who typified this as “selling our forests”.
    I have no idea why this idea and other options weren’t properly explained to the public.

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    Dave McEwan Hill July 2, 2010 4:20 pm Reply
  • Having reread all of the above – to today’s date, I would only wish to apologise to the Party members for taking part in a media scramble in an internal Party election. It broke the Party’s code of Conduct, but I have to say that it was provoked by the far greater breach, that of the Party’s code of conduct for prospective candidates – which states explicitly that any candidate in such a situation must refuse to contribute to press speculation unless he, or she, is guaranteed that equivalent coverage is going to be given to all the other candidates. Only one of the four candidates has breached that rule, and he knows it! Our Election committee should note and take action.
    As for the idea that the SNP is alone, or even prominent, in having disputes within itself – anyone who wants to suggest that at the same time as having any credibility is flying in the face of truth and reason.

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    Gerry Fisher- ancient active loyal SNP yin July 6, 2010 2:02 am Reply
  • I’ve read the various comments about the SNP selection process and have a couple of points to make in response. I’m not a member, but have been impressed with SNP government in comparison with the New Labour efforts. Firstly, I think For Argyll should be congratulated for bringing the selection process to the public attention. No where else would it get such publicity and I would imagine any political party would be pleased for public airing which might then lead to increased membership.
    I’m more impressed with the positive campaign of Michael Russell. He doesn’t need to knock down the other candidate to prove his worth and I think that’s a position which should be copied nationally. I’m not convinced about the call for independence, but if I were to be convinced it would be through arguments which highlight our strengths as a nation, not hatred of the English. Vote positive, not negative!

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    JingsTaeHang! July 25, 2010 10:21 pm Reply
  • As current convener of Dumfriesshire SNP constituency branch, we were disappointed when we learned that Michael Russell would no longer be contesting the Dumfriesshire seat for us in next year’s parliamentary election. We understand why he took the decision to allow his name to go forward in Argyll and Bute. I have enjoyed working with Michael while he was our PPC for Dumfriesshire and feel that he has been a tremendous asset for the region. He will be missed.

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    Alastair Witts August 2, 2010 1:37 pm Reply
  • I hope you people in Argyll and Bute realise the talent Mike offers. During his time in Dumfries he raised the party profile as no one has in the past. Unfortunately we have been left with a poor candidate for the next Scottish election.

    Please work hard for Mike. I was instrumental in getting him to stand in Dumfries and I am sure if I had the same energy he would have stood here again.

    Jim Mair ex Dunoon

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    Jim Mair August 10, 2010 8:57 pm Reply
  • Dave Hill has a lot say for himself given that he has acheived nothing politically.

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    Jim Mair August 11, 2010 5:35 pm Reply
  • I would disagree with Jim Mair’s comments about Dave Hill. While he may not have won an election as a candidate, his contribution to the election of others has been immense. I hope he continues to achieve as much in the future as he has up until now.


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    Andy August 12, 2010 11:26 pm Reply
  • I totally agreed with Andy.
    Having worked alone side David Hill at the recent Westminster election I have seen first hand the huge amount of work he got through on behalf of Mike Mackenzie. He has been mainly responsible for raising the profile and hence the share of the vote for the SNP in Argyll and Bute.
    Dave has now stood down has CA Organiser to work on another project and I suspect this will be a sad loss to the SNP cause in Argyl and Bute.

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    Mark McCormack August 14, 2010 1:31 pm Reply
  • Russell appears a bit tired and jaded, and none too confident about retaining the seat. A bit of freshness needed here in the form of Mike MacKenzie, or tmore so the increasingly popular and commendably measured Councillor McCuish, Oban, who handles puching above his weight with considerable and notable ease. It would be a natural step for this tireless worker who puts his electorate first.

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    phill October 18, 2010 1:05 pm Reply

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