As we predicted, the Scottish Liberal Democrats in Argyll and Bute have chosen Mid Argyll Councillor Alison Hay as their candidate for the constituency in the Scottish Election 2011.
Councillor Hay was one of two contenders shortlisted for the candidacy, the other contender being Jean Davis from the Western Isles (and we’ll come to that issue below).
Hustings took place earlier this month in Tarbert and Oban. Members were balloted by post and the count took place today in Dunoon. Alison Hay was a clear winner taking 75.7% of the votes cast.
An Argyll & Bute Councillor since 1992, Alison lives in Minard with her husband and son.
She was Leader of the Council from 1999 until 2001 and is part of the Liberal Democrat Group in the Council. Her work with the Council has made her au fait with the problems and concerns of a large rural constituency with a mixture of remote island and urban communities.
Councillor Hay is Argyll and Bute Council’s delegate to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and is COSLA’s spokesperson for Environment, Regeneration & Sustainability. She also chairs an EU Working Group which brings together local authorities from around the EU.
Her party see Alison Hay as a strong candidate for the election, bringing together her local knowledge with the Liberal Democrat mantra of fairer taxation, a fairer future in jobs and the environment, and a fair chance for every child.
Speaking after the count Alison said ‘I am proud and privileged to have been selected to represent the Argyll & Bute Liberal Democrats in the forthcoming Holyrood elections next near.
‘I believe that more can be achieved by working with people than by imposition from above. Consensus is a powerful thing to fight for.
‘I’m aware that there are different challenges wherever you live in Argyll & Bute and I shall do my very utmost to fairly represent these differing interests at Holyrood’.
Candidate selection: the local versus the parachute
It’s good to see the Lib Dems staying with a local candidate. Argyll is distinguished by its choosing from and electing candidates living in or adjacent to the constituency. There is all the difference in the world between someone who just wants to be an MSP or an MP and someone who wants to represent their own constituency and who knows it intimately.
Constituencies in major cities, with their shifting populations may be a different matter, but rural constituencies are more organic and their candidates should be of the constituency – and first class.
So with no disrespect to Jean Davis of the Western Isles, it does the Lib Dems no credit that they should even have contemplated foisting an external candidate on Argyll.
Let’s hope Argyll continues to avoid the parachute brigade and that parties who select such candidates learn the hard way that this is not what Argyll wants. Politics is not Premier League football – a sharp example of why politics should not take that path. Affinity and fidelity matter in constituency politics.