Liberal Democrats in terminal decline under Willie Wonka Rennie

The decline of the Liberal-Democratic Party in Scotland

2007: In the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, the party won one fewer seat than in the two previous Scottish elections. The outcome led to criticism of the party’s election strategy. Although it was arithmetically possible to form a majority coalition with the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party, the party refused to participate in coalition negotiations because of a disagreement over the SNP’s policy of a referendum on Scottish independence. The Tories, stepped forward and agreed to support the SNP minority subject to agreement to implement a number of Tory Manifesto commitments.

2008: On 2 July 2008, Party Leader, Nicol Stephen was dumped. Former Deputy Leader Michael Moore MP served as acting leader of the party until the election of Tavish Scott MSP on 26 August 2008.

2011: In the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, the Party lost all its mainland constituencies, retaining only Orkney and Shetland. It was by far the party’s worst electoral performance since the re-establishment of the Scottish parliament in 1999. Tavish Scott was dumped. Willie Rennie was elected leader unopposed.

2014: In the 2014 European Parliament elections, under the leadership of Willie Rennie, the party lost its only MEP.

2015: In the 2015 general election, under the leadership of Willie Rennie, the party lost 10 of its 11 MPs with only Alistair Carmichael narrowly retaining Orkney and Shetland with a 3.6% majority.

2016: In the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, again under Willie Rennie’s leadership, the Party had 5 MSPs elected but was pushed into last place in Holyrood by the Scottish Greens. While it gained the 2 constituency seats of Edinburgh Western and North East Fife from the SNP, its vote share was further reduced.

The Decline is Terminal


1999: Share of seats: 13%

2003: Share of seats: 13%

2007: Share of seats: 13% 

2011: Share of seats: 4%

2016: Share of seats: 4%

The European Referendum outcome – The Scottish Lib-Dem Party public statement

In the early hours of the morning of June 24th, everything we understood about the UK’s relationship with the rest of Europe changed.

The European Union and our belief in its goals of peace and economic prosperity is an enormous part of what it is to be a Liberal Democrat. We are internationalist, co-operative, tolerant. And as that reality sank in we realised there was another consequence: What did this mean for our relationship with the rest of the UK?

And that is why Liberal Scotland in Europe has put forward a motion to this autumn’s Scottish Conference which aims to keep the party’s, and Scotland’s, options open. Other parties may only be about unionism or nationalism, but the Liberal Democrats are about more than that. Our policies are decided by the membership, and as a membership we need to live up to our radical traditions and take on the challenge of finding a creative way forward for Scotland.

We want to encourage our leadership to explore all possibilities, with all parties, to pursue the best possible outcome for Scotland. This period of political history may prove to be the most significant for our constitution in 300 of years. It is for the Scottish Liberal Democrats membership to decide what role the party will play and what route we will choose. But if we are to secure the best future for Scotland and the strongest relationship with both the UK and EU, we will need to leave no possibility unexplored.

Willie Rennie – should be replaced with a better leader – shouldn’t be that difficult

Previous leaders have stepped down or have been replaced while retaining the Party share of the vote at around 13%. Rennie took the Party to much lower levels achieving a vote share of about 4%.


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