Alex Cole-Hamilton’s day in the media – New hope, right now

Since his announcement of his leadership bid last night, Alex Cole-Hamilton has been on a bit of a media whirlwind.

He held a press call near the beach in Cramond:

BBC News highlights his interview on Good Morning Scotland:

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that he had first gone into politics because he believed the Scottish Parliament was failing young people “at the sharpest end of society”.

He added: “That was many, many years ago and it is dispiriting to see that Scotland is still no further forward. In fact, we’ve gone backwards on things like child poverty, hospital waiting times, on education and on drug deaths.

“In recent times we have been held back by a clash of nationalisms, by which I mean of course Scottish nationalism with the SNP but also British nationalism with Boris Johnson and the Brexiteers.

“People are crying out for an alternative to those extremes and I believe the Lib Dems can offer that.”

You can listen to that interview here from around 2 hours and 36 minutes in.

He used that phrase “new hope, right now.”  He’s a long time Star Wars fan – in fact, the first film, now “A New Hope” was released in the year he was born.

Holyrood magazine reports that he pretty much ruled out a formal coalition with the Scottish Conservatives:

But when asked whether he would ever approach the Scottish Conservatives for a deal, he said there was not “common ground enough for that sort of formal coalition to ever happen”.

He also accused Tory leader Douglas Ross of “toxic British nationalism”, which he claimed was “part of the problem” in Scotland.

He said: “When Douglas Ross, in the election, wrote to Willie Rennie, wrote to Anas, he said a ‘pan-unionist alliance’ – the subtext of that is, we have the subscribe to the Conservative view of what the union looks like.

“I passionately believe in Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom, but I don’t believe in the Conservative vision of what that should look like.”

In the Herald he was warmer about the idea of a coalition with Labour:

He said he did not “fear power”, adding: “In fact, I want Liberals to be in power, because without power you can’t change things effectively.”

He said: “I will try to find consensus with those people who share my values on a broad range of things.

“And it’s inevitable that if we are to see a change in government from the SNP, who have stagnated for 14 years in power, then we need to seek out a progressive alternative.

“And that might be coalition with Labour, but I’m not saying that that’s a given.

The Spectator is not the biggest fan of the Lib Dems, but Stephen Daisley at least describes Alex as “capable, fluent, energetic and not above a bit of partisan shin-kicking.”

The Record quotes him as ruling out participation in any sort of wildcat referendum on independence:

“They [voters] would not forgive us if we embarked on this vainglorious attempt to rig some kind of result in the same way that they did in the north of Spain.”

He emphasised Lib Dem success in getting mental health and childcare firmly at the top of the political agenda:

And it looks even more likely that Alex will become the next leader. Liam McArthur took to Twitter to wish him well – and also retweet his very cool video:

It’s been a strong first day of his leadership campaign. Watch this space in the weeks to come as he fleshes out his ideas. Expect to see some radical stuff…

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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7 Comments

  • Brad Barrows 28th Jul '21 - 11:05pm

    Interesting words from Alex Cole-Hamilton regarding the potential for coalition with the Conservatives…it will be interesting to see how this translates into local government where the Liberal Democrats are currently in 6 coalition administrations – 5 coalitions with the Conservatives, 1 with Labour, and never once with the SNP. Given the choice between the ‘competing nationalisms’, the Liberal Democrats always side with the British nationalists rather than the Scottish nationalists. And, in 5 councils, they appear perfectly able to find common ground with Tories.

  • Alex is right that we are (many of us) fed up with division. He’s quite right to say he’ll work with other parties where there’s common ground, as we have been doing for years. That doesn’t need to be in a formal coalition, and if we agree with any party on a particular issue, of course we’ll vote the same way! But it’s fair to stress how unlikely it is there will be a formal coalition involving the Conservatives.

    Coalitions under PR are inevitable, and if we believe in fair voting systems then we (as a nation) need to get over the idea that coalitions are a dirty word. Often the choice of who can form a coalition is restricted by who the voters have selected. All we can do is work to gain the trust of voters, then do our best to represent our values once in office.

    There’s a certain irony that the SNP gained a lot of goodwill (or avoided badwill) as a result of their minority government being forced into action by opposition MSPs. Does anyone really believe that Swinney would have U-turned over the exams fiasco without the serious threat of a vote of no confidence? Would Sturgeon have bothered to replace her minister responsible for Public Health (drug deaths) if opposition MSPs hadn’t called for a vote of no confidence?

    Brad – please don’t fall into trap of accepting the SNP’s attempt to label everyone against the division and poverty sought by Scottish Nationalists a “British Nationalist”. In particular, don’t forget that the SNP’s plan for Scexit in 2014 would have meant iScotland leaving the EU at the same time we left the UK. Even if they didn’t realise it at the time because they believed Salmond’s lies, very single person campaigning for Scottish independence in 2014 was simultaneously campaigning for Scotland to leave the EU.

  • Apologies for the double post, but I’d not seen your comment Martin before hitting the submit button.

    My understanding is that Ross was pulling a Corbyn. He wanted ‘unity’ between the opposition parties, but on his terms and under his lead.

    Even if he’d been less bullish about it, it would have been a disaster, which I suspect he knew. Set up as an offer unlikely to be accepted, knowing he could crow about being refused. Just as Corbyn’s Labour used our preference for an actual Government of National Unity to claim we were siding with the Tories, Ross used our preference for campaigning on our own policies and not insulting those with less strong views on the constitution, to claim we were soft on nationalism.

    But just as the Tories were able to use the threat of Corbyn’s Labour (and the SNP) to scare people into voting Tory, the SNP were able to use Ross/Johnson to scare people into voting SNP. The SNP and Tories have a weird symbiotic relationship going on, with each drawing strength from the other, and we need to find a way to break that.

  • Brad Barrows 29th Jul '21 - 9:51am

    @Fiona
    You will notice that it was Alex Cole-Hamilton who accused Tory Leader Douglas Ross of “toxic British nationalism”. All I did in my post was point out that when faced with the choice of working with ‘toxic British nationalists’ or Scottish nationalists in local government, the Liberal Democrats always choose the former.

  • Paul Barker 29th Jul '21 - 6:24pm

    Some fairly irrelevant comments here, Coalitions at Local Council level are about Local Politics, National Politics dont really come into it.
    On that Old Cliche that Fair Votes make Coalitions inevitable – Scotland rather disproves that surely ? In any case Parties always have the additional option of forming a Minority Government – more work of course but also more flexibility. A Labour Minority seems the most likely result of the next Westminster Election.

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