Eileen McCartin to become President of Scottish Liberal Democrats

Eileen McCartin has been a Councillor in Paisley, first for the SDP and then the Liberal Democrats for some 27 years. She and former MP for Argyll and Bute Alan Reid were Willie Rennie’s “political parents” as they were key influences on him when he was a student in Paisley. They helped him when he achieved a cracking 26% in a by-election in the Paisley Foxbar ward in 1988. Willie talked to the Scotsman about it here and you get a sense of how that campaign shaped his values:

After school he applied to Paisley College to study ecology and land management. Living in a flat which cost just 14 a month rent and rates – and had no hot water or heating of any kind – made Rennie more keenly aware of the divide between the haves and have-nots. “I had to wash at the old swimming baths in Storey Street.” he recalls.

I’d been interested in some political stuff at school. I used to get agitated about environmental issues and so on. But this was different.” He was elected deputy president of the Student Union, and took a year’s sabbatical from his course. “Don’t be silly, vote for Willie” was the never-to-be-repeated slogan. But when he returned to his studies he found that “cell biology just wasn’t the same.” So he stood for council election in Paisley Foxbar in 1988.

“The inequalities in housing and amenities were a real shock. I used to go into people’s houses in Foxbar, and I’d be horrified. There was mould growing on the walls, they were so damp. I remember one couple who lived at the top of a tenement in Foxbar. They couldn’t ever leave the house at the same time, or their neighbours would break in and strip the place. No-one should have to live like that.”

Rennie forced the Lib Dem vote share from zero to 26 per cent, and a politician was born.

In the recent Scottish elections, Eileen was elected President of the Party, succeeding Malcolm (now Lord) Bruce. She will take office on January 1st. It’s great to see the role go to a senior councillor. Eileen’s experience and common sense will be invaluable at a national level.

The Paisley Daily Express reported on her election last week – and illustrated it with a photo I took at our last Executive meeting of Eileen (right), Scottish Convener-elect Sheila Thomson and Party President Sal Brinton.

Sal, Sheila & Eileen from Paisley Daily Express

Scotland has at least managed to produce a majority of female office bearers with Sheila as Convener, Eileen as President, me as Treasurer, Isobel Davidson as Policy Convener  and Jenni Lang as Conference Convener. The individual committees aren’t particularly diverse at the moment but each individual committee convener has an obligation to consider diversity and has the right to make co-options accordingly.

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

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One Comment

  • What’s encouraging about the Scottish party elections is the real mix of experienced campaigners and new members who have been elected this time round. That in itself gives hope for the future.

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