End of an era as Matthew Clark leaves Holyrood

When I first arrived back in Scotland in 2000, Matthew Clark worked in the Lib Dem staff pool in the Scottish Parliament, then deputy to a certain Willie Rennie. He went on to serve as a senior special adviser in those happy days of the Lib Dem/Labour coalition. Out of Government, he became Chief of Staff to the Lib Dem Group, a role he’s held since 2007.

He actually started out as a very young councillor in Southampton and he and Willie first met at the Christchurch by-election where Willie was the campaign manager and Matthew had the job of developing the railway survey. In 1993 he became, at he age of just 25, chair of the Hampshire Police Authority.

I can’t quite believe that I’m about to go to his leaving do. He’s decided that he’s going to retire – and, after 6 Scottish Parliament elections, 2 referendums, and 6 General elections, all of which he’s had a major role in producing our manifestos and messages for, he certainly deserves a break.

I’m struggling to imagine how the party will cope without him. They say nobody’s indispensable, but he might well be the exception that proves the rule.  He knows pretty much everything there is to know about Scottish politics.

I just marvel at the way he brings so many disparate sources of information together and makes coherent messages out of them. He’s been a total powerhouse of policy, assisting on every major policy initiative and pulling together things like Menzies Campbell’s commission on Federalism, and its predecessor the Steel Commission back in the day.

As Sheila Ritchie says below, he is not shy about tearing a strip off you if he thinks you are wrong. He’s done that to me a couple of times when I’ve richly deserved it.

He is the most generous and hilarious person and an absolutely brilliant cook. Lentil and banana salad sounds like it should be all kinds of wrong. Not in his hands – absolutely delicious.

Actually now I’m wondering if he shouldn’t just go on Masterchef now he has the time.

Anyway, the whole Scottish Party is going to miss him heaps. He has, however, created a brilliant team in our pool. I did a fair few hustings during the Scottish election and the support I got from them was outstanding. I always felt confident and prepared.

Scottish Party Convener Sheila Ritchie had this to say about Matthew:

Matthew is my friend. He has a brain the size of a planet and has been the repository of the party’s institutional knowledge for decades.

He is kind, and firm, and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Being a fool, and certainly not in his intellectual league, there have been occasions when he has not suffered me.

But he has always been there for me, as Convenor, as candidate, as MEP, and for anyone in the Party who needed him.

We owe him a huge debt, which we probably can never repay.

The Scottish Lib Dems’ loss is the world’s of cricket, gin, orienteering, sailing and cooking’s gain. Good luck to Matthew in all he does. He will succeed, whatever he does.

 

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

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

This post has pre moderation enabled, please be patient whilst waiting for it to be manually reviewed. Liberal Democrat Voice is made up of volunteers who keep the site running in their free time.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Martin Gray
    @Russell... Those that have to visit a paypoint & purchase £10 electric/gas top up voucher for the pre paid meter - couldn't care less about Putin or Ukra...
  • Nonconformistradical
    @Chris Moore "What is your problem with foreigners? Are you a Little Englander? Or an autarkist?" I had to look 'autarkist' up - not a word I've ever come a...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    David I think you mistake my understanding something for supporting something. I understand the rail strike but do not think it the soution. I think to...
  • Nonconformistradical
    @Jim Webber "But we need efficient public services and the intransigence seen in the rail dispute seems to be in part due to the linking of productivity improv...
  • Jim Webber
    Well said Paul Barker. The squeeze on public sector wages (both actual and the result of financial pressures on out-sourced services) is driving so many of the ...