I regret my involvement in the Salmond Enquiry says Alex Cole-Hamilton

Alex Cole-Hamilton is conducting his early interviews as leader with considerable skill.

There’s a lot of core messaging around the Lib Dems being the alternative to the clash of nationalisms, to the SNP ruining public services and how we offer new hope. We Lib Dems will get utterly sick of these things at some point but we aren’t the target audience. The rest of the public doesn’t hang off every word our leader utters like we do. Well, we don’t really but we pay more attention than most people.  By the time we have heard what he wants to say eleventy million times, it will just be starting to resonate with the voters.

So, he has got the knack of throwing in something new in every interview. It keeps us interested and gets noticed by the wider public.

In today’s interview, with Scotland on Sunday, he reflects on the Salmond Enquiry, on which he was the Lib Dem representative. This was the cross party committee set up to investigate the issues around the complaints process in the Scottish Government used when women complained about Alex Salmond’s behaviour towards them when he was First Minister. Our Alex says that he now regrets his participation.

It was high pressure. I mean, it took up so much oxygen, so much time. But also, I’d been supporting a complainer privately who approached me, and I could see what every twist and turn of it was doing to her.

“And I thought, well, that must be happening to all of the women at the heart of this. And you know, I think when you realise that you’re locked into this process, which is taking twists and turns and subject to massive media speculation and intrigue and you see privately the visceral human cost of that… it was just… it was awful.

He was unimpressed that Salmond had been re-elected leader of the Alba Party:

I think that’s the worst part of it. I mean, Alex Salmond is a man desperate to clear his reputation. I’m not sure that he deserves that opportunity, because irrespective of court judgements, and the rest of it, this is the man who has admitted some terrible, terrible behaviour and caused a lot of upset and heartache to women who deserve to be able to move on with their lives.

He was also hopeful about next year’s Council elections:

“I literally just got the job but I’m optimistic about growth, as well as gains in the elections.

“We won two council by elections in the Highlands outside of Holyrood constituencies that we hold, and did so emphatically, when nobody saw us coming. I don’t think that we’re out of this clash of nationalist voting yet and so it might take a bit of time, but I’m still ready to believe that we could do something quite extraordinary.

“The elections might just come a bit too soon, but I’m going to shoot for the moon on this.”

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  • Am glad to hear he regrets his part in the shambles enquiry – aka berating Nicola Sturgeon for not making an imperfect procedure into an excuse not to investigate allegations made against her former friend and boss. Think of that – 8 hours of partisan committee questioning over just that. Compare to Westminster and then wonder why independence must seem logical.

    As it is Alex could revive the SLDs but it would mean having to rediscover a truly liberal position on constitutional questions. But that means risking tory votes ….

  • One of the few advantages of advancing years is, hopefully, many of us retain a long memory. I well remember the Liberal Party Leadership contest to replace Jeremy Thorpe between David Steel MP and John Pardoe MP in July, 1976…….. the year before Mr Cole-Hamilton was born.

    In that contest, some of us can recall the then Mr Steel delivered a knockout blow to his ebullient rival John Pardoe by quoting from A.A. Milne on Tigger, the over exuberant cat, in Winnie the Pooh.

    “With one loud Worraworraworraworraworra he jumped at the end of the tablecloth, pulled it to the ground, wrapped himself up in it three times, rolled to the other end of the room, and, after a terrible struggle, got his head into the daylight again, and said cheerfully: ‘Have I won?'”

    Mr Cole-Hamilton might usefully add a volume of A.A. Milne to his bedside reading list. Saying ‘Sorry’ can become a habit.

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