LibLink: Tavish Scott: Principles and warm wit with a highland accent

Shetland MSP, who started out his career, like Danny Alexander, as a party’s press officer back in the 80s. That involved working with a young Charles Kennedy and he writes about that experience in a tribute written for the Yorkshire Post:

On one such occasion the MPs joined a demonstration with students at Inverness College. Charles spoke and debated with the students and had them eating out of his hand. They laughed at his jokes and nodded at his serious observations. We then drove to Portree. The next day, on the three-hour drive back to the Highland capital, Charles gave me a political tour de force on the Highlands, nationalism and Britain. The lessons of that discussion stay with me to this day.

Fast forward to 1999 when Tavish was an MSP:

I phoned Charles Kennedy after Christmas in 1999. Would he come up to Shetland to speak at my constituency dinner before the Scottish elections? “Yes of course Tav,” he chortled. I arranged the usual politicians’ photocall. We visited a salmon farm the morning afterwards. Charles and I had gossiped into the small hours after the dinner, so a blast of Shetland air on the open deck of a salmon boat was just what we needed.

The salmon farmer talked fish farming, Shetland and then politics. Charles was in his element. The witty aside, a trenchant observation and a wonderful put down of some preposterous political position taken by another party. It was a memorable weekend.

You can read Tavish’s whole article here.

For another perspective, Robin Downie, the Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy who was Charles’ Vice-President at Glasgow University Union and his tutor for the philosophy part of his degree, wrote a letter to the Scotsman about his memories.

As a student official Charles was entitled to a sabbatical year but he refused this on the grounds that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money. He managed to fit in his academic studies with a challenging schedule of student union work and international debating. I cannot honestly say that all his essays were in on time, but if they weren’t handed in by Friday he would telephone and have them in by the following Wednesday
In the end, he was awarded a well deserved 2:1. He submitted a philosophy dissertation on Private and Political Morality for which the external examiner awarded him a first class mark. I wonder what Charles thought of the political morality of some of his recent political colleagues.

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