Tag Archives: matthew clark

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.

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The most brilliant event of the EU Referendum

strip the willowI’ve found this EU Referendum really difficult. It’s been a horrible, nasty, divisive campaign with the most uncomfortable racist and nationalist overtones. I can’t remember which of our lot said it, but they were right that the dog whistle has become a foghorn. The thought that within 48 hours, our country might choose the path of isolationism and blaming of the others, believing a campaign based on lies  is not doing anything for my anxiety levels.

This afternoon, however, there was bright spot.

Outside the Scottish Parliament, the folk group Lau held a ceilidh flashmob to call for a Remain vote. I heard about it yesterday on Facebook and I was gutted that I couldn’t go. I asked Hannah Bettsworth, the awesome almost graduate, former co-President of Liberal Youth Scotland and occasional Liberal Democrat Voice contributor to go instead. She initially demurred, but curiosity eventually got the better of her.

The Strip the Willow is the most bonkers, potentially lethal Scottish ceilidh dance. It basically involves lots of spinning at great speed. There have been times I have thought I was going to end up on the next island while dancing it.  It’s fast and fun.

Here, Jamie Ross from Buzzfeed and Lib Dem Scottish Parliament supremo Matthew Clark show people how it’s done. Matthew is the one with the grey trousers and black jumper.

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