Unmasked: The “tall young man” in the Liberal Democrat office

The Guardian has a report today on Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to the SNP office in Edinburgh West – which just happens to be right next door to the Liberal Democrat campaign office on one of the busiest roads in Edinburgh.

SNP supporters from the city and beyond had come to greet Nicola after her excellent performance in the leaders’ debate on Thursday. Severin Carrell, the journalist who wrote the article, alluded to the contrast with the quietness of Mike Crockart’s campaign office where only four people were to be found and made a number of very flawed conclusions about the party’s prospects in Edinburgh West:

But now, to add to the Lib Dems’ discomfort, the SNP’s campaign headquarters is in the old Yes Scotland shop immediately next door to Crockart’s high street office.

And protected behind a privacy screen, four Lib Dem workers stoically continued working away on their campaign, as scores of raucous SNP supporters, their saltires, SNP placards and balloons above their heads, greeted Sturgeon’s arrival.

Crockart was away at a meeting. A tall young man in his subdued office seemed to shrug off the contrast. Were they flustered by the huge crowds outside? “Not really. We had it during the referendum. It’s fine. It’s democracy,” he said.

That unflappable young man is…..Edinburgh West’s fantastic organiser Tom Utting. He’s such a good organiser that all the party’s workers were exactly where they should be – out on the streets talking to voters. In addition, in another part of the constituency, a clerical operation was doing the traditional writing, labelling and stuffing operations.

Carrell said that Edinburgh West was a seat that we are “unlikely” to hold. Well, Edinburgh West rejected independence by a majority of almost 2:1. For the last five years, they have been represented by an MP who has worked tirelessly for local businesses and local facilities. He’s also been a strong voice for opportunities for young people and for civil liberties.

Just yesterday, a lifelong Labour supporter came to offer his support as he had been impressed by Mike. Twenty minutes later, he was out there knocking on doors canvassing for Mike. I’d say that his hard work locally and the very high No vote makes this a pretty likely Liberal Democrat hold. Local voters can be sure that they have an MP who does all he can to help local people and, crucially, helps local businesses create jobs and stands up for the poorest and most vulnerable.

Rumour has it, by the way, that one Gareth Epps had been out on the campaign trail in West, too.

Just as an aside, the article described Nicola as “poised, coiffed and grinning”. Why mention coiffed? How is that even relevant? It’s nothing compared to the real misogynistic bile that’s been flung at her in recent weeks, but it’s still symptomatic of that casual sexism that unconsciously seeps in to our language.


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

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  • Toby Fenwick 4th Apr '15 - 3:07pm

    Tom and his team were super impressive in West during the referendum campaign: focussed, organised and fun; and it showed canvassing, with strong respect and support for Mike even amongst those who were voting for independence. Hope to get up to help out Mike – he can and deserves to win.

  • Agree with Caron about the comments regarding Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance, casual sexism is alive and well it seems.
    think tbe reference to ‘grinning’ suspect too mind …

  • Hi Caron: to be fair if the boot was on the other foot with the Lib Dem office full and the SNP fairly empty, we would be saying much the same as the SNP. I would not worry about the newspapers with their falling readership, what are Guardians daily figures? They overrate themselves..

  • Surely the SNP opening the office nextdoor to ours is the most stupid idea ever. Apart from it looking crass, it’s a visual squeeze message

  • I agree about the misogyny regarding Nicola but I’m not sure that the word ‘coiffed’ is entirely sexist. I recall Michael Hesektine frequently being called ‘coiffed’ because of his blond locks.

  • Enlight_bystand 4th Apr '15 - 11:54pm

    @rob so much a visual squeeze that they’ve put it in the window!


  • Its casual sexism how? People make similar comments about pinstriped beer swilling Farage all the time. Clegg himself got elected at a time when presentation and packaging was elevated above all else.

  • Rev Simon Wilson 5th Apr '15 - 3:46pm

    Should Nicola Sturgeon be out campaigning In her official Scottish Government car?

  • I remember being impressed by Mike Crockart when he came to the Burns night held in Lynne Featherstones North London constituency couple years back. IF there is any justice, he will hold his seat 🙂

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