Willie Rennie apologises for ‘unintentional offence’ of Lib Dems’ Alex Salmond cartoon

Some embarrassment for Willie Rennie, MSP and leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, this week following the publication by party staff of a cartoon satirising First Minister Alex Salmond’s hailing of the similarities between Scotland and Qatar:

The Stv website takes up the story:

The image, made by Liberal Democrat staff, came after Mr Salmond had hailed similarities between Scotland and Qatar during a five-day trip to the Middle East on Monday.

The cartoon, which depicted Mr Salmond in Arab dress holding a camel, had been criticised on Twitter and Facebook after it was put online on Monday.

It mentioned the death penalty and gay rights and was made while Mr Rennie, the MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, was on a day off.

On Tuesday, he issued an apology over the image. He said: “I apologise for the offence that has been clearly caused by our cartoon on the First Minister’s remarks in Qatar.

“Although I did not approve its publication I accept responsibility for it.

“It has been interpreted in ways that were not intended. It has now been withdrawn. I apologise.”

Willie quickly responded via Twitter, and the cartoon was withdrawn by the party.

A frustrating day for the Scottish Lib Dems, as the point the cartoon makes — slamming Mr Salmond’s bizarre remarks — was lost amidst the controversy about the image used to illustrate it. It also distracted attention from the party’s substantive steps to set up a home rule commission headed by Ming Campbell, the former party leader.

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This entry was posted in Scotland.


  • A sad victory for SNP astroturfers it seems.

  • This poster is indicative of the decline of the Lib-Dems.

    I mean, what on earth was Rennie hoping to achieve with this? It just makes the party look utterly ridiculous.

    Since it was on his personal facebook page, I assume he approved it.

  • It’s just inept. It makes it look as though the Lib Dems are accusing Scotland of having an absolute monarchy and so on. If they wanted to do something like this they should have made it clear they were pointing to a contrast with these features of Qatari society.

    But as Geoffrey says, it’s desperate stuff – what politician doesn’t say at least some polite things about his hosts when on an overseas visit?

  • David Pollard 3rd Nov '11 - 8:46pm

    Goodness me. This cartoon is funny and punchy. Willie should have told Salmon that if he can’t stand the heat he should get out of the kitchen. Saying that Scotland and Qatar share remarkable similarities was an open goal.

  • Why have you cut off the bottom part that says “Mr. Salmond’s ‘independent’ Scotland?” It’s what is implied there that I think is most offensive about this.

  • @ Liberal Neil
    After reading your and other comments regarding the offence made, sorry to say but Willie Rennie and Iain Gray both made more fuss into getting a public enquiry where Wille Rennie made a point on his facebook saying
    “The First Minister was caught red-handed today attempting to nobble an academic (the academic was criticising his referendum plans) and then misleading parliament. He apologises with a smile on his face. Some apology.”
    I have spoke with Willie regarding this issue aswell as other negative politics he is starting to replicate from tory and labour tactics and advised then that attempting to smear and push publicity is not really worth any merit especially that it wasnt far from the professors comments and apologised at the earliest point.
    I also reflected on the fact that longannet being pulled but a London mall was worth more merit due to the coalition was to me a bigger issue especially the fact this was within his dunfermline west constituency being effected losing thousands of jobs.
    I then pointed out to a more appropriate case of misleading regarding a certain female labour candidate of whom is pushing to be leader on wikipedia shows that she actually did mislead the chamber and as yet not apologised and why he is not pursuing this in the chamber if he has such an interest in misleading cases, his response is he said to me “it’s probably best to ask Iain Gray about that. Keeping tabs on Alex Salmond is probably enough for me :)”
    Willie feels about Alex Salmond before this article “Since I enetered the Scottish Parliament in May I have become increasingly concerned by the intimidation and politicisation of the ciovil services, charities and business. i think his behaviour is not acceptable. That’s why I stood up to him this week.”
    Now I attempred prior for him to at least show some more respect, but now when his party looks disgraced he’s looking for an innocent pass and i feel this to be a tad hypocritical and suits only when the tables are turned.
    Now SNP view in The Sun newspaper
    “Last night leader Mr Rennie said the poster had been removed. He added: “I apologise for the offence clearly caused by our cartoon on the First Minister’s remarks in Qatar. Although I did not approve its publication I accept responsibility for it. It has been interpreted in ways that were not intended.
    “An SNP spokesman said: “We are aware Willie Rennie has taken responsibility for this and has apologised. We prefer to say nothing further.”
    The courier said
    “A spokeswoman for the SNP said: ”We note that Mr Rennie has withdrawn the image and consider the matter closed.”
    Now looking at both sides having only spoken to Wille Rennie personally I would have to say that despite Willie claiming of bullying tactics and smearing that the SNP are holding higher ground here at present, disregarding Willie Rennie as representing Lib Dems I do know he has worked very hard in his constituency but feel that the union and the Lib Dems antics in the coalition and at HQ i can clearly see what is holding him back from making Scotland better, I have expressed my view that the trem socialist representing SNP and Liberalist together can be used in a positive manner to make a better democracy, but I feel that the Liberal view has been tarnished in anti independence precampaigning using A class negative politics. I feel that a future for Lib Dems could lie with the SNP’s vision as it shares some liberal views without the negatives bein started. But heh I’ll let the Lib Dems sqaunder on how they pretend to care on the term of liberalism.
    Who knows maybe some Lib Dem MSP’s could see some sense in the above, although i am referring on just a few cases that could be open to debate. But think about it independent scotland would mean more Lib Dem MSP’s in an independant country aswell as being able to have more control over what happens in Scotland without Westminster blocking employment opportunities like longannet.

  • David Evans 4th Nov '11 - 7:59am

    Sorry Willie, a few people were organised to make a fuss and you caved in. You have actually made things worse. The reply “This is a political cartoon (it would have been better if it was a cartoon, and not a picture) making a serious point. If Alex Salmond isn’t big enough to stand up and defend himself on this matter, it is not for me to tell him how to do so.”

  • “The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met His Excellency Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry of the State of Qatar. The Deputy Prime Minister and his counterpart discussed the deep cultural and economic partnership between the UK and Qatar, including our strategic relationship in the energy sector. This meeting signifies the importance the Government places on building close ties with Gulf partners.”


  • I’m sorry, I don’t understand where offence was meant to have been caused. Is Salmon offended that people don’t like these things about Qatar?

  • Tony Dawson 5th Nov '11 - 11:33am

    This apology tells you all you need to know about the way the Party in Scotland is heading. That silly question to the PM the other day confirms it.

  • Guys, don’t believe everything the Cybernats tell you. It was a clumsy cartoon, but you have to remember that the people responding to the cartoon generally believe that Salmond can walk on water, turn said water into wine, pull out a fish and feed the entire country while whistling “Flower of Scotland”.

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