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Back in the Fair City

At the last minute, I was able to get a connection to Edinburgh so that I could attend the Scottish Liberal Democrats conference in Perth. As always it is a pleasure to see so many old friends. However, this year it is sad to note the absence of Roy Thomson. For more conferences than I can remember, Roy and I have met up- usually at an internationally themed fringe event, and then gone on the put the world to rights over a meal. Roy represented that stolid decency that is the hallmark of the Scottish Liberals and of the North East of Scotland. Roy did so much to promote and improve his home city of Aberdeen, it is difficult to know where to start. A gentle and thoughtful man, he was also a determined and doughty fighter for the causes that he believed in. I find, as I write this, that I am lapsing into cliche, but Roy truly was one of a kind. I think I am not the only one looking over their shoulder and expecting to see him.

As for the conference, I think Roy would be pleased to see Nick Clegg speaking so well yesterday, and even happier to see the good heart that the party is in. There is the very real prospect of progress for the Scottish Liberal Democrats- particularly since, as usual, our political opponents underestimate the determination and resources that we bring to the fight. Speaking to Fred Mackintosh, the Scottish Liberal Democrat standard bearer in Edinburgh South, I learn just how patchy the Conservative so-called recovery is north of the border. The Tories have high hopes in Edinburgh, and yet there is little evidence that Scotland has forgiven them their incompetence and arrogance the last time that they were in office: indeed there is still a significant chance that they will lose the single seat they currently hold.

Now, into the conference chamber...


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