Scotland politics

Scottish election: Lib Dem candidate quits party

Hugh O'Donnell
Hugh O'Donnell was the leading candidate on the Lib Dem's Central Scotland list

A top Liberal Democrat candidate for the Scottish elections has quit the party.

Hugh O'Donnell was the leading candidate in the party's Central Scotland list.

Mr O'Donnell said was unhappy with the direction of the party in Scotland and the UK Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

Mr O'Donnell, who served as a Central Scotland list MSP for four years, will now stand as an independent candidate in the region.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he criticised the party's Scottish leader, Tavish Scott, and said founding principles had been "subsumed" by a desire for position and power.

Mr O'Donnell claimed the leadership of the party in Scotland could no longer be regarded as either Liberal or Democratic.

He wrote: "Instead of fighting for the causes so many of us believe in, they devote their energy to quashing dissenting voices, views, people and policies."

Mr O'Donnell said he and his colleagues had been told not to air grievances about the Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

He continued: "Since that fateful day, I have watched helplessly from the sidelines as this government at Westminster has attacked every vulnerable group in Scotland, from carers to disabled students to migrants, with some of the most draconian policies I have ever seen in the name of cuts.

"Not a word of criticism from the party leadership in Scotland has been uttered - even though the contempt shown for Scotland and, indeed, the federal structure of the party knows no bounds."

Mr O'Donnell also complained the party at Holyrood had voted tactically instead of on principle over controversial subjects such as the SNP's proposed minimum price for alcohol - a policy which failed to win enough support to progress last year.

He added: "This is not the same party I joined, full of enthusiasm, all those years ago.

"I can no longer be party to the control freakery, the 'image is everything' attitude, and the dictatorial style of doing things.

"It is a party I no longer want to be part of and neither should other principled Liberals."

A Liberal Democrat spokeswoman announced Mr O'Donnell's departure on Saturday, adding: "We have accepted Hugh O'Donnell's resignation."

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