Scotland politics

Willie Rennie named new Scottish Lib Dem leader

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have appointed a new leader, Willie Rennie, in the wake of their disastrous Holyrood election result.

The party lost 11 seats on 5 May, leaving them with five MSPs, as voters punished the Lib Dems for their role in the UK coalition government.

But Mr Rennie denied the Scottish Lib Dems would have to distance themselves from the UK party.

The MSP pledged to stand up to the "bulldozer" SNP majority government.

Scottish Secretary and Lib Dem MP Michael Moore described Mr Rennie as a "first-class leader".

Mr Rennie, 43, who has been elected to Holyrood for the first time on the Mid Scotland and Fife list, was the only leadership candidate.

The former MP said his party's election performance was "bad", and promised a return to community politics.

But, denying there had to be a split with the UK Lib Dems, Mr Rennie said: "People were angry, frustrated and disappointed about the coalition at a UK level.

"It is vital that people understand what the coalition is about - for me, it is about stopping the Tories doing their worst."

On his strategy to rebuild the party, Mr Rennie said: "We need to reflect on the disappointment of the Scottish Parliament election results and move on and up.

"Scotland needs a strong liberal voice at all levels of government, and I am determined to see that strong liberal voice flourish."

Turning to his opponents, Mr Rennie added: "I will be working with my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament to stand up to the SNP bulldozer.

"We will not sit on our hands in the face of an SNP majority - we will be that Liberal voice standing up for the values that Scotland holds dear."

Mr Rennie replaces Shetland MSP Tavish Scott as leader, after he quit the post he had held since 2008.

The Lib Dems lost 25 deposits after failing to win 5% of the vote in some areas on election night.

Mr Moore said of the new leader: "Willie and I have worked together for many years.

"His energy, integrity and commitment make him the right person to lead our party in Scotland.

"As an experienced politician and a veteran campaigner he is ideally placed to promote our values in the new Scottish Parliament and throughout Scotland too."

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