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Annabel Goldie to step down... and wins warm reviews from commentators

Commentary on Annabel Goldie's resignation (Tuesday morning, 10th May):

  • Popular "Bella" didn't stop Tory decline: "Quite simply, Annabel Goldie humanised the Scottish Conservatives. From the moment she took over from David McLetchie in late 2005 "Bella", as she was known, steadied the tartan Tory ship. She had form; shortly before the 1997 general election, Goldie had performed a similar role following the resignation of Sir Michael Hirst as party chairman. Yet hers is a mixed legacy. Although Goldie was undeniably popular, under her leadership, the strange death of unionist Scotland continued apace, shedding support at successive elections as the core Conservative vote died, didn't bother or defected." - David Torrance in The Scotsman
  • Goldie told Scotland uncomfortable truths: "Annabel – and she was always Annabel to colleagues and voters alike – told the public the truth. She said that students should make some contribution to the cost of their education – because higher education cannot be free, mass and high-quality. She said more choice for patients would produce better health care. And that diversity in schools and choice for parents and pupils would raise standards. She was right, but she was ignored. No one was listening. The Tory brand contaminated during the Eighties and the Nineties has still not recovered." - John McTernan for The Telegraph
  • Goldie failed to stop Alex Salmond: "She has many attractive qualities but political judgement is not one of them. She has been far too keen on trying to be liked than on bashing the main opponents of Unionism. But worst of all, she persuaded the Prime Minister that her way was the right way. She said she could control Alex Salmond and David Cameron, naively, believed her. Last Thursday Salmond got 69 seats, Goldie got 15. Some control." - Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph
  • She also failed to devise good policies: "Miss Goldie is a forthright and formidable Glaswegian spinster. David Cameron memorably described has as his “favourite Scottish Auntie,” but she was not the policy driven politician the Scottish Conservative Party needs to really take advantage of Labour’s problems." - Hamish MacDonell for The Spectator
  • We haven't heard the last of Goldie: “I would like to thank Annabel for her six years of leadership of the Scottish Conservative Party. She has done a great job and I pay tribute to the way she fought the campaign for the Scottish Parliament. Annabel will continue to be a formidable presence as an MSP, for when she speaks it isn’t just for the Scottish Conservatives but also for Scotland, and people sit up and listen. Although I’m saddened that she’s stepping down, she can be proud of the job she’s done and I wish her well for the future.” - David Cameron quoted in The Herald
  • Make her Presiding Officer... says Brian Monteith in The Scotsman

Matthew Barrett

Goldie Orange Jacket

A statement issued this afternoon said:

“The Scottish election result was seismic. Nobody, not even Alex Salmond, thought that the SNP would win an overall majority at Holyrood.

“I am of course disappointed that the Conservatives are returning to the Parliament with 2 fewer MSPs than last time, but I am heartened by the observations of many independent commentators that our result was, by comparison to the other opposition parties, credible.

“As a party I believe that we ran the right campaign. We focussed on trying to maximise our votes on the regional list. Unlike others, we had a narrative of common sense, telling it like it is, and a record of delivering for Scotland. But being the least worst was, in the end, not good enough.

“The next five years will bring big challenges for Scotland: the Independence Bill, reform of our public services, the top priority of the economy and jobs.

“For the SNP there are no longer any excuses. No longer can Alex Salmond say “I don’t have a majority” or “we didn’t know the financial situation”. There is no hiding place this time around when he breaks his election promises.

“For the opposition parties, we will all have to adjust to the new realities. It will be a test of our mettle and resolve to be an effective opposition. We must remember that although the SNP has a majority of seats, it did not win a majority of votes, and has a minority of support for independence.

“For me, and for my party, we will play our part. Now the election is over, the implementation of the 2011 Review into our structures can be completed. In particular I understand that the new leadership structures will be in place by the autumn.

“I am an enthusiastic backer of the new plans – including the call for the Party to have one overall leader in Scotland. It is likely that the first election under these new rules will take place later this year.

“I believe that the time has come for the torch to pass and I can confirm that I will not be a candidate. There are four years until the next UK General Election, and five years until the next Holyrood contest. I want my successor to have the maximum time for him or her to shape the Party and its policies and to lead the opposition at Holyrood.

“For the sake of clarity, I will remain as leader of the MSP group until my successor takes over, and I will of course remain as an MSP for the duration of the Parliament.

“It has been an enormous privilege to lead my party. Over the coming weeks, months and years I will fight with every ounce of my energy to support my party, my successor and my country.”


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