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Mike or Nicol? Jun 17

One of the benefits of being in a political party that isn’t the Tories is getting to vote in leadership elections.

Following the announcement from Jim Wallace MSP, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, that he’s to retire, there is an election for the new leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and this is the first time I’ve been able to vote in a LibDem leadership election.

There is some difference between the candidates – Mike Rumbles and Nicol Stephen – on their approach to working with other parties in government, although I suspect that in practice there is less difference on that issue than first appears. Much of the choice is less about policy than about who would be the best to lead the party into the 2007 elections: who provides the best advertisment for the Liberal Democrats to the voting public.

The good news is that both of the candidates have committed to ending the graduate endowment so that student grants would be funded from general taxation. Both talk about increasing the power’s of the Scottish Parliament and linking personal care payments for the elderly to inflation. Nicol’s manifesto, which I think has the edge, also devotes significant amount of text to the need to support and engage young people.

I posted my ballot paper this morning and the deadline is next Thursday so hopefully we’ll have a result not long afterwards.

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