Scottish Lib Dems plan breakthrough amidst SNP fallout as Nicola Sturgeon steps down
The Lib Dems are poised to take advantage of the "seismic change in Scottish politics" created by Nicola Sturgeon's resignation, the party's deputy leader has said.
In an exclusive interview with Holyrood, Wendy Chamberlain says her party is election-ready and the imminent departure of the SNP leader has changed the political landscape.
The North East Fife MP said: "We've got a really good background for what a target seat should look like in terms of activity.
"The obvious challenge for us is that there's not a national tide that picks us up, or if it does, it does so on a temporary basis. We need to have a very good ground operation. We do that very well in North East Fife, where we're out three times a week, every week.
"From a UK perspective, our target seats are largely where we are in second place to the Conservatives. In Scotland, the reality is that in every seat it's either an SNP incumbent or [the SNP] in second place."
On Sturgeon's resignation, she added: "There has been a seismic change in Scottish politics. What that means for the SNP is probably to be worked through."
In a wide-ranging interview published in the latest edition of Holyrood, which is out on Monday, ex-police officer Chamberlain says there are commonalities between Lib Dem and SNP politics - but the two remain far apart on the independence.
The MP, whose husband and best friends are SNP members, said: "There’s lots of stuff we agree on, it's just this one thing.
"Unless you're living in a completely sealed box, you're meeting people regularly who feel differently about the constitutional question than you do."
However, she said that fewer people now agree with Conservative policy, stating: "We might have a new prime minister, but the appointment of Lee Anderson to the party chair shows you fundamentally that that shift to the right the Conservative party has experienced is there to stay. As a result, they represent a diminishing amount of the population."
The comments come as the Lib Dems celebrate the election of Chamberlain's staffer, Fiona Bennett, to City of Edinburgh Council in a local byelection victory which makes them the second largest group in the local authority, behind the SNP and ahead of Labour.
And they come during the party's conference in Dundee, which is taking place as the SNP prepares to choose a successor to Sturgeon in a contest which has seen Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan criticise key Scottish Government policies.
Yesterday, leader Ed Davey asked delegates to "help me get rid of Tory and SNP MPs" and elect "fabulous" Lib Dems instead. He said: "The Scottish people deserve so much better than this awful SNP government, and the UK deserves so much better than this awful Conservative government.
"They're both out of touch and both out of ideas. It's time to get them both out of office."