By Russel McPhate

I first joined the then Scottish Liberal Party, as a 17 year old, in 1983 and was active in student politics as well as my Constituency – Glasgow Hillhead. I moved to Shetland in 1987 to complete my Legal training and was active in the local party as well as Shetland Campaign against Douneray Expansion and Shetland’s anti-Poll Tax group – SCRAP. At the end of 1990 I arrived in Dunfermline and attended my first Dunfermline AGM in 1991 at which I was, in the best Liberal tradition, “volunteered”  to join the Committee! During the 90’s I held a number of positions on the Committee including Treasurer and while I was mainly an Agent at election times I had the honour of being the Party’s candidate for the 2001 general Election. After 2002 I took more of a back seat – mainly as my children were born in 2002 and 2004 – but over the last few years I have again been more of an active member and have returned to the Committee.

It has been as difficult, if not more difficult, a few years for Dunfermline Liberal Democrats as it has been for the party nationally. To go from having an MP, an MSP and 6 Councillors across 5 wards at the start of 2010 to having just 1 Councillor and losing our deposit at the 2015 General Election was extremely traumatic for the party and during the hard years it was only a small band of activists – and the prodigious leafletting of Tom and Beryl Leatherland ! – that kept us going. Fortunately, we have benefitted from the Lib Dem Fightback that started in 2015. Our membership has grown and is not too far off where we were in the 90’s. we have a whole new team of activists – including, but not limited to, Wendy Chamberlain, Lauren Jones and Bryn Jones – all of whom have worked very hard and were excellent candidates in the 2017 Council elections. We have a new Councillor, James Calder, who is already marking himself out as one to watch on Fife Council and who is a very able replacement for the excellent and long serving Tony Martin who did so much for Pitcorthie, and for us, over many years.

It has been busy – 2 General Elections, 2 Referendums, a Scottish Parliament election and a full set of Council elections in just under 3 years. There has been no time to draw breath or to take stock. We managed to increase our vote share between the 2015 and 2017 General Elections (unlike the party nationally) and we put up a very creditable fight in the 2017 Council elections. However, what that showed us is that it is not possible to overcome poor poll ratings nationally with a few weeks or months campaigning – no matter how good. We now have a period of a few years before the next Scottish parliament and Council elections and we have the time to grow our membership; engage with our Communities and build our profile. We cannot elect an MP, or even an MSP, without an upturn in the national fortunes but we can contribute to that upturn and improve our position and we absolutely can get more Liberal democrat Councillors elected by using that time wisely.

During the 90’s and into the naughties a similarly placed Dunfermline local party managed to pull itself up from 4th place in the Constituency to 2nd and into a position where Willie Rennie could win his famous By-election victory. We increased our membership and we also managed to increase our number of Councillors. We have the people and the energy to do it again and I look forward playing my part in that process.

By James Calder

After a busy 2017 we had our AGM at the Royal British Legion yesterday. This was my last meeting as Convenor, a role that I have enjoyed but have decided to step down from since being elected as a Councillor. The AGM was well attended, had plenty of positions filled and we were delighted to have Elizabeth Riches, who was a Fife Councillor for 25 years in the East Neuk and stood as candidate in North East Fife in this year’s General Election, as our speaker. She delivered an excellent and inspiring speech that was well-received and it was wonderful to have her come down to Dunfermline.

We had a bit of a change of committee and a number of new office bearers which I am pleased with. This includes Russel McPhate as our new Convenor, who will bring a wealth of experience to the role, with Bryn Jones taking on the Deputy Convenor which I am also very happy about due to his enthusiasm and new ideas that he will present. We also have Tom Leatherland carrying on the role of Treasurer, which he has been excellent in over the last few years. Jill Blair has taken over the role of Secretary, and I believe she will be great in that role. Aude Boubaker-Calder carries on as Membership Secretary with Lauren Jones continuing as Fundraising Secretary and I am sure they will both carry on their good work there. I have taken on the role of Campaign’s Secretary, which I hope to use my experience leading campaigns over the past few years into use. FInally I am delighted one of our new members, Emma Jones, is taking on Press Secretary, and I am sure she will do a great job.

We have both new and experienced ordinary members in the committee, including outgoing Deputy Convenor Wendy Chamberlain, outgoing Secretary Matthew Hall, who have both done superb jobs over the past couple of years and made my life as Convenor much easier. Joining them include Teresa Little, Joanna Cockburn, Tony Martin (who I am delighted is keeping his hand in despite his retirement as Councillor), Anne O’Brien, Beryl Leatherland and Joanna Cockburn.

I’d like to thank the previous year’s committee for their hard work, it has been a pleasure and I look forward to the coming year.

The AGM took place yesterday and we can report the following information:


New Committee

  • Convenor – James Calder
  • Deputy-Convenor – Wendy Chamberlain
  • Treasurer-Tom Leatherland
  • Secretary-Matthew Hall
  • Membership Secretary-Aude Boubaker
  • Ordinary Members: Tony Martin; Claire Chalmers; Anne O’Brien; Jim Burke; Russel McPhate



We would like to thank Peter Barrett for coming in to be our speaker for the AGM – he provided an excellent speech detailing his political experiences and our plans for next year’s election.


Thank you to all who participated – we will be posting more information about the new committee soon. There was a lively discussion and minutes will be sent out shortly.


Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

We are fortunate to have the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference taking place this Saturday at the Vine Venue in Dunfermline. We would encourage all Dunfermline Lib Dem members to take the opportunity to come along. You can find out more details at this link.


Dunfermline Liberal Democrat AGM

This year’s AGM has been announced to take place on the 12 November. We would encourage all local members to come along and help shape the direction of the Dunfermline Liberal Democrats. The AGM will help us decide on Office Bearers and Committee Members. If you want more information please contact myself at