Motion of Condolence

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd September 2013.

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Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

Every morning on my way to my son’s school, I would meet J T Murphy out for his morning stroll. As an old Fife coal miner from deep working class roots in Lochore, J T was not someone one would imagine to be a natural Conservative supporter. However, he was a David McLetchie supporter. J T liked his straight talking and forensic style and, every single day, he would tell me how good David was. Such was David’s widespread appeal.

I, too, liked David. I only really got to know him as a fellow member of the Scotland Bill Committee. James Kelly, Richard Baker and I would work closely with David, tapping into his knowledge and understanding of the territory. Often, we would subconsciously—and physically—look to David at committee meetings when faced with an unexpectedly tricky issue, and I am sure that our collective sighs of relief were audible when he came up with an inspired response to a difficult question. Occasionally, however, he would say nothing, with a wicked glint in his eye. We would scrabble around and, panicking, attempt to conjure up some kind of answer that would pale into significance beside David’s own answer. Such was David’s sense of humour.

Earlier this year, we paid tribute to another pillar of this Parliament, Brian Adam, who was credited with helping to make minority government work for the first time in Holyrood when all had expected it to fail. David McLetchie deserves equal praise for his role in ensuring that it worked. As the business manager for the Conservatives, he was able to reach out and build relationships with others that ensured that the business could get done. That feat was even more remarkable because he had previously been in regular combat with the SNP as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives. Such were David’s versatility and intelligence.

David was a towering figure who changed the future for the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish politics. Such were David’s widespread appeal, his versatility and his intelligence. Such were David’s many talents that he helped to change Scotland. What will we do without David McLetchie?

J T Murphy passed away a couple of years ago. David never had the opportunity to meet J T down here, but I like to think that he will get to meet him up there and that they will have a drink and a laugh together.