Lax Liddell lets in the SNP

25th September 1998 at 01:00
"Labour provides platform for SNP." Surely not, but possibly so. The annual conference of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council in November was to have been graced by the presence of the Education Minister.

At least it was when Brian Wilson accepted the invitation. Helen Liddell, his successor, is not quite such a fan of cramming her diary. With two months to go, she left the organisers with a headache by deciding to pull out - presumably having no announcements at the time which demanded a platform.

The parent leaders, as they do, moved quickly. And who should gleefully step into the shoes of the Scottish Office's official Nat-basher in chief? None other than Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP's education spokesperson and (like Liddell) her party's publicity chief.

This is not the first time the SPTC has been troubled by an absentee minister. Raymond Robertson was asked to bring his message to the Conservatives' favourite constituency in 1996. As was his way Robertson declined, though at least he left plenty of time to find a substitute.

Who should step into that breach but Helen Liddell, then Labour's shadow education spokesperson? And which party happened to win the election the following year, catapulting Liddell into government? Truly a lesson for us all.

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