Peerage pulls Purvis back into politics

Sunday 4 August 2013, Galashiels, UK''Jeremy Purvis awarded a Peerage'''(Photo Credit: � Rob Gray)
Sunday 4 August 2013, Galashiels, UK''Jeremy Purvis awarded a Peerage'''(Photo Credit: � Rob Gray)

In accepting a seat in the House of Lords, Jeremy Purvis knows he will be open to accusations of hypocrisy.

The former Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP has seen his Liberal Democrat party campaign for a reduction in the size of the House and an introduction of elections for members, only for the bill to be abandoned last year.

It leaves the Lib-Dems in the awkward position of putting forward names in a system it thinks is flawed.

But Mr Purvis believes his appointment as a working peer - which will also see him advise Scottish Lib-Dem leader Willie Rennie – can benefit the Borders.

He said: “Nick Clegg asked me if I would consider it (peerage) as part of getting more engaged in politics again.

“I have to confess it was not something I had in any way thought about.

“When Nick spoke to me we had a discussion because he had an attempt to reform the Lords and that was blocked.

“But it is here and he said ‘As long as we have it, would you want to do it’. I want to make sure that I play a role.

“I am conscious I will not have a day-to-day involvement in the Scottish Parliament, but if I can be an ambassador or speak up for the Borders as a whole, then I will relish that.

“It will effectively be back to being in a front line political role so therefore it is an honour.”

Mr Purvis’ peerage has received a mixed response. While colleagues and members of the Borders festivals and common ridings poked fun at his new role by calling him ‘Lord’ at Lauder Common Riding on Saturday, abuse has also been directed his way via social media.

But the 39-year-old admits he has missed the political life which ended for him in 2011 with defeat to Christine Grahame for the newly created Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale seat.

The Galashiels resident added: “I didn’t miss the day-to-day nastiness.

“Part of the reaction to the announcement was reading that (nastiness) again on Twitter from people who do not have the guts to say that stuff to your face.

“It has been frustrating when I still have views, but what I said at the count in 2011 was that I chose not to be on the list. I wanted to be a constituency MSP.

“I said I would not be making comments from the sidelines and I have kept that promise.”

In the two years he has been away, Mr Purvis says he has noticed more centralisation in Scotland, a concern he has for the future.

He told The Southern: “I fear we could lose more from this area.”