Goodbye Dave Thompson

Dave Thompson ended his nine years in Parliament with the passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, which he described as “the single most important bill” to be passed during his parliamentary career. To enhance the linguistic landscape of the debate, he brought to it a broader perspective, with a dash of poetic verve, by quoting Psalm 24:1, which says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”.

In his maiden speech, as the final MSP to be officially elected to Parliament in 2007, he told members, “I have dreamed of this since I was 16.” He then provided an example of the regional and linguistic colour that always serves to brighten up Official Reports by describing himself as a “Lossie loon” and noting that “Moravians dinna really see themselves as Highlanders”.

In 2008, he eventually got around to telling the full story of what happened to him on election night and recounted (an appropriate word, in the circumstances) his experience when he challenged the result of the Highlands regional list vote in a nailbiting electoral finale. He began his speech with a note of intrigue that promised a compelling tale. He said, “I had a somewhat interesting time at the Aquadome in Inverness on Friday 4 May 2007—a day that I will never forget”. When the results were announced at the Aquadome count, he was all at sea—he had noticed that the calculations were wrong, so he challenged the returning officer’s figures. Once the final tally was announced, and as Mr Thompson became the SNP’s 47th MSP, the Scottish National Party had gained a majority of one seat over the Labour Party and was able to form a Government.

“Little old me!”, he said as he reminisced in his final contribution in the chamber, which provided an opportunity for the Official Report to include a rare beast in the world of parliamentary reporting punctuation—an exclamation mark!

Mr Thompson continued as a regional list member until 2011, when he was elected again, this time to serve the people of the constituency of Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch. He is evidently proud of having represented his Highland constituents in the Scottish Parliament for the past nine years—and all because he had an eye for a wrong number. As he said, “I have never been quite so glad of my good Scottish grounding in mental arithmetic as I was that day”.

by Clare Maddox, Official Reporter

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