Why Jo Swinson is the political equivalent of a 1970s British boxer – Kenny MacAskill

The new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, comes across as a lightweight, student politicians, says Kenny MacAskill.

Joe Bugner was good, able to beat Henry Cooper, but lost his 1975 title fight with Muhammad Ali (Picture: PA)

When I was growing up, the heavyweight champion of the world was a big thing. The fights were shown on terrestrial TV, boxers names were known to all and they were major celebrities. The champion was invariably American and the drive for a British contender was relentless. They came and they went but, until Lennox Lewis, the Brits always failed miserably.

Likewise, in politics the great contender to take on and slay the Nats is constantly sought. From Jim Murphy and other Labour challengers to Ruth Davidson and the Tories. And now it’s Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems. Into the ring they go but defeat is the constant outcome.

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There’s little fear in the SNP about the latest incarnation. Her margin of victory for the internal election was comfortable but her track record in office is weak. As Labour and Tory fragment, there is an opportunity for her south of the border though I sense other ways and even other parties may ultimately prevail.

But north of the border, it’s hard to see her making any significant headway. Her positioning now, as in the past, for success in England has steered her to the right. That comes at a cost in Scotland where her record will be ruthlessly exposed on issues such as austerity and propping up the Tories.

She comes across as a student politician, over-strident, insincere and lightweight. Ponderous and lacking punch, the SNP face challenges but it’s not from her. She’s as much chance of being PM as Joe Bugner had of beating Muhammad Ali.