Willie Rennie apologises for ‘unintentional offence’ of Lib Dems’ Alex Salmond cartoon

by Stephen Tall on November 3, 2011

Some embarrassment for Willie Rennie, MSP and leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, this week following the publication by party staff of a cartoon satirising First Minister Alex Salmond’s hailing of the similarities between Scotland and Qatar:

The Stv website takes up the story:

The image, made by Liberal Democrat staff, came after Mr Salmond had hailed similarities between Scotland and Qatar during a five-day trip to the Middle East on Monday.

The cartoon, which depicted Mr Salmond in Arab dress holding a camel, had been criticised on Twitter and Facebook after it was put online on Monday.

It mentioned the death penalty and gay rights and was made while Mr Rennie, the MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, was on a day off.

On Tuesday, he issued an apology over the image. He said: “I apologise for the offence that has been clearly caused by our cartoon on the First Minister’s remarks in Qatar.

“Although I did not approve its publication I accept responsibility for it.

“It has been interpreted in ways that were not intended. It has now been withdrawn. I apologise.”

Willie quickly responded via Twitter, and the cartoon was withdrawn by the party.

A frustrating day for the Scottish Lib Dems, as the point the cartoon makes — slamming Mr Salmond’s bizarre remarks — was lost amidst the controversy about the image used to illustrate it. It also distracted attention from the party’s substantive steps to set up a home rule commission headed by Ming Campbell, the former party leader.