Liberal Democrat leadership contender Sir Menzies Campbell yesterday rejected suggestions his Scottish background might be a handicap to his aim of winning more seats for the party across Britain.
Sir Menzies insisted he had "no problem with Britishness" and believed voters should have "no problem with Scottishness".
And he raised doubts about fellow-Scot Gordon Brown's idea of a Britishness Day to foster patriotism, warning it could spoil commemorations on Remembrance Sunday if held on that date.
Sir Menzies played down press reports that he had been in contact with Brown to seek "common ground" between the Lib Dems and Labour in the fight against David Cameron's Tories.
He regularly spoke to the Chancellor as they travelled between their neighbouring constituencies in Scotland, but "that doesn't mean to say we share the same views".
Sir Menzies said his main priorities as leader would be the environment and poverty, but that did not mean that he would take his party to the left.
The North East Fife MP's comments came as one of his rivals for the leadership, Westminster new boy Chris Huhne, said he was ready to consider working with the other major parties in the event of a hung Parliament after the election expected in 2009-10.
Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable was quoted in a Sunday newspaper as saying Brown had been building bridges with senior MPs in the party and was "quite open about finding common ground" in the battle against the Tories.
But Sir Menzies told BBC1's Sunday AM that his priority was "maximising votes and maximising seats" for the Lib Dems, rather than worrying about their positioning in relation to the other parties.
"Gordon Brown is my neighbour in Fife and we often travel up and down together," he said.
"Scotland is in many respects a political village. We all know each other, we all like each other. That doesn't mean to say we all share each other's views."
Asked would he take the Lib Dems to the left of Labour, Sir Menzies said: "Obviously, one has got to be willing to consider how the burden of taxation is going to be shared, but I don't think that it is left-wing to want to take people out of poverty."
Labour and the Tories were both offering a managerial approach to politics, while the Lib Dems had to "return to values", he added.
With Brown expected to lead Labour into the election, Mr Cameron could be the only English leader of a major party if Sir Menzies is named Lib Dem chief on March 2.
There was speculation on Saturday that the Chancellor's call to patriotism was a means of offsetting his Scottishness.
But Sir Menzies played down the significance of the issue: "I have no problem with Scottishness or Britishness.
"At Murrayfield I support Scotland, at The Oval I support England, in the Ryder Cup I support Europe. I've no difficulty with Britishness and I don't think the rest of Britain should have any difficulty with Scottishness either."
He sounded a note of caution over the proposed Britishness Day: "I don't have any problem about asserting Britishness. I would be concerned lest the enormous significance of Remembrance Day was in any way diminished."
The 64-year-old parliamentary veteran also rejected suggestions he was too old to be leader, insisting his experience would be an asset, and pointing to the presence of young rising stars like 40-year-old Edward Davey in his campaign team.
He firmly denied he had been behind the whispering campaign over former leader Charles Kennedy's problems with alcohol which led to his forced resignation last weekend.
Sir Menzies said Mr Kennedy would be welcomed back to the front benches once he had dealt with his difficulties with drink.