Sunday, 30 May 2010

Michael Moore New Scottish Secretary

Scotland has a new Secretary of State in Michael Moore, after Danny Alexander was promoted to fill the shoes of David Laws. That must make Danny’s tenure as Governor of Scotland one of the shortest in history. So how does this fit in with the respect agenda for the Celtic fringe? Seems to be musical chairs at the Scotland Office and now we have to get used to a whole new SOS and clearly not the coalition’s first choice for the post. So we have to make do with second best again.

Moore, the Lib Dem MP for Berwickshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirk, was last night appointed Scottish Secretary, meaning that the former Tory shadow Scottish secretary David Mundell has once again been overlooked as Scotland's man in the Cabinet. Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, remains stuck as a junior minister in the Scotland Office, having been leapfrogged by Moore, who was plucked from relative obscurity. Mundell said of the promotion: "There are a fixed number of Lib Dem positions in the Cabinet, so it was always going to be that way. David and Michael are in neighbouring constituencies, so they will work well together."

David Cameron apparently led the tributes to David Laws after his hardly surprising resignations last night. Tributes? He was only Chief Secretary for three weeks and made one speech. Obviously no honeymoon for the coalition.

There seems to be a lot of sympathy about for Laws but at the end of the day he is a rich man, and if he had not wanted his sexuality to be revealed it might have been a good idea not to have lied about his renting a room. He could easily have done that by simply not claiming the rent back from the taxpayer. I think it is terrible that people feel the need to hide their sexuality in this way, but if you are going to be the custodian of public financial prudence perhaps it might be a good idea to check your own personal one first.


  1. Why is sexuality so important in this day and age? For goodness sake, all the talk about hiding is fantasy. Some gay writers have said they were terrified to upset their parents. Parents are tough and many, if they're not looking at their children through rose-tinted glasses, will know or at least suspect their child is gay.

    Then there's the excuse that 'coming out caused a split in my family'. Lots of things cause splits in families. Serious criminal behaviour, marrying the 'wrong' person, smashing up your father's car to name but three.

    I think this coming out business has been very overplayed. Yes, for mothers it means that child will not produce grandchildren (although we now have gay adoption so that's progress).

    It's time the gay lobby stopped this coming out or staying in language. In today's society gays are treated no differently to anyone else but with such talk it does seem as if they want or need to be 'special'.

    Such a shame a man of 40+ behaved in this manner. He'd have done far more for gays by just behaving normally and openly. Let others talk. It would have been only a nine-day wonder.

    Gay people have to realise they're just a normal part of society nowadays. It's not so long ago women were treated with disdain and as second-class citizens. How many died in an effort to get women the vote?

  2. Munguin,

    I suspect that you are being very kind when you say "relative obscurity" instead of "total obscurity".

    I am puzzled by Mundell's remark that "David and Michael are in neighbouring constituences ...". What David is he referring to?

  3. subrosa,

    His sexuality and situation were common knowledge at Westminster, and in the media, for ages and was not regarded as worthy of comment until he was appointed as a minister. That being the case it beggars belief that his family and friends were not aware of the situation.

  4. S/R: I don’t think sexuality, race, creed, colour, whatever ought to be any bar to anything. What I think is dubious is financial practices apparently designed to help maintain a fiction (and I am not saying he was right to maintain that fiction or not, that was his choice) which place his financial probity in question. Especially if he wants to hold an office which makes him the custodian of public financial probity.

    I always wonder about these people taking high office with skeletons in their closets which they must be more than aware of. Do they not think that given the public’s desire for titillation and scandal that their private life and dealings will come under scrutiny? I would.

    I understand what you say about people all being equal in this day and age. But I would remind you that the last government had a Minister for Women and advocated all women shortlists. They did not have Minister for Gay people and I would also remind you that prior to 1967 homosexuality for men was illegal in England and that it was not legal in Scotland until 1981. That sort of state sponsored discrimination takes a while to get over.

    This post is really more about transience of Lib Dems Secretary’s of State for Scotland than a rehash of the Laws scandal.

  5. Browlie: I think David meant himself there (the royal we?). I see I have not put a link to the source of that quote so here it is:

    I will make the title a hyperlink in a sec.

    Well if Danny Alexander was relatively obscure you are right to say Moore is totally obscure. But it is lovely to see the greasy pole in action Disraeli would be proud!

  6. Nobody needs to worry about Willie Rennie who as we know was going to be special advisor to Danny Alexander at the Scotland Office. He has quickly been confirmed in the same role for Mr Moore. Despite having to pay back £3,000 for wrongly claimed office expenses.

  7. Michael Moore comes to HolyroodMay 30, 2010 11:20 am

    This 'Laws' episode is an excellent example of why people hate politicians and think they're all thieves and liars.
    On the face of it he seemed a good bloke so we mostly supported him as he was doing his best during 'these difficult times'. Then as usual we were cheated.
    Cast iron Dave etc said that Laws was 'honorable and good'. Well he only resigned because he was found out to be stealing. He would have carried on stealing if he hadn't been found out. Honourable ? If he had told his story in a benefits cheat court the judge would have struggled not to laugh before jailing him. And politicians would have warned us on telly and the radio with adverts about benefit cheats being targeted etc.
    He took the role of Chief Sec knowing that his private life was a bit shaky and not able to stand slight probing from the media and security services. All ministers would have to get full vetting before taking red boxes home ( e mail, phone calls , surveillance, bank accounts, quick looksie round the house when they were out etc ). How could he have not known that ? What if his gay lover decided to blackmail him if they split up ? All these things would be a red alarm to our secret services. So he undermined the coalition to get a position that he had wanted all his life. ( that's hard to believe, libdems were nowhere a few weeks before the election and he couldn't have dreamt of getting into cabinet)
    The Lib Dems etc often tell us how open and accepting the UK is regarding sexuality and we should rightly be proud of this fact. Any bigotry will be stamped out etc etc. Yet that's the third Lib Dem MP who has tried to hide his sexuality because he doesn't believe we are fair and open about it. They always say they didn't want to upset their dear old mum. This is nonsense as mum's are the least bothered about it. They carried them for nine months and wiped their arse for years. They don't care. The truth is that they thought being gay would harm their career prospects. They see Cameron, gorgon, Clegg etc all parading their kids saying 'look I'm a normal family like you ' and it scares them.
    So we now have Mr Moore as Scottish Secretary. The second Lib Dem taking a role that they wanted abolished only recently. Ming Campbell sat smirking on Hard Talk last night saying well you gotta take what you're given. Well Ming we saw your designer flat with scatter cushions and expensive hand built wood tables and see you're doing that.
    If you assume that anything a politician says or does is a lie ( the trillion dollar global warming myth etc)it helps you to get through life better. But is that really the way to go forward ?

  8. What still puzzles me is why there is no meaningful position for Alistair Carmichael?

    Since he was the Lib Dem on the Scottish leaders debate, where I thought that he did well, coming second only to Alex Salmond, he has sunk without a trace.

    Did the fact that he came over as articulate and intelligent worry the dumb and dumber of Scottish politics, Scott and Steven so much that they persuaded call me Nick to ensure that he was not given any position with a high profile in Scotland?

    It also looks like everyone has the same low opinion of Mundell.

  9. Dubbieside,

    Completely agree.

  10. Dubbie: I saw that and did not think he was that good. But when put next to Mundell and Murphy who were worse than terrible he was bound to look good.

  11. Michael: politics is politics always was and always will be. Sticking "new" in front of it does not make any difference.

    The Lib Dems managed to escape serious media scrutiny of their affairs because they were never seen as important. But now that they are part of the government it beggars belief that they did not think that their peccadilloes would become known when we all know the public’s insatiable desire for a tee-hee over tawdry gossip. It makes you think that despite it all being known to the whips and MI5 what actually gets out to the press is only the tip of an iceberg. And that people like Laws expect that their dirty little secrets can be kept by whatever means below the waterline.

  12. Munguin

    It must be terrible for Mundell. He fought his whole election campaign on how, even if one Tory was elected, him being secretary of state for Scotland would be legitimate as it was a UK election. He was even asked by the nauseating Glen Campbell during the election if he would give up his position for a Lib/Dem and he refused to answer it yet other more prominent Tories said that they would in order for the coalition to work.

    He would be far too confrontational towards Alex Salmond and would put his ego before the good of the party.

    I don't know much about Michael Moore but he ain't a 007 and looks like Frankenstein's monster and if I can recall, I also think he would talk you to sleep.

    I don't have any sympathy for David Laws and I think he should resign as a MP because the Lib's did say they wanted to kick out the vermin that was part of the expenses scandal and he has been by far one of the worst culprits.

    Munguin is right because Laws is very wealthy so why did he feel the need to claim for the expenses? £900 a month to me is a lot of money but to a millionaire its peanuts. I suspect he claimed the money so his partner could receive the money and the fact that he could claim the money anyway so why not claim.

    On the question of his sexuality, well it is a personal tragedy that he has been outed if he wanted to stay in the closet. As someone who is strait I don't care what someones sexuality is but until attitudes in this country change and the stigma of being gay is removed then thousands of gay people will hide the fact.

    One question! How many strait men (who are single) would admit to friends or relatives that they have used female escorts? Nothing wrong but the word stigma comes to mind.

  13. Subrosa

    "Why is sexuality so important in this day and age?"

    Some people in the gay community think they are a special case and somehow think that they are unique but unfortunately others use someones sexuality as a tool to get at a person and the British media is well known for its homophobic attitudes. The MSM still think its big news that someone is gay especially if they are in high office.

    If we want to ask why so many gay people feel the need to hide the fact that they are gay then we just have to look towards the attitudes of many of the people in this country.

  14. I feel frankly sorry for Laws. He would have been an exceptionally talented minister of state. It is a great pity the whole sorry episode.

    Allan seems to be right, this demonstrates that attitudes havent changed nearly enough if someone still holds a need to hide sexual orientation in order to hold public office/service.

    p.s I think its a tad unfair to suggest that the coalition is showing a lack of respect to the 'celtic fringe' just because Laws has a gay lover. Its a tad .. well silly?

  15. Dean

    On a personal level I feel so sorry for laws and I don't doubt for one minute that he would had made an excellent minister. I do think he has made the right choice and resigned and if he had not then the MSM would had played on this for months to come undermining the coalition.

    Indeed, when attitudes in this country change towards gay people then the sooner all of society will benefit.

  16. Allan: the fact of the matter is that because of David Laws problems we are having to make do with the second Scottish Secretary in a month. That means that we are being fobbed off with second best. I’m inclined to feel that even David Mundell would be better than that, at least he has experience of shadowing the job since 2005.

  17. Dean: the lack of respect come in the form of us having an afterthought of a Scottish Secretary fobbed on us weeks after we have gotten used to Danny Alexander. The Lib Dems and the Coalition in general obviously don’t think that the job in Scotland is very important which tells us all we need to know about the so called respect agenda. If you respect the Scots then let us keep our Scottish Secretary and not fob us off with some second best just because Danny Alexander is the best that the Lib Dems obviously have. In fact the whole thing is a cack handed disaster: so much for new politics didn’t take long for it to look very much like the old one.

  18. Dean:

    In my opinion the gay aspect to this is a red herring, whether being used by Mr Laws or exaggerated by the press because it’s a juicer story than the fact that he may have stolen £40,000.

    MINISTER'S GAY LOVER and RENT in the same headline sells more papers than the boring old theft angle that we've heard day in day out about politicians over the last year.

    It is still important that people are ashamed or afraid to own up to their sexuality, but that is altogether another issue.

    The question in point here surely is that Danny was appointed three weeks ago, he had to get himself installed in Dover House in London and also in Edinburgh with his own party and coalition partners in the Scottish parliament, with the opposition leader in the Scottish parliament and with the government in Scotland, all of whom he has to work with.

    Then they take him away and give us someone new. Why did they not “promote” the Defence Secretary, or the Transport Secretary.... nope.... it was the Scottish Secretary that had to be moved.

    And so the Scottish Office staff and the all the Scottish government member and staff have to start all over again, and poor Mr Mundell gets another kick in the teeth for being second rate.

    I think it’s worth asking at this point what exactly the junior minister in the Scotland Office gets to do all day when there is hardly anything for the Secretary of State to do. After all when wee David McChattering Cairns was the junior minister at least he had to run the place while His Graciousness the Lord Dez was away on his trusty charger laying waste to her Majesty’s enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, but since the days of Spud and a dedicated SoS, why is there a spare? Is that not one of the cost cutting exercises that could be carried out. After all, all I know about Spud’s deputy was that it was some wee wifey from the West. I don’t know her name, and I never once heard of her doing anything here. Time to save OUR money by getting rid of that post.

  19. Tris,

    It is not unpatriotic to say the Scottish Office is not as important as Defence. Not least given the fact that Defence has a scope of authority over life and death issues. So the idea that going from Defence to Scottish Office is a promotion is frankly ludicrous.

    And it is unfair to say the coalition clearly doesn't like Scotland, or doesn't respect it just because of some UNFORSEEN event occured. If Danny Alexander got a promotion then good for him, and I as a Scot am pleased to see one of our own doing good for himself. That said, I know that if Alexander could do a better job for us in the treasury then go for it! I want a decent replacement for Laws, after all it is our vital public services in question here!

  20. Dean were you equally pleased to see one of your own doing well when a Scot was Prime Minister and another one was Chancellor of the Exchequer?

  21. Dean:

    I do agree that having Laws in the Treasury in a Cabinet position was of advantage. Poacher turned gamekeeper, Laws would have understood stuff that Osborne with due respect won’t even have heard of, but it seems that he made off with £40,000 of our money, and he didn’t even need the money.

    I mean it’s not like either he or his partner were poor, or ever just well off. They are both stinking rich. So he might be bright, but he was stupid at the same time.

    I doubt if "frankly ludicrous" is a little overstates the idea that the Defence Secretary might be sent to Scotland, but let it pass. I just wonder why Scotland is deemed to be so unimportant that it is the one to lose its Secretary of State. After all Danny has no particular background in finance, his work outside parliament having been to do with Communications and the Press. I note that 1/3 of his degree at Oxford was indeed in Economics... some 17 years ago! I’m sure there are other people in the parties with better skills than that!

    Didn’t the Liberals campaign for the abolition of the office in any case?

  22. clean shaven Moore claimed £64 for a new razor !May 30, 2010 2:29 pm

    In politics background and training isn't relevant when climbing the greasy pole. It's knowing where the bodies are buried and avoiding scandals yourself.
    Gordon had no financial background ( Phd in Labour History ) yet thought he could end boom and bust. He got the bust bit right so 50% isn't too bad I suppose.

  23. A PhD in Bust?

    Ew err.... Don't tell brownlie.

    Yep, I know what you're saying, after all wasn't Jacquie the lodger a DS teacher before she was Home Secretary, but I wonder if, among all the Cabinet secretaries there wasn't another one better qualified, you know, someone who'd worked in a bank or the City something?

  24. clean shaven Mr MooreMay 30, 2010 3:34 pm


    I'm not sure that someone from the City or a bank would be of help. Didn't Fred the Shred crash RBS ? Mr Lehmans went bust. Blanchflower crashed Norther Rock. Hornby crashed HBOS, B&B failed, Dunfermline failed etc..And Sir James Crosby ( FSA chairman appointed by Gorgon ) sat and watched the whole thing tumble. These were the experts from The City and they hadn't got a scoobie. Fred bought ABn Amro a month after Northern Wreck had folded. Despite warnings from every man and his dog. But Gorgon keeps saying 'it all started in America'. Probably be on his tombstone. I don't remember seeing our banks being forced at gunpoint to buy dodgy debt from America. Must have missed that !

  25. It is, Mr Moore, quite amazing the things you miss when you take ten minutes for a cup of tea and a moment's shut eye...

    You are probably right. No one has an idea what these people were up to. Clearly not one of them foresaw that if you allowed people to max out 5 credit cards and re mortgage their houses over and over there just had to come a day when it was payback time.

    I'm astounded that no one saw it coming.

    But of course they did ..... and the bankers wanted to stash away enough for the day it happened, and the ministers (Brown mainly) wanted the boom to go on forever because it made them look good.

    So one day, when only the Duke of Rothsay could afford a house (and didn't want one because he had a nice council house), the bottom fell out of the market.

    And of course it all started in America. Obama snubbed Brown big time, so where else would it have started?

  26. But you see, Danny Alexander ticks ALL the boxes; he went to Oxford so Dave approved quickly.

    He also ticks the Ginger Nut box.

    Michael Moore ticks the only box necessary, he is not David Mundell and even the Tories don't him in BenDover House.

    We live in interesting times.

  27. a clean shaven Mr MooreMay 30, 2010 5:32 pm

    tris. Is it me or are Scottish Secretaries getting younger these days ?

  28. Och Bugger, it's a damed shame.

    No one wants poor David Mundell.

  29. Mr Moore...

    Yes I can remember a time where they were skinny old bean poles with funny glasses... and before that they were part time war mongers who used to come to Scotland at the weekend with blood on their hands.

    Now they do seem to be not long out of uni lads.... but they don't last very long!!

  30. Several other points which seems to have escaped many bloggers and MSM columnists.

    Laws is a millionaire and didn't even need the money. He probably make more than £950 per month on the interest of his bank balance. His paramour sees also not to be short of a bob or two.

    I must conclude that he did it because he could and it never occurred to him, if it did he must have dismissed it quickly, that he would be found out.

    His resignation announcement seemed to me to betray that mindset. He had the chance to come clean last parliamentary term, didn't and thought he had gotten sway with it.

    I conclude that they still haven't got it yet, that bunch of thieving politicos in Westminter; this is stealing!

    If you or I had done anything remotely like defrauding our employer, in the real World, ever £4K we would be out of our job, double quick time and would have been, I am sure I would have, been prosecuted for fraud.

    It has NOTHING to do with his sexuality, except in a titivating tabloid sense, it was the fraud wot done him.

    Remember Profumo, he was hounded but resigned not for consorting with Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davis but for lying about, in the H of C too.

    The drivel bubbling up on LibDem blogs about how it was about his sexuality and that he was too good a man to lose, for the good of the country. I presume the LibDums are now conflating the good of the Country with the LibDum party?

    Power corrupts and all that but, 3 weeks to assume the self righteous mantle of the Union Flag is a bit much.

  31. That's the situation well summed up Bugger.

    It has, as you say, nothing to do with his partner's sex,and all to do with the fact that you can't, under House of Commons rules, rent space from someone with whom you are having a relationship, or someone in your family.

    As you say, for you and me it would be a stretch in the pokey. It has been for many people with IQs well under 100, and with drug befuddled brains. This man clearly is well above average intelligence. He knew it was wrong; even if its "wrongness" was little noticed until the Telegraph's exposé of last year, you'd think that after that he would have though better of it, and quietly paid back the money.

    Big questions arise in that, before appointment to the Cabinet, presumably Dave and Nick looked at his political record, his whips' record and his MI5 file.... and nothing clicked, with either of them, thier MI5 advisors ... and nothing occurred to Laws himself?


  32. Munguin

    To be honest the job as secretary of state for Scotland is not that important. Even the Lib's were for scraping it before they became Cameron's hot water bottle.

    The portfolio for the job I here is like a Lady Bird Book. Lots of big pictures and very few words. However I do agree that we have been fobbed off and instead of Ginger Snaps we have Frankenstein's monster.

  33. LOL... you have a cool way with words Mr Allan!