Its important you know who these people are because as Secretary of State for Scotland and head of the Scottish Office in London, they have a meaningful and measurable effect on the lives of every man, woman and child living in Scotland - no really! OK, not really.
Actually, since the Scottish Parliament reopened, many have questioned the need for a Scottish Office in London - including Michael Moore himself - who in opposition said it and the position of Secretary of State for Scotland should be abolished before promptly accepting the job when the Tories sooked the Libdems into the hellacious coalition we see in Westminster today.
Very quickly (because like Michael Moore, its really quite dull) what does the Scotland Office do exactly? Pre-Holyrood it managed, oversaw and administered Scotland's distinct functions. As you may know, Scotland has always had an independent judicial system, an NHS entirely apart from but having many cross-border arrangements with the NHS in England and a unique education system plus many other smaller quasi-governmental organisations requiring oversight by a civil service. The Scotland Office (based at Dover House in London) managed it all - it was called Administrative Devolution, a wonderfully bureaucratic term which really means Westminster being in a position of direct control but oblique responsibility.
Since the re-inception of The Scottish Government, all that stuff the Scottish Office did is now done in Edinburgh. The Scottish Office still sucks £8m from Scotland's block grant though, part of which funds the now arguably redundant position of Secretary of State for Scotland. Indeed, the one remaining dimension of the job is now accepted as being Westminster's mouthpiece in the debate against independence. Many a nationalist now replaces the 'for' in the job title with the word 'against', a fact which jars since we're paying for it.
What can we expect from Alistair Carmichael that will be different from Michael Moore? According to the BBC's chief political correspondent - the prosaically named Norman Smith - the ever-relevant Nick Clegg and Tory PM David 'the-land-of-hope-is-tory' Cameron believes the time has come for a more 'combative' figure in the job.
Cue Alistair Carmichael. He's another Libdem this time representing Orkney and Shetland. Most recently, he took over from Jo Swinson as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats after she resigned in September of 2012. Swinson is a tough act to follow what with her conference speeches being renowned for their scything humour* and her swashbuckling campaign - and I'm not making this up - against Easter egg packaging.
|Swinson - she's not yolking about those Easter eggs.|
Perhaps Carmichael will bring some vim to the debate, its my theory that Better Together and Westminster will use his position as a Northern Isles MP to try and batter home the idea of partition - that Orkney and Shetland, if we vote yes, will vote to stay with the United Kingdom with 'all' the oil.
Of course this is just more scaremongering, its already been debunked. In a poll held by The Press & Journal news paper, 82% of islanders wished to remain Scottish. The question asked was:
"Should Shetland/Orkney be independent countries, separate from Scotland?"
Critics might say, 'Ah, but the question didn't contain a caveat about Scotland not being part of the union.' You can take what you like from it, but it contains no caveats about being separate from the UK either. As for the oil, this has also been debunked, I don't think it'll be long before Alistair Carmichael suggests - as Libdem MSP Tavish Scott did - that the Northern Isles may not be on board with independence and might pick up their oil and piss off with it. Unfortunately that has also been debunked, in short, because of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (or more snappily; UNCLOS) - they wouldn't have any.
For what its worth, I'd hate to see the Northern Isles not come along on the independence journey, it goes with out saying, its up to the islanders. I can't sit here and extol the virtues of independence and self determination for some but not others. All of Scotland's islands are part of what makes Scotland such an interesting place, having had the merest sensation of what Island living is about, I can't believe they'd shun the ethos of community and the Common Weal for Westminster's cruel bastardised Darwinism.
Anyway, I digress. Expect trouble-making from Carmichael. He'll claim to have a mandate to speak for the people of Orkney and Shetland - that may be true, but will they agree with him on independence?
On the up side, he'll have plenty of time to formulate points and develop arguments, as Secretary of State for Scotland - its not like he'll be rushed off his feet.
|Alistair Carmichael's PA wakes him at home time.|
PS: If anyone has been affected by any issues contained within this blog entry, please get in touch with email@example.com, call free on 0800 731 9590 or write to him at:
Rt Hon David Mundell MP
2 Holm Street,
2 Holm Street,
Any concerned Scottish constituents suffering from anxiety or nervous tension at the departure of Michael Moore can rest easy, David is still in position at the Scotland Office.
|Look at that face and feel the stress drain away...|