Friday, September 29, 2006

Sir Iain Tennant

An interesting obituary in yesterday's Herald, that of Sir (Mark) Iain Tennant, a Scottish businessman who helped launch Grampian Television - now known as 'STV North' - in the late 1950s. He was also a great nephew of Harold John Tennant, who was briefly Secretary for Scotland in 1916. You can read the full obituary by clicking here.

Scotland Office

Yours truly has an article in the Scotsman today, a rather dry (or some might say civil service) look at how the Scotland Office works. You can read the full article by clicking here, but only if you're a Scotsman online subscriber.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lord Robertson

Something I overlooked, an illuminating interview with Lord Robertson of Port Ellen in the Scotland on Sunday of 27 August. It concentrates on his new book, Islay and Jura, which is has already been published by the excellent Birlinn. You can order the book or read more about it by clicking here.

As plain old George, Lord Robertson was Labour's Shadow Scottish Secretary from 1992 until the 1997 general election, a period he describes in the profile as the most difficult of his political career. You can read all of Catherine Deveney's interview by clicking here.

Crofting Reform etc (Scotland) Bill

Crofting reform was one of the first issues to be tackled by the Scottish Office back in 1886, so it's interesting to note that the Scottish Parliament is still debating the same issue 120 years later. The Scottish Executive's Crofting Reform Etc (Scotland) Bill was debated this afternoon at Holyrood, and included an engaging contribution from Ted Brocklebank, a Conservative list MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife. He obviously knows his history, as the speech refers to the Napier Commission, which reported in 1884 and recommended that crofters be given security of tenure and fair rents. This was enshrined in the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act of June 1886, the first substantial piece of Scottish Office legislation passed since the department was created the year before.

Brocklebank's speech also refers to Willie Ross's Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act of 1976, which allowed crofters to purchase their properties, something this new Executive Bill encourages. You can read the full text of Ted's speech by clicking here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Minister for docks and jocks

Yet another profile/interview with Douglas Alexander in today's Scottish edition of the Sunday Times. Is it just me, or do all journalistic surveys of Alexander end up being remarkably similar? Judge for yourselves by reading Gillian Bowditch's effort here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lord Forsyth

It's good to see that former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth's radical edge remains undiminished, and this time it's causing problems for David Cameron. The BBC reports today that the outcome of the Tax Commission chaired by Forsyth won't exactly chime with the Tory leader's steady-as-she-goes approach to tax policy. You can read the BBC report here, while this week's Spectator has a fuller account which suggests that details of the report were deliberately leaked.

As an evangelical Thatcherite it should come as no surprise that Forsyth's instinct is to cut taxes. However, he was appointed as chair of the tax commission by George Osbourne when Michael Howard was leader, so Cameron inherited him from the previous regime.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dover House

Dover House (the Scotland Office) was open to the public today as part of the annual London Open House. The tour was pretty comprehensive and took in the Secretary of State's room as well as other ministerial rooms downstairs. It seems that Government buildings have undergone a bit of rejig over the summer recess, so from next week the Leader of the House of Commons (Jack Straw) will be based in Dover House, as will his deputy, Nigel Griffiths (an Edinburgh MP). The Advocate-General for Scotland, Neil Davidson QC, has also moved from a downstairs room to the one pictured here. I know, how sad am I. You can read all about the colourful history of Dover House by clicking here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Douglas Alexander

Here's a recent report (7 September) on a speech by Douglas Alexander as covered in a Lanarkshire newspaper:

Don't make English foreigners, plea

Scots have been warned against turning English people into "foreigners" by Scottish Secretary Douglas Alexander.
It comes as the Holyrood election next May is looking increasingly like a two-horse race between the pro-independence SNP and Labour.
Mr Alexander told business leaders in Glasgow on Wednesday night that the new century will be forged by globalisation, but that interdependence between nations is going to increase.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sir George Otto Trevelyan

The BBC's UN correspondent, Laura Trevelyan, has just written a book, A Very British Family: The Trevelyans and Their World, which includes sections on Sir George Otto Trevelyan, who was Secretary for Scotland twice - for a few months in 1886 and again from 1892-95. Laura's verdict on her great-grandfather - that he was a mediocre politician but a successful historian - is spot on.

It seems that for years Laura Trevelyan was unaware of her relatives' achievements as politicians and historians, but was prompted to write this book after people kept mentioning her family to her. The book is for sale on here and if you're a subscriber to the Spectator you can read Laura Trevelyan's entertaining article on her book here.