Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rt Rev Alan McDonald

Today saw an interesting (and long-standing) fixture in the year for both the Scotland Office and the Church of Scotland.

Every year, the incumbent Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland visits London to meet with the Prime Minister, Scottish Secretary and various other Scottish MPs. This includes a sermon in the charming crypt underneath Westminster Hall, which the Rt Rev Alan McDonald gave this morning. Douglas Alexander, the Scottish Secretary, was supposed to give a reading but instead it was taken by David Cairns, his under-secretary (David is a former Catholic priest). Then there's lunch for the Moderator at Dover House, which was today hosted by Douglas Alexander, and then several meetings between the General Assembly's Church and Society Council (formerly the Church and Nation Committee) and Government and Opposition MPs in (oddly enough) the Speaker's Bed Chamber.

Tam Dalyell

The former Father of the House, Tam Dalyell, has given my book, The Scottish Secretaries, a good write up in the December edition of The Oldie magazine.

He focuses in on two Scottish Secretaries, the 6th Earl of Rosebery and Arthur Woodburn, both of whom Tam knew personally.

You can read the full review by clicking here.

Stone of Destiny

An amusing story running on the BBC today, that cake designers have come up with a 'cake' replica of the Stone of Destiny to commemorate the tenth anniversary of its return to Scotland.

The lump of rock was of course transferred from Westminster Abbey to Edinburgh Castle on St Andrew's Day in 1996, an initiative of the then Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth.

You can read the full story by clicking here.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

West Highland Free Press

The former Scottish/Scotland Office Minister Brian Wilson devoted his column in last week's West Highland Free Press to a (sort of) review of my book, The Scottish Secretaries, and in particular its references to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Single ballot paper

The Scotland Office today confirmed proposals to consolidate both the constituency and regional list vote into a single ballot paper for next May's Scottish Parliamentary elections. The Scottish Secretary, after all, is still responsible for Scottish elections. You can read the full Scotland Office press release by clicking here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lord Robertson

I had a very enjoyable evening at the launch of Lord (George) Robertson's new book of photographs depicting the islands of Islay and Jura. The bash was held at the Westminster Bookshop on Artillery Row (formerly Politico's), and was well attended by the likes of Lord Forsyth (with whom George sparred as Shadow Scottish Secretary in the mid 1990s) and Rosemary McKenna MP, fresh from seconding the loyal address to the Queen's Speech in the House of Commons earlier that day.

My book, The Scottish Secretaries, was also on sale and George told me that he'd just recently received his copy. I was also able to clear up a few things, including the fact that Robertson did expect to become Scottish Secretary in 1997 but was far from disappointed to discover that he was going to the Ministry of Defence instead.

You can order copies of Lord Robertson's book, Islay and Jura, by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

18 Doughty Street

I appeared alongside Douglas Carswell MP on last night's Vox Politix on the internet political television station 18 Doughty Street. Douglas and I were interviewed by the ubiquitous blogger Iain Dale, and his co-host Zoe Phillips, Douglas about his new online community tv station - Clacton TV - and me about my book, The Scottish Secretaries. It lasted about an hour and was hugely enjoyable. You should be able to watch it again by clicking here. You take a look at a whole range of political programmes by visiting

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Scotland on Sunday

Eddie Barnes has reviewed my book, The Scottish Secretaries, for today's Scotland on Sunday. You can read the review in full by clicking here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Iain Dale's blog

Iain Dale's ubiquitous blog includes an entry on my book, The Scottish Secretaries, just posted this evening. You can see it by clicking here. And if any of you are regular viewers of Iain's 18 Doughty Street online political television channel, then you can see me as a guest on Tuesday evening.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The book and I also get a mention on, a website devoted to Scotland's sizeable media community. You can read it in the 'Spike' section of the site by clicking here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Scotsman

My book has received its first review in the Scotsman, and its Scottish Government Editor Peter Macmahon has been very nice about it. You can read the full review by clicking here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sir Archibald Sinclair

The John O'Groat Journal has an article on Sir Archibald Sinclair, who features in the book, in this week's issue. You can read the full article by clicking here.

London launch

It was the London launch of my book, The Scottish Secretaries, yesterday evening. The venue was superb - the National Liberal Club in Whitehall - and there was a good turnout from former Scottish Office ministers, particularly the former Scottish Secretaries Lord Lang and Lord Forsyth (pictured with me to the left). The noble Lords Sanderson, Sewel, Lindsay, Crathorne and Maclennan also made an appearance, as did Lady Younger (George's widow, who was also at the Edinburgh launch) who brought along her eldest son James and her daughter Joanna. My boss, the Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell, also came.

Friends and family were also there and it was a very convivial evening. You can see a comprehensive photographic record of the event (taken by Steve Richmond) by clicking here.