Thursday, December 28, 2006

Press and Journal

There was some belated press coverage of my book, The Scottish Secretaries, in Wednesday's Aberdeen Press and Journal by the journalist Morag Lindsay. You can read the full feature by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Scotland Office # 2

SNP Leader Alex Salmond has joined in the current bout of Scotland Office-bashing, by calling in the Daily Record for the Whitehall department to be scrapped. You can read the full story by clicking here.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Scotland Office

The Scotsman gave a lot of coverage to a story instigated by the Liberal Democrats yesterday, chiefly that the Scotland Office is 'a staggering waste' of public money and should be subsumed within a larger ministry of nations and regions, which apparently has always been the Lib Dem policy.
You can read the full story by clicking here, while you can also gauge the Scotsman's take on the issue by clicking here to read (at least some of) its editorial.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Iain Gray

The Edinburgh Evening News is reporting today that Iain Gray, who was until recently a special adviser to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Douglas Alexander, has been selected as the Labour candidate for the constituency of Berwick and East Lothian in May's Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Iain, of course, was an MSP and minister between 1999 and 2003 and it has been widely known that he wished to return to Holyrood. He has now resigned as a Scotland Office special adviser and reportedly spent today clearing his desk.

You can read more about this story by clicking here.

Lord Fraser

BBC (Scotland) Online are running a story at the moment that Lord Fraser of Carmyllie was interviewed by the police at Dundee Airport after reports of a disturbance on board an aircraft.

As Peter Fraser, Lord Fraser was a member of the 'Thistle Group' of younger pro-devolution Conservatives in the late 1960s, and also served at the Scottish Office in the 1980s as a junior minister, and latterly as Lord Advocate. He also famously chaired the Holyrood Inquiry, during the proceedings of which he gained a reputation as enjoying a good lunch.

You can read the full story by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Stone of Destiny

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser had a member's debate in the Scottish Parliament today, in which he stated the case for moving the so-called Stone of Destiny from its current home in Edinburgh Castle, back to its former resting place in Scone.

The Stone, of course, was moved to Edinburgh from the Coronation chair in Westminster Abbey ten years ago, on the instigation of the then Conservative Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth, a Tory not a million miles away from Fraser on the political spectrum.

You can read more about this debate on the BBC by clicking here.

Beti Jones obituary

There's an interesting obituary in today's Herald which records the life and career of Beti Jones, who became the first Chief Adviser of Social Work to the Scottish Office in 1968. Her appointment followed the passing of the Social Work (Scotland) Act by the then Labour Scottish Secretary, Willie Ross, which created local authority social work departments and removed the ordeal of children attending adult courts by establishing Children's Hearings, or Panels.

You can read the obituary in full by clicking here.

Scottish Questions

Evidence from yesterday's Scottish Questions in the House of Commons, or perhaps I'm reading too much into it, that Douglas Alexander, the current Scottish Secretary, is presently at least half-way through my book, The Scottish Secretaries...

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): Scotland is leading the way for the UK in tackling climate change: for example, by means of more ambitious targets for renewable energy generation of 40 per cent. by 2020, which we are on course to exceed. Does the Minister agree that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and other Departments, can learn from the Scottish example and that, in Scotland, we can and should go further and meet 100 per cent. of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2050?

Mr. Alexander: The starting point is somewhat different. The foresight shown by predecessors in my office as Secretary of State for Scotland has resulted in a far greater element of hydro power being generated in Scotland than south of the border. I am proud that, historically, the Labour party has been supportive of those kinds of environmentally friendly power-generating initiatives in Scotland, and I am glad to say that the Scottish Executive, led by the Labour party, have once again shown a leadership role in showing that we can be a world centre for renewables in years to come.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

BBC Parliament 'Book Talk'

I was interviewed for BBC Parliament's programme Book Talk a few weeks ago, and it finally aired this weekend on both Saturday and Sunday. The programme is presented by the affable and wonderfully-named Mark D'Arcy, who was genuinely interested in my book, The Scottish Secretaries, and therefore a joy to be interviewed by.

I got nearly fifteen minutes to talk about various aspects of the book, and Mark asked a lot of very intelligent questions. You can see the full programme by visiting the BBC Parliament website at, clicking on the 'Live Now' button and then choosing Book Talk from the 'Highlights' section of the drop-down menu. Thanks to Steve Richmond for the screen grabs.

Lord Fraser

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, a former Scottish Office minister and lord advocate, has become the latest high-profile Unionist to back Scottish independence. Writing in today's Scottish Sunday Times, he argues that Scotland would 'flourish' as an independent nation.

Lord Fraser was also chosen by the First Minister Jack McConnell in 2003 to chair the Holyrood Inquiry into the Scottish Parliament building project; perhaps that fiasco helped him on his political journey. You can read Lord Fraser's thoughts in full by clicking here, and also the associated news story by clicking here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Alexander defends his right to 'interfere'

There's an interesting story in today's Herald regarding recent attacks on Scottish Secretary Douglas Alexander's role in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election campaign. The Secretary of State has hit back, so to speak, and Catherine MacLeod has quoted him extensively. You can read the full story by clicking here.