Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Comeback for George Kynoch?

An interesting story in today's Telegraph, unfortunately not online, about the Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell attempting to micromanage (shurely shome mishtake?) the election of a new deputy chairman for the Scottish Conservative Party.

According to the report he is lobbying in favour of George Kynoch, who was a junior minister at the Scottish Office in the mid-1990s and hasn't been seen or heard since. He's up against the incumbent kilt-wearing Bill Walker.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thatcher and devolution

I have a story in today's Scotsman gleaned from an interesting release of Mrs Thatcher's Scottish files from her papers as Leader of the Opposition from 1975-79. It concerns a proposal from the Tory peer John Boyd-Carpenter to extend the vote in the 1979 referendum on a Scottish Assembly to England and Wales.

There's also a second story about an approach from the SNP to forge a 'working arrangement' with the Conservatives in late 1976. What it doesn't mention (cut from my original article) is that the SNP MP in question, Hamish Watt, is the father of Maureen Watt, currently an MSP and the Minister for Schools and Skills.

You can see the full release of papers by visiting the Margaret Thatcher Foundation website.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Kidnapped! Sir Alec Douglas-Home

A fascinating story in today's Telegraph regarding a foiled attempt by some Aberdeen University students to 'kidnap' Sir Alec Douglas-Home during a visit to Aberdeen in April 1964, just months before the general election of that year. Sir Alec, who was a former Scottish Office minister, was staying at Potterton, the home of Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir. Priscilla Tweedsmuir was then an under-secretary at the Scottish Office and was later Lord Home's (as he again became) deputy at the Foreign Office from 1972-74.

The story has come to light in Lord Hailsham's diaries, which have been put online at the excellent Margaret Thatcher Foundation website. You can here Chris Collins of the Foundation talking about the kidnap attempt on this morning's Today Programme by clicking here and following the link in the top right-hand corner.

Lord Barnett

There's an interesting interview/profile of Lord Barnett in this week's edition of Holyrood magazine, in which he repeats his call for his eponymous formula to be scrapped. Bruce Millan, Scottish Secretary when the 'formula' was calculated, always seems to get overlooked in accounts of how it was forged in 1978 (Lord Barnett switches between remembering it as being in 1977 or '78), but he was at least as important as Barnett himself. The article also quotes the Barnett-scrapper Lord Forsyth.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Des Browne for the chop?

Some wishful thinking in today's Mail on Sunday along the lines that Des Browne's dual Cabinet role (as both Defence Secretary and Secretary of State for Scotland) will be separated and the Scotland Office responsibility transferred to a new Ministry of the Nations and Regions. This has been tipped so many times that I've lost count, and to me seems unlikely. Why would Gordon Brown give the impression that he's caving in to demands from crusty old defence chiefs?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dick Mabon dies

Some sad news just announced today that Dick Mabon (otherwise known as Dr Jesse Dickson Mabon) has died aged 82. Dick was a Scottish Office minister under Willie Ross in the late 1960s but later defected to the SDP. From 1955 until 1983 he was the Labour MP for Greenock, although he sat from 1981-83 as an SDP Member. My obituary appeared in today's Herald, although there's an error in the last line (my mistake, not the Herald's) - Jessica and Katie were Mabon's grand-daughters, not his daughters.

There's a wonderfully detailed obituary by Tam Dalyell in Monday's Independent, and also one in the Telegraph. Tuesday's Guardian has an amusing obit by Julia Langdon, while the Scotsman also has a slightly belated one.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Des Browne hits out

Today's Scotland on Sunday carries news of the Scottish Secretary's 'savage' attack on First Minister Alex Salmond and the first year (almost) of a minority SNP Scottish Government.

In truth, Des Browne's attack is typically unimaginative - and tactically counterproductive - Labour rhetoric when it comes to the SNP. I suspect the text could almost have been lifted from the papers of the late Willie Ross...

You can read Browne's SoS article, 'A year of governing dangerously', by clicking here.