Thursday, May 22, 2008

Declaration of Perth 40th anniversary

This week sees 40 years since the then Conservative Leader Ted Heath made his so-called 'Declaration of Perth', committing his party to the creation of a devolved Scottish Assembly.

Four decades on and that Assembly, or Parliament, is a reality and the Scottish Tory Party (which lost its old 'Unionist' name just before Heath was elected leader) meets for its annual conference in Ayr this weekend; reconstructed as a party of devolution and, indeed, supporters of greater powers under the guidance of the Calman Commission.

You can read my article on Heath's speech, and its ramifications, in today's Scotsman.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

George Kynoch wins Scottish Tory election

George Kynoch, the former Scottish Conservative MP and Scottish Office minister, has been elected as Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party. He succeeds Bill Walker in the post, also a former Scottish Tory MP. It was a decisive win, with Kynoch securing 1,902 votes to Walker's 1,258.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sermon on the Mound # 2

I have a slightly different take on the 20th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's Sermon on the Mound in today's Scotsman, while you can read a transcript of Gordon Brown's own Sermon delivered at today's General Assembly meeting by visiting the 10 Downing Street website.

The Scottish edition of the BBC's Politics Show also did a nice compare-and-contrast report on the two prime minister's speeches to the General Assembly.

And, continuing the media obsession with the Sermon on the Mound (the anniversary hasn't actually been yet, it's on Wednesday 21 May), stv has put the whole speech on the Politics Then section of its website, while Lord Steel (another son of the manse) looked back on the speech on Saturday's edition of the Today Programme (at about 8.50 a.m.).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Maggie Maggie Maggie

A couple of recent comment pieces on Margaret Thatcher's often fraught relations with Scotland. The historian Richard Finlay examined why she didn't get on with the Scots in a piece for Tuesday's Herald, while in Thursday's Edinburgh Evening News Ian Swanson looked back on her infamous 'Sermon on the Mound' to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Straight Talk with Lord Forsyth

The BBC's Straight Talk has an interesting interview with the former Scottish Secretary, Lord Forsyth, covering everything from Wendy Alexander's U-turn on a Scottish independence referendum (he supports her) to what a future Conservative government should do in terms of taxation reform (he chaired the party's Tax Commission).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Des Browne under fire

Today's Herald reports that the Conservatives and SNP at Westminster have, not unreasonably, been trying to embroil the Scottish Secretary Des Browne in the ongoing Labour row about Wendy Alexander's call for an early referendum on Scottish independence. Des has so far been silent on the subject, although Wendy has some unexpected support in her call for Alex Salmond to 'bring it on' from the former Conservative Scottish Secretary, Lord Forsyth.

Sir John Gilmour library

Lyon & Turnbull, the Edinburgh auctioneers, are selling some volumes from the library of the late Sir John Gilmour, 2nd Baronet of Montrave and Secretary of State for Scotland from 1924-29. His son, also Sir John and a Tory MP, died last year.

The 'Books, Maps and Manuscript' sale is on 16 May and includes a copy of Winston Churchill's The World Crisis dedicated to Jack, as he was known, by the author. You can see more of the Gilmour library lots by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sermon on the Mound

An interesting item on Sunday's Westminster Hour by Iain Macwhirter on the 20th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's famous - or infamous - speech to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, thereafter dubbed the 'Sermon on the Mound'.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was Scottish Secretary when the former Prime Minister made the speech, believes it was actually quite well received in the Assembly Hall on the Mound, and that 'myth making' by the Scottish media turned it into the notorious attempt to marry Conservative principles with Christian doctrine that everyone remembers two decades on.

You can listen to the fifteen-minute programme by going to the Westminster Hour website, Alan Cochrane's more in-depth BBC Radio Scotland documentary, The Sermon on the Mound, by listening to it on BBC's iPlayer, or read a transcription of Mrs Thatcher's speech by visiting the Margaret Thatcher Foundation website.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Unfinished Business of Devolution

A belated post on Sir Malcolm Rifkind's speech to the Centre for Policy Studies in London on 23 April: "The Unfinished Business of Devolution: answering the West Lothian Question"

Basically a fleshing out (not to mention a defence) of the former Scottish Secretary's so-called "East Lothian Answer" to Tam Dalyell's "West Lothian Question", you can listen to a rather tinny audio streaming of the speech by visiting the CPS website.

The speech was covered by the Scotsman the same day.