Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Des Browne's dual role

A report in yesterday's Daily Telegraph about the Conservative Party's Forsyth (as in Frederick, the writer) Commission on the Military Covenant. It includes a number of recommendations, including the following:

"Defence Secretary will not hold any other government posts"

Obviously a subtle dig at Des Browne, whose dual role as both Defence and Scottish Secretary has come in for a lot of stick. The pledge obviously doesn't prevent a future Conservative government combining the role of Scottish Secretary with another Cabinet post...

Maggie wields her axe

A fascinating story in the Herald last week about an attempt by the Treasury to cut the baseline Scottish Office budget by a seventh in the mid-1980s. The papers emerged as the result of an FoI request from an SNP researcher, but took several years to be published because the Scotland Office tried to block it. It reveals that the then Scottish Secretary, George Younger, threatened to resign if the cuts were implemented, although to be fair - and as Alan Cochrane points out in his Daily Telegraph column - Younger used to threaten to resign all the time.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

North Sea oil fund

An interesting story that came out of BBC Scotland's recent documentary on North Sea oil, another memo (although this time not actually produced or quoted) by the former Scottish Office economist Gavin McCrone. In this one, McCrone urged the UK government (then Labour) to establish a North Sea oil fund, a la Norway, to take full advantage of revenue from the new industry. Written in 1976 and despite it being Conservative policy, neither James Callaghan's government, or Margaret Thatcher's new administration in 1979, did anything about it.