As we near the end of the Parliamentary term and MPs get their buckets and spades together and head off for the sun (or, more likely, pack up their cars and head off on their constituency Summer tours), I thought it might be interesting to have a look back at some of the things key party figures have done this year. We’ll take a meander through the highlights and lowlights and make suggestions, not all of them entirely serious, for the year ahead.
First up is Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore. It’s not every minister who gets compared, favourably, to James Bond.
This has been the best year of Mike Moore’s career. In October, he and SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered the Edinburgh Agreement, which laid out the process for the Independence Referendum. The end result was a win for everybody. The SNP won on timing, Mike won on oversight by the Electoral Commission and not some body concocted by the SNP and everyone won by securing a referendum that was beyond legal challenge and on working together to secure Liberal Democrat and SNP policy of allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote. It’s hard to imagine a Labour or Conservative Secretary of State working so constructively with the SNP. Labour’s relationship with the SNP government was pretty toxic, with Jim Murphy constantly trying to create a deeply unpleasant patriot vs nationalist vibe. Without Mike’s intervention, we might have had the disastrous spectacle of the Tories imposing a referendum from Westminster, which would have gone down ever so well in Scotland.
John Rentoul said history may well see Mike as the one who saved the union:
Salmond has been underestimated before, although support for independence in opinion polls has rarely exceeded one third of the electorate. But he may have met his match in Moore, as skilful in judging the politics of Whitehall as he is the mood of Scotland. It may be that, after the referendum, Moore will be counted the most successful Liberal Democrat in the Cabinet, and, even, the man who saved the United Kingdom.
And then he ended 2012 by winning Best Scot at Westminster in the Scottish Political Awards.
2013 has been about slowly and carefully nailing the SNP’s independence jelly to the wall. Mike has managed to get all of government working together on the Scotland Analysis series of papers outlining the case for the UK. He’s had George Osborne, Danny Alexander, Vince Cable, Ed Davey, William Hague and Lynne Featherstone up here to make the case.
Room for improvement?
Everyone can do better. There is always room for improvement. What I’d like to see from Mike over the next year is to be a little more robust with the SNP. He will never be anything other than polite and reasonable, and I think that’s good because people trust him. He can, however, let the SNP off with some outrageous stuff. One of the high spots of the long referendum campaign so far was a debate between Moore and Sturgeon on the STV Scotland Tonight programme. Unlike a lot that comes from both Yes Scotland and Better Together, I certainly felt that I had quite enjoyed seeing these two likeable individuals discuss the issues. There were a few times when he could have tackled her better on some of the claims she was making, though. By the time of a recent BBC webcast, he was starting to do that.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings