A report in today’s Herald suggests that former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore was offered the chance to resign from the Cabinet rather than be sacked. A “spend more time with his family” scenario was apparently Nick Clegg’s first choice method of removal. Moore, though, was reportedly not having any of it:
In what might have been meant as a conciliatory gesture, Mr Clegg offered his Cabinet colleague the chance to resign. But friends of Mr Moore made clear the Borders MP rebuffed the offer immediately, telling his party leader: “If you are going to sack me, sack me. I won’t be part of a political charade.”
The thinking was that a resignation would have put all of the media spotlight on Mr Moore and away from Mr Clegg.
The ex-Secretary of State, 48, who was not offered an alternative role, was also said to have been annoyed by the fact that in the reshuffle he was the only Cabinet Minister to lose his job, meaning that for much of the day the attention of the TV, radio and press fell on him and him alone.
The paper did not speak to Mike Moore himself, but refers to friends of his.
Stephen Tall showed last weekend that, of the three ministers to leave Government, Moore was by far the most popular with party members who had responded to our members’ surveys over the years. At the time of his departure, he was back in the top five most popular ministers with an approval rating of +45.
As for the future, Moore intends to continue to play a part in the referendum campaign. This can only be a good thing, to counter Jim Murphy’s ill humoured toxicity. The Herald report ends;
The close source stressed how the former Secretary of State does not feel betrayed by his leader after three years on the frontline but is deeply disappointed that he will not have the chance to finish the job in terms of his ministerial work on the referendum campaign.
However, Mr Moore is understood to have told Alistair Darling, the head of the No campaign, that he intends to continue to be deeply engaged in the battle for the United Kingdom and has also made clear to his political masters that he will, from time to time, speak out robustly on a number of key topical issues.
Could welfare reform figure in those key topical issues. It’s one of Moore’s major interests and within Cabinet he was one of the prime movers behind securing extra money for discretionary housing payments to deal with the consequences of the thing we’re not allowed to call the Bedroom Tax. The SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon was robust in her condemnation of that measure in her speech to SNP conference yesterday, but she didn’t have much to say about other welfare reforms which concern many people across the UK. In fact, some of her narrative echoed what we are hearing from Labour and the Coalition:
No-one should expect to live a life on benefits.
But if you work hard, pay your taxes, make your contributions and, through no fault of your own, fall on hard times you should expect help in your time of need.
N0-one? Really? Not even if you’re born with significant disabilities?
I wonder if Moore, with his reasoned and measured approach to welfare reform, might be the right person to develop thinking on welfare within our own party, because we do need over-arching policy rather than the excellent but rather piecemeal reactive motions on the coalition’s welfare reform in recent years. He could also deal, in, again, his more measured style, with the inherent contradictions in the SNP’s pronouncements on welfare. You can’t in one part of a speech say the above and infer in another that nobody would be poor in an independent Scotland.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings