Michael Moore “turned down chance to resign Cabinet post”

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

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8 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Oct '13 - 11:11am

    Michael Moore was exactly right to reject the dishonesty that Nick was offering and be sacked with pride in tact instead. I don’t doubt that Nick Clegg means well, but this kind of behaviour is costing him votes and support.

  • ^ “sacked with pride intact”? LOL.

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Oct '13 - 2:09pm

    Lol, yes, there is no Scottish pun intended here, but rather than put pride to one side and take the easy way out, Michael Moore basically turned around to Nick Clegg and said “If you want to sack me, sack me. You can take my job, but you will never take my freedom!!!” – exactly the right way to approach a government reshuffle!

  • I agree with Eddie Sammon … and yes Michael Moore is popular with the grass-roots, even if he is not a “bruiser” … may be because of this??

  • I sincerely hope Michael retains his seat … although that will be meaningless if the referendum vote goes the wrong way. I look forward to him speaking out “robustly” on key issues.

  • David White 20th Oct '13 - 1:56pm

    It has been suggested that Mr Moore lost his job because he was insufficiently ‘robust’ in presenting the Unionist cause against an independent Scotland. It seems to me that loudness and acerbity is exactly what Alex Salmond would welcome. Mr Salmond thrives on socio-political ‘in-fighting’. That is why the quietly presented opinions of Mr Moore were (and those of Mr Darling are) so effective.

    But, having said that, this is where I have to admit that I favour Scottish independence!

  • Steve Comer 21st Oct '13 - 1:30pm

    John Innes said “I sincerely hope Michael retains his seat … although that will be meaningless if the referendum vote goes the wrong way”
    Why will it be meaningless?
    If Scotland votes ‘Yes’ Michael will be in an MP in the transition to Independence – a role I’m sure he”ll do very well in. And post-independence there would then need to be fresh elections to Holyrood, and surely we would want Michael to be a candidate wouldn’t we?

  • Ian MacFadyen 21st Oct '13 - 3:02pm

    Michael Moore’s disgraceful treatment demonstrates Nick Clegg’s growing unsuitability. There were many who should have gone in the reshuffle: Osborne (robbing to poor to pay the rich), Hunt (destroying the English NHS), Gove (destroying English education), Hammond (failing to defend the country), Pickles (destroying local government in England), to name but four; but, from what we are told, our leader has raised not a murmur about their remaining in place, while showing off to the Tories by getting rid of an excellent Scotland Secretary. Well done to Michael Moore for standing up to Clegg.

    Ian MacFadyen,
    Leeds

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