Tag Archives: Alistair Carmichael

Is Mike Crockart voting Yes to Independence?

You might think so from these photos of his office in the heart of Edinburgh West

Crockart yes 1

Crockart Yes 2

Not for the first time, his staff have had to take down Yes posters which had been glued on to the office windows.

Yesterday a cavalcade of Yes cars parked outside the office and played loud music next to Mike’s No Thanks street stall. Why do they bother with nonsense like that.

This, sadly, is one of the milder incidents of intimidatory behaviour which are becoming commonplace across Scotland.  I have lost count of the number of committed and passionate No voters who have very politely declined to take a poster because they are worried that their windows would be knocked in if they display it. It shouldn’t be like this. 

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The day Alistair Carmichael made me cry

Carmichael at Lib Dem No RallyOn Thursday night an all-star cast of Liberal Democrat giants addressed a rally of party members and supporters in Edinburgh. We had 2 Cabinet Ministers, 2 former and a current Scottish leader, 3nformer federal leaders and one of my political heroes, Shirley Williams.

I had had a quick read of Alistair Carmichael’s speech before the event, so I really have no excuse for the fact that it made me cry when he delivered it. The way he talked about taking his 5 week old baby to the polling station to vote for change in 1997 and how the family is going together to vote for a liberal vision of the future on Thursday made me fill up.

There was also a powerful “I’m not a nationalist but…” segment where he says that if you think our problems can be solved by maps or only in Scotland then, actually, you are.

Please excuse the photo. I arrived in plenty of time but spent so long blethering to folk, which isn’t like me at all, that the only seat left was right up at the back.

I was a bit sceptical about holding the rally in the first place and to be honest, I still am. I reckon that several hundred people out on the streets talking to voters would have been a much better use of our time. However, it has given us a rich variety of good quality speeches, including videos from Mike Moore and Charles Kennedy, who was filmed from the top of Aonach Mor on a wonderful sunny day. It was a fantastic sight.

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Carmichael and Crockart rock at the Ice Bucket Challenge

Two very different but very funny takes on the Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon from the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West.

Mindful of some concerns of wasting water, Alistair Carmichael did his with iced sea water from the beautiful Tingwall Pier near his Orkney home. He started with a  thinly veiled threat of terrible revenge on those who nominated him and then:

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael – Independence vote is far too important to shun

AlistairCarmichaelWriting in the Scottish Daily Record, Alistair Carmichael praises that paper’s “Missing Million” campaign.

It seems 300,000 people have not registered to vote, and many others will probably not turn out on referendum day.  The paper had already been urging readers to exercise their vote, with a 16 page pullout yesterday, and they are now actively tracking people who are not on the roll.

Alistair writes:

The Daily Record. There’s a reason it’s called Scotland’s Champion and the “missing million” campaign shows why.

On September 18, you, I and every other eligible voter will have

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Lessons must be learned from the Jo Swinson speculation

jo swinson by paul walterOn Thursday, George Eaton of the New Statesman blogged that Jo Swinson was about to replace Ed Davey in the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle.

Today, the Guardian’s Nick Watt says that this is not the case and Jo is expected to become Secretary of State for Scotland in September after the independence referendum.

Nick Clegg, acutely conscious that the five Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers are all men, is expected to promote the business minister Jo Swinson to the cabinet. But she is expected to succeed Alistair Carmichael as Scotland secretary after September’s independence referendum in September if, as expected, the pro-Union side prevails. Carmichael would be praised for his role in the victory as Swinson took charge on introducing greater devolution to the Scottish parliament.

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Alistair Carmichael to co-host Scottish Fashion Awards

AlistairCarmichaelSomeone must have heard of Alistair Carmichael’s excellent skills at Ed Fordham and Russell Eagling’s wedding last Saturday. He’s only gone and got himself another hosting gig, at the Scottish Fashion Awards in September, just 17 days before the Referendum on independence.

Fibre 2 Fashion has the story:

The Scottish Fashion Awards have announced an impressive list of nominees and honourees for the 9th annual fashion extravaganza, which will take place in 8 Northumberland, London on 1st September 2014. The event will be co-hosted by The Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael

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Carmichael says: Come to Conference in Glasgow (and so do I)

Glasgow's "Squinty bridge" by Paul WalterSecretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has made a lovely little video to promote this year’s Autumn Conference. We’re returning to Glasgow. I will not mention the delicious irony that Alistair is actually sitting in Party HQ in Edinburgh. After all, it’s not as if there’s any rivalry between the two cities, or anything.

I’ll also not mention the taxi driver who told me, without any rancour, that he couldn’t wait for the Liberal Democrats to be wiped out.

Seriously, though, Glasgow is brilliant both as a place and a Conference venue and it’s well worth coming.

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Alistair Carmichael: “Torture is an abhorrent violation of human rights and dignity”

Carmichael Glasgow AmnestyToday is the UN’s Day of Support for Victims of Torture. Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has a long association with Amnesty International and he visited the Glasgow group last night to mark the occasion.

He spoke about the imprisonment of the Egyptian journalists, the death penalty, how Scotland has such a big impact on human rights as part of the UK and what the Coalition has done to advance the cause of human rights. The whole speech is available here on my blog, but …

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Scottish Liberal Democrats launch their European Election campaign – IN Britain, IN Europe, IN Work

Given the illustrious collection of single malts that there is in Scottish Party HQ, it’s hardly surprising that the party decided to launch its campaign of for the European elections in a distillery near Edinburgh. Alistair Carmichael, Willie Rennie and George Lyon checked out the products as they outlined the campaign themes.

Rennie, Carmichael and Lyon

There are no local elections in Scotland this year, but there is an added dimension with the approaching independence referendum. The Party of IN arguments apply just as much to Scotland staying in the UK as they do to the UK staying in Europe.

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Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael go independence myth busting

Saltire and Forth BridgeBoth Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael have tried their hand at taking on some of the pro-independence supporters’ claims about the consequences of independence today with varying degrees of success.

Before I start, I usually try to refer to SNP and Yes supporters as pro-indy people or something like that but it’s a bit clumsy. I say the Yes Lot, too, as long as people know I’m doing it in good spirit.  I don’t really like calling them Nationalists because the likes of Jim Murphy use that as a …

photo by: 4652 Paces
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Alistair Carmichael as many of you will never have seen him before

Do you know what, this independence referendum is actually starting to have some nice moments.  I would never have thought it. Sadly, few of them are to do with the actual substance of the campaign, but there’s always hope.

One of the best things about it for me is that for what I imagine will be the only time in our lifetimes, my Dad and I are on the same side in a political debate. I was absolutely thrilled when he took up volunteering for Better Together one day a week and he’s become a bit of an expert on the …

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Let’s cut out referendum tension and concentrate on historical significance of referendum vote

Carmichael looking mean croppedLiberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has written for the Daily Record about the need to conduct the independence referendum in a more respectful tone, citing examples of attacks from independence supporters on those who want to stay in the UK:

Cybernats – or internet trolls, to give them their proper name – wish Eddie Izzard serious harm simply because he has the cheek to disagree with them.

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Scotland mourns Margo MacDonald MSP

Contains Scottish Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.There won’t be a dry eye anywhere in Scottish politics this afternoon. Margo MacDonald, the spirited, warm-hearted, funny, plain-speaking, independent minded MSP for Lothians died this lunchtime.

Margo shot to prominence after winning the Govan by-election in 1973. Although she lost her seat in the General Election 2 months later, she made an impact on Scottish politics. She never returned to Westminster, but has been one of the real stars of the Scottish Parliament over the last 15 years. She …

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In Full: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

rally carmichaelCarmichael went all Pythonesque as part of the party’s “sunshine strategy” on Saturday at Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in Aberdeen. “What has the UK ever done for us?”, he asked, apart from providing peace, prosperity and a whole great big list of other good things that we can’t do without.

He also spoke about the importance of supporting business to create jobs and prosperity in our communities.

Here is his speech in full:

 It is good to be back here in Aberdeen.

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Carmichael: We should be proud of what we are achieving in the UK, not talking about leaving

Union FlagIn a week where I’ve despaired a bit of the pro-UK campaign in the Scottish Independence Referendum, it’s good to see Alistair Carmichael come out brimming with pride at what we have and what we’ve built together in the UK. In a speech at Edinburgh University last night. Yes, it’s a wee bit listy, but we actually need to look at and appreciate what we’ve got rather than just assume that the grass on the other side is going to be greener. Frankly, when people are wooed by the thrill …

photo by: mrs.timpers
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A look ahead to Scottish Conference

AECC Aberdeen Some rights served by Graham ScottThis time next week, I’ll be on a train on my way to Aberdeen along with lots of other Scottish Liberal Democrats for our Spring Conference. This is the party’s main Conference, held over 3 days. Here’s my pick of the agenda.

The debates

Part of the reason I’m getting up at such an ungodly hour on Friday is to get up there for the first two debates. Alison McInnes, our justice spokesperson, has done much to highlight the many iniquities of our Justice system under the illiberal regime of Kenny MacAskill.

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Alistair Carmichael on Chris Huhne: he put the ‘T’ in Cancun

Cancun, Mexico. Some rights reserved by Nicolas KarimHow, you might ask, did we fail to cover this story this week? In a speech to lobby journalists, Lib Dem chief whip turned Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael regaled them with this story of the inner workings of the whips office, as the tuition fees vote neared:

‘One thing which I was thinking about recently was that Chris Huhne, in the interests of tackling climate change, had managed to be at some big summit in Cancun, so was not available to take part in the division on the day

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Can everyone please just play nice? Briefing against other Liberal Democrats and insulting party activists is never going to help.

carmichael and teddy bearWe’ve had some pretty strange and random articles appearing all over the place about who might replace Nick Clegg. The least strange and random was of course this by my co-editor Stephen Tall.

People who know Graeme Littlejohn have generally been laughing their heads off at the notion that he’s been brought in as Danny Alexander’s Head of Office as some Machiavelli who’s going to win him the leadership. That’s been in a couple of papers now and I’m just wondering who on earth is spreading this stuff. Actually, I do have some ideas, but these are better kept to myself for the time being.

Yesterday, it was the turn of Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael to get the Leadership Speculation Treatment, by Thomas Byrne over at the New Statesman.:

Carmichael has managed to avoid falling prey to the left/right divide emerging more clearly in the party as it gets used to power. “He could be a compromise candidate… post-coalition we need someone to hold the party together. Alistair might be the guy,” one Lib Dem told me. As chief whip for the Lib Dems before becoming Scottish Secretary, he will know where the bodies are buried. Not only did this position make building a relationship with all the MPs in the party compulsory, it also meant he commanded their respect. Don’t mess with Carmichael.

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Why would Alistair Carmichael stop going to a supermarket?

Alistair Carmichael speech Jan 2014Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael was on last night’s Any Questions from Tiverton in Devon, just about as far away as you can get from his Orkney home.

He told the Tory Nadim Zahawi off for raising the idea of capping child benefit at the second child, dismissing it as “not one of your better ideas.”

It was inevitable that there would be a question on food banks and I think that he tackled it quite well and thoughtfully. He said that the key to tackling poverty was to get more people into work and to let those on the lowest wages keep more of what they earn. He added that people who used food banks may not be on benefits but might be suffering from chaotic events in their lives. He added as well that our incomes weren’t as resilient as once they might have been. Because we have such a high level of personal debt, which has to be serviced, we aren’t able to save so we have something to fall back on.

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Another wheel comes off the SNP’s independence bandwagon as EU Commission President says Scotland would find it difficult to join EU

It has not been a good week for Scottish independence campaigners and particularly the SNP. Their primary objective in their quest has been to achieve a break up of the UK without scaring any horses. We’d hardly notice, they said. Everything would go on pretty much as before. We’d still have the Queen and the pound and, of course, an independent Scotland would be admitted to the EU automatically on the same terms as the UK currently enjoys.

This week George Osborne, backed by Danny Alexander and Ed Balls, ruled out the SNP’s preferred option of a currency union. Alex …

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Après Nick: which Lib Dem MPs are best-placed to become the next Lib Dem leader?

Today’s Independent has an interesting story speculating on the Lib Dem leadership contest to come if the 2015 election result triggers Nick Clegg’s resignation. It’s one of the features of this parliament – perhaps linked to it being a fixed-term in which we know the dates are all known – that there hasn’t been nearly as much gossip about future leadership bids in any of the three main parties.

Anyway, the Indy story seeks to make up a little for that absence: Nick Clegg’s rivals for the Lib Dems leadership told to rev up. The premise of the article …

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LDVideo: Danny Alexander explains decision to guarantee all UK debt up until Independence

It’s slightly annoying that the announcement by the Treasury pledging to honour all UK debt up till the date of Independence was made on the same day as Alistair Carmichael’s first keynote speech of the New Year, but there was little choice given ill-advised threats last week that an independent Scotland would default on its debts if it didn’t get its way on using the pound as part of a currency union. The markets were spooked. The Treasury had to act.

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The three dimensions to Alistair Carmichael’s speech: positive vision of UK, incoherent nationalist ideas and future powers

Alistair Carmichael speech Jan 2014Alistair Carmichael’s keynote speech and subsequent question and answer session in Stirling today touched three different dimensions of the constitutional debate, the last of which should cheer any Liberal Democrat heart. Up until now, roughly, the nationalist campaign has been all about painting a pretty picture of how all our problems would disappear if we controlled our own destiny, and in dismissing all searching for detail and questioning as scaremongering. The pro UK campaign has been about robust analysis of the SNP positions, but it hasn’t even made my heart sing and I’m voting for them. It’s been all head and fact and evidence based and worthy,  but it’s not appealed to the emotions.  The parts of Carmichael’s speech trailed overnight heavily emphasised what Scotland gains as being part of the UK, though. Were we about to see a change of emphasis?

The positive vision for the UK

It’s not just about money, said Alistair. It’s about what the 4 nations of the UK have built together. He said Scotland gets more out than it puts in which will no doubt have the nationalists in a tailspin of indignation – but the same is the case for all the countries which make up the UK, greater than the sum of their parts.

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Alistair Carmichael to outline the benefits of the UK in keynote speech

I am about to head off to Stirling to see Alistair Carmichael deliver his first keynote speech of the year in which he will set out the benefits of Scotland remaining in the UK. The pro-UK arguments have mainly been quite dry and technical and he wants to do more to relate them directly to people’s practical concerns and to celebrate what the UK has achieved by building such institutions as the NHS and the BBC.

He will say

That partnership has a remarkable history. And we’re not just talking about the past – right now Scotland sees the benefit of this long

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Alistair Carmichael reselected for Orkney and Shetland

AlistairCarmichaelIn news that will surprise nobody, but is worth recording anyway, the Orcadian reports Alistair Carmichael’s unanimous reselection to fight Orkney and Shetland in next year’s General Election:

I am delighted to be reselected as the Liberal Democrat candidate to stand as MP for 2015. I expect it to be a lively contest and I do not take continued support for granted.

I have been an MP for 12 and a half years and in that time the Northern Isles has truly become home. My wife and I have raised our family here and we have many roots in the community here in Orkney.

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Carmichael: Job security and stronger economy mean more than illusory SNP independence promise

The Sunday Herald carried an interview with Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael yesterday.

He talked about how he relaxes away from the stresses of his job, ensuring he gets home at weekends to spend time with his family:

“That’s important to me, that’s the sanity valve. As long as I can just spend some time mucking about with my boys, or walking the dog on the beach,” he says.

But can he really keep that up to September 18? “That’s my intention. Look, this is an important, exciting job, but I have other jobs as well. I’m

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The lighter side of the Scottish referendum campaign.

It’s not often we have cause to thank Nick Robinson.

But if this tweet of his doesn’t make you at least smile, then I honestly fear for your soul. Unless you’re Alistair Carmichael, of course. He may be about to kill me. But I’ll take that risk, just for you, dear reader.

Although, to be fair, I don’t think anyone ever thought for half a second that he might be image obsessed.

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SNP’s white paper on independence – some first reaction and three initial questions from me

For months, years, even, whenever we’ve asked questions about independence, after we’ve been accused of scaremongering, we’ve been told to wait for the White Paper.

Well, that wait is over as the White Paper has now been published - or is it? Scotland’s Future, it’s called. That’s profound. We have a future? That’s kind of inevitable. It doesn’t promise a bright future, or a happy one.

On the big questions of the day, such as the three on pensions, currency and cost posed by Alistair Carmichael two weeks ago, we are really none the wiser. We know what the SNP …

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Carmichael: 3 questions the SNP must answer on currency, pensions and costs after independence

Carmichael Inverness speech

In the beautiful surroundings of Bishop’s House in Inverness, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael gave his first keynote speech. The whole thing is published below the cut, but here are the highlights:

  • The Highlands and Islands have never been better represented in Government – a boy from Colonsay and a boy from Orkney in the Cabinet.
  • How you vote in the referendum does not determine how Scottish you are – once you start mixing patriotism and politics, you quickly get into dangerous territory.
  • The UK’s greatest hits. He said it wasn’t a list of them, but it so was. And pretty compelling, too.
  • 3 questions for the SNP:
  • What’s your Plan B if we can’t have a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK?
  • How much more will pensions cost us if we leave the UK?
  • How much will independence cost?

I get the feeling these 3 are the start of many. Overall, it’s a strong speech delivered with humour, passion and sharpness. He’s put the Nationalists on notice that he’s going to be very specific with them. They won’t get away with squealing about who they want to debate, or how Scottish anyone is,

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Carmichael: Don’t question my Scottishness because I say we’re stronger and safer as part of the UK

AlistairCarmichaelNew Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael makes his first keynote speech in the role in Inverness on Wednesday. This is a chance for Scotland to get to know him a little bit better. The Nationalists and the media have been doing all they can to portray him as some sort of political bruiser, something which is met with a mixture of bafflement and mirth within the Liberal Democrats. This, after all,  is the same Alistair Carmichael whose sharp wit has us all digging deep into our pockets at party fundraisers, whose geniality makes him one of the most popular figures in the party. Sure, he’s pithy, punchy and persuasive, but he’s also very funny and has his feet very firmly on the ground.

His speech is very personal, and comes just 6 days after Fife SNP Councillor David Alexander denounced him as a “supposed Scot”, for which, the Courier reports, he has refused to apologise and attacked the paper for bias:

However, Mr Alexander refused to withdraw his remarks, instead claiming there was a vendetta against him and branding The Courier — recently praised by SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond for its objectivity — biased.

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