Tag Archives: Alistair Carmichael

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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SNP Councillor calls Alistair Carmichael a “supposed Scot” as furious debate over shipyards continues for too long

It’s been a fairly depressing couple of days for anyone watching the independence referendum campaign north of the border. Both sides would do well to remember that people are losing their jobs in Portsmouth, Glasgow and Rosyth after the BAE Systems announcement yesterday. It would have been appropriate, I think, for the main focus to have been on support for the people who were going to be out of work, but, no. Sadly and predictably, there’s been a big row about what would happen if Scotland votes for independence next year.

It stands to reason that if Scotland votes to stay …

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Liberal Democrats react to BAE shipyard closures and job losses

Today’s news that 1775 jobs will be lost at BAE systems yards across the country and shipbuilding ended completely in Portsmouth has been met with concern by senior Liberal Democrats. Nobody ever wants to see major facilities being closed and so many people without work. It’s no surprise that one yard was going to have to close once the work was done on the aircraft carriers,  but foreknowledge doesn’t make it any easier.

First of all, Portsmouth Council leader Gerald Vernon Jackson told the BBC that this was the wrong decision at the wrong time and that the Government should have waited until the Scottish independence referendum was over to preserve shipbuilding capacity in England in the event of independence.

I’m no

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The former Whip is well and truly whipped in Go Sober fundraising challenge

Go Sober highest fundraisers

Over the past month, we have been keeping you posted on Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael’s Go Sober for October fundraising challenge with his old friend, party legend Sheila Ritchie. They made hilarious pitches for your money last week.

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Man in hotel downs whisky at midnight…

Alistair's Highland ParkOk, so it’s not the most exciting headline in the world. After all, nocturnal imbibing of spirits is pretty commonplace.

However, when the man in question is Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael breaking his month long abstinence having raised, at the time of writing, £4,235 for Macmillan Cancer Support, it is appropriate to mark the occasion.

The last time Alistair had a drink, he wasn’t in the Cabinet, Scotland still had an outside chance of qualifying for the World Cup finals and the third Bridget Jones book was still under lock and key at the publishers. He was finally able to celebrate/commiserate in traditional style. His tipple of choice was, in my opinion, the world’s finest single malt, Orkney’s Highland Park.

It seemed that half of Facebook was up to celebrate with him to enjoy the occasion. He told us:

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EXCLUSIVE: Alistair Carmichael and Sheila Ritchie pitch for your Go Sober sponsorship

We have been following the often humorous progress of party legend Sheila Ritchie and Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael as they take part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober for October challenge. At the time of writing, Sheila is the top fundraiser in the UK and Alistair is fifth. They have raised, between them, over £6,000. When we predicted that they might get to £5,000, we thought were being wildly optimistic. We’ve noticed that when we write about their quest on here, it leads to an upsurge in donations for them both. 

In order to encourage you to donate, and to choose whether you give your money to #TeamAlistair or #TeamSheila, the two old friends have written exclusively for you. The order in which the posts appear was decided by the toss of a coin. 

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Grangemouth: a summary of Liberal Democrat reaction

It’s a grim day in Central Scotland as 800 people face losing their jobs at Grangemouth. It’s impossible to overestimate the effect that Ineos’s decision to close the petrochemical plant, which shares the site with Scotland’s only refinery, will have on the Scottish economy.

There are still some hopes that Ineos can be persuaded to reverse their decision, which was based on the Unite trade union’s rejection of changes to terms and conditions of employment. A further meeting takes place this morning. Unite are reported to have offered major concessions. Logic would dictate that if they’ve been offered what they want, Ineos should keep the plant open. We will have to wait and see.

If Ineos don’t change their minds, efforts will shift to finding a new buyer for the site

It’s been good to see Scotland’s two governments working together very collaboratively, broadly saying the same sorts of things. In the UK government, three Liberal Democrats share responsibility for this: Ed Davey, Alistair Carmichael and Vince Cable. Here’s what they and others have been saying:

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#TeamAlistair vs #TeamSheila Go Sober update – Carmichael behind but almost £3k pledged so far

Last week we brought you news of the challenge between Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael and one of his best friends, party legend Sheila Ritchie to see who could raise most money for Macmillan Cancer Support by going sober for October.

In the last 7 days, Mrs Ritchie has extended her already considerable lead. With ten days to go, can she pull off a memorable victory for the grassroots against the Establishment?

The current scores are as follows:

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Carmichael: SNP’s energy plans have more holes than a Swiss cheese

At the SNP’s conference in Perth, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a plan to cut Scottish consumers’ energy bills after independence by having the Government pay the levy that funds green investment. This will happen, alongside renationalising Scotland’s postal service if Scotland votes for independence next year.

The SNP have always been good at coming up with ways to spend our money. In fact, many of their manifestos have spent all the available money several times over.  In September, the Institute of Fiscal Studies reported that:

If an independent Scotland wanted to deliver the same cuts to public service

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The glamorous life of the Secretary of State for Scotland

Alistair Carmichael - License Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThe Guardian reported last night that there were rumours that Alex Salmond is staying at the luxurious Gleneagles Hotel during the SNP’s conference in Perth. True, it’s only rumours, but I’m unable to find any SNP denial and you think that they would have done. I mean, rather than stay in any of Perth’s fine hostelries, it’s being said he’s travelling half an hour down the road to the playground of the rich and famous. Surely they’d want to make him sound more like a man of the people than that.

Wherever the First Minister is laying his head, it’s unlikely to be too uncomfortable. If he is staying at Gleneagles, he could be dining in Andrew Fairlie’s restaurant on roast fillet of turbot, seaweed butter, baby fennel and clam veloute.  Compare and contrast with the not entirely jet set lifestyle of Alistair Carmichael, our new Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland.

Newsmoggie knows what he did  last Wednesday.  He’d been to the Royal National Mod (a national, annual festival of Gaelic language, music and culture) in Paisley. He and his team then dined in the splendour of McDonalds in Bishopbriggs in the heart of Jo Swinson’s constituency. He then spent the night in the humble surroundings of the Travelodge in Stirling before heading to Aberdeenshire for a day of engagements on Thursday.

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Carmichael for leader in 2014? As likely as him giving up booze for a year, I’d say.

Carmichael Mark Darcy blogThere are occasions when political journalists get things so wrong that they make themselves look a bit silly. The BBC’s Mark D’Arcy has made me laugh with his latest blog in which he suggests that new Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael might challenge Nick Clegg for the party leadership if we have a poor showing in the European elections next year, but this would happen some 4 months after the vote.

This is how the theory goes:

Faced with the prospect of devastation at the next general

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