Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Scotland analysis

As the debate surrounding Scottish independence gets underway, the UK Government published its first in a series of ‘Scotland analysis’ papers last week to look at the legal implications of Scottish independence. The paper set out that, according to experts, a ‘Yes’ vote would make Scotland the ‘successor’ state and the rest of the UK the ‘continuing’ state. This rejects the First Minister’s idea that Scotland and the UK would both be regarded as two new states and means that Scotland would have to renegotiate entry into organisations such as the UN, EU and Nato if it were to become independent.

Now that the referendum process has been agreed, I believe it is absolutely critical that both sides set out their arguments as us Scots make the most important decision in Scotland’s history next year. I am glad that the UK Government has begun this process and I am urging the Scottish Government to do the same.

Scottish Questions

We had Scottish Questions in the Commons again last week which is an opportunity for backbench MPs to ask me and the Under-Secretary of State any questions about Scotland. We discussed wide ranging issues from nuclear and renewable energy to the independence referendum and tax. During the question time, I outlined the action we are taking to reduce taxes for the low paid and reform the benefits system through the universal credit which will make work always pay and see many people better off as a result.

NFUS Conference

Representing a rural constituency with a strong farming industry, I was pleased to be able to attend the NFUS conference in St Andrews last week where the Union was celebrating its centenary. The conference was an opportunity to discuss the latest challenges facing the industry as well as congratulate Nigel Miller on his re-election as President, and Borderer, Rob Livesey, on his election as Union Vice-President. It’s good to know that the Borders has such a strong voice at the heart of the farming community in Scotland and I’m sure both Nigel and Rob will continue to do a great job representing Scottish farming interests.

During the conference, I gave a speech as Secretary of State for Scotland which was an opportunity to set out what the UK Government is doing to support rural communities in Scotland and across the UK. By investing in post offices and rolling our better broadband, we are taking firm action to ensure that people in rural communities are given access to the services they need to thrive. For our farming community, I extremely proud that we have secured a Dairy Code of Practice and the new UK Groceries Code Adjudicator which will help our local farmers get a fair price for their produce. As a Liberal Democrat, I have been campaigning for greater fairness in the grocery market for many years, so it’s great to be delivering the Adjudicator in Government, who will stand up for our farmers in the marketplace.

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds, Parliament and Scotland.


  • It is quite astonishing that Mr Moore is still referring to the “expert” opinion about Scottish independence that was published last week by his department because it has been embarrassing the Westminster-led no campaign throughout the week.

    The document states on page 75:
    “For the purpose of this advice, it is not necessary to decide between these two views of the union of 1707. Whether or not England was also extinguished by the union, Scotland certainly was extinguished as a matter of international law, by merger either into an enlarged and renamed England or into an entirely new state.”

    The opinion offered in the document is based on this premise that Scotland was EXTINGUISHED in 1707. This is a radical departure from the previous unionist argument that sought to portray the union as a partnership of equals. Michael Moore has single handedly destroyed any possibility of making a positive Scottish case for the union because according to his department Scotland has been extinguished.

    Michael Moore, who himself called Westminster remote from Scotland on the Politics Show, is also cherry picking which advice to publish. Professor James Crawford of the University of Cambridge, an expert on international law who advises the UK government, said on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland that, following next year’s yes vote, an independent Scotland would remain in the EU, that UN membership would be straightforward and that a timetable that would lead to an independence day in March 2016 was realistic.

    A no vote would now amount to an endorsement of Michael Moore’s new unionist position that Scotland is extinguished. Only a yes vote in next year’s referendum will allow Scotland to take its place as an equal among the nations of these islands.

  • I think it was pretty obvious from history that, whatever the theory of the Union was, the de facto result was an annexation of Scotland by an England that triumphantly renamed itself “Great Britain”. The capital of the new realm was the capital of England. The government of the new realm was controlled by English politicians. The parliament of the new realm was the English Parliament with the addition of an small and powerless number of Scots. The Crown had already been effectively English for over a century, since James VI became James I and decided that London was more comfortable than Edinburgh, and that Scotland could be safely and profitably governed from a distance — and after the Civil War, the monarchs didn’t even bother with the occasional visit to Scotland until the time of George IV. Scots money was abolished and replaced by English money. In every respect, the Union meant immense changes for the Scots and business as usual for the English. All the Scots retained were their Kirk and some legal forms. One doesn’t have to approach the history from any particular political point of view to see that the Union was really annexation.

  • I look forward to using my passport to visit my farther after 2016 then.

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