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.

To a question on whether England would be better or worse off if Scotland left the UK, he said that it would be worse off because the UK was far more than the sum of its parts. He added that independence was a 19th or 20th solution to a 21st century situation and that what he wanted to see was more devolution within England.

He went gloriously off message on the final question which was about whether it was right for Sainsbury’s to put calorie counts on its own brand wine. He joked that if anyone dared to that to malt whisky, they would lose his custom immediately.

I’m sure he was able to have a wee dram to relax after a thoughtful performance.

You can listen to it here or when it’s re-broadcast at 1:10 pm today on Radio 4.

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One Comment

  • Alistair Carmichael handled Question Time very well.

    Important ly, – 90% of the audience in Tiverton (by show of hands) wanted Scotland to stay in the UK (this is a message we need to get out there “Scotland we love you, please forgive our mistakes, let us stay together and achieve much more”.

    A similar proportion of the audience wanted some form of devolved parliament for England. Our Policy Paper 117 “Power to the People” (to be debated in York) is touching a strong chord. I firmly believe in a Federal UK, with massive devolution to all nations and reserve powers (e.g. defence, foreign affairs, macro and trade policy) managed from Westminster (just as the policy paper proposes).

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