Sunday, 30 May 2010

Michael Moore appointed Scottish Secretary

The deputy leader of the Scottish Lib Dems has been appointed Secretary of State for Scotland.

Michael Moore, one of my "four to follow" I suggested had the potential to replace Vince Cable as deputy leader in the Commons, succeeds Danny Alexander who was promoted to Chief Secretary to the Treasury following David Laws' resignation.

Mr Moore is an ideal choice for the role of Scottish Secretary. An MP for 13 years, he previously worked for David Steel and has proved his political value after holding a string of senior roles within the party. His understanding of Scottish issues is unrivalled among MPs and I have no doubt both Moore and Alexander will not only prove capable ministers but will give the coalition credibility among Scottish voters.

The Daily Mail was quick to write off the Scottish portfolio as a "non-job". Well, that neatly sums up the Mail's attitude towards Scotland. On the contrary, Moore now has the very significant job of helping to implement the recommendations of the Calman Commission. This provides him with the scope to champion increased autonomy and influence for the devolved Scottish parliament, and the chance to advocate what Tavish Scott calls "Calman plus" - additional powers beyond those recommended in the Calman report.

Far from being a "non-minister", Moore will be at the heart of government promoting a Liberal vision of increased Scottish autonomy and ensuring that sensible, forward-looking and constructive powers will be given to Holyrood, especially in relation to its ability to raise taxation.

There are those in Scotland who remain understandably suspicious of the coalition. To those people I would point to Michael Moore and ask this: isn't it better to have a Liberal Democrat in government pushing for Scotland's interests than to allow responsibility for acting on the findings of the Calman report to Tories historically unfriendly towards devolution and Holyrood?

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