Thursday, March 08, 2007

David Mundell Should be Supported, Not Sacked

The Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, will not have enjoyed his morning newspapers. They carry reports of a confidential memo he had written in which he was none to complimentary about the quality of Scottish Tory MSPs. According to Conservative Home, he made the following observations...
* There is a "simple lack of thinkers" on the Conservative benches at Holyrood, they don't have the capacity to formulate their own policy independently.
* Annabel Goldie made a reasonable start but has been
criticised for "lack of activity and strategic thought", she has "sensitivities"
about how she was presented alongside Cameron.
* The next Holyrood manifesto will recycle existing policy positions and that the Scottish party "don't get" the new moderation of the Westminster party.
* The need to replace Scottish Chairman Peter Duncan as an "immediate priority."

This memo was written last June. In my view he was just doing his job and analysing the state of the Party in advance of this May's elections. I couldn't quibble with the first three assertions and I can't judge the last one. And yet ConservativeHome's conclusion is that David Mundell should either resign or be sacked. Utter rubbish, and a very unhelpful suggestion.

David Mundell is our only MP in Scotland and should be regarded as a protected species. No one should be forced out for speaking what the rest of us know to be the truth. Indeed, his colleagues should rally round him and help him persuade the Scottish Conservatives to get their act together. They should all look to Wales to see how to do it.


Bob Piper said...

Couldn't agree more. One of the tyrannies of our democracy is the way that anyone who dares criticise or not toe the party line is immediately set upon by the intolerant who only want voting fodder and leadership clones.

machiavelli said...

Surely Mundell was doing his job by providing an analysis of the situation in Scotland?

There's no point surrounding yourself with yes-men whose sole purpose is to tell you everything's going swimmingly when it isn't.

The leaker should be sacked, not the messenger.

Lord Haw Haw said...

Mundell is correct in all he said.
Our MSPs have sold out completely and never challenge the socialist consensus in Scotland. They are time servers and mostly idle. The Party membership in Scotland will be 100% behind him on this. Its all the more tragic when so many friends in England are driven to want to break ties with Scotland because of devolution and the subsudies we receive. Never have we needed an intelligent Tory voice more in Scotland before its too late

Anonymous said...

Quite agree, Mr Dale - this sort of tosh needs to be nipped in the bud or the 'thought police' will just take over. You have a good record of rescuing 'protected species' [think Sir Patrick..] so I am glad you are riding to the rescue.

Now if only we could get you onside about protecting those 'birds of fine plumage' in the House of Lords...I only mention this as Lord Onslow was on Newsnight with Paxo - come along now, we can't let fine specimens like him be hunted to extinction now can we ? Toodle-pip.

hg said...

Lord Haw Haw, Could you choose another name? It goes against the grain to say 'I agree with Lord Haw Haw', it really does, and to disagree with Lord H. is a given.

Anonymous said...

What are ConservativeHome playing at? They have done the most harm by turning this story into a high profile national issue that is now bound to be picked up by the national press and our enemies.

What is their agenda?

hatfield girl said...

Anon. 10.50. It would be better to let Lord Onslow speak for himself:

Dear Mr Cameron,

You and I are Conservatives. It could even be said that we both had a traditional upbringing. I have always understood that we Conservatives have been at our best when we use conservative and traditional methods for constructive change. From our beginnings in the Restoration parliament as defenders of church and king, we have seen ancient liberties as the key to the advancement of our fellow citizens.

Throughout the centuries, that Conservative-Tory tradition has been used for the immense benefit of our people. Peel's Tamworth Manifesto stated that so clearly in 1834. That is why we have been the most successful and long-lasting political party in history. From the Stuart kings to the modern, mass-political democracy, our great party has defended our constitution and benefited our country.

Something is missing from our rhetoric. We have a government by a party that reinvented itself by being ashamed of its roots and determinedly betrayed the traditions and ideas of its founders. They may well have been right so to do, but they cannot be trusted to hold dear the traditions of others.

In no order of awfulness, this government has emasculated the House of Commons by the permanent use of guillotines. On the whim of the Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellorship has been neutered, removing a voice of law from the cabinet.

Those instances are on the parliamentary front, but what the government has done to the liberty of the subject is far worse. Note that I say liberty of the subject, not the rights of the citizen. That is because liberties are boundless unless circumscribed by law and rights are, by their nature, circumscribed.

It has repealed the law on double jeopardy. With Asbos, it has sent to prison some of the young on hearsay evidence for things that are not even criminal. It has created a centralised register held by the government on all citizens and proposes to force them to have ID cards. It has formed a police force with unprecedented powers of arrest - the Serious Organised Crime Agency - over which the Home Secretary has authority no predecessor has previously enjoyed.

Through its control orders, it has introduced a system of deprivation of liberty without trial on the say-so of the executive. It has passed the Civil Contingencies Act that allows a minister to override any statute after the calling of a state of emergency and now there is the Regulatory Reform Bill, which has been described as 'the abolition of parliament bill' and against which our party did not even vote at second reading. This gives gauleiter-like powers to ministers which we are blandly told will not be used.

The government has allowed the retention by the police of DNA details of thousands of innocents and it has given us section 81 (6) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claims) Act 2004 which amends the Nationality, Immigration and Asylums Act 2002, creating a single-tier appeals procedure which Lord Steyn, in a recent lecture, described as, in effect, ousting the jurisdiction of ordinary courts. The government has introduced anti-terrorism stop-and-search powers that are constantly being misused, such as when the elderly Walter Wolfgang was ejected from the Labour conference.

This list is by no means comprehensive. What surprises, worries and depresses me is the apparent relative quietude on the part of the Conservative party on these issues. I repeat - it did not vote against the Regulatory Reform Bill on second reading. It has not remembered the great Edward Gibbon's comment on Augustus Caesar's Rome: 'The principles of a free constitution are irrecoverably lost when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.'

It was dozy on the Civil Contingencies Act until the excellent Peta Buscombe in our house took it up; this from the party which, since the restoration of Charles II, has been so jealous of our constitution. Have we a guilty secret? Remember Burke saying: 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.' Why are we not shouting from the hustings that we will return to the people their ancient liberties?

Why, Mr Cameron, is the Conservative party passing by on the other side while our old liberties fall among thieves?

Yours sincerely, Onslow

· The Earl of Onslow is one of the 92 hereditary peers and takes the Conservative whip.

Open Letter (to the Guardian)

Alan Simpson said...

Everything he has said is completely correct about the party. The party up in Scotland flounder about with no realistic chance of any electoral success whatsoever. He was asked to provide an analysis on the MSPs and did just that.

Liam Murray said...

Quite agree.

About a year ago I decided to get more involved in my local party but it's been a thoroughly dispiriting experience. There's a direct link between the intellectual depth and talents of the grassroots members and the elected representives that emerge from that group. It'll take many years to address and stories like this actually fire me up to renew my efforts...

Scott said...

One could suggest that during his time as an MSP Mr Mundell himself was as guilty of the sins complained of as any other. As a list MSP Mundell contributed little to the Scottish parliament through committees or other contributions. With his background in business one would have hoped for better from him.

One of the problems for the Scottish Conservatives ( is that potentially radical polices (spearheaded I think by their deputy leader in Scotland Murdo Fraser) in relation to fiscal autonomy (something Fraser has been banging on about since before devolution was implemented) and other matters make the UK Conservative party nervous. Either devolve and give the Scottish party free rein and let Fraser and those like him develop radical polices, or try to impose centralised control from Cameron.

chatterbox said...

"What are ConservativeHome playing at? They have done the most harm by turning this story into a high profile national issue that is now bound to be picked up by the national press and our enemies.

What is their agenda?"

It would seem that they have "unwittingly" helped someone's agenda in the run up to the Scottish Conservative Conference, it is an amazing coincidence that this leak occurred at this time.
But then again if the Scottish tories do better than expected that rather tends to spike the criticism of the leadership North and South of the border, and at the moment that seems to be the only stick they have left to beat Cameron with?

Grant Thoms said...

Do you really think the Tory Party in Scotland is going to take heed from someone who is regarded as not much better than a pound of mince? If this searing critique of the party north of border had been carried out by Malky Rifkind or even Portillo, then it might have had some resonance. As it is David Mundell was a lightweight in the Scottish Parliament and a nobody at Westminster.

2br02b said...

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party has gone from dominating Scottish politics--with half of all Scots MPs in the 1950--to its present pathetic state of near-oblivion.

Scotland, the birthplace of Adam Smith, the home of the Protestant Work Ethic, is now in large part reduced to a pathetic imitation of a Soviet satellite of the kind found in eastern Europe 20 or 30 years ago. As in the case of the NHS, Scotland is now another clear demonstration of the inescapable fact that it is socialism itself that is 'not fit for purpose'; socialists can no long blame underfunding for socialist failures.

The problem in Scotland, as with the NHS and elsewhere, is how to move away from the sort of honey trap government money leaves them in.

It is the job of the Tory party, in Scotland and eleswhere, to work out how to do this; and I don't think the existing 'leaders' ( I use the term loosely) of the Scottish Tories have it within them to think innovatively or act radically.

Sometimes I despair for what is my own, my native land; sometimes I think the only way forward is the cold shower that would be forced upon the electorate by independence.

As Burns put it:

"That I for poor auld Scotland's sake
Some usefu' plan or book could make,
Or sing a sang at least."

Anonymous said...

Iain, it is hardly surprising.

Tim Montgomorie was IDS's right-hand man and is clearly unapproving of both the agenda that Cameron is following and the fact he no longer has the ear of the leadership.

He consequently uses Conservative Home as a forum to try and influence the current leadership.

If you do any detailed study of Conservative home, you will see it consistently publishes stories and diary threads to embarass the leadership, including a disproportionate number of stories on;

(2)The EU
(4)Britain and America

There is no doubt in my mind, whatsoever, that this latest move is because David Mundell has upset an MSP friend of Tims (probably an IDS supporter) and he wants shot of him.

Trouble is, he has gone too far.

Tim needs to shape up and adopt a neutral editorial line - and fast.

Anonymous said...

The Scottish Tory party should divorce itself completely from its British (English) counterpart and start again. A new name might even help, as will wholesale reselection of its current crop of MSPs. Also realising that Scotland and England should cut their losses with the UK and support Scottish independence. Many of us former Tory voters support Scottish independence, recognising it as the only way for Scotland to rid itself of complacent socialism, but are absolutely loathed to vote the SNP. Most centre-right parties in Europe are parties where patriotism and national identity are concerned - why not the Scottish Tories?

Anonymous said...

The leak is probably 6 months old and was provided 'by someone close to Mundell'.

His analysis of MSPs is accurate and almost too kind.

Goldie and Fraser continue to do a poor job and are as bad as each other. The political system and the nature of the Parliament encourages poor quality members (as all the parties prove)

Mundell is one of the problems in Scotland not a solution - during his time in the SParl he proudly acted as an independent rarely if ever supporting the agreed line of the leadership. He, to my knowlage, has never had an origional idea or thought. He is a lackluster MP and is unlikely to figure in a future DC cabinet as he is mistrusted by DC and his team.
No he should not be sacked at the moment he should just continue to be ignored


Anonymous said...

hatfield girl, thanks very much for picking out that gem, I appreciate it. Although the fact that he is addressing David Cameron via The Guardian is itself interesting..


Glyn Davies AM said...

Thanks for the nice comment about Wales, Iain. We're hoping for a really good result. Last wekend's Welsh Conference was the best political conference Wales has seen for many years. ConservativeHome have got this wrong. It would downright stupid to sack David Mundell for saying it the way he sees it. Though it is not helpful that it emerges just before an election. Not being prepared to listen to criticism is a sign of weakness and I hope the Scottish Tories just called David in and asked him to work as part of the election team.

Border Reiver said...

I live in Scotland and therefore have the beneft of seeing these lightweights close-up...

Mundell is absolutely right, excet he doesn't go far enough. Goldie is the invisable woman. The Tory MSPs are a silent minority in Holyrood. Their lack of leadership, ideas to inspire the electorate and way they operate in oposition has helped to redefine -WET.

Instead of offering alternative views they mostly seem happy to sit there and take the money (Derek Brownlee is a notable exception)

We'd be better off with them gone....along of course with the rest of the time wasting, sponging MSPs.

Disgruntled said...

It would carry some weight if the architect of the disastrous Moray by-election campaign wasn't one D Mundell of Dumfries etc and which Ms Goldie had serious doubts about.

Looks like he's trying to throw blame to avoid his own immense shortcomings

Border Reiver said...

Disgruntled you may be right but Mundell is still right also

UK Daily Pundit said...

I agree with Glyn Davies. But after Patrick Mercer's comments today, the mountain the Tories have to climb to achieve any electoral success just got a little higher.

Disgruntled said...

If he was right he would accept his own culpability as well.

He was, after all, one of those "clueless no-hoper" MSPs prior to becoming an MP.

His election was more the result of a happy accident/

Labour poured resources into Dumfries and Galloway to keep Russell Brown in Parliament. They had a notional wafer thin majority of 141.

They took the eye off the ball in Dumfriesshire where the notional majority was 5,254 by forgetting that a lot of the Liberal Democrat vote from the Tweeddale part are naturally Tory. The Tories win the list votes in those seats in Scottish parliament elections.

So whilst the Liberal Democrat vote was kept up by previous Labour voters defecting to them and lowering the Labour vote, the Tories were getting votes from people who had previously voted for Liberal Democrat MPs.

PBI said...

I agree with everything Mundell said to be honest, but I would totally put him in the same bracket as those about whom he has been so harsh.

His contempt of his colleagues in Holyrood is well known, which is ironic given that he himself was, and remains as much of the problem as part of the solution.

C4' said...

They should all look to Wales to see how to do it.

I hope not as Nick Bourne is on an ego trip, David Melling is New Labour spy and the party just deselected the father of their outgoing Assembly deputy leader for captial offence of suggesting that the Assembly should be abolished.

The Welsh party has been divided by Bourne's egotism and Melling's malign influrence over policy.

Anonymous said...

Good post Anonymous 12.21

I stopped reading ConHome months ago, being thoroughly sick of Montgomerie's negative coverage of Cameron. He uses his website to promote right-wing views about Europe and Anglo/American relations. I should imagine Cameron loathes him and wouldn't dream of accepting any advice from him.

neil craig said...

Of the Tories had some policies in Scotland they would have something to fight with. Cutting corporation tax, a genuinely inovative policy borrowed from Ireland, has been adopted by the SNP. Making the 3p income tax cut has been dropped.

What have they to offer the electorate