The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

The Christmas spirit?

Posted on December 19, 2012 by

To be honest, we’re still trying to work out what happened here. The Secretary of State for Scotland was well and truly slapped up and down the room yesterday by a panel of peers in the House Of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, every one of whom was a Unionist. One after another lined up to lambast the hapless minister with stinging attacks and rebukes in a session that caught most observers used to the Lords’ normal cosy atmosphere of mutual Nat-bashing completely unawares.

It seems far too late in the day for Westminster’s second chamber to present itself as the heroic defender of the people of Scotland. It would be much too ironic for the unelected Barons and Earls and whatnot to be doing it in the name of democracy. And there seems little chance this one-day aberration will suddenly convince anyone to buy the implausible notion that the Committee is an impartial investigator into the issues surrounding Scottish independence.

(The Herald reported proceedings almost word-for-word the same way STV did, under the headline “Michael Moore savaged by Unionist peers over EU row”, but the poor old Scotsman was so bewildered it couldn’t bring itself to mention Moore’s humiliation at all, glossing over the entire thing with a comically absurd assessment of how his evidence to the Committee “undermines one of the key claims of the SNP and Yes Scotland campaign over economic security for an independent Scotland”.)

So frankly, readers, your guess is as good as ours as to what the noble lords were up to. A momentary outbreak of conscience? One too many sherries at the office Christmas do? If you’ve got any suggestions, we’re all ears.

Print Friendly

    34 to “The Christmas spirit?”

    1. DougtheDug says:

      Maybe it’s personal and they just don’t like Michael Moore?

    2. Silverytay says:

      Their brains are so pickled with their £300 a day booze allowance that they actually thought it was Alex Salmond that was in front of them and were demanding what contingency plans he had in place for the R.U.K when he wrenched Scotland away from them .

    3. Pa Broon says:

      I don’t know whether to have pity or disdain for Michael Moore.

      What he basically said was; ‘We like the answers currently circulating, if we actually asked the question about the EU & Scotland, we won’t like those answers at all, so we’re not going to ask.’

      It was a masterclass in dissembly.

    4. cath says:

      Perhaps what they actually don’t like – and fear – is the Edinburgh Agreement, negotiated largely by Moore. If so, they may have been subtly kicking him for that. Suggesting that, having agreed to pass control over to Holyrood, sign a section 30, and agree to work co-operatively over the result of the referendum, he should now be planning for the potential results of that.

    5. Luigi says:

      It sounds like the unfortunate peers were dragged kicking and screaming from the Lord’s Christmas Party, in order to attend the Economic Affairs Committee . They were well pissed, in more ways than one!

    6. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

      If the Unionist peers are mostly right-wing tories they may have an ulteria motive.

      If Scotland goes they will demand a referendum on the EU. They will get rid of the pesky Labour MP’s from Scotland. In addition, it was a great opportunity to slap down the equally pesky Lib dems.

      Or maybe they were just pissed and thought Scotland is part of Australia.         

    7. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:


      I know yesterday I said they may be trying to oust Moore because I cant see them being realistically thought of as lookin out for Scotland, but since then I had a thought…

      Nick Clegg is currently in the Scotland Office because of Asbestos suddenly found in his office…

      He is also pissing off the Tories and they may be quite happy to say:

      “look at the mess your man is making of the Scottish situation. You had better look after it yourself. It would show how importantly we feel about Scotland if the Deputy PM was the man in charge over at the Scottish Office…”

      That way if it goes tits up they could blame clegg in time for the next GE in the rUK (and we all know the Lib Dems are the Tory decoy boys!!!)

    8. Doug Daniel says:

      I suspect it’s a combination of things. Firstly, I think they genuinely believe that, given the “full facts”, remaining in the union will look like the more attractive option. If you don’t think you have anything to hide from full disclosure, you tend to get annoyed when people on your side refuse to be completely honest. A bit like how some pro-indy folk are very frustrated by what they see as the SNP making a fudge of things with the softly-softly approach.

      Secondly, unencumbered of the need to win elections to retain their lofty position in the British hierarchy, the Lords are perhaps displaying a more care-free attitude than those whose seat in Westminster depends on Scotland remaining in the UK. They have less to lose than Michael Moore, who will be out on his arse once we’re independent, because even though he could theoretically get himself into Holyrood upon a sudden resurgence in the Scottish Lib Dems (aye, right!), for folk like Moore – as well as Jim Murphy and the two D. Alexanders – it would feel like a demotion after the highs of the “proper” parliament in Westminster.

      Or perhaps they simply realised they’d gone too far with John Swinney, and decided to try and create a semblance of “balance”? 

      Ooooh – just saw Scott’s theory. I love it!

    9. Confucious says:

      Perhaps the Noble Lords have realised that the public don’t like being patronised and lied to and that therefore the tactics employed by Moore and the No camp are most likely to lead to a yes vote.

    10. Roboscot says:


    11. Cuphook says:

      Obviously it was a sign that the end of the world is upon us. This also explains Johann Lamont’s interview the other night where she talked in tongues. And the reappearance of Tony Blair… it’s all adding up.

    12. Macart says:

      Not a sausage on this over at Guardian CIF so far. Who knew? 🙂

    13. velofello says:

      Noting the vigour of their questioning to our Secretary of State and their expressed concerns for Scotland it does get me thinking that a Scottish House of Lords would be so nice. And we have the tradition of the Scottish Lords as protectors of the peoples rights pre-union of parliaments. 
      I wager that the resistance of Scottish unionist politicians to independence would disappear like snaw aff a dyke if the prospect of a Scottish House of Lords was put before their noses.
      I wouldn’t be keen on ermine mind you. Something a bit more mundane. Then there is a coat of arms and a motto too.
      I’d plump for To a Mouse for the coat of arms and the motto. And in lieu of ermine?

      Many thanks Rev Stu for a very informative and entertaining site.

    14. Bill C says:

      “I agree with you entirely that Scotland is perfectly capable of being an independent nation.”
      “It’s a very fine country. There are many independent countries in the world which have a lot less going for them than Scotland.”  Lard Lawson.

      I think Moore’s mauling and comments like the above from Lard Lawson might provide more evidence for S_S’s theory that the Tories are actually happy to ditch us i.e. they are preparing the rUK for a YES vote. Then when we vote YES,  they can then blame Moore, Clegg and Labour for not taking the possibility of a YES vote seriously enough. The Tories take all i.e. the rUK and come up smelling of roses.


    15. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

      Maybe the Tories do want rid of us. Their final solution? Get Tony Blair involved in the NO campaign.

      He makes the tory Lords appear sane. 

    16. kininvie says:

      Having watched it twice (yes, I know), I think there are clues as to what was going on. First, Tory peers hate Lib Dems even more than Nats, so this was a golden opportunity to breakfast on one, having already dined out on Swinney. Second, Moore was sharply reminded he was there to tell the cttee about the consequences for the UK, not Scotland – which he couldn’t of course do, because he has been told not to do any work on them. Third, there was the suggestion that voters might vote ‘the wrong way’ if they didn’t have enough information. Fourth, I think their Lordships were genuinely astonished at the lunacy of a Govt policy which consists of collective sticking of heads in the sand and refusal to believe that the Indyref might have any consequences at all…
      The crucial question which wasn’t asked, however, was why the Govt hadn’t asked the EC for legal advice but was relying on Barroso’s hypothetical ‘in principle’ letter. The reason the question wasn’t asked is that their Lordships know, just as the UK Govt does, that the EC legal department is likely to come up with an opinion which won’t be as helpful to the Unionists as the Barroso letter.

    17. cath says:

      I’m not at all convinced the Tories are all as anti-indy as they make out. Better Together looks like a bear trap for Labour in a whole lot of ways. The real mystery of the whole debate is just how Scottish Labour are managing to play things so badly.

    18. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “The real mystery of the whole debate is just how Scottish Labour are managing to play things so badly.”

      That’s not THAT much of a mystery. As even Ian Smart acknowledged last week, the basic fact is that Scottish Labour is mostly comprised of fourth-rate numpties who couldn’t make it in the UK party.

    19. Bill C says:

      “The real mystery of the whole debate is just how Scottish Labour are managing to play things so badly.” 
      Spot on cath, for me that is a real puzzle.  Lamont is just a disaster. I listened to the two unionists trying to put a positive spin on her first year on Scotland Tonight on Monday night and was struck by just hard work it was for them. They were both struggling to say anything really positive; especially Simon Pia (ex Labour spin doctor) who should be an expert on telling porkies.  Sometimes I get the impression that both Labour and the Tories have written Scotland off as a lost cause.

    20. Doug Daniel says:

      velofello – I would say there’s no real need for a Scottish House of Lords, nor any sort of “upper house”/scrutinising chamber/whatever. The Nordic countries all manage fine with unicameral parliaments, as do the majority of European nations who achieved independence in the 90s. In fact, it’s a bit of an old fashioned idea really, with countries generally adopting them merely because they’re modelling their parliament on an existing bicameral parliament. Ireland is a good example, as the Seanad is essentially modelled on the House of Lords, which seems even more ludicrous than the idea of Scotland doing it considering what they had to go through to get their independence!

      One of the reasons Scotland needs independence is the democratic deficit we suffer from. We need to start afresh under independence, and having a House of Lords would be anchoring us to the past. In fact, with land reform being a concern of many people, giving such a chamber a more accurate Scottish name – the House of Lairds – perhaps highlights why we shouldn’t go down that route.

      Proportional Representation negates the need for a scrutinising chamber anyway. Scrutiny of the government is the job of the committees, and I’d far prefer relying on that than unelected folk who have no mandate to object to and hold up bits of legislation!

      On top of all that, I’m rather hopeful that Scotland doesn’t go down the route of having an “honours” system, which just ends up being used as a way of rewarding civil servants, compliant politicians, and close friends of political parties. We have enough “birkies ca’d a lord” without adding more!

    21. Macart says:

      I reckon skier has the right of it. Whilst rank and file conservative members are still very much of the better together bent, I reckon the leadership and the movers and shakers are happy to cut Scotland loose. They even appear to be setting up the Libdems and Labour as the fall guys for the big break up. The place men used in their campaign so far have proved either elusive (a la Kennedy) or inept.

      Who in their right mind for instance puts Darling, a reknowned house flipper, expense spunger and co conspirator in the demise of the UK economy, in charge of the better together campaign? Its suicidal as a campaign tactic.

    22. Arbroath1320 says:

      I agree with R.A.M. and have said something similar in previous posts.
      Despite all the anti Independence bile that is produced I think very little is actually put out by the Tories they leave all the dirty work to the LibDems and Labour. Whilst Cameron will be remembered in history for being the PM that “lost” Scotland he will also be remembered as the PM that saw a century of Tory power in Westminster ruling rUK.
      Losing Scotland will not, politically do any damage to the Tories at all other than lose 1 seat, which will be lost anyway under Westminster’s plans to cut the number of MP’s in Westminster, Mundell’s seat is cut in two so he’ll have to go a begging. For the Lib Dems and Labour it is a totally different story. The Lib Dems will lose 11 MP’s and Labour will lose 41 MP’s from Westminster.
      Post Independence both Labour and Lib Dems will have a massive hill to climb just to get up to the starting point that the Tories are already on. More over I can not see where :Labour in particular are going to pick up 41 seats in rUK to level the playing field with the Tories. I think losing Scotland could very well be a master stroke for the Tories.
      By allowing the referendum to go ahead under the control of the Scottish Government they have played a move of political genius. In allowing the DG to control the whole referendum they have led the Labour and LibDems into a trap that neither can escape from. Both of them, but predominantly Labour, are now doing all the dirty work of fighting the referendum on behalf of the “union” and yet none of them are in a position to defend the “union”. Further more despite the painful, to watch, antics of Labour and LibDems the Tories continually throw in wee snippets to the argument that makes the NO camp argument absolutely hopeless, benefit cuts, NHS cuts, police numbers cuts, etc etc. The Tories know full well how all these cuts are going down, particularly in Scotland and they also know that because of how they are viewed all these cuts are pushing people over to the YES camp.
      The trouble is that their “partners” in the Better Together camp are too blinded with hatred to see what is really happening. Hatred of the SNP that is and hatred that they lost power in 2010. By the time they realise, Labour in particular, what is happening it will be too late, Scotland is lost to the “union” and so is any chance of a return to power for Labour for a generation. The Lib Dems are, in my view, a lost cause. According to a report on a recent poll they have slipped to FOURTH behind UKIP. In terms of the Lib Dems I think their days are numbered.

    23. Tamson says:

      One side issue to remember in how other politicians treat Moore, is the fact that he is, politically-speaking, a dead man walking – more so than most other LD MPs. In an independent Scotland he’s doomed of course. In Westminster terms he is also out on his ear: his seat only stayed Lib Dem in 2010 because of Labour tactical voting – look at the result:,_Roxburgh_and_Selkirk_%28UK_Parliament_constituency%29#Elections
      Once those Labour voters go, and the LD vote declines otherwise as expected, he has absolutely no chance.
      Maybe the Lords were putting a marker down, saying he isn’t welcome to join their club?

    24. james morton says:

      It’s a puzzler for sure. It could simply have been a point of clarificationr. All very well you attacking the SNP on the EU question Mr Moore, but clearly the follow up question is were does it leave the UK? Will whats left of the UK find itself in exactly the same position as Scotland post ref? If you didn’t try to clarify that, why not? etc etc.

      So imho its largely one of them wanting to be sure their arse was covered and realised it wasn’t. If the Eu would bar Scotland then that should be made absolutely clear, but then would that also bar the UK rump state? If we’re saying that Scotland is better off in the Union, is that to say also better off in Europe? Suddenly that unwillingness of the unionist side to make a stand on Europe for fear of annoying the tory party in westminster – then perhaps that makes the roasting Moore got seem not so puzzling after all?

    25. velofello says:

      Doug Daniel; and there’s me trying irony. Oh well.

      So to be clear, my wish list is:
      unicameral parliament; scrutiny by committee;no honours list; more use of referendums; empowering city councils – once the dead hand of Labour nepotism is broken.

      i respect the Queen for her dedication but once she is gone so too the monarchy I hope. And absolutely no First Lady nonsense. Consider, if the UK had adopted a First Lady scam, we would have Cherie Blair to enthrall us. 

    26. Doug Daniel says:

      velofello – ah yes, perhaps I should have re-read this sentence before posting:

      “And we have the tradition of the Scottish Lords as protectors of the peoples rights pre-union of parliaments.”

      *faceplams repeatedly until a handprint is left* 

      Big fat ticks to all you suggest.

    27. tammas says:

      At the other end of the social spectrum, I am bemused when visiting my abode of former years in Glenlivet, to find the visitors’ Centre at the Glenlivet distillery – and in other distilleries – staffed largely by English people. I don’t know how many of them acually live nearby, but find it a bit sad that the many foreign visitors to these places are given Scotch whisky lore in a decidedly unscottish accent.

    28. dadsarmy says:

      Well, as Kininvie saya, perhaps it is finally getting through to them that “The UK will continue as it is” is in fact a lie. In which case Truth finally is absolutely neccessary for the rUK so it can prepare for whatever changes will come its way. At last it has a genuine self-preservation need for truth, rather than being able condescendingly to consider Scotland’s future and what’s best for us.

      Well, rUK, what’s best for YOU?

    29. Melanie McKellar says:

       Now that is very interesting Particularly when I read the Herald~

      I still think citizens/voters of Scotland, as EU citizens, should petition the EU for answers and now more than ever since it is apparent that the UK government are being aloof (as is normal where Scotland is concerned) not just over the EU question but also many other issues.

      As to the Sterling issue, this hasn’t come up for a while but in my mind Scotland has the power to Negotiate as the ‘monetary union’ was set out initially in the Act of Union 1707 :

      Article 16 (monetary union)

      That from and after the Union the Coin shall be of the same standard and value, throughout the United Kingdom, as now in England, And a Mint shall be continued in Scotland under the same Rules as the Mint in England And the present Officers of the Mint continued subject to such Regulations and Alterations as Her Majesty Her Heirs or Successors, or the Parliament of Great Britain shall think fit. 

      ……so what happened to the Mint in Scotland? Well FYI

      Minting ceased in Scotland in 1709 when the Edinburgh Mint produced its last batch of coins at the end of the 1707–1710 Scottish recoinage, although it retained its permanent officials (though not other staff) for a further hundred years, until 1814. The mint was finally abolished in 1817 and sold in 1830. The title of ‘Governor of the Mint of Scotland’, which passed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer under the Coinage Act 1870, was finally abolished with the passing of the Coinage Act 1971.

    30. sneddon says:

      I’d ratrher those guys lived in Scotland regardless of their accent or place of origin than baw heids like Alex ferguson or his ilk.  At least they’re living here out of choice and as the stats prove probably YES voters as well. I’m sure they do a great job promoting that fine product (can I have some free now please) 🙂

    31. dadsarmy says:

      An entirely fair negotiation point after a YES vote would be the entire cost of rebuilding the mint, rather than just one-twelfth of the value of the current UK one.

      Or 50% of the “value” of the current one.

      It’s a good point I think. Some assets may well be shareable on a 50% basis, rather than an 8.4% or even 9.3% (GDP) basis. Well arguable.

    32. jake says:

      Poor Micheal. He’s just been shunted out of his office and lost his parking place. In the real world that would be called “take a hint” or constructive dismissal depending on your point of view. Either way the festive words “goose” and “cooked” spring to mind.
      The Lords ( bless ’em) are basically made up of
      a) Tories, who although they can tolerate LibDems as an historical anomaly with a consequently limited representation in parliament never the less object strongly to the notion of them being partners in government
      b) Labourites, who although they agree with the right wing neocon agenda of the ConLib coalition, still feel honour bound to make opposition type noises and consequently do so by way of adhom attacks rather than on matters of policy or political philosophy
      c) Lib Dems of the old school and the previous generation who have and retain quaint notions of honesty and political integrity and see before them someone in office by happen chance and for all the wrong reasons.

      I’m surprised he got off so lightly in the circumstances and can only conclude that he did so because despite being a universally acclaimed second rate chancer of the worst kind he is viewed as a reliable and sound chap on “the union” if nothing else and deserving of charitable consideration to mitigate the all too obvious need for a bit of plain talking . In the old days he’d have a chance of a sinecure in a distant outpost of empire; these days if he plays his cards right he might just get shunted off to Europe, but more likely he’ll be cast adrift amongst the north britons for whatever scraps of a career he can forage from politics or speaking engagements and non exec directorships. Were he of a literary bent I could see him as a modern day Daniel Defoe and being commissioned by BBC Scotland to re-dramatise Robinson Cursoe in contemporary idiom with ironic references to a scot on the make cast adrift.

    33. antmcg says:

      sneddon says:
      19 December, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      tammasI’d ratrher those guys lived in Scotland regardless of their accent or place of origin than baw heids like Alex ferguson or his ilk.  At least they’re living here out of choice and as the stats prove probably YES voters as well. I’m sure they do a great job promoting that fine product (can I have some free now please) 

      Thanks Sneddon…. been here since 1997… SNP member and of course a YES voter for me… also convinced parents to switch from labour and also now to sign pledge and vote yes 😀

    Comment - please read this page for comment rules. HTML tags like <i> and <b> are permitted. Use paragraph breaks in long comments. DO NOT SIGN YOUR COMMENTS, either with a name or a slogan. If your comment does not appear immediately, DO NOT REPOST IT. Ignore these rules and I WILL KILL YOU WITH HAMMERS.

    ↑ Top