Scotland Office ‘propaganda’ staff budget soars under Tories

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By a Newsnet.scot reporter

The Westminster-run Scotland Office has had its propaganda department staff budget increased by more than four times since David Cameron’s arrival in Downing Street.

The tiny department, headed now by Scotland’s only Conservative MP David Mundell from its Whitehall base at Dover House, has had its budget protected by the Treasury in recent years, despite major cuts in most other areas of government.

The Treasury led a key role in co-ordinating Civil Service actions to promote the UK Government and Better Together positions during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign.

Macpherson: Civil servant took a partisan view
Macpherson: Civil servant took a partisan view

A year ago, Newsnet.scot first revealed the extent of the Treasury’s involvement. Top civil servants set aside their supposed impartiality to intervene in a bitterly contested referendum, an action sanctioned and led by Treasury head Sir Nicholas McPherson.

The Scotland Office – once mooted for closure post devolution but now a key outpost of Unionism in Scotland – played a key part on the ground for the UK civil service campaign.

Now Freedom of Information inquiries lodged by the SNP reveal that the Scotland Office communications staff budget has risen by nearly four and a half times since the Tory-led coalition took power in May 2010.

During 2010-11 the department employed two communications’ staff at a cost of £108,439, a figure that is to rise to nine staff and a budget of £474,000 according to the SNP. The Scotland Office, the second smallest UK ministerial department in the UK, has an overall budget of £9m/

James Dornan, SNP MSP, claimed the increased staff cost amounted to nearly £6,500 per news release since April this year. “It is clear that the Scotland Office’s only role is as a marketing campaign for the Union,” he added.

David Mundell: reduced majority
David Mundell: reduced majority

Mundell runs the Scotland Office as the only member of the UK governing party. The Secretary of State held on to the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale constituency with a reduced majority of 798 last May. His predecessor Alistair Carmichael MP declared previously that the UK Government should take a more aggressive role in promoting its activities and spending in Scotland, in the wake of the 2014 referendum result.

The department’s Facebook page was re-branded recently as “The UK Government for Scotland”.

 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Of course the increased budget and utter waste of taxpayers money is all the fault of the SNP – Kezia will be demanding an enquiry at the very next FMQ’s.

  2. Hope she, La Dug, and JaBa et al so do thus hingin’ their hoisted petard higher collectively speaking and not, necessarily, in a metaphorical sense.

    Apropos “Irn Bru” Murphy, anyone any updates on his peace mission to the Caucasus?

    Decent folk there grabbing him by the throat, yet, and ejecting him – bus fare paid (?) – to the WM HoL as clickbait for the uber-Tories?

    Perchance failing this option, a wee sinecure as the Daily Wreckord’s back-packing, global columnist in how to start a fight in an empty room?

  3. Before being appointed to the position, Carmichael, like his SoS predecessor Michael Moore, was on record as stating that in his opinion the Scotland Office was redundant, after the SNP surge to majority government in Scotland. Naturally both of these LibDem Tory Government allies in turn accepted the “redundant” post with alacrity, when it was offered as a consolation bone to obedient wee pups!

    Now the post of SoS has been further diminished by the appointment of the sole Tory MP in Scotland, the sneering blocker of every SNP amendment to the inadequate Scotland Bill, David Mundell. Not only has this inadequate little man been promoted well beyond his abilities, but he barely sneaked back into Westminster on a majority of only a few hundred votes. Our Governor-General’s plumed hat is looking decidedly bedraggled these days! Independence from this corrupt Westminster rabble can’t come quick enough.

  4. When the Scottish Office was originally set up along with the post of SoS I presume that it was accompanied by the then equivalent of a Mission Statement.

    Can anybody out there produce said statemnt and compare it with its present day equivalent.

    I suspect that he original one was along the lines of representing Scotland’s interests at WM in complete contrast to the present situation.

  5. I don’t think there was ever something like a Mission Statement though the various acts could be studied for such. The office of Scottish Secretary evolved over time. Piece meal and always begrudged.

    It was first proposed by the Grant brothers in 1853 in their Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights but only came into force in 1885 by a bill in Lord Salisbury’s weak Tory administration. But the post didn’t have cabinet rank, as the Grants had argued for. Prior to the post of Scottish Secretrary the position of arguing for Scotland in government had lain with the Lord Advocate. But he was overworked.

    In 1887 Lord Salisbury succeeded (in the teeth of home office and treasury opposition) in setting up the Scottish Office (at Dover House) and transferring to it a number of functions including oversight of the Scottish Education Department, though this was dominated by anglicisers unwilling to break links with their English counterparts. Regulation of the police and public order was another function. It pretty much corresponded to the Home Office, which wasin fact the English equivalent of the Scottish Office.

    In 1926 the Scottish Secretary was upgraded to a Secretary of State and in 1939 the Scottish Office’s various departments were removed from Dover House in London to St Andrews House in Edinburgh.

  6. “The UK Government for Scotland”.

    This reads as if the UK is not quite inclusive of Scotland. Like we are not quite an equal partner.

    Can anybody imagine, for instance: “The UK Government for Denmark”.

    One could imagine, once upon a time, for instance: “The UK Government for India” or New Zealand, or Singapore, or Kenya, or dozens of other former UK colonies.

    Which in turn means that Scotland is a colony; the “UK Government” for our ‘nation’ rather proves it.

    • Excellent observation Alf. I suspect the Establishment will live to regret that choice of title. Unless as you suggest they really mean it and will therefore regret it even more come 5th May 2016. Because people like you and I will keep reminding the Scottish people of how the Establishment values them.

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