FOI request reveals Labour secret meetings with coalition Ministers after SNP victory

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
Details of secret meetings held between Scottish Labour MPs and UK coalition Ministers, only days after the SNP’s historic May election win, have emerged following a Freedom of Information request.
 
The meetings, one of which took place only three days after May’s election result was confirmed, involved Scottish MPs from the Tory, Lib Dem and Labour parties.

By a Newsnet reporter
 
Details of secret meetings held between Scottish Labour MPs and UK coalition Ministers, only days after the SNP’s historic May election win, have emerged following a Freedom of Information request.
 
The meetings, one of which took place only three days after May’s election result was confirmed, involved Scottish MPs from the Tory, Lib Dem and Labour parties.

Documents released reveal that Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore had a secret meeting with his then Labour shadow counterpart Ann McKechin on May 9th to discuss the constitution, the meeting came only three days after the SNP achieved a historic majority win in the Scottish election.

Ms McKechin had a further two secret meetings with Mr Moore; however the subject under discussion at those meetings has not been revealed.

In all, since June 2010, the documents show Ms McKechin met with Mr Moore eight times, half of the meetings give the subject as the constitution, the other half do not reveal the nature of discussions.

The documents also show that Ms McKechin’s colleague, and former Scottish Secretary of State Jim Murphy, met with Mr Moore in July 2010 whilst still in his shadow SoS role, again however the subject under discussion remains unknown.

The documents show other meetings involving Tory MP David Mundell, Labour’s Ian Davidson, Tom Greatrex (Lab), Cathie Jamieson (Lab), Lindsay Roy (Lab), Jim McGovern (Lab) and Fiona O’Donnell (Lab).

The SNP have responded to today’s revelations by calling for “openness and transparency”.  Commenting on the revelations SNP MP, Westminster leader Angus Robertson said:

“The revelation of these secret meetings shows the Scotland Office and Labour is trying to run an anti-independence cabal.

“There have been rumours around Westminster that Labour is getting into bed with the Tory Government to try and stem the ambitions of the people of Scotland and these meetings confirm it.

“That Labour’s response to the SNP’s election success was to run straight to a meeting with the Scotland Office shows the panic in the anti-independence parties.  They are still tied to the apron strings of the UK Government.”

In all, four Scottish Labour MPs – Ann McKechin, Jim Murphy, Ian Davidson and Cathie Jamieson – held meetings with Scotland Office Minister Michael Moore a total of eleven times since June 2010 where the subject was either the constitution or unknown.

Mr Robertson, who co-ordinated the SNP election campaign, questioned whether the Scotland Office was being used against the SNP and added:

“The Scotland Office should be open about the contents of these meetings.  What were they discussing and are they using the Scotland Office to run a party political campaign against the SNP?

“Whilst Labour gang up with Tory Government the SNP will continue to work toward a referendum on Scotland’s future and to giving the people of Scotland the opportunity to turn their ambitions for Scotland into a reality.”

Just some of the meetings:

The Scotland Office has an annual budget of around £10 million which is taken out of the Scottish block grant.  Critics have suggested that devolution has rendered the Scotland Office redundant and the money should be spent on more worthwhile causes.

Prior to the last UK election, Lib Dem Michael Moore declared that he wanted to see the office of Secretary of State abolished.  However Mr Moore appeared to change his mind after his party formed a coalition with the Conservatives.

Dates of all of the meetings can be found at:
http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk/scotlandoffice/files/Version%20for%20website%20DB309.pdf
http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk/scotlandoffice/files/Version%20for%20website%20DB310.pdf