Lib Dem ‘U’ turn over Secretary of State role

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New Secretary of State for Scotland Danny Alexander has described his ministerial role….

New Secretary of State for Scotland Danny Alexander has described his ministerial role as “significant” and confirmed that it was unlikely that the position would disappear.

The comments by the Lib Dem MP will be viewed as a ‘U’ turn by many given that his party’s view is that both it and the Scotland Office ought to be scrapped.

The Lib Dem MP was speaking on yesterday’s The Politics Show Scotland where he announced plans to move forward on the Calman proposals “as quickly as possible”, however Mr Alexander stopped short of giving an actual timetable.  The SNP have expressed concerns over some of the proposals and Mr Alexander explained that discussions would be held with Scottish government representatives before implementation.

Mr Alexander was questioned on other areas, including a fuel price regulator and requests from the SNP that the fossil fuel levy, held back by the previous Labour government, now be released.  However these issues, explained Mr Alexander, would be subject to discussions in London and nothing had yet been decided.

The MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathpsey was also questioned on concerns that both the Holyrood elections and Westminster elections could fall on the same day.  Mr Alexander responded that the move might have merit.

The SNP are vociferously opposed to such a move, citing the chaos of the 2007 Holyrood elections where voter confusion led to thousands of ballot papers being spoiled.  The cause of the confusion was widely accepted to have been due to holding the council elections on the same day. 

There would also be the difficulty in determining broadcast coverage to be allocated to each party in Scotland given that all three London based broadcasters excluded the SNP from electoral debates during the last election campaign.  That decision saw the SNP take the BBC to court but fail in their interim attempt at reversing the exclusion decision, however the more specific complaint that the BBC is acting outwith the law is expected to be resolved this coming June.