Moore replaced as Scottish Secretary by MP who wants position abolished

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  By Lynn Malone
 
The man replacing sacked Lib Dem MP Michael Moore as the Secretary of State for Scotland once branded the Scotland Office “indefensible” and that getting rid of it was a “job waiting to be done”.
 
Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, was given the job in a coalition shake-up at Westminster.

The news that Mr Moore had been sacked came as a shock, with the MP expressing his disappointment.  His successor, Alistair Carmichael, has now been handed the job of pushing the UK government’s case in the run-up to the independence referendum. 

However Mr Carmichael’s disdain for the office he now holds has been highlighted by the SNP who called the move “embarrassing”.

The Lib Dem MP has been quoted in several publications including the Scotsman and Telegraph claiming the Scotland Office was “more concerned with hosting soires…” and was “indefensible” and that “The Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices should merge into a Department for Nations and Regions,”

In 2010, just prior to the UK General Election, Carmichael told Holyrood Magazine that getting rid of the Scotland Office was a “job waiting to be done” and described then Labour Secretary of State Jim Murphy, a “tax-funded campaign manager for the Labour Party in Scotland.”

He added: “I think there is a job to be done but having the Scotland Office is not the right way to do it because it should be the clearing house between government in Edinburgh and government in London but now it is just a focal point for conflict.”

Commenting on Mr Carmichael’s appointment, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said:

“Embarrassingly for the UK Government, the new Secretary of State for Scotland believes in the abolition of his post and entire department.  He called the continued existence of the Scotland Office post-devolution ‘indefensible’ – we agree, and trust that Alistair Carmichael will stand by the trenchant views he expressed before the Lib Dems jumped into coalition with the Tories.
 
“Mr Carmichael’s new role in the ‘indefensible’ Scotland Office is presumably to help spread more scare stories about Scotland and independence – something the Tories must have believed Michael Moore wasn’t sufficiently adept at or committed to.

Mr Moore is the only cabinet minister on the Lib Dem side of the coalition to lose his job in the shake up.  A leading figure in the No campaign for the Scottish independence referendum, he was said to be “disappointed” but respected the decision.

In a statement on Twitter, he said: “Has been a great privilege to serve as Scottish Secretary. Proud of the Scotland Act and Edinburgh Agreement and wish Alistair all the best.”

Mr Robertson said Mr Moore was a courteous opponent and could take pride in the constructive role he played in the negotiation of the Edinburgh Agreement, which helped pave the way for next year’s independence referendum and wished him well.
 
He said: “Nicola Sturgeon bested Mr Moore in a Scottish Television referendum debate earlier this year, and the fact that the case for Yes has now prevailed over No in a series of broadcast debates may have played a role in what can only be viewed as a panic reaction by the UK Government in sacking him.
 
“However, the problem for the No campaign isn’t the messenger – it is the unremittingly negative nature of its message, best summed up by people in the No campaign itself as ‘Project Fear’.
 
“This week’s defence paper – spouting fears and smears, and threatening to annex Scotland’s army units on the heels of the absurd threat to annex Faslane – is just the latest example of Westminster’s Project Fear.
 
 “In any event, this panic reaction by Westminster indicates serious problems in the No campaign – which appointing someone to the post who believes the post should be abolished will do nothing to solve.”

Meanwhile, another Scottish MP received bad news today after Labour leader Ed Miliband carried out his own reshuffle. 

Jim Murphy, himself once Secretary of State for Scotland, has been demoted from his role as Shadow Defence Spokesman and moved to a more junior role of Shadow International Affairs.  Murphy has been replaced as Shadow Defence Secretary by Vernon Coaker.