The Baron of Aikwood – man of steel …


by Peter Curran

The Scottish Government and the First Minister have to be polite to David Steel, as a former Presiding Officer of the Parliament – but I don’t …

Scotland’s two dying ‘quality’ dailies, The Scotsman and The Herald are in a state of high excitement over Lord Steel’s belated statement on the reason’s for his resignation from his role as one of the two independent advisors who consider complaints on alleged breaches of the ministerial code. No doubt some lazy television producers will also pick up this non-story to save them the trouble of sending someone out of the studio to find some real stories that haven’t already been trailed by the press.

David Steel professed himself “appalled” at Alex Salmond’s and Kenny MacAskill’s remarks on the judiciary in the Supreme Court debacle, and rather discourteously described the First Minister’s letter of thanks for his services as polite and “effusive”. He could have said fulsome, because that is what he clearly meant, but the chances of the partially-literate gentlemen of the Scottish Press understanding this word in its proper meaning of cloying and excessive were small, so effusive had to serve.

OED: Effusive: gushing, demonstrative, exuberant.

The Baron of Aikwood is an elder statesman of a party that has regularly betrayed the voters – he kept Labour in power in 1977 in the infamous LibLab pact, for which the Liberals got zilch; when he was elected as leader of the Liberals in 1979, their fortunes took a nose dive, then in 1981 came the farce of the SDP-Liberal alliance, and after the 1983 general election, the country laughed at farce that was the Two Davids – David Steel and David Owen, with Steel being treated with barely concealed contempt by Owen, a relationship memorably sent up in Spitting Image.

At last he got out of UK politics (unless you count the House of Lords!) in 1997, retiring from the Commons and becoming a life peer. He was elected to the Holyrood Parliament in 1999 and became the first Presiding Officer in the same year.

David Steel is a member of a party totally opposed to Scotland’s independence, a party that is now a sad, small group within the Scottish Parliament, after the LibDems’ betrayal at UK level of every principle they ever had by entering the Coalition with the Tories, one that effectively destroyed Tavish Scott and his party in Scotland, and a betrayal that would destroy the LibDem UK party if they had to go to the electorate right now.

The LibDems in Scotland eagerly went into coalition with Labour in the Scottish Parliament, but refused, on anti-independence grounds to go into coalition with Alex Salmond’s minority administration of 1997/2011.

Two Scottish LibDem MPs in this benighted incompetent Coalition at Westminster, Danny Alexander and Michael Moore have been busy doing their worse for the UK and Scotland respectively.

Baron Steel of Aikwood is solidly embedded in the UK Establishment, in the Union, in the unelected and undemocratic House of Lords and has a vested interest in the continuation of both of these unelected power groupings. He is unsurprisingly hostile to the referendum and the independence of his native land.

I do not regret his resignation from the offices he held at Holyrood, and I would not regret his passing from Scottish politics entirely to retirement in his Borders home, and a cosy seat in the House of Lords – while it lasts. He has as little to offer Scotland as his party has – he is a highly typical representative of what I see as being wrong with Scottish and UK politics.

What I do value is politicians such as Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill, and I especially value their vigour of expression in defending the interests of Scotland. The electorate clearly agreed with me in May 2011, and neither they nor I will shed any tears for the Borders Baron Aikwood.


Courtesy of Peter Curran –