Tuesday, 18 May 2010

That Scottish Westminster government in full

Thanks to the Guardian wall chart I can now see the scale of the Scottish influence in this new government. The last cabinet resembled the Earl of Bute's infamously Scottish-stuffed government of the 1760s. This new lot of rulers are more discreet in their Scottishness, but they're still there if you look.

Top of the tree is David Cameron himself. The Prime Minister's father was born at Blairmore House near Huntly in Scotland. Blairmore was built by his great-great-grandfather, Alexander Geddes, who had made a fortune in the grain business in Chicago, and had returned to Scotland in the 1880s. More is made though of Cam's royal ancestry these days than his Scottish connections.

Danny Alexander, as Secretary of State, is Scotland's direct representative at the top table, with a seat in cabinet and the ear of the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

David Mundell, the sole Scottish Tory, is parliamentary under-secretary of State at the Scottish Office, a more junior role but his ambition had to be sacrificed once the coalition talks began. He does not attend cabinet.

The only person more disappointed that Mundell will be Ben Wallace, the Lancaster and Wyre MP and former MSP, who saw the Scotland Office as his route to greater things. I don't think he was given a position yet, though he may be a parliamentary private secretary to a Minister.

The Advocate General for Scotland is Lord Wallace of Tankerness, who we remember in the Scottish parliament as Jim Wallace, the former deputy first Minister in the coalition government. Again, in this role he does not attend cabinet.

Speaking of disappointments his coalition prize will be a blow for the criminal lawyer Paul McBride QC, who had been tipped for the job after defecting to the Tories in 2008.

Lord Strathclyde, the clue is in the name, is Leader of the House of Lords and was born in Glasgow. His late father, Sir Tam Galbraith was MP for Hillhead, but died in 1982 triggering the famous Roy Jenkins win in the by-election

Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary and Somerset MP hails from an East Kilbride council house, a state education and Glasgow University, so there's another strong Scottish thread.

Michael "the Cove" Gove is a proud Scot, born in Edinburgh and raised in Aberdeen by his adoptive parents. He worked at the Press and Journal as a trainee, and was on strike there for several months, before prospering down South.

As Education Secretary his means his brief does not extend to the north although his understanding will.

Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Minister, was born in Edinburgh, the son of W. G. G. Duncan Smith, a Royal Air Force Group Captain highly decorated in World War II. His father is buried on the west coast, near Kyleakin. By dint of his conversion to the social welfare agenda on his visit to Easterhouse we could also count him as an honorary Glasgwegian.

Alistair Carmicheal, the Orkney and Shetland MP, is the Comptroller of Her Majesty's Household, effectively the deputy chief whip of this coalition.

The ancient post in the English Royal Household used to come with white rod, as opposed to the black rod, but in modern times, the Comptroller has become a less prominent position in British politics.

The responsibilities for the Royal Household are now purely nominal, except being occasionally called upon to act as an usher at Royal Garden Parties but no invitation to cabinet.

That's six Scots in cabinet and two others in government. Although there is only one Scottish Conservative MP, David Mundell,there are some other Scots scattered around the Tory benches.

Mary Macleod, the new MP for Brentsford and Isleworth, has a Dingwall connection and Iain Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, was born and grew up in Hamilton. His dad was a computer systems analyst and hismum worked for Marks & Spencer. He went to Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow and stood in Rutherglen for the 1999 Scottish parliament election.

Any more Scottish connections on the government benches? Let me know by commenting or by e mail.

1 comment:

  1. Christina Campbell20 May 2010 at 12:24

    Did Vince Cable go to Glasgow Uni? I think he was a councillor for a spell at Glasgow Corporation as it was then.