Friday 29 June 2007

Is Gordon Brown trying to tell us something?

I was listening to the radio news while heading to a meeting in my ward, when I heard that Des Browne is to take on the role of both Defence Secretary and Scottish Secretary.

Maybe it's just the way things connect in my head, but I immediately wondered whether this new joint role makes it easier to roll the tanks up to the border in the event of the independence referendum going our way...

Joking (and yes, dear Labour readers, that wasn't a serious statement) aside, I do feel it's a bit unfortunate that the two roles are now combined, particularly in light of the raw deal the Scots regiments have had from previous Defence Secretaries. Others have quite rightly pointed out that the dualling could make Defence a "part time" role, and are concerned given the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, I'm not sure it's the Defence aspect that will suffer most.

Now that we have a very different Government in Scotland, the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland should become a very significant one from the Westminster perspective. They surely need someone to be their eyes and ears in Scotland, and to try and keep relations smooth. If it looks like the Scottish Government is being frustrated and undermined by Westminster, I believe it will damage the Westminster administration and the Union, rather than the SNP Government in Holyrood. If the relationship is fractious and uncooperative (and not from Holyrood), this could well sway doubters towards an independent Parliament with full powers.


Sainted George said...

This is what the Viceroy is telling us

Chris Stephens said...

An imperial Death Star rather than tanks surely?!

Jeff said...

I was thinking that Gordon Brown doesn't really need a minister to spend too much time on looking at what's going on in Scotland and 'dealing' with Salmond and the SNP if Gordon himself is going to take a very heavy interest in it himself.

I do think GB left himself open to attack by seemingly making the defence brief "part time". (Though I do think Des Browne is doing a cracking job actually)