31 August 2008

Tavish Scott's Shadow Cabinet

Tavish Scott has been relatively quick to get his new Shadow Cabinet together - I suppose the return to Parliament provided impetus for him, and I have to compliment him on the speed with which he acted: Nicol Stephen took more than a week to match people to their roles.

Having said that, I'm not sure where he's going with it. It's generally the custom to match Shadow Ministeial portfolios to actual Ministerial portfolios - so where possible, you have one spokesperson challenging one Minister. That does not appear to have happened. Nor has Scott attempted to map on to the Parliament's Committee structure, another possible alignment. Obviously, circumstances are made difficult in that there are only fewer viable Spokespeople: with Scott as the Leader and Nicol Stephen heading for the backbenches, there are 14 LibDem MSPs trying to fill fifteen seats. But even so, this seems a little bit messy.

Anyway, Jeremy Purvis gets a promotion: he is now Economy & Finance Spokesman, where he will shadow John Swinney. He doesn't appear to have a Deputy to speak of: I suppose the closest to that is Alison McInnes, Local Government and Transport Spokesperson, a slightly sideways but also slightly upwards move as she was Transport & Infrastructure Spokesperson under Nicol Stephen. But she does get a Deputy: Jim Tolson, who I suspect will retain most of his Communities brief.

Margaret Smith moves from Justice to Education, with Hugh O'Donnell as her Deputy (no move for him).

Ross Finnie remains at Health and keeps Jamie Stone as his Deputy. I would imagine that Finnie will retain his position as Deputy Convener of the Health & Sport Committee but that remains to be seen. Stone, incidentally, remains trapped in the Convenership of the Subordinate Legislation Committee.

Chief Whip Robert Brown finds himself moved to the Justice portfolio, with Mike Pringle keeping the Deputy's role.

Liam McArthur (formerly Tavish Scott's #2) gets the Environment, Rural Development and Energy post, while Jim Hume keeps the Deputy's spot in that Department.

Iain Smith becomes Culture Spokesman, and will be put forward as Tavish Scott's replacement on the Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee.

John Farquhar Munro retains his nominal Shadow Cabinet role as Spokesperson on Gaelic Language. It's rare for this to come up as an issue in Parliament, but he does have something to bring to the table when it does as he's the only native speaker of Gaelic among the MSPs.

Finally, Mike Rumbles becomes the new Business Manager. Let's hope he can keep private e-mails private, unlike his predecessor.

Hard to know what to make of this one. Jeremy Purvis has a lot to smile about moving to one of the most powerful positions in any Party's Shadow Cabinet (think of the influence Derek Brownlee wielded during the Budget period) but I wonder if this does kill of LIT completely: given the close fight he has with the SNP for his Constituency, I question whether he'll be open to many deals with his biggest challengers.

On the face of it, Robert Brown potentially has a more prominent role within the Parliament but I suspect his "Spokesman for Newsnight Scotland" position will move along with the Chief Whip's role into the hands of Mike Rumbles. So if anything, Rumbles will be more visible and will have more clout as a Member of the Parliamentary Bureau. So Brown effectively loses more than he gains while Rumbles gains more than he loses by ceasing to have a frontbench portfolio.

But by gaining full Shadow Cabinet status, the biggest winner is Scott's fellow Northern Islander, Liam McArthur.

1 comment:

neil craig said...

So Transport (in the LudDims that means trains & bicycles) gets a deputy & the whole Economy doesn't.