Alex Massie

Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls, David Mundell...

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Bad news for David Mundell. The Tories' sole MP in Scotland (at the moment!) might think himself the obvious choice to be Scottish Secretary, should David Cameron form a government later this year but the party leader seems much less convinced of poor Mr Mundell's merits, telling the Herald today:

“You will have to wait and see what appointments are made if we win an election but, suffice it to say, David has done an excellent job.”

So, Cameron's looking for an alternative. And reasonably so. Mr Mundell is an inoffensive man and that's not something you can say about all MPs, but few people, I think, truly think that he's the man to represent a Conservative government in Scotland. And represent is an important word here, since the next Secretary of State will, in some respects, be something of an Ambassador to a semi-foreieng, semi-sovereign land. That means he needs to have some authority and for it to be clear that he has the Prime Minister's ear. Even Mr Mundell's friends might not want to make bold claims for his prowess in these areas.

But if not Mundell, then who? David McLetchie is one option, I suppose, and Annabel Goldie another. True, elevating Aunt Annabel to the Lords might not solve all problems (and would obviously disappoint those who want to see, shall we say, more dynamic leadership at Holyrood) but in the absence of obviously more appealling choices, there's something to be said for it. If nothing else, it would elevate Gldie's stature and give the Tories more airtime on Tartan TV.

Even if Mundell survives - and if he does it will be faute de mieux - the Tories need to find a way of balancing between being in power on the UK level and in opposition in Scotland. That will be tricky...

Meanwhile, Dave is, as SNP Tactical Voting says, training his guns on Eck just as much as he is on Gordon. his interview with the Courier doesn't contain much news, but it's a useful summary of his publicly stated positions. Still, while Cameron's right to criticise Salmond's pie-in-the-sky approach to public spending, his criticism hardly squares with his own promise to cut-spending-except-for-the-bits-that-are-popular-or-politically-risky which itself is hardly a profile in political courage...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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