Home > Parliament, Uncategorized > Shadow front-bencher Greatrex is “ludicrous”

Shadow front-bencher Greatrex is “ludicrous”

February 20, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Oh dear Tom Greatrex.

The Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West—who is also the Shadow Scotland Office Minister—has been causing a stir over allegations that Lib Dem Michael Moore “is terrified of the truth”.

It all relates to a vote in the Commons back in July that Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, missed. It was part of the Committee stage of the Finance Bill—which of course included the VAT increase.

Moore was absent for the vote to include the tax rise in the Bill and Labour, suspecting the Lib Dem of “wanting to keep his hands clean”, made several attempts to determine exactly what pressing business had led to Moore failing to back the coalition’s plans.

Initially, the response was that Moore was in Scotland, doing the important work that befits a Secretary of State. But this later turned out to be false as Moore had completed all his meetings and was back in London by the time of the vote.

And then last week, it appears that the Scotland Office has refused to answer a Freedom of Information request on the subject. A spokesperson said:

“It is considered that to release detailed information regarding specific modes of transport to and from specific locations would, or would be likely to, endanger the physical or mental health or safety of an individual and is therefore exempt under section 38 (1) of the Act.

“I believe that disclosure may give rise to the potential to endanger the safety of individuals or impact on the safety and security of ministers.”

Greatrex—and it would seem the Scotsman—aren’t all that impressed with this answer. And they are focusing on the mental health part of the reason.

The Labour MP is reported to have said:

“This is ludicrous and shows how terrified of the truth Mr Moore is. Mental heath should not be used as an excuse to save face. If he opposed the Tory plan to put up VAT, he should have resigned from the Government and voted against but this shows he was too cowardly.”

In my opinion, it is Greatrex’s response that is ludicrous. Moore isn’t hiding behind mental health issues. Greatrex has chosen to focus on one part of the answer that was given, totally ignoring the “endanger the physical … or safety” aspects. To me, this seems like a fairly standard response that any department would give when asked about a Minister/Secretary of State’s whereabouts at a particular time.

Greatrex then went on to say that:

“If he opposed the Tory plan to put up VAT, he should have resigned from the government and voted against, but this shows he was too cowardly.”

Well, no Tom. Firstly, he fails to mention that two days later Moore voted with Government at the Third Reading of the Bill. Second, Moore wasn’t the only Secretary of State to miss that vote. Chris Huhne, Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox were all absent, as well as Nick Clegg.

And for that matter, Labour absentees including former Ministers Tom Watson and Ian Austin, not to mention a former Home Secretary (David Blunkett) and a former Prime Minister (I’ll give you one guess).

This is little more than squalid opportunism on Greatex’s part. Maybe he should start focusing on the real policies issues facing our friends north of the border, and worry less about the voting habits of the man on the benches opposite.

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