caught out by undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph, Borders MP Michael Moore, who is also Secretary of State for Scotland, has had some explaining to do, as to why he has voted for coalition Government policies that he does not agree with.
Reporters from the national paper pretended to be constituents when they attended his surgery in Galashiels and during a discussion with them Mr Moore admitted that reneging on the election pledge to phase out tuition fees was “the worst crime a politician can commit”. He warned that the about-turn would be “deeply damaging” for his party.
He is reported as saying: “I signed a pledge that promised not to do this. I’ve just done the worst crime a politician can commit, the reason most folk distrust us as a breed. I’ve had to break a pledge and very, very publicly.
“In what is a car crash, train wreck, whatever metaphor one wishes to put in terms of the politics of this, and it is deeply damaging to my party, to me individually and lots of others.
“What we’ve all had to weigh up is the greater sense of what the coalition is about.”
Unsurprisingly Mr Moore also disclosed deep antipathy between the Lib Dems and some right wing Tories adding that some backbench Tories “hate us with a passion and I can’t say it’s unreciprocated.”
After his comments had been reported in the national press Mr Moore said: “In nearly 14 years as a Member of Parliament for the Borders, I have held countless advice surgeries across the constituency. Local people have attended them to seek help with problems or to discuss the political issues of the day. These meetings are held in confidence and that confidence has never been breached. I am very grateful for that and believe that is the way MPs and their constituents should engage.
“As to this encounter with the undercover reporters, it is hopefully not a shock to anyone that I am a committed Liberal Democrat focused on promoting Liberal Democrat values and policies.
“As I said during the meeting, and many times elsewhere, the coalition has been formed to tackle deep seated problems in this country and to address the largest ever deficit in peacetime history. That involves tough choices, which are not always comfortable to make, but the coalition remains committed to ensuring that we tackle the legacy left to us by Labour.”
Revelations of discrepancies between Mr Moore’s private views and his public voting were seized on by opponents and South of Scotland list MSP Christine Grahame (SNP) was the first to call for him to surrender his ministerial position and return to the back benches.
Ms Grahame said: “I think this exposes the rank hypocrisy of the Liberals who will run with the hares and the hounds whenever it suits them.
“Michael Moore’s comments expose the genuine hatred that exists right at the heart of this UK Government. He knows it’s unfair and he knows he and his party have been deeply dishonest and inconsistent with the electorate.
“This blows a hole in the Secretary of State’s claim that he will stand up for the Borders and for Scotland. The reality is that Moore will continue to take the additional £69,000 a year for being a cabinet Minister on top of his MPs salary and vote through unfair policies which are hurting low income families, students and vulnerable people across the Borders.
“If he doesn’t believe in these policies he should resign and sit on the backbenches.
“They have sold their soul for a little power, a little wealth and evidently very little influence at the heart of the UK Government.”