The Peebles Agricultural Show and the Tories
At the Agricultural Show held annually in Peebles the Conservative Party, as usual pitch their tent. The only Tory MP in Scotland, David Mundell is the sole occupant, ever waiting, ever wanting to meet his constituents. Farmers and locals have pointedly given the tent the title “The Rare Breeds” category.
What sort of politician is David Mundell?
The personal and political background of David Mundell, the 47-year-old MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, is not that of your average Conservative cabinet minister. Mundell joined the Young Conservatives aged 14 but defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) while studying law in 1981. “The first Thatcher government did get a bit bogged down and it wasn’t really the radical government that subsequently emerged,” he explained in 2002. “And the fact that you had a completely new opportunity to wipe the slate clean, with no baggage, was a very attractive thing”.
He is a subtle and shrewd tactician. In 1984 he was elected Scotland’s youngest serving district councillor while forging a legal career with BT Scotland. Although he failed to shine as an MSP between 1999-2005, Mundell enjoyed the mercurial world of Westminster from 2005 and struck up a good rapport with David Cameron. Usefully, he also backed Cameron’s leadership bid before his game-changing 2005 conference speech.
In the 2005 general election, he was elected as MP for the Dumfrieshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale constituency. He was the only Conservative MP representing a Scottish constituency.
He resigned from the Scottish Parliament in June 2005 following his election to Westminster and being the sole Conservative representing a Scottish constituency he quickly gained public attention relative to other newly elected MPs.
He was appointed by David Cameron to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland in December 2005.
Mundell’s internal party critics say he is “not up to the job” of Scottish Secretary. But his better-than-expected performance during the election campaign helped consolidate his position, his campaigning abilities evidenced by his trend-busting increased majority.
The new Scottish Secretary is an accredited mediator in Alternative Dispute Resolution, which could come in handy over the next few months. He is also known, for reasons not altogether clear, as “Fluffy”.
Mundell served as the Shadow Scottish Secretary in the Conservative Party’s Shadow Cabinet in run-up to the 2010 general election.
Following the election, the Conservative Party formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. Due to the Liberal Democrats’ having the larger number of seats in Scotland, the post of Secretary of State for Scotland was given to the Liberal Democrat MP’s Danny Alexander and then Michael Moore.
He was given the non-cabinet role of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland which is a post supporting the Secretary of State for Scotland.
He has been married and divorced and has 2 sons Oliver & Lewis and a daughter Eve.
Mundell supports scrapping of Scottish representation in International Sports
Mundell joined 18 MPs who are either Scottish or represent Scottish constituencies in signing a Commons motion stating football “should not be any different from other competing sports and our young talent should be allowed to show their skills on the world stage” endorsing the idea of Team GB entering a British football team in the London 2012 Olympics.
Football governing bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the public oppose a Great Britain team, fearing it would stop them competing as individual nations in future tournaments.
6 October 2006: Mundell sparks Tory tax row
Scotland’s only Tory MP has sparked a row by suggesting colleagues still demanding tax cuts should quit the party. Leader David Cameron failed to end calls for cuts from right-wingers at the Tory conference in Bournemouth. But David Mundell, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP, warned: “These things are not going to happen. If people want these things to happen, this isn’t the party for them.” The Shadow Scottish Secretary’s remarks angered hard-liners who want to offer tax cuts at the next election. Edward Leigh, chairman of the right-wing Cornerstone group of MPs, said: “Who is David Mundell? It hardly bears a response.”
16 September 2007: Caught Out – Mundell remortgaged his Edinburgh home and applied for more taxpayers money to pay it back
Tory David Mundell (MSP) was caught trying to claim thousands of pounds in expenses after taking out an extra home loan and charging the taxpayer. He received thousands of pounds each year from Holyrood’s accommodation allowance, which lets MSPs buy second homes in Edinburgh. But documents published under the Freedom of Information Act show he remortgaged the property – then applied for more taxpayers’ money.
December 11-2007: A leopard doesn’t change it’s spots – English Nationalism is the real agenda
Cameron’s own party soon blew apart his claim that he would stop narrow English nationalism. Senior Tories insisted they had not dropped plans for “English votes for English MPs”. The Tories’ desire to exclude Scottish MPs from these votes has fuelled English nationalism and is a threat to the future of the UK. Labour have warned the policy would turn Scots MPs into second-class citizens at Westminster.
On a visit to Edinburgh, “Call me Dave” Cameron claimed that some in England were using the success of the SNP to create discontent within the Union. He said: “There are those in England who want the SNP to succeed, who want the Union to fail. “They seek to use grievances to foster a narrow English nationalism. I have a message for them – I will never let you succeed.”
But the tough talking was blown out of the water less than an hour later when shadow Scots secretary Mundell said on radio they were not dropping the policy of English votes for English MPs. He said “We are not moving away from that. What we are saying is that there is an English question and really the unfinished business of devolution is what to do about England.”
The muddle was attacked by Lib Dem Scotland spokesman Alistair Carmichael. He said: “The Tories have spent several months pursuing narrow nationalistic ends. There is no clearer example of short-term political posturing than their pet policy of English votes for English issues. Such constitutional illiteracy plays into nationalistic hands on both sides of the Border.”
Labour justice secretary Jack Straw said “David Cameron may claim to support the Union but his policies would destroy it. Cameron’s plan for English votes for English laws is dangerous and unworkable.
Malcolm Rifkind has called it a constitutional abortion, while the Conservative peer Lord Trimble said “far from strengthening the union, Cameron’s plan will threaten the sovereignty of the UK Parliament creating two classes of MPs, inevitably leading to the break-up of the United Kingdom.”
SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon claimed that talk of changing the Barnett formula was Tory-speak for cutting spending in Scotland. She said: “The Tories are facing both ways on Scotland. Just last week, the Tories north of the Border signed up to a commission to boost the financial powers of the parliament which would make us wealthier. But the Tory drive at Westminster is about appealing to a south of England agenda.”
March 9-2009: Crisis-hit Scots Tories called for their only MP’s head yesterday after he branded them clueless no-hopers.
Party insiders rounded on Mundell after a leaked memo showed he thought Conservative MSPs “lacked thinkers”. One senior Tory MSP even suggested Mundell should be thrown into the River Tay. He added: “The Tay is very deep this time of year.”
Former Tory MSP Brian Monteith said Mundell had to go. He said: “If he refuses to resign, he should be sacked.” Tory websites were flooded with calls for Mundell to quit after his memo was exposed.
In the memo to Cameron last June, Dumfriesshire MP Mundell hit out at Scots Tory leader Annabel Goldie and her team. He complained of a “simple lack of thinkers” among the 17 Conservative MSPs. He claimed they had failed to embrace Cameron’s moderate approach, claiming they “don’t get it”. Mundell also said Goldie was being slated for her “lack of activity and strategic thought”.
Cameron will address the Perth conference today in a bid to rescue the party’s Holyrood campaign. Yesterday, he said Goldie was doing a “great job”. A spokesman said there were no plans to discipline Mundell.
Other political parties, had a field day at the Tories’ expense. First Minister Jack McConnell clashed with Goldie during First Minister’s Questions. As they debated the rail strike, McConnell said: “It’s no wonder that David Mundell thinks the Scots Tories are clueless.” She hit back, with a stinging jibe at the cash-for-honours probe, saying: “The difference between me and the First Minister is that the internal memos of my party don’t end up in Scotland Yard.”
SNP campaign director Angus Robertson said: “Nothing that the SNP might say about the Tories in Scotland could be as devastating as this candid assessment by their own Shadow Scottish Secretary.”
March 11-2007: MP backs Annabell Goldie after memo row
Mundell, Scotland’s only Tory MP, backtracked over an embarrassing leaked memo which has overshadowed the party’s conference. In his first comments since the scathing assessment of his Holyrood colleagues was revealed, the MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale paid tribute to the party’s Scottish leader, Annabel Goldie, saying he had ‘every confidence’ in her.
In the memo, he described her and her colleagues as ‘clueless’. In addition, he said Goldie was guilty of ‘a lack of activity and strategic thought’. He made no apology for the contents of the memo yesterday, but expressed regret that it had been leaked to the media. After a warm reception from delegates, Mundell said the memo was ‘a distraction’ from the main event. ‘We will not be able to continue to change as a party or make the electoral strides we want to if we cannot have a full and frank discussion within our party without fear that anything which is said will make its way into the media,’ he said.
Earlier, he told BBC Scotland that he thought Goldie was ‘more than up for the job’, adding that he was confident she would bring back an increased number of MSPs in May. Goldie and party chairman Peter Duncan, whose replacement was called for in Mundell’s memo, sat side by side during the MP’s speech. They did not applaud during his opening comments, but did so later.
Goldie received a standing ovation during her speech, in which she insisted the Tories were a united force. She repeated an earlier jibe, saying that at least Tory emails did not end up the subject of investigation at Scotland Yard and dismissed the leaked memo as ‘a little local difficulty’.
Despite yesterday’s attempts to put a positive spin on the story, it has been deeply damaging to the party. According to some sources, there is now a major split between David Cameron and senior Scottish Tories over the leader’s refusal to take any action against his Shadow Scottish Secretary.
February 23-2009: Sin’s of the father – Oliver Mundell (David’s son) forced to apologise for harassing disabled student
Edinburgh University Students Association president candidate, Oliver Mundell has apologised for reducing a disabled NUS liberation officer to tears. “I understand that liberation is a sensitive issue but I have always tried to keep my own personal emotions out of decision making, putting the needs of students first. I’m really sorry if my point of view has been upsetting or misinterpreted but, I’d rather not engage in petty NUS politics.
Mundell is adamant, however he has consistently argued that the token liberation that NUS offers is a distraction from the real issues that affect the very students these positions are designed to help.” Comment; His right wing leanings exposed early.
10 February 2009: Oliver Mundell – rejected by fellow students in his Campaign for Students Union President post at Edinburgh University
Oliver Mundell’s father David has been Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland since 2005, and is the only Conservative MP to represent a Scottish constituency in the Westminster parliament.
His son Oliver unsuccessfully campaigned for the post of President of the Student’s Union at Edinburgh University. When questioned about a future in politics he said “Although I don’t totally agree with his political views, I do think the Conservatives give people a clear set of beliefs and values. They’re just not necessarily the same as mine.” But he changed his tune after university when he took up a highly paid post working for his dad as a SPAD before moving to Westminster taking up a similar post with in the office of a Conservative MP representing South West Region.
May 17-2009: MP expense claims – The scandal haunts Mundell and the Tories
Like a dinghy navigating a tempest, Mundell yesterday braved the public opprobrium that has been raining down on politicians and their lavish expenses. “Shoot the buggers,” was the verdict of Marlen Jones when the shadow secretary of state for Scotland ran into her at a coffee morning. “If it was somebody in one of the local mills had been caught doing what they’ve been doing, they would have been put out of work,” Jones went on. “It is just terrible. Mothers and fathers are trying to bring up kids to tell the truth and the people who are supposed to be running the country are diddling the country. It is diabolical.”
Public outrage had clearly reached the quiet village of Innerleithen, near Peebles, in Mundell’s constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, the kind of anger Labour MP Diane Abbot was talking about when she said voters wanted to see “dead MPs hanging from lamp-posts”.
“Ordinary working people are finding it hard to survive at moment,” said Anna Smith. “Then we learn about this. MPs should be taken to court and made to pay all the money back. I’m just glad that they’ve been found out.”
There was no escape as Mundell moved into the High Street. “I think it is disgusting,” said Irene Lindsay, who was off to lunch. “Everyone I speak to feels the same,” she added. “I agree,” said her friend Suzanne Kernan. “I travel to work in Edinburgh with Scottish Widows every day and I don’t get any expenses – not even for parking. Then you hear of these people being chauffeur driven around their constituencies. It is just terrible.”
Wearily, Mundell admitted that his trip to Innerleithen to press the flesh ahead of next month’s European elections was unlike any other canvassing expedition he had been on before. “At every door that we’ve knocked, the people have mentioned it – that’s very unusual,” he said. “The only other time you experience that is when there is some big local issue. People are very unhappy about this and I think the reputation of the political classes is at an all time low.”
Earlier, Mundell faced more wrath as he knocked on doors in the Well’s Brae area of the village, where the Tories are fighting against the Liberals for votes. “It’s disgraceful,” said the male occupant of one house, with very little prompting. “I think it’s important to find out what people are thinking,” Mundell said.
He soon found out. “In Innerleithen, I would imagine that 60 per cent of the population are all below the national minimum wage,” Mundell’s constituent said. “I’m disgusted with what’s happening at Westminster and I’m not sure if I’m going to vote in the local election.” Mundell persisted “David Cameron is trying to sort it out…” But his words had little effect. “Poor working people aren’t able to claim money like that,” the man said. “Not many people around here have moats,” he added before closing the door.
Norman Donald, a Conservative supporter, and his wife Sally were prepared to overlook the damaged reputation of politicians and invited Mundell into their house. “It is absolutely shocking,” Donald said. “I work in the knitwear trade in Hawick and I have just accepted a 10 per cent pay cut – again. So this is a very hard pill to swallow.” As the anger mounted, Mundell admitted: “Clearly, you shouldn’t claim for clearing a moat. You can’t justify that.” “We haven’t got a moat,” said Sally Donald. “We’ve only got a fish pond.” “And I clean that myself,” added her husband.
May 30-2009: Mundell, claimed over £3,000 on MPs’ expenses for cameras, photographers and photo-editing computer software to take hundreds of pictures of himself.
The “Out and About” section of his website displays more than 700 pictures, mostly of Mundell in various different parts of his Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale constituency.
Mundell appears to have set himself the task of visiting as many places in his constituency as he can and getting his picture taken beside the road sign as proof. His tour has so far taken him to Bankend, Beattock, Boreland, Cardrona, Clarencefield, Durisdeermill, Ecclefechan, Gretna and Hightae, to name but a few.
He is also pictured taking overseas trips overseas to places such as Israel and Rwanda. His passion for photography got him into trouble in August 2006, according to details contained in his expense claims.
A picture of “David Mundell and Family at Biggar Bonfire” was used on the MP’s website and in a parliamentary report, without authorisation from the photographer. As a result, Mr Mundell was sent an invoice for £175 for its use on the website with another £175 added on top as a penalty for failing to seek his permission.
The other reproduction was also charged at a “double rate” of £180, bringing the total bill to more than £620 with the inclusion of VAT. Some negotiation seems to have taken place over the penalty fees which are scored out on the invoice and replaced by smaller sums, so that the total comes to £428, an amount which Mr Mundell claimed on his Incidental Expenditure Provision (IEP) expenses, which are designed to cover office costs. Mundell said an error had been made and added: “I take personal responsibility for that and will reimburse the sum involved.”
The picture is no longer included among the hundreds on his website, but there are numerous others such as “David with brick on head” from an August 2007 trip to Rwanda, two pictures of the MP at the “Crowning of Anna’s Queen of the Border” – but none of the queen, one of him pulling a pint behind the Strangers’ Bar in Parliament; and another showing Mr Mundell in a colourful costume to promote the “Be Loud” bowel cancer campaign in January last year.
It is possible that some of these will have been taken with one of two Olympus cameras bought from John Lewis for a total of £528 in May 2006. In April last year Mr Mundell bought a copy of Adobe Photoshop, a computer programme used to edit digital photographs, for £468. Most pictures on Mundell’s website appear to be the work of an amateur, but he does also employ professional photographers and claims back their fees on expenses.
In March 2006, he hired one to photograph a school visit to the Palace of Westminister at a cost of £117.50. The same photographer was on hand in October 2007 to capture the Scottish Agricultural College’s visit to the House of Commons for £99.87.
In Scotland, another professional photographer was paid £140 in October 2007 “to photograph David around Peebles and Lead Burn Junction”. Another captured him “meeting road contractors” in Canonbie, and at Langholm for a “Save Eskdale” event in August of that year, for fees totalling £220.
Mundell said “Over four years, the cost of photographs and equipment work out at about £65 per month and I am happy for the Conservative independent scrutiny panel to review whether that is excessive. I use photographs on the website. I send photographs to the 12 local newspapers in my constituency and I also use photographs for Parliamentary publications.
I hold an annual surgery tour of the constituency where I visit over a hundred venues. I think it appropriate to demonstrate to my constituents that I have been in their community by providing photographic evidence of those tours. These photographs are not taken by a professional photographer so whether there are 700 or 7 photographs it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer any more or less.”
Mr Mundell said he had already repaid a sum to cover the cost of beer, a Gingerbread Santa and a Gingerbread Rudolph which appear on receipts to back up claims made on his IEP. Mundell said he was uncertain whether they had been part of a claim or included on receipts for other items which were being claimed for. “But I recognised the potential for ambiguity when I went through my receipts myself as part of the redacting exercise,” he said.
He claimed there were good reasons for his low activity levels in parliament. “As a member of the Shadow Cabinet, I am obliged to follow Conservative party policy for Scottish MPs and not vote on English-only matters. This has a considerable impact on my simple percentage voting record. As the frontbencher who has responsibility for Scotland, I am restricted by the Commons rules on the issues on which I can intervene in general debate.” He added that he was the only Scottish Conservative MP and also Shadow Secretary of State with “a broad range of responsibilities and duties on which I am required to be in Scotland”.
Oct5-2009: Mundell recovers cost of Remembrance Day wreath from expenses
I feel sick to the stomach that an MP from the party I support could even contemplate claiming money for a wreath, let alone actually going ahead and doing it.” So bad news for the Tory Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who claims for wreaths. Pretty much unashamed that his tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice is to put in an expense claim.
22 October 2009: A Young, ambitious politician finally won a seat in Parliament. He squeezed into his berth on the green leather benches and gazed excitedly at the sullen faces across the chamber.
‘Splendid,’ he breathed. ‘It’s good to have the enemy in my sights.’ ‘That’s not the enemy,’ growled the grizzled old politico beside him, that’s the Opposition, your enemies are around you.” To this stark truth David Mundell can now attest. The 47-year old Member for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale is Scotland’s only Conservative MP. He is also Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and, being spared and well, by next summer Mr Mundell will be in government. But, it seems, there is a gnashing of teeth: at the 11th hour, ‘senior Tories’ are desperately pressing David Cameron to make other arrangements. This, they purr in their taloned carpet slippers, is but their woeful duty as Mr Mundell is the sort of fellow you wouldn’t send out to buy a loaf. And the knife flashes in again and again, in the sort of off-the-record briefing that reminds you of the shower scene from Psycho. …
29 October 2009: Senior Conservatives asked David Cameron to drop Mundell from a future Tory cabinet Fearing he would be no match for Alex Salmond.
The Tory leader is being urged to avoid making David Mundell the next Scottish Secretary, In a sign of growing unease about his ability, Mundell was not invited to a dinner with Cameron in Scotland last week, despite being the only Tory MP north of the border. The Conservative Party is anxious about the implications for Scotland of a Tory win at the next General Election. …
July 25-2010: David Mundell, Scotland’s only Conservative MP, stands accused of orchestrating a muck-raking campaign against his Liberal Democrat boss.
Former Tory Party Westminster candidate, well respected, hotelier Chris Walker alleged that Mundell gave him a copy of Moore’s claims and told him to “dig up as much dirt” as he could from the parliamentary expenses claimed by Scottish Secretary, Lib/Dem Michael Moore. At interview Walker said “It sickened me to the pit of my stomach, I thought, this isn’t what politics is about.” (He later withdrew from the fight for the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency) and left the Tory Party. Mundell dismissed Walker’s claim as “spurious” and denied any wrong-doing. However, it did lead to friction at the Scotland Office, where Mundell was Moore’s deputy.
August 15-2010: David Mundell, Scotland’s only Conservative MP, is heading for court after the Sunday Herald exposed a potential criminal error in his General Election spending.
The Scotland Office Minister, who is in charge of election conduct north of the Border, is preparing to petition the Court of Session after filing a misleading account of how much he spent on the campaign trail earlier this year. Mundell, 48, is expected to ask permission to make retrospective changes to his official spending returns, which he previously signed off as “complete and accurate”. However, even if successful, he still faces a legal sanction for breaking the spending limit on the last leg of his campaign – a mistake he admitted to only after exposure by the press.
7 October 2010: Mundell attacks Scottish MSP’s
A political war of words broke out yesterday after Mundell accused Labour and the SNP of being reactionary parties determined to prevent reform in Scotland. He told delegates at the Tory Party conference that Labour and the SNP were not interested in “Scottish solutions for Scottish problems and said that ideas which could improve heath and education were ignored because the “little book of Scottish Labour mythology” had spread “irrational fears” about the Tories. Labour and the SNP hit back accusing Mundell of insulting Scots. Labour claimed the problem for many voters was that the legacy of the last Conservative government was “no myth”.
25 October 2011: Mundell – a hypocrite calling for action on energy charges
Mundell said “it’s ‘time we got tough with the big six energy companies” and this just weeks after his Government refused Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown’s calls to bring in the Competition Commission to “break the stranglehold” that the big six energy companies have on the market and for tough action to bring down bills.
Russell Brown said: “This is the absolute height of hypocrisy from Mundell. He can’t expect us to believe that he is serious about bringing down energy bills when the Government in which he a Minister refused my calls for tough action. I wanted them to bring in the Competition Commission to break the stranglehold the big six energy companies have on the market, but they washed their hands of the problem and said there is nothing they can do. The Tory’s are shifting the blame onto local people by criticising them for not switching their supplier. Local people don’t want lectures from politicians, they want decisive action to bring down their gas and electricity bills. While I agree that tariffs need to be made more transparent, it isn’t enough because that alone won’t bring down bills. The problem is that there is no real competition in the energy market because the big six suppliers act as a pack. It’s time the Tories got on board with the calls for radical change to the way gas and electricity is sold to consumers because Mundell’s warm words won’t heat local people’s homes this winter.”
10 April 2012: The Scottish referendum – Mundell in Chicago Ropes In the USA against independence
Scotland Office Minister David Mundell uses a keynote speech to American business leaders to warn that independence would weaken Scottish business interests overseas. He told a gathering in Chicago, as part of Tartan Week in the United States, that being part of Britain “opens doors for Scotland” and allows the country to “punch above our weight”. The Tory minister will claim the UK’s muscle of 270 diplomatic posts, employing more than 14,000 people, would deliver a better deal in terms of promoting overseas investment opportunities for Scottish firms. …
15 April 2012: Mundell states Scottish ministers require Westminster’s permission before arranging meetings with foreign businessmen and politicians
Mundell made the remarks ahead of a visit to the Far East by Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney which is aimed at promoting trade. He further stated that Scottish ministers would lose the possibility of meeting their counterparts in foreign visits if Scotland ever became independent from Britain as it was Westminster that opened doors for Scotland. He then offered that David Cameron had just been to Japan and the idea that John Swinney would make a greater impact than the Prime Minister was preposterous.
His comments drew an angry reaction from Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond’s office where a spokesman said Mundell’s tirade on a Scottish government trade mission was “extremely ill-advised and ill-informed and the narrow minded, partisan attack on the Scottish Government initiative to boost jobs in Scotland – (at a time when Mundell’s government at Westminster was damaging jobs and recovery) will backfire very badly on him. It also showed just how out of touch Scotland’s only Tory MP is.”
14 May 2012: Extreme right winger Mundell is a founder friend of the “Cornerstone Group” a forum for MPs who wish to defend traditional British values – faith, flag and family.
The group mission statement:
“We are a group of Conservative MPs dedicated to the traditional values which have shaped the British way of life throughout this country’s history. We believe in the spiritual values which have informed British institutions, her culture and her nation’s sense of identity for centuries, underpinned by the belief in a strong nation state. We stand for the Monarchy, traditional marriage; family and community duties, proper pride in our nation’s distinctive qualities, quality of life over soulless utility, social responsibility over personal selfishness, social justice as civic duty, not state dependency, compassion for those in need, reducing government waste, lower taxation and deregulation, our ancient liberties against politically correct censorship and a commitment to our democratically elected parliament.”
3 April 2013: Mundell Dodges Angry Protestors
Tory minister Mundell was last night accused of “running scared” after swerving a confrontation with victims of the bedroom tax. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland had been due to meet Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan to discuss the controversial under occupancy legislation. But he called it off at the last minute on Monday afternoon, just as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was getting a public mauling over other cuts. And pressure group Bin The Bedroom Tax Renfrewshire, who had been planning a protest outside the meeting in Renfrew yesterday, claim he called off because he was afraid to tackle the issue head-on.
13 November 2013: Mundell, who very rarely speaks in the commons takes up a great whack of taxpayer’s money
Mundell’s 2012/2013 claims:
Constituency Office £19,991.45
Personal Accommodation, (London) £16,346.58
Staff’s expenses £3,960
Staffing Payroll £113,745.92
Parliamentary Assistant SPAD (his son Oliver Mundell). £25-20K
Total claim £173,474. plus on-costs, employers contributions.etc £200,000
5 year total approximately £1,500,000 (including Mundell’s salary etc.)
Mundell was ranked among the worst performers in an analysis of MPs’ value for money. He came in 587th place for 2007/08 based on his contribution in parliament. His attendance/speaking record in the Commons shows he attended only 47 per cent of votes, spoke in only 11 debates and submitted just 16 written questions in the year, much less than the overall average. Conversely his expense claims were in the top ten of over 600 MP’s.
December 18-2013: Westminster debate on Low Pay & Food Banks
Labour: “Will he tell the House what the percentage increase in the number of people using food banks in Scotland in the past year has been? Given that it is Christmas, I will offer him a hand. Is it (a) 100%; (b) 200%; (c) over 400%?”
Mundell (Conservative): “What the hon. Lady omitted to tell us was that under her Government the increase in people using food banks was 1,000%. Our Government are concerned about people needing to use food banks in a moment of crisis in their lives. We support the development of food banks and those who operate them, and I was very proud to open the food bank in Peebles in my constituency. But to pretend that these crises are of this Government’s making and that they have not been going on for a continuing period is to mislead the House.”
Labour: “The Minister should know that the increase in the past year has been 435%, which is more than 34,000 people, including more than 10,000 children, using food banks in Scotland. Those are shameful figures and all Members of this House should pay attention to them. He has refused to be drawn on why this is happening. Citizens Advice, the Trussell Trust and the Child Poverty Action Group are all saying that this Government’s policies are driving people in Scotland to use food banks. Are they all wrong?”
Mundell (Conservative): “Of course the hon. Lady does not acknowledge the 1,000% rise in the use of food banks under the last Labour Government. We want to look at, and understand, why there has been an increase in the use of food banks. That is why the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has committed to an extensive study on the use of food aid across the United Kingdom, and she will be able to read that when it is published.” Comment: Labour, Tory and Lib/Dem parties are jointly complicit abusing the people of Scotland whom they are sworn to protect.
14 January 2014: Mundell accused of “bare-faced gall” over his claims the Scottish Parliament had sufficient powers to scrap the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.
Mundell was quoted as saying of the SNP government “It is the same as the childcare debate. It is a question of choices on where they want to spend their money.”
Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess responded “I was absolutely shocked to read Mundell’s comments. He is a member of the UK party, in government in Westminster, the place that imposed the bedroom tax on the people of Scotland. Why should the Scottish government have to make up for the failings of Westminster and where, from an already much reduced national budget, the money should come from.”
Ms Burgess went on to explain that the Scottish government had already allocated the maximum amount of £20 million, this year and then again next, permitted under the Scotland Act, to mitigate some of the effects of the change to housing benefit. She also called on the electorate to “vote yes” in the independence referendum claiming “there is only one solution – the Scottish Parliament should have control over welfare benefits and we could scrap the bedroom tax altogether.”
Scottish Labour MSP Jenny Marra asked Ms Burgess if Mundell “knows something the minister doesn’t, and had she instructed her officials to do a full audit to make sure that there might be a mechanism that could mitigate this bedroom tax now, rather than waiting for a vote in September?” The minister replied “I don’t think he actually understands that the Scotland Act expressively reserves welfare spending related to an individual’s housing costs.”
Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone asked for “a commitment that these policies will be fully costed prior to the referendum in September”. The Minister replied “all the policies of this Scottish government are fully costed. I don’t think we’ll take any lessons from the Tories on budgets or costing”.
28 Apri 2014: Mundell creates mischief misquoting Alex Salmond about Scotlands fishery policy post referendum.
Mundell said “foreign fleets take a “very small proportion” of their catch from Scottish waters and in any accession negotiations, other member states would be more likely to press for improved access to Scottish fishing grounds in the North Sea than to make concessions for Scotland. An independent Scotland would also be duty bound under international law to grant free passage to Scottish waters for vessels passing through en route to Norwegian waters.”
27 June 2014: Mundell finally admits Tory policies have forced the poorest families into using food banks
Mundell finally admitted that the benefit sanction system is responsible for the sharp increase in the number of Scottish families relying on food banks. In a humiliating climbdown he said there “isn’t any doubt” that the benefit sanctions system is responsible for the soaring numbers of Scots using food banks. Defensively he added “Some of the increase in relation to the use of food banks may be down to more reporting of that use. Some is obviously down to the greater availability of food banks. There is an increase in the use of food banks in other affluent countries. There isn’t any doubt that some people have gone to food banks because they have been subject, for example, to sanctions or a delay in getting benefits.”
Last night SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing blasted Tories for benefit cuts. She said: “A UK minister has finally faced up to the fact that Westminster’s attack on welfare is responsible for the growing number of people forced to rely on food banks, an admission that is long overdue. For months, Westminster has ducked responsibility and had the audacity to blame the poor for the devastating impact cuts to benefits are having. Mundell has said he would like to see a UK Government analysis on food banks – something that has not yet been produced, despite the fact reliance on food banks has grown 400 per cent. Given we now have 22,387 children in Scotland relying on food banks, we desperately need a change of direction.”
Mundell was facing the MSPs after Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael pulled out. Committee member Annabelle Ewing went on to say “It is very disappointing that Alistair Carmichael did not attend the Welfare Reform Committee today. While everyone understands the importance of the commemoration on World War 1, Alistair Carmichael has a duty to appear before the Scottish Parliament and explain why the UK welfare system is ‘fantastic’ as he has previously claimed, and it would be good if it could be rescheduled.” Comment: Why the hell is he smiling? Appalling belated admission by Mundell. Only 6 months from the general election clearly putting a bit of distance between himself and Westminster. Badly needed if he is to survive. As for Carmichael he couldn’t even be bothered to turn up, disgraceful but par for the course where he is concerned.
August 30-2014: At Westminster, Mundell expressed his great pride at being invited to open a food-bank in Peebles.
Interviewer: “How can anyone be proud to open a foodbank?”
Mundell: “I’m proud of the people who worked to make that happen .. providing support for people who are more vulnerable in the community. I very much regret the politicisation of foodbanks.”
Interviewer: “You told Holyrood’s welfare reform committee: “There is no doubt some people had to go to food-banks because they have been subject to sanctions or a delay in receiving benefits.” Are sanctions fair?”
Mundell: “We’re trying to ensure that they are …”I would rather see a situation where nobody felt that they needed to use a food-bank. But I don’t believe that simply an increase in welfare payments or not having sanctions would lead to that.”
Interviewer: “Surely if folk had more money for food they would draw on food-banks less?”
Mundell: “Well, you might make that supposition.”
Interviewer: “Is it a wild supposition?”
Mundell: “I don’t think it sounds a wild supposition. But in lots of wealthy countries people use food-banks. It’s not straightforward. And it’s most certainly not the case that if Scotland became independent we wouldn’t have food-banks and child poverty. That’s complete nonsense.”
18 August 2014; Mundell issues fraudulent election campaign literature only just a month before the country goes to the polls.
A page-long “better together” promotion sent out to all of his constituents purporting to air the views of a constituency family backing the campaign message for the forthcoming Independence Referendum has caused anger.
The profile piece entitled ‘Putting family first – why we’re voting No’ features Keith and Michelle. But nowhere in the article does it reveal the couple’s surname or that Keith is an elected Conservative councillor for Tweeddale West.
Local music tutor Sarah Northcott from Tweedsmuir said “I received Mundell’s campaign leaflet and it contains a section where a family explains why they will be voting “No” , “I thought they looked familiar – the family portrayed is that of local Tory councillor Keith Cockburn, but nowhere is it mentioned in the leaflet that he is a local politician.
This is, at best, highly misleading – could they not find a local family without Tory party ties to speak against independence?” Councillor Cockburn, a local businessman, won the Tweeddale West by-election last year.
Calum Kerr from Cardrona heads up the pro-independence “Yes” campaign in the Borders. And he believes the region’s MP should be more forthcoming with the facts. He said “This is the kind of disingenuous thing that puts people off politics and undermines trust. This is an elected official that is being portrayed as an ordinary member of the public.”
A question-and-answer section in the same pro-union publication features a question from former Conservative deputy leader of Scottish Borders Council, Neil Calvert. Mr Kerr added “The Better Together campaign are using the same format and wording for their publications across the country – just putting in names of local people to match each area.”
November 10-2014: Mundell betrays his promise to meet food bank providers.
Mundell told the Welfare Reform Committee he would meet with representatives from food banks.
Committee convenor Michael McMahon said that, despite repeated attempts, officials had been unable to contact him. He said “It is time David Mundell put his words into action and does what he has said he will do. The UK Government is in denial on the impact of its welfare reforms on some of the most vulnerable of our citizens. People deserve the opportunity to put their views and experiences directly to the minister.”
Deputy Committee Convener Jamie Hepburn MSP said “It is shocking that he and his Government continue to exist in a state of denial on the impact of its welfare policies. David Mundell owes it to food bank providers and their users to hear their concerns directly.”
25 March 2015: Don’t mention the “T” word – Mundell ashamed to admit he’s a Tory – removes all reference to the party in his election campaign literature
Mundell has been branded devious and disrespectful by voters. Constituent John Hodgman says he thought Mundell was standing for the SNP after reading the leaflet which was delivered last week. Pensioner John said: “The words Conservative or Tory don’t appear in his campaign leaflet at all. There is no reference to Mundell being a member of the Westminster government and not a single line about its record nor policies.” John, from Moniaive in Mundell’s Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale seat, said “The leaflet is devious and disrespectful.
12 May 2015: Cameron Open to New Powers For Holyrood – Proposal Will Go Beyond the Vow
David Cameron is preparing to offer the Scottish Parliament powers in excess of of The Vow proposals agreed by the Smith Commission.
New Tory Scottish Secretary David Mundell has signalled that the Prime Minister is open to delivering full tax and spending powers to Holyrood.
Speaking in Downing Street after being appointed yesterday, Mundell – the sole Scottish Tory MP – said the all-party commission’s proposals for further devolution would be up for negotiation.
Echoing Nicola Sturgeon’s words after Scotland returned 56 SNP MPs, he added: “I can give the absolute guarantee it will not be business as usual.
11 June 2015: Tories Show Contempt for Scot’s Children
Scottish Secretary David Mundell was yesterday condemned for having a “contemptible” attitude to child poverty after claiming welfare cuts would have no effect on children.
He said there was “no evidence” there would be an increase in the number of children falling into poverty as a result of £12billion of welfare savings due in the next few years.
Labour MP Ian Murray said Mundell’s approach to the issue was “contemptible”. During the first Scottish Questions of the new Parliament Mundell told MPs that there had been a “relative decrease” in child poverty in Scotland.
13 January 2016: Scottish secretary Mundell comes out as gay
Scottish Secretary David Mundell wrote on his personal website that it was time to “acknowledge in public as well as in private, who I am”. The 53-year-old MP said he hoped that coming out would not change anything about how he was treated. He is believed to be the first openly-gay Conservative cabinet secretary.
Mundell, wrote in his online post: “New Year, new start! I have already set out my political priorities for the year and now I am setting out my personal one. “Having taken one of the most important decisions of my life and resolved to come out as gay in 2016, I just want to get on with it, and now, just like that, I have said it. I still cannot rationalise my feelings , but they are not uncommon, particularly in men of my age” adding, “of course, everybody who gets to this point, has had their own journey. I have certainly been on mine – conflicting emotions, of doubts and fears, but ultimately positive and uplifting, with an unstoppable direction of travel. Over time, I have come to understand that, for me, the only way to be truly happy on a personal level is to acknowledge in public as well as in private, who I am.”
His announcement brings the number of openly-gay MPs in the House of Commons to 33 – the highest proportion of any parliament in the world, according to a study by US academics – and means there are as many on the Tory as the Labour benches.