His love of Austria
Englishman Angus was born in Wimbledon, London, in 1969. Educated at Broughton High School, Edinburgh, he completed his education at the University of Aberdeen, from where he graduated in 1991 with an MA Honours degree in politics and international relations. After university, bilingual thanks to his German mother and Scottish father, he moved to Vienna (1991-2000) and took up employment as a journalist first with the Austrian public broadcaster, ORF, and later with the BBC World Service as the foreign and diplomatic correspondent for Central Europe.
he was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour, in Gold by the Austrian President in recognition of his support to the Austrian government, from the time he entered UK ploitics in 2001, as chairman and secretary of the Austrian Parliamentary Group at Westminster.In his acceptance speech Robertson said:
“It is a huge honour to be granted this award by the Austrian president and to receive it in the Austrian Parliament. I have a huge affection for the Alpine republic and am fortunate enough to have lived and worked there for a decade. Coperation between European nations is really important to me and I have worked to foster relations between Austria and the UK in the Westminster Parliament since 2001. This award is recognition of the value of European co-operation which I will continue to support into the future.”
Responding the Austrian leader said:
“Angus Robertson is a good friend of Austria and Europe. We are hugely indebted to him for his efforts to foster relations between Austria and the UK at Westminster. This award is rarely bestowed on non-Austrians and it is a valued token of our appreciation for his work as chairman and secretary of the Austrian Parliamentary Group as well as his promotion of Austria at home and abroad.”
Comment: Not a mention of his responsibilities to the SNP over the same period.
His time at Westminster
Robertson was first elected to the UK House of Commons in June 2001, representing the Moray constituency. He volunteered as a member of the European Scrutiny Committee from 2001 to 2010 and served as the SNP’s spokesman on Defence and International Relations.
In May 2007, he was promoted by Alex Salmond, to the post of SNP Leader in the House of Commons a post he retained until he lost his seat in Moray in 2016.
In 2007 Robertson surprisingly argued for a UK-wide referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, contrary to SNP policy because its introduction would entrench EU control over Scottish affairs.
The 2015 landslide election
The election returned an unprecedented 56 SNP MP’s to Westminster. Addressing the group outside the Commons, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she was “bursting with pride” adding “people voted for an SNP manifesto that had ending austerity as its number one priority. That is the priority these men and women will now take to the very heart of the Westminster agenda. It cannot and will not be business as usual when it comes to Westminster’s dealing with Scotland. Scotland’s voice will be heard in Westminster now more loudly than it has ever been before. David Cameron said his priorities will be implementing the powers in the Smith Commission in good faith – and I said to him that those proposals had to be looked at again because they are not strong enough. These are conversations we will go into in more detail in the weeks and months to come.”
Note: So much for her bluster. In the year that followed the SNP group tabled in excess of 100 proposals for changes further strengthening the weak Smith recommendations. Not one was accepted by the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, who filibustered his party’s legislation through the Commons with the support of labour and liberal Democrats.
Leadership roles in the SNP
Robertson was confirmed as the Leader of the SNP group at Westminster and Deputy Leader of the SNP.
One of his first acts was to change the Party’s code of conduct to include the statement that: “accept that no member shall within or outwith the parliament publicly criticise a group decision, policy or another member of the group”.
Other political parties labelled it a “Stalinist” crackdown on free speech and independent thought.
The SNP was entitled to a place on all of the Commons’ influential select committees, including the Intelligence and Security Committee members of which are by convention also Privy Councillors. Alex Salmond was the only member of the prestigious body of advisers to the Queen in the SNP’s ranks and as he had already ruled himself out of other top jobs, including SNP Westminster leader and chief whip it was widely anticipated he would be appointed to the Committee as a top spy chief, a real-life James Bond. But Akex hopes were dashed and his place on the back benches and political oblivian was confirmed in a statement from the Queen that she was pleased to give her approval to the appointment of Robertson as a Member of the Privy Council following his appointment to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.
Robertson was duly sworn into the Privy Council becoming the first SNP MP for nearly 40 years to be appointed to it by MP’s, although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, Sir George Reid, and ex-first minister Alex Salmond are also members of the body courtesy of their positions in government in Scotland.
Reversal of fortunes
Robertson lost his seat in Moray in the 2016 General election but was appointed Deputy Leader of the SNP a post which he retained until February 2018 when he resigned and established “Progress Scotland” a pro-independence think-tank.
In February 2020, with the full support of party leader Sturgeon over other qualified candidates, he announced his intention to return to politics to contest the safe Edinburgh Central constituency in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.
He won the seat and was appointed by Sturgeon as cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture.
Summary: His 16 years at an MP at Westminster provided Robertson with a privileged and financially well rewarded pensionable lifestyle. In return he formed and chaired an Austrian All-Party Group in the British Parliament and graced by his presence a number of influential Unionist dominated House of Commons committees including his controversial appointment to the Intelligence and Security Committee which required his acquiescence of matters of UK security including oversight of the work of the British Secret Services. Activities which promoted the interest of other bodies but added nothing to the fight for Scottish independence.
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