Alistair Carmichael

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Alistair Carmichael

Official portrait of Mr Alistair Carmichael crop 2.jpg
Carmichael in 2017
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson
for Home Affairs
Assumed office
31 August 2020
LeaderSir Ed Davey
Preceded byChristine Jardine
In office
29 July 2015 – 28 October 2016
LeaderTim Farron
Preceded byLynne Featherstone
Succeeded byThe Lord Paddick
In office
21 January 2006 – 2 March 2006
LeaderMenzies Campbell
Preceded byMark Oaten
Succeeded byNick Clegg
Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and
Exiting the European Union
In office
6 January 2020 – 31 August 2020
LeaderSir Ed Davey
Mark Pack
Preceded byChuka Umunna (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Tom Brake (Brexit)
Succeeded byLayla Moran (Foreign Affairs)
Christine Jardine (Brexit)
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Northern Ireland
Assumed office
1 September 2020
LeaderSir Ed Davey
Preceded byWendy Chamberlain
In office
16 June 2017 – 6 January 2020
LeaderTim Farron
Vince Cable
Jo Swinson
Sir Ed Davey
The Baroness Brinton
Mark Pack
Preceded byThe Baroness Suttie
Succeeded byWendy Chamberlain
In office
7 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded byMichael Moore
Succeeded byThe Baroness Suttie
In office
4 July 2007 – 5 March 2008
LeaderMenzies Campbell
Preceded byLembit Öpik
Succeeded byMichael Moore
Other Liberal Democrat Spokesperson roles
Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats
In office
16 June 2017 – 31 August 2020
DeputyChristine Jardine
LeaderTim Farron
Vince Cable
Jo Swinson
Sir Ed Davey
Serving with Sal Brinton (2019–2020)
and Mark Pack (2020)
Preceded byTom Brake
Succeeded byWendy Chamberlain
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
7 February 2019 – 21 August 2019
LeaderVince Cable
Jo Swinson
Preceded byTim Farron
Succeeded byWera Hobhouse
In office
11 May 2010 – 7 October 2013
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded byPaul Burstow
Succeeded byDon Foster
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Scotland
In office
7 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded byMichael Moore
Succeeded byWillie Rennie
In office
4 July 2007 – 5 March 2008
LeaderMenzies Campbell
Preceded byJo Swinson
Succeeded byMichael Moore
Ministerial offices
Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
7 October 2013 – 8 May 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byMichael Moore
Succeeded byDavid Mundell
Deputy Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons
Comptroller of the Household
In office
11 May 2010 – 7 October 2013
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJohn Spellar
Succeeded byDon Foster
Member of Parliament
for Orkney and Shetland
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded byJim Wallace
Majority2,507 (10.8%)
Personal details
Born
Alexander Morrison Carmichael

(1965-07-15) 15 July 1965 (age 55)
Islay, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
Political partyScottish Liberal Democrats
Spouse(s)Kate Carmichael
Children2 sons
Alma materUniversity of Aberdeen (LLB)
WebsiteOfficial website

Alexander Morrison "Alistair" Carmichael[1] (born 15 July 1965) is a Scottish Liberal Democrats politician who has served three times as Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman since 2020, and previously in 2006 and from 2015 to 2016. He has also served four times as the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Northern Ireland since 2020, and previously from 2007 to 2008, 2008 to 2010 and 2017 to 2020. He was Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats from 2010 to 2013 and 2017 to 2020, and has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Orkney and Shetland since 2001.

He has served as the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats since 2012. Carmichael served as Liberal Democrat Chief Whip of the House of Commons from 2010 to 2013. From 7 October 2013 to 8 May 2015, he was the Secretary of State for Scotland in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government. He served a second term as Chief Whip from 2017 to 2020, having taken over the position from Tom Brake following the 2017 general election. He was the Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Exiting the European Union from January 2020 to August 2020. On 31 August 2020, new leader Sir Ed Davey appointed Carmichael as Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman. He was the only Scottish MP representing the Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons during the 57th Parliament (2015–2017). He is the longest-serving Liberal Democrat MP in the current UK Parliament.

Early life[edit]

Carmichael was born on Islay in the Inner Hebrides, and went on to attend Port Ellen Primary School and Islay High School.[2] He worked between 1984–89 as a hotel manager, after 2 years of study at the University of Glasgow. There, he was a member of the Students' Representative Council[3] and President of the Liberal Club,[4] however he left his course early. He returned to education at the University of Aberdeen, where he gained an LLB in 1992, qualifying as a solicitor in 1993.[2] From 1993 to 1996, he was a Procurator Fiscal Depute for Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and from 1996 to 2001 he was a solicitor with Aberdeen and Macduff.[2]

Political career[edit]

Carmichael first stood for Parliament at Paisley South in 1987, being defeated by the sitting Labour MP, Norman Buchan. He was later elected to represent Orkney and Shetland at the 2001 general election, the constituency previously held by Jim Wallace and Jo Grimond. He was appointed Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland and Scotland Spokesman by Sir Menzies Campbell in July 2007,[5] but resigned in March 2008 to vote in favour of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.[6] He was reappointed to the position by Nick Clegg in October 2008. He had also briefly served as the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman, following the resignation of Mark Oaten.

In June 2009, Carmichael was involved in a successful campaign against the book by Max Scratchmann, Chucking it All: How Downsizing to a Windswept Scottish Island Did Absolutely Nothing to Improve My Life, an irreverent account of the author's experience downshifting from Manchester to Orkney, which Carmichael said was "hurtful and vindictive", and attacked a number of "clearly identifiable" residents of the islands. Carmichael's complaints to the publisher led them to cancel publication.[7][8]

At the beginning of the Liberal Democrat - Conservative coalition government in May 2010, Carmichael was appointed Deputy Chief Whip and Comptroller of the Household.

In 2011, Carmichael was elected Honorary President of the Scottish Liberal Democrats youth wing, Liberal Youth Scotland.[9]

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Secretary of State for Scotland[edit]

Carmichael took over from Jo Swinson as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats on 23 September 2012 at the Annual Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton.[10]

In October 2013, he was promoted by Nick Clegg to the position of Secretary of State for Scotland in the UK Cabinet, replacing Michael Moore.[11]

2015 General Election[edit]

Carmichael retained his seat at the 2015 general election, the only Liberal Democrat in Scotland out of 11 MPs elected in 2010 who managed to do so. The Liberal Democrats also lost the majority of their seats in the rest of the UK, and Carmichael was one of only eight Liberal Democrat MPs returned to Parliament.

Following the resignation of Nick Clegg as party leader, Alistair Carmichael took temporary charge of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons,[12] under the de facto leadership of Party President Sal Brinton.[13]

Campaign memo, and Election petition[edit]

On 4 April 2015, during the general election campaign Carmichael was involved in the leaking of a memo from the Scotland Office about comments allegedly made by the French ambassador Sylvie Bermann about Nicola Sturgeon, claiming that Sturgeon had privately stated she would "rather see David Cameron remain as PM", in contrast to her publicly stated opposition to a Conservative government.[14] The veracity of the memo was quickly denied by the French ambassador, French Consul General and Sturgeon herself.[15]

At the time of the leak, Carmichael denied all knowledge of the leaking of the memo in a television interview with Channel 4 News.[16] After the election, Carmichael accepted the contents of the memo were incorrect, and admitted that he had lied, and that he had authorised the leaking of the inaccurate memo to the media. This was after a Cabinet Office enquiry identified Carmichael's role in the leak. The enquiry found phone records that proved Euan Roddin, Carmichael's Special Adviser, contacted the Telegraph on 1 April, two days before the story appeared.[17] Carmichael apologised and accepted that had he still been a government minister, this was a matter that would have "required [his] resignation".[18]

Four electors from Orkney and Shetland lodged an election petition on 29 May 2015, the last date possible to do this following the general election on 7 May, attempting to unseat Carmichael and force a by-election.[19][20] On 2 June 2015, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner launched an investigation into his conduct, under sections 10, 14 and 16 of the Code of Conduct,[21] but this investigation was dropped because Carmichael became aware of the memo via the Scottish Office and not in his capacity as an MP.[22] On 9 December 2015, it was decided it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that he had committed an "illegal practice"[23] and he was allowed to retain his seat.[24] In February 2016, his application for costs was rejected, leaving him £150,000 out of pocket.[25] Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie contributed £750 towards his costs.[26] Carmichael was awarded £50,000 towards the costs from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.[27]

Personal life[edit]

He married Kathryn Jane Eastham in 1987. They have two sons (born in 1997 and 2001) and the family reside in Orkney. He speaks both French and German. Carmichael is an elder in the Church of Scotland.[28]

Electoral history[edit]

2019 general election[edit]

General election 2019: Orkney and Shetland[29][30]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Alistair Carmichael 10,381 44.8 −3.8
SNP Robert Leslie 7,874 34.0 +5.0
Conservative Jenny Fairbairn 2,287 9.9 +1.2
Labour Coilla Drake 1,550 6.7 -4.8
Brexit Party Robert Smith 900 3.9 N/A
Independent David Barnard 168 0.7 N/A
Majority 2,507 11.8 −7.8
Turnout 23,160 67.7 −0.4
Liberal Democrats hold Swing −4.4

2017 general election[edit]

General election 2017: Orkney and Shetland[31][32]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Alistair Carmichael 11,312 48.6 +7.2
SNP Miriam Brett 6,749 29.0 −8.8
Labour Robina Barton 2,664 11.4 +4.3
Conservative Jamie Halcro Johnston 2,024 8.7 −0.2
UKIP Robert Smith 283 1.2 −3.5
Independent Stuart Hill 245 1.1 N/A
Majority 4,563 19.6 +16.0
Turnout 23,277 68.1 +2.4
Liberal Democrats hold Swing +8.0

2015 general election[edit]

General election 2015: Orkney and Shetland[33][34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Alistair Carmichael[35] 9,407 41.4 −20.6
SNP Danus Skene 8,590 37.8 +27.2
Conservative Donald Cameron[36] 2,025 8.9 −1.6
Labour Gerry McGarvey 1,624 7.1 −3.5
UKIP Robert Smith[37] 1,082 4.8 −1.5
Majority 817 3.6 −47.7
Turnout 22,728 65.8 +7.3
Liberal Democrats hold Swing −23.9

2010 general election[edit]

General election 2010: Orkney and Shetland[38][39][40]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Alistair Carmichael 11,989 62.0 +10.5
Labour Mark Cooper 2,061 10.7 −3.5
SNP John Mowat 2,042 10.6 +0.3
Conservative Frank Nairn 2,032 10.5 −2.8
UKIP Robert Smith 1,222 6.3 +3.9
Majority 9,928 51.3 +13.9
Turnout 19,346 58.5 +4.1
Liberal Democrats hold Swing +7.0

2005 general election[edit]

General election 2005: Orkney and Shetland[41]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Alistair Carmichael 9,138 51.5 +10.2
Labour Richard Meade 2,511 14.2 −6.4
Conservative Frank Nairn 2,357 13.3 −5.4
SNP John Mowat 1,833 10.3 −4.5
Scottish Socialist John Aberdein 992 5.6 +1.0
UKIP Scott Dyble 424 2.4 N/A
Legalise Cannabis Paul Cruickshank 311 1.8 N/A
Free Scotland Brian Nugent 176 1.0 N/A
Majority 6,627 37.3 +16.6
Turnout 17,742 53.7 + 1.7
Liberal Democrats hold Swing +8.3

2001 general election[edit]

General election 2001: Orkney and Shetland[42]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Alistair Carmichael 6,919 41.3 −10.6
Labour Robert Mochrie 3,444 20.6 +2.3
Conservative John Firth 3,121 18.7 +6.4
SNP John Mowat 2,473 14.8 +2.1
Scottish Socialist Peter Andrews 776 4.6 N/A
Majority 3,475 20.7 −13.0
Turnout 16,733 52.4 −11.5
Liberal Democrats hold Swing −13.0


1987 general election[edit]

General election 1987: Paisley South[43]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Norman Buchan 21,611 56.2 +14.8
Liberal Alistair Carmichael 5,826 15.1 −9.0
Conservative Dorothy Williamson 5,644 14.7 −6.0
SNP James Mitchell 5,398 14.0 +0.9
Majority 15,785 41.1 +23.8
Turnout 38,479 75.3 +2.8
Labour hold Swing

References[edit]

  1. ^ Full name is given as "CARMICHAEL, Alexander Morrison, commonly known as Alistair Carmichael" in the returning officer's 2010 general election declaration[dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "CARMICHAEL, Alexander Morrison, (Alistair)". Who's Who online edition. Oxford University Press. December 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  3. ^ Alistair Carmichael (1 March 2008). "Speech to the Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference in Aviemore". Scottish Liberal Democrats. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  4. ^ "Alistair Carmichael MP: I am excited and inspired by the idea of having Ming as our leader". 13 February 2006. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  5. ^ Summers, Deborah (3 July 2007). "Campbell reshuffles frontbench". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  6. ^ Lib Dem trio quit in referendum revolt – The Independent, 5 March 2006
  7. ^ "Orkney satire makes for pulp friction". Scotland on Sunday. 21 June 2009. Archived from the original on 25 June 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2009.
  8. ^ Green, Chris (22 June 2009). "Shelved, the book that outraged the Orkneys". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2009.
  9. ^ "Alistair Carmichael". lyscotland.org. Archived from the original on 19 October 2015.
  10. ^ "BBC News – Alistair Carmichael new deputy leader of Scottish Lib Dems". Bbc.co.uk. 23 September 2012. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  11. ^ Andrew Sparrow (7 October 2013). "Government and Labour reshuffle: Politics live blog | Politics". The Guardian. theguardian.com. Archived from the original on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  12. ^ "John Bercow to continue as Commons Speaker". 18 May 2015. Archived from the original on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  13. ^ Buchanan, Rose Troup (9 May 2015). "Every major British political party – except the Conservatives – currently led by a woman". Independent.co.uk. Independent Group. Archived from the original on 13 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  14. ^ John, Simon (3 April 2015). "Nicola Sturgeon secretly backs David Cameron". telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 21 April 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  15. ^ Settle, Michael. "Carmichael caught in his own tangled web of deceit". HeraldScotland.com. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Video of Alistair Carmichael interview by Channel 4". Archived from the original on 23 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  17. ^ ""Carmichael faces ethics inquiry as demands grow for him to quit as MP", Herald Scotland, 24 May 2015". Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  18. ^ Tim Reid (22 May 2015). "Alistair Carmichael admits Nicola Sturgeon memo leak". BBC. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  19. ^ Carmichael facing legal challenge as campaigners raise £43,000 Archived 6 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine the Herald, 29 May 2015
  20. ^ "Alistair Carmichael legal campaign reaches £60,000 target". BBC News. 9 June 2015. Archived from the original on 11 June 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  21. ^ Standards watchdog to investigate Carmichael memo leak Archived 28 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine BBC News 2 June 2015
  22. ^ "Carmichael probe dropped over Frenchgate remit issue". Scottish Legal News. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.]
  23. ^ "Alistair Carmichael case: Legal bid to oust Lib Dem MP fails". BBC News. 9 December 2015. Archived from the original on 9 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Alistair Carmichael: election court throws out attempt to unseat MP". The Guardian. 9 December 2015. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  25. ^ "Alistair Carmichael faces £150,000 bill after attempt to oust him". The Guardian. 8 February 2016. Archived from the original on 9 February 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Willie Rennie: 'I gave money to Alistair Carmichael's legal fund'". Herald Scotland. 3 April 2016. Archived from the original on 16 April 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  27. ^ Russell, Greg (26 March 2016). "They should donate money to the people of Orkney and Shetland – not a self-confessed liar". The National. Archived from the original on 5 April 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  28. ^ "The Liberal Democrats – Official Website". Libdems.org.uk. Archived from the original on 20 February 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  29. ^ "Candidates announced for Orkney and Shetland constituency - 14 November". Orkney Islands Council. Orkney Islands Council. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Orkney & Shetland parliamentary constituency - Election 2019". Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  31. ^ "shetnews: Barton for Labour". shetnews. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  32. ^ "shetnews: Hill to Stand for Parliament". shetnews. 2 May 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  33. ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  34. ^ http://www.shetland.gov.uk/elections/documents/DeclarationofResults-OrkneyandShetland.pdf
  35. ^ "Alistair Carmichael reselected for Orkney and Shetland". Liberal Democrat Voice. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  36. ^ "Conservative candidate named". The Shetland Times. 16 March 2015.
  37. ^ "UKIP to field Robert Smith again". Shetland News. 4 March 2015.
  38. ^ "Election Data 2010". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  39. ^ "Press Association Elections". pressassociation.com. Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  40. ^ "BBC News — Election 2010 - Constituency - Orkney & Shetland". bbc.co.uk.
  41. ^ "Election Data 2005". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  42. ^ "Election Data 2001". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  43. ^ "Election Data 1987". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2017.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jim Wallace
Member of Parliament
for Orkney and Shetland

2001–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul Burstow
Liberal Democrat Chief Whip of the House of Commons
2010–2013
Succeeded by
Don Foster
Preceded by
Jo Swinson
Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
2012–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Tom Brake
Liberal Democrat Chief Whip of the House of Commons
2017–present
Political offices
Preceded by
John Spellar
Government Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Commons
2010–2013
Succeeded by
Don Foster
Comptroller of the Household
2010–2013
Preceded by
Michael Moore
Secretary of State for Scotland
2013–2015
Succeeded by
David Mundell