Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore sacked in reshuffle

Moore will be replaced by Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael.

Update 10:05am: David Cameron has just become the first-ever prime minister to announce a reshuffle via Twitter. 

While conducting a reshuffle of junior ministers, David Cameron isn't expected to make any cabinet-level changes today (those will come next year), but Nick Clegg has taken the opportunity to do so.

Ahead of next year's Scottish independence referendum, the Deputy PM has sacked Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and replaced him with the party's chief whip Alistair Carmichael. While Moore is considered quietly effective at Westminster, the government clearly wanted a big hitter to take on Alex Salmond. No other cabinet changes are expected. 

Meanwhile, the Labour reshuffle is now also expected to begin today.

In his letter to Moore, Clegg wrote: 

Dear Mike

I want to thank you for the vital role you have played as Secretary of State for Scotland over the past three years.

 You became Scottish Secretary in 2010 at a critical time in Scotland's relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom and you have managed the challenges of the situation with great skill and effectiveness.

 Not only have you successfully piloted through legislation to enable Scotland to take a major step towards the party's long held goal of 'Home Rule'. but you have also ensured that the referendum next year will give the Scottish people a clear and decisive question on which to cast their vote.

 It should be recognised that you secured both the Scotland Act and the Edinburgh Agreement in the context of a majority SNP government at Holyrood, and against a backdrop of an external political narrative that often suggested the legislation would fail and a referendum agreement could not be secured. You have achieved all of this while working ceaselessly for the interests of the Scottish people within the United Kingdom.

 As we discussed when we spoke on Friday, I believe we now need to draw on different experience in the final year running up to the referendum itself and I am keen that just as we have benefited from your formidable skills over the past three years that we take advantage of other experience within our ranks during this period.

 I am immensely grateful for all the work you have done at the Scotland Office and for the very significant contribution you have made to the first coalition government in 70 years. I have no doubt that there will be an opportunity for your talents to be deployed in government in the future.

 Yours sincerely,

 Nick Clegg

Moore replied: 

Dear Nick

Thank you for your letter.

 I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the cabinet. Putting Liberal Democrat policies into practice in government has been our party's ambition for a very long time and I have valued the chance to play a key role in it.

This has been, and will continue to be, a hugely important time in Scottish politics and that has made it a challenging and rewarding time to be Secretary of State for Scotland. Taking the Scotland Act through Parliament and negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement have been the highlights of my time in office, as well as, more recently, making the case for Scotland to stay part of the United Kingdom.

However, I have also valued the chance to get out and about around Scotland week after week to listen to the challenges facing people and make sure those are understood by colleagues elsewhere in government. I am glad that there are now early signs of economic recovery, but we must not lose sight of the huge difficulties many people still face.

 Over the last few years I have worked with a superb team of civil servants and advisers in the Scotland Office, and other government departments, in very challenging circumstances. I do not think the support teams for ministers always get the credit they deserve: I am very grateful for the support they have given me.

 In leaving the Scotland Office I am pleased that Alistair will be succeeding me. As a good friend and long time colleague, I believe he will do a superb job. I wish him all the best.

 Yours sincerely,

 Michael Moore

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore speaks at last month's Lib Dem conference in Glasgow. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Stability is essential to solve the pension problem

The new chancellor must ensure we have a period of stability for pension policymaking in order for everyone to acclimatise to a new era of personal responsibility in retirement, says 

There was a time when retirement seemed to take care of itself. It was normal to work, retire and then receive the state pension plus a company final salary pension, often a fairly generous figure, which also paid out to a spouse or partner on death.

That normality simply doesn’t exist for most people in 2016. There is much less certainty on what retirement looks like. The genesis of these experiences also starts much earlier. As final salary schemes fall out of favour, the UK is reaching a tipping point where savings in ‘defined contribution’ pension schemes become the most prevalent form of traditional retirement saving.

Saving for a ‘pension’ can mean a multitude of different things and the way your savings are organised can make a big difference to whether or not you are able to do what you planned in your later life – and also how your money is treated once you die.

George Osborne established a place for himself in the canon of personal savings policy through the introduction of ‘freedom and choice’ in pensions in 2015. This changed the rules dramatically, and gave pension income a level of public interest it had never seen before. Effectively the policymakers changed the rules, left the ring and took the ropes with them as we entered a new era of personal responsibility in retirement.

But what difference has that made? Have people changed their plans as a result, and what does 'normal' for retirement income look like now?

Old Mutual Wealth has just released. with YouGov, its third detailed survey of how people in the UK are planning their income needs in retirement. What is becoming clear is that 'normal' looks nothing like it did before. People have adjusted and are operating according to a new normal.

In the new normal, people are reliant on multiple sources of income in retirement, including actively using their home, as more people anticipate downsizing to provide some income. 24 per cent of future retirees have said they would consider releasing value from their home in one way or another.

In the new normal, working beyond your state pension age is no longer seen as drudgery. With increasing longevity, the appeal of keeping busy with work has grown. Almost one-third of future retirees are expecting work to provide some of their income in retirement, with just under half suggesting one of the reasons for doing so would be to maintain social interaction.

The new normal means less binary decision-making. Each choice an individual makes along the way becomes critical, and the answers themselves are less obvious. How do you best invest your savings? Where is the best place for a rainy day fund? How do you want to take income in the future and what happens to your assets when you die?

 An abundance of choices to provide answers to the above questions is good, but too much choice can paralyse decision-making. The new normal requires a plan earlier in life.

All the while, policymakers have continued to give people plenty of things to think about. In the past 12 months alone, the previous chancellor deliberated over whether – and how – to cut pension tax relief for higher earners. The ‘pensions-ISA’ system was mooted as the culmination of a project to hand savers complete control over their retirement savings, while also providing a welcome boost to Treasury coffers in the short term.

During her time as pensions minister, Baroness Altmann voiced her support for the current system of taxing pension income, rather than contributions, indicating a split between the DWP and HM Treasury on the matter. Baroness Altmann’s replacement at the DWP is Richard Harrington. It remains to be seen how much influence he will have and on what side of the camp he sits regarding taxing pensions.

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has entered the Treasury while our new Prime Minister calls for greater unity. Following a tumultuous time for pensions, a change in tone towards greater unity and cross-department collaboration would be very welcome.

In order for everyone to acclimatise properly to the new normal, the new chancellor should commit to a return to a longer-term, strategic approach to pensions policymaking, enabling all parties, from regulators and providers to customers, to make decisions with confidence that the landscape will not continue to shift as fundamentally as it has in recent times.

Steven Levin is CEO of investment platforms at Old Mutual Wealth.

To view all of Old Mutual Wealth’s retirement reports, visit: products-and-investments/ pensions/pensions2015/