Thatcher poll tax adviser gets Scotland Office job

Margaret Thatcher in 1977. One of the former prime minister's advisers on poll tax has been promoted to serve as junior minister in the Scotland Office. Picture: PA
Margaret Thatcher in 1977. One of the former prime minister's advisers on poll tax has been promoted to serve as junior minister in the Scotland Office. Picture: PA
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A FORMER tax adviser to Margaret Thatcher has been made a peer by David Cameron so that he can serve as a junior minister in the Scotland Office.

Andrew Dunlop, who also advised Mr Cameron during the referendum, has been elevated to the House of Lords, a move that enables him to join the UK government.

Andrew Dunlop has been appointed to the Scottish Office as a junior minister. Picture: Contributed

Andrew Dunlop has been appointed to the Scottish Office as a junior minister. Picture: Contributed

Mr Dunlop, 55, will be Scottish Secretary David Mundell’s number two in the Scotland Office, the branch of government based in Edinburgh and London.

The appointment of an unelected individual to the Scotland Office infuriated the SNP, who have criticised Mr Dunlop in the past, claiming he played a role in bringing the poll tax to Scotland.

Mr Dunlop was a member of Mrs Thatcher’s policy unit, specialising in tax and Scotland, when the levy was introduced in 1989. Conservative sources, however, claim Mr Dunlop was not involved in the introduction of the poll tax, saying his work involved the establishment of Scottish Enterprise.

Although born and educated in Glasgow, Mr Dunlop has spent most of his working life south of the Border.

With the Conservatives failing to win any new seats north of the Border, their options for making appointments to the Scotland Office have been severely limited.

As expected, Scotland’s only Tory MP David Mundell was promoted to Secretary of State for Scotland, taking over from Alistair Carmichael who held one of the Lib Dem cabinet posts in the coalition.

There had been speculation that Baroness Goldie, the former Scottish Tory leader who remains an MSP, might be made Mr Mundell’s deputy.

Instead, Mr Cameron has gone for Mr Dunlop, who was a key strategist during last year’s referendum but has not stood for election at Westminster or Holyrood.

The leader of the SNP Westminster group, Angus Robertson MP, said: “This appointment is a scandal. If one thing demonstrates how out of touch the Tories are, it’s the appointment as a government minister for Scotland of an unelected lord who played a leading role in the imposition of the hated poll tax on Scotland.

“It is hard to believe that following the worst Tory result in a general election in Scotland since universal suffrage, they could have fallen further in people’s estimation, but they just have with this appalling and anti-democratic appointment.

“It’s further evidence of the need for a strong Scottish voice at Westminster to hold the Tories to account, that only SNP MPs can provide.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “We wholeheartedly welcome Andrew Dunlop’s appointment to the Scotland Office.

“He played a pivotal role during the referendum campaign, winning plaudits across the political spectrum.

“In the last few years, he has developed good relations with Scotland’s key business and civic figures, helping to secure significant achievements. It is great news for all those who genuinely want Scotland’s two governments to work well together.”

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