Vox Political vindicated yet again – this time over ‘Sturgeon’s secret support for Cameron’ memo

This is how the Labour Party responded to 'memogate'. SNP supporters were incensed but it has not been proved wrong.
This is how the Labour Party responded to ‘memogate’. SNP supporters were incensed but it has not been proved wrong.

It was an official memo, it was leaked by the Scotland office – at the bidding of the Secretary of State, no less, and there’s no reason to believe that it is inaccurate.

That is the finding of the Cabinet Office’s report into the leaking of a confidential memo to the Daily Telegraph, which stated that Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP, had told the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, in February that she would “rather see” David Cameron win the general election because Ed Miliband is not “prime minister material”.

The Torygraph story sparked outrage among supporters of the SNP, many of whom attacked this blog for reporting the story. It seems certain people owe This Writer a serious apology.

According to the Cabinet Office report, “The investigation team interviewed the civil servant in the Scotland Office who produced the memo. He confirmed under questioning that he believed that the memo was an accurate record of the conversation that took place between him and the French Consul General, and highlighted that the memo had stated that part of the conversation between the French Ambassador and the First Minister might well have been ‘lost in translation’.

“Senior officials who have worked with him say that he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately what he thought he had heard. There is no evidence of any political motivation or ‘dirty tricks’.”

This means there is no reason to believe claims that the memo is inaccurate. The “lost in translation” comment cannot refer to the conversation between the civil servant and the French Consul General, and must refer to his understanding, or recollection, of the account he heard of the conversation between Ms Sturgeon and the Ambassador.

The Consul General has, of course, denied that he said any such thing as is described in the memo. He would, wouldn’t he?

The memo was leaked to the Torygraph by Euan Roddin, special advisor to then-Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael. The Cabinet Office report states: “Mr Roddin… told the investigation team that he acted in what he saw as the public interest and that in his view the public needed to be aware of the position attributed to the First Minister.”

Alistair Carmichael, who is a Liberal Democrat, has admitted authorising the leak. Vox Political commenter Joan Edington suggested at the time that it could have come from the Secretary of State, so kudos to her.

He has since apologised and given assurances that, if he had remained Secretary of State, he would have considered this a matter requiring his resignation. Neither he nor Mr Roddin will be receiving their severance pay.

He has also apologised to Nicola Sturgeon, saying “details of the account are not correct”. This is curious, as he has no reason to suggest it.

Nicola Sturgeon has been quick to claim that the report clears her of any dodgy behaviour. This is not true.

The memo, from an impartial source, states that she said she would prefer to have David Cameron as Prime Minister and we have only the comments of people with an interest in denying that claim to back her up.

On balance, it seems very unlikely that she didn’t say she supported Cameron.

It would clarify what seemed to be a contradiction in the SNP’s election campaign, in that the party was attacking Labour hard in Scotland, while apparently claiming it wanted to do a deal with Labour in order to keep the Conservatives out of office. If the SNP’s leader was in fact supporting Cameron, then the “deal” rhetoric was a lie and the campaign against Labour north of the border makes sense.

This would, of course, mean that she was lying, bare-faced, to the public all the way through the general election campaign period.

It will be up all of us to decide what we think is the truth, based on what Ms Sturgeon – and her party – does next.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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64 Thoughts to “Vox Political vindicated yet again – this time over ‘Sturgeon’s secret support for Cameron’ memo”

  1. It was probably a error as it would be unlikely the SNP would wont a conservative government to have any meaningful relationship

    The SNP and the conservatives are chalk and cheese on everything so labour would have been a better choice to do business with

    If the truth be known no one likes david camerons politics that’s a fact but he does have a way on a personal level that he is a nice person and just in that alone causes confusion as your expecting the worst on meeting him only to find him very charming and likable

    A lot of dictators over history have all had the same demeanor and david cameron is no different

    It does highlight however the public are easily taken in for there own selfish reasons to the detriment of the country as a whole

    1. Mike Sivier

      But are the SNP and Conservatives so different?

      Cameron isn’t a nice person. You can tell that just from watching him on TV.

      1. Mike the SNP should be as that was the main reason Nicola sturgeon went into politics in the first place as she disliked the conservatives so much

        Cameron on the other hand has a wide appeal with those at the top in some countries but not so in the EU as most of them are of a social standing and have no time for him i see to that in my private briefings that I have with certain EU members

        He will tell you nothing but a load of nonsense and fools no one at EU level but none the less sounds convincing and is to the younger mep’s that work there

        If Cameron were decent, he would have been seen as such by speaking highly of Greece despite the fact they have no money they are still decent people

        What Cameron has always stated is that they are a badly led country and references that all the time without never having been there or knowing their history

        For my part Greece is a wonderful place or was a wonderful place and like many countries of its size and position it was never going to be a powerhouse like Germany or the UK and never could be

        Its main claim to fame is tourism like many other countries of its size but that does not mean they are bad countries badly run where nothing could be further then the truth

        Politicians need to understand and respect other countries, as they are not in the majority all about making a quick buck like the UK to the determent of the decent people that live there

        David Cameron’s main aim is to withdraw from the EU but on the referendum he will fail and he knows that so what he’s offing the public is a better deal ?

        That is just a smoke screen from his true desire to leave the EU altogether

        Leaving the EU gives him a vast amount of power and it’s imperative he is blocked at all times and that no one gives in to his better deal approach as it will spell the end of a vast amount of the human right act and legal justice and so many other things the public hold dear

        In reality the UK would become a type of police state like many of the middle eastern countries and there would be no one to oversee any of our concerns other then the UN

        If the EU give way to him on a better deal than that in turn to give rise to the breakup of the EU itself causing a major catastrophe for all concerned

        The bottom line is David Cameron is the wrong person to be involved in any talks with regards the EU as his demeanor is very authoritarian

      2. Totally different,SNP represent the people of Scotland 56 soon to be 57 seats from 59 when Carmichael resigns and in the by election the SNP overturn his massive majority of 800 lol,Cameron looks after pedos,tax dodgers,crooked bankers and millionaires so nothing like each other

  2. Your take on this story is so off to be fiction. Carmichael should resign as he was elected on false pretences

    1. Mike Sivier

      I tend to agree with you about Carmichael, but that doesn’t change what the investigation found about the memo – that it was an accurate account, accurately made, by the civil servant.

      1. Rob Troup

        Mike, the investigation DID NOT find that the memo was an accurate account made by the civil servant. “and highlighted that the memo had stated that part of the conversation between the French Ambassador and the First Minister might well have been “lost in translation”.

        I think you are discrediting this blog unless you run an apology for the initial story. It is nothing to be ashamed of, many people got this wrong which is more a case of naivety rather than dishonesty.

        But to say you have been vindicated for the original story goes beyond the measure.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Here’s the relevant part of the memo:

        “The Ambassador also had a truncated meeting with the FM (FM running late after a busy Thursday…). Discussion appears to have focused mainly on the political situation, with the FM stating that she wouldn’t want a formal coalition with Labour; that the SNP would almost certainly have a large number of seats; that she had no idea ‘what kind of mischief’ Alex Salmond would get up to; and confessed that she’d rather see David Cameron remain as PM (and didn’t see Ed Miliband as PM material). I have to admit that I’m not sure that the FM’s tongue would be quite so loose on that kind of thing in a meeting like that, so it might well be a case of something being lost in translation.”

        Now look at the Cabinet Office report, which states “he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately”.

        Let’s have that again: “There is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately”.

        Why are you trying to lie to us all?

        You had better make your apology absolutely monumental, considering the claims you’ve made here.

      3. No it wasn’t, Carmichael himself has admitted there were ‘inacuracies’ so how is it an ‘accurate account, accurately made, by the civil servant’???? I’ll take it from the ‘horses mouth’ and not yours!

      4. Mike Sivier

        Carmichael wasn’t there when the original conversation took place, or when the civil servant took his notes and made his memo. How are his comments anything other than hearsay?

      5. John S. Stuart

        Why would it be lost in translation? Both the french diplomat and Nicola Sturgeon speak perfect English. Why would a translator be involved?
        The real answer is that there was none; but we cannot let the truth stand in the way of a good story – can we.

      6. Mike Sivier

        I think the real answer is that the civil servant who wrote the memo was being diplomatic and offering the French contingent in this story a little “plausible deniability” – to keep matters smooth between our two nations. The accuracy of the memo has been checked and confirmed by the Cabinet Office.

      7. No it was not said civil servant states details may be lost in translation,NOT ACCURATE

      8. Mike Sivier

        Are you saying the investigation’s findings were wrong?
        I’d like to see your evidence for that.

      9. Paul

        And, contrary to the spin you are putting on it, the civil servant was highly dubious that she said any such thing. Exactly what part of “lost in translation” do you not understand?

        Your idea of “on balance” leads me to believe that it would be a brave man that bought a set of scales from you.

      10. Mike Sivier

        I understand that everybody involved is fluent in English, and the French diplomats are bilingual. The “lost in translation” comment diplomatically allows those French diplomats “plausible deniability”, thus ensuring smooth relations between our two nations.

        As for the memo, its author and its contents, here’s the Cabinet Office quote (again): “He is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately”.

      11. Rob Troup

        He confirmed under questioning that he BELIEVED that the memo was an accurate record of the conversation that took place between him and the French Consul General, and HIGHLIGHTED that the memo had stated that part of the conversation between the French Ambassador and the First Minister might well have been “LOST IN TRANSLATION.

        Mike , I believe you are damaging the credibility of your Blog with your insistence on spinning the inquiries outcome and completely denying the fact that Carmichael himself has apologised personally to Sturgeon for the leaked memo that he himself has said was WRONG !

        Leaking such a damaging memo to the press concerning the First Minister and the French Ambassador, which he himself says parts may well have been lost in translation, without confirming with either the First Minister or the French Ambassador, got the public apology it deserved from Carmichael, who went on to say he would have resigned his position if he had still been in office.

        So why do you insist on carrying on with this nonsense instead of printing a retraction, as Carmichael has done publicly ?

        It is such a pity ….

      12. Mike Sivier

        Once again, you and those like you are desperately relying on the word of a man who has admitted he is a liar.
        I am relying on the word of a man who has been vetted and passed as truthful.
        And you say I’m damaging my credibility?
        Please be sensible.
        Isn’t it time you all admitted you have no idea whether Sturgeon said what is attributed to her in the memo?

      1. Mike Sivier

        Please look at the factual evidence.

  3. Pete B

    I wonder if Sturgeon did a deal with Cameron.You know,keep saying Miliband will need the SNP,so CMD could say,Vote Labour and you get SNP.

    That is what won it for CMD.Perhaps she has a deal were we English will suffer more than Scotland over Welfare cuts so Sturgeon can say she had a influence like Nick Clegg before her.

    Oh well,united we stand and divided we fall and all that jazz.Just call me a old cynic.

  4. The Telegraph has clearly duped you guys. For one thing it omits to mention that Alistair Carmichael admits the account depicted in the memo is false.

    “I accept that its publication was a serious breach of protocol,” wrote Carmichael to Sturgeon, “and that the details of that account are not accurate.”


    Quite simply The Telegraph is lying (as in Lying By Omission, see http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lying_by_omission) in their version.

    Maybe you’d like to update your own blog instead of repeating the lie.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The Telegraph has nothing to do with the Cabinet Office investigation and report.
      Nor does Mr Carmichael.
      As a reporter of fact, I must take the Cabinet Office report to be accurate.
      Therefore there is no lie in the article and there will be no update.
      Perhaps you should check the facts before making unsupportable claims about newspapers, and about the veracity of comments by other people.

      1. Rob Troup

        and highlighted that the memo had stated that part of the conversation between the French Ambassador and the First Minister might well have been “lost in translation”.

        Perhaps someone needs to verify those “facts” they rely on for a blog like this BEFORE publishing ?

      2. Mike Sivier

        See my previous response to you.

      3. Maybe you should improve your ‘investigative skills’ before posting lies? Here’s the letter from Mr Carmichael to the FM of Scotland, like i said before, i’ll take it from the ‘horses mouth, than yours. https://twitter.com/NicolaSturgeon/status/601756961827328000/photo/1

      4. Mike Sivier

        See my response to your previous comment.

      5. Colin Souter

        As a “reporter of fact”, perhaps you should publish Carmichael’s letter of apology and leave your readers to interpret for themselves?. He is quite clear In his letter that the memo account contained a false description of what occurred during the meeting…….

      6. Mike Sivier

        Perhaps you should have read the article – which quotes Carmichael’s letter – before commenting.

      7. Report the fact then that Carmichael lied , simple, he has admitted it.

      8. Mike Sivier

        Yes, he lied when he said he did not know where the leak originated.

  5. All this proves Ed Milliband was right to steer clear of Sturgeon. She and Cameron are a pair well met and deserve each other

    1. Ed Milliband right to steer clear,you think,remind me what happened in GE’15’

  6. somerandombint

    Nope. Past performance is not evidence. Sorry you got stung by the propaganda but it was plain wrong. Would think more of you if you admitted that.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Have you read the Cabinet Office report? The facts are plain, and they are as I reported them.

  7. tommy

    Peter Pan and Wendy are waiting to meet you in Never-Never Land Mr Sivier.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Is that the best you can do?

  8. “I accept that its publications was a serious breach of protocol and that the details of that account are not correct” Vindicated?

    Oh, and don’t forget to damn the French ambassador while you’re at it, Mike.

    1. Make that Consul General.

      1. Mike Sivier

        Why do you think he wouldn’t do the diplomatic thing?

    2. Mike Sivier


  9. I think your falling for conservative spin here. The S.N.P are ideologically against the tory’s it’s one comment taken out of context, the torys love Dived and rule, so they want the left to turn against the S.N.P. In England. To focus on this rather than everything the S.N.P. Has said regarding Anti-Austerity for the 65% of emglish who did not vote conservative is playing into Tory hands.

    1. Mike Sivier

      It’s a claim recorded in a memo written by an impartial civil servant whose trustworthiness has been checked and approved by the Cabinet Office: “He is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately”.

      1. Even if it is why does it its of no real significance now.The S.N.P. Are the only Austerity party with significant numbers in Westminster. If against what they said publically they are angling to leave the union, then it will destroy the slim Tory Majority. The MSM is full. Of this kind of anti-scottish reporting. The truth of the matter is we don’t want context this was said in or the wider conversation something you should make clear. I am a fan of your blog but this is poor journalism.
        The senior civil service are Tory to the core so hardly an unbiased source.

      2. Mike Sivier

        No, the Conservative Party is an austerity party with significant numbers in Westminster. The SNP is indeed an austerity party, though, and I’m glad somebody admits it.
        You want to watch what you’re saying; anti-SNP writing is not anti-Scottish. The SNP is not and never has been Scotland.
        Your claim about the senior members of the civil service falls flat because they are paid to be impartial – it is a condition of their job. Your words therefore betray your own bias.

  10. Ian

    The whole memo is false . There is no truth In it. You blunder on blindly….

    1. Mike Sivier

      Look at the Cabinet Office report, which states of the civil service who wrote the memo, and of the memo itself: “he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately”.

      1. Alistair Carmichael said in his letter of apology that the contents of the memo were not true! Good to see you’ve become a figure of ridicule all over social media due to your self-imposed blindness.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Alistair Carmichael also admitted in his letter that he was a liar. Think on that.
        I take my information from the Cabinet Office report – it has a rather different attitude to the matter, as reported in (for example) The Independent.
        And I couldn’t care less what people are saying on the social media. I haven’t seen much of it and it just shows that a lot of people can be ignorant, misguided or just plain wrong – like your good self.

  11. So wait. If a civil servant writes something in a memo based on a third hand account of a conversation and then even adds a note questioning the accuracy of what he’s writing you believe it’s true because he wrote it?

    So if someone misheard or misquoted someone and they had written:

    “Apparently David Cameron admitted that he is secretly a werewolf. Though something may have been lost in translation around the word Monday.”

    Even if Cameron strenuously denied he grew some fangs once a month, the person he spoke to (who has nothing to gain from lying) said he didn’t say it and the person who reported to the civil servant said that’s not what they said. You would still have a man armed with silver bullets round at Number 10 as quickly as you can!

    1. Mike Sivier

      No. I believe it is accurate because the Cabinet Office has investigated it and found it to be so. You are contradicting John S Stuart, below, who believes there is no reason for anything to be lost in translation at all, because everybody involved speaks fluent English. Therefore it seems the civil servant who wrote the memo was offering “plausible deniability” to the French diplomats, as a way of keeping things smooth between our two nations.

      Look at the Cabinet Office report, which states of the civil service who wrote the memo, and of the memo itself: “he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately”.

      Your comparison is false as there was no impairment to the hearing of anybody involved.

  12. Cx2uk

    Nicola sturgeon says she did not express a preference, the French diplomats rep who was at the meeting says she did not express a preference – but a guy who spoke to a guy who spoke to the guy at the meeting says she did but he might have got the wrong end of the stick and you conclude that she DID express a preference?

    1. Mike Sivier

      Sturgeon spoke to the ambassador; the ambassador spoke to the consul general; and the consul general spoke to the civil servant, who recorded the conversation accurately in a memo. All involved speak fluent English. There was no opportunity for misinterpretation.

      1. Liz

        But the ambassador and the consul general, whilst both may speak excellent English are French. That being so they are likely to have had THEIR conversation in French not English. Hence conversation in English is translated to French, and then back to English by consul general to civil servant.

      2. Mike Sivier

        And how different do you think it is for a person to say Sturgeon preferred to have David Cameron as Prime Minister because she didn’t rate Miliband for the job, in French?

        I’ve already been over this. You’re clutching at straws.

  13. Carmichael said what he said was wrong,end of ,the whole thing was a fabrication by the Scottish Office and therefore UK government to smear Sturgeon and the SNP

    1. Mike Sivier

      Amazing. You’d believe hearsay from someone who had nothing to do with the creation of the memo over the findings of the official investigation into what happened.

  14. Colin Souter

    Still at it, Mike?….any vestiges of credibility attached to the claim of SNP support for the Conservatives disappeared with Carmichael’s apology and your clinging to it, merely serves to damage your own credibility. There were separate incidents which you conflate and given your investigative ability, I must conclude you do so, deliberately. Stage 1. There was first the meeting. Stage 2. A witness to that meeting then had an exchange with the civil servant. Stage 3. There was a documented account of stage 2. recorded in a memo. Stage 4. The memo was released to the media.
    The Cabinet Office Inquiry has validated stage 2-4. It has not validated any assertion about what happened at Stage 1 and has been very careful not to do so, which is sensible, given that the French Ambassador, First Minister and Consul General have all denied the statement ever having been made…..and after all, they were there…..
    It is also noted that the civil servant questioned himself whether the assertion was credible, suggesting it may have become confused in translation and this was documented in the Memo……… And your take on it? Even if the people who were there denied it, it’s still likely to be true because you’d prefer it that way……….you embarrass yourself and show a similar level of disdain for your readers, as that shown by Carmichael for lying in the first place……….

    1. Mike Sivier

      On the contrary, Colin, are YOU still at it?
      Read my responses to some of the other comments here – and learn something.

      1. Sheena Wellington

        You really are desperate to find someone else to blame for Labour’s failure, aren’t you? It is a memo written by a civil servant about a conversation with the French Consul-General in Edinburgh about another conversation between the French Ambassador and the First Minister of Scotland. Both the Ambassador and the First Minister have denied that such statements were made, the Consul General said he had no recollection of making these remarks to the civil servant. The Cabinet Secretary, naturally, has carefully covered the back of the civil servant concerned by saying he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. But he was not present at the relevant conversation and three people who were all deny it! And anyone who knows anything about Nicola Sturgeon knows that she keeps a very careful guard on her tingue and it’s beyond unlikely that she would make any statements of that kind in a diplomatic meeting.

      2. Mike Sivier

        What does Labour have to do with it?

        Regarding your claim about the reliability of Sturgeon, the ambassador and the consul general, let’s put this into a hypothetical situation: Three people are caught out lying about a fourth – but the only evidence they have lied is from a fifth person who was not directly involved in their conversation but heard it in passing. They deny ever saying the words attributed to them.

        … Well they would, wouldn’t they? When it’s one person’s word against others – and there are more of the others than the one – they’re going to try to browbeat that person into a retraction. It is to the civil servant’s credit that he hasn’t retracted what he said in the memo. But Sturgeon’s claim does not constitute positive proof that she didn’t say what is suggested.

        Now here’s another hypothetical. You’re out talking with friends and they tell you they don’t want another person to be voted in as chair of a local club (you can choose the club). You go home and tell your family members what your friend said. They tell you that your friend has been pledging support to that person all around town. Who do you believe? Who do your family believe?

  15. Colin

    You seem to be missing the fact that MUNDELL was Carmichaels deputy and was also aware and implicated in this matter. Of course, the Tories will leave a degree of doubt in the ‘official’ report. They can’t have Mundell losing his seat too.

    Nicola Sturgeon, if you knew her at all, detests the Conservatives and did everything in her power to make an arrangement with them, however Miliband was backed into a corner by Cameron and had to ‘be seen’ to reject those offers.

    As for the SNP killing off labour in Scotland, what did you expect to happen? Labour voted for the UNION against the wishes of almost half the country, they committed suicide. Even if every seat in Scotland had gone to Labour, they still wouldn’t have had a majority in Westminster, they lost the battle in England.

    1. Colin

      ** When I say make an arrangement with them – I,
      of course meant Labour (lol)

    2. Mike Sivier

      Why are people so determined to talk about Labour when discussing an article that is about the SNP and its leader?
      Please stop. It’s childish and tiresome.
      And I notice you’re repeating the lie about the SNP’s result not affecting anywhere else.

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