Scotland politics

Profile: Alistair Carmichael

Alistair Carmichael
Image caption A smiling Alistair Carmichael walked into Downing Street following news he had become Scottish secretary

Alistair Carmichael was born in 1965 and had a traditional upbringing on a hill farm on the Inner Hebrides island of Islay with his two sisters.

He was educated at Islay High School and developed an early interest in politics, joining the Liberal Democrat party at just 14.

He worked as a hotel manager before studying law at Aberdeen University. He then became a procurator fiscal depute working mostly in the criminal courts.

Mr Carmichael married his wife Kate in 1987 and they now live Orkney with their two sons, who were born in 1997 and 2001.

He was elected to the UK parliament in 2001, replacing Jim Wallace as MP for Orkney and Shetland.

Mr Wallace had stood down as an MP after leading the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the first election to the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.

Mr Carmichael is known for campaigning in his constituency, including;

  • improving broadband for the Highlands and Islands
  • reducing fuel duties for people living in isolated areas
  • and a more regional approach to fisheries management.

He has fought and won battles in his constituency caused by government cuts, including a proposed coastguard closure and the removal of an emergency towing tug.

Mr Carmichael has shadowed a number of portfolios in opposition, speaking for his party on issues relating to the work of the Home Office, transport and Scotland.

In 2007, he was appointed shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

However, the following year he resigned from the front bench so that he could rebel and vote in favour of a Lisbon Treaty referendum - which included reforms to fisheries decision-making.

He was later reappointed to the Northern Ireland and Scotland post.

After the Lib Dem Tory coalition agreement, Mr Carmichael was appointed as deputy government chief whip.

He 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.

He has now been promoted to Scottish Secretary after Michael Moore was removed from that position.

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