Torrance mixes work with new book

A FORMER politics reporter with stv has penned a history of Scotland’s Secretaries of States, who include two former governor-generals of Australia and the owner of Scotland’s finest salmon river.

David Torrance – who also used to be a reporter on the Edinburgh Evening News and is now working as a parliamentary aide to the shadow Scottish secretary at Westminster, David Mundell – has charted the trials and tribulations of the 39 men and one woman who have held the post since it was created by Lord Salisbury in 1885.

From humble beginnings as an ill-regarded offshoot of the Home Office, the department grew to become a mini-Whitehall by the 1930s. It was also an important wartime department and a testing ground for planning and social reforms during the ‘white heat’ of the 1960s.

But with the Scottish parliament now established as the hub of Scottish political life, the re-christened Scotland Office is once again redundant.

Drawing on first-hand accounts and contemporary correspondence, Torrance paints what’s described as a “vivid biographical portrait” of those figures – many now completely forgotten – who controlled Scotland’s
political agenda from both the Regency charm of Dover House, in London, and the Art Deco surroundings of St Andrew’s House, in Edinburgh.

The two former governor-generals of Australia were the 1st Marquis of Linlithgow and Viscount Novar, while the owner of what was then described as Scotland’s finest salmon river was the 6th Duke of Richmond.

‘The Scottish Secretaries’ is published this week, by Berlinn,