Lunch with... Baroness Scotland

Written by Anoosh Chakelian on 6 August 2013 in Culture
Anoosh Chakelian and Labour peer Baroness Scotland chew the fat in one of Westminster’s meatiest eateries. Photo by   Louise Haywood-Schiefer

This article is from the August 2013 issue of Total Politics

Patricia Scotland, Labour life peer since 1997, became the first female black QC, and the youngest since Pitt the Younger, at 35 in 1991. Former Labour frontbencher – last served as attorney general from 2007-10.

The restaurant

Blue Boar Smokehouse

A dimly-lit restaurant bedded discreetly in Westminster’s InterContinental, serving American barbecue-style meaty dishes – their signature ribs are a carnivore’s dream (but a business luncher’s messy nightmare) and the menu of pulled meats is a treat.

The menu

Starter The Blue Boar ribs; seared English asparagus with bacon hollandaise.

Main Pulled Somerset kid, rubbed with Blue Boar rub, served with sage and onion rolls, smoky baked beans, creamy coleslaw and homemade pickles.

We drank Elderflower pressé with mint, lemon and lime – or ‘The Patricia’.

We discussed

Legal aid To see the lord chancellor come back with a cut on legal aid, which actually goes right to our justice system, is actually very shocking. I hope nobody underestimates how extraordinary it is that you have senior members of the judiciary, 90 silks, and the whole profession coming out saying ‘this is an outrage’. It’s really worrying that any lord chancellor could have brought forward a provision that is so fundamentally deleterious to our justice system. Dominic Grieve could not, would not have done it; Ken Clarke could not, would not have done it; Jack Straw could not, would not have done it. Is that because all of them are lawyers? You don’t need to be a lawyer to have a thirst for justice and fairness.

Taking silk I was 35 when I took silk, in 1991, and I was the first black woman to be appointed. Initially, I was told I’d never succeed at the bar, because the pecking order in 1977 was white male, black male, white female, black female. People’s expectations were so low; they used to be amazed I could speak English.

Domestic violence Having a critical mass of women in Parliament, after Labour won, to push that issue [of domestic violence] across government was really important. We were able, between 2003-10, to reduce domestic violence by 64 per cent. One of the reasons I created the Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence was because I was absolutely sure the methodology we’d used could be portable across the world. Lots of people think if you’re rich, powerful or famous, it doesn’t happen to you, it only happens to poor people or ill-educated people, not to ‘people like us’. The truth is, domestic violence is no respecter of people who are rich, poor, black, white, religious, non-religious, and is irrespective of your sexual orientation. If I were a one-legged Roman Catholic dwarf homosexual, would I be safe? No. Lots of people would’ve thought Nigella Lawson was somehow saved from this sort of thing – she’s beautiful, she’s rich, very well-known – no.

Rupert Murdoch I was one of the main architects of the Labour Party’s strategy against Murdoch. What happened was this; we had to develop a strategy. How do you run a criminal justice investigation, as well as do an inquiry? A lot of people said it couldn’t be done. I knew it could be done, because I had done endless numbers of inquiries. So Ivan [Lewis, then shadow culture secretary], Ed Miliband, and me, developed a strategy to deliver it. I think had they [Murdoch’s people] known I was doing it, they would’ve known who to attack. So I never appeared in the press; the first time anyone knew it was me was when Jan Royall mentioned it right at the end. I was determined [to keep it a secret] because they [the papers] had been after me before about Lolo [Tapui, an illegal immigrant working for Scotland], who was a put-up job to get me sacked. The Mail paid her £95,000. I didn’t really know how vicious they [the press] could be, but what they taught me is how they think.

Perfect for

Anyone who likes their meat cuts clean and their shirtfronts dirty.

Not suitable for

Vegetarians. Even the asparagus comes with bacon.

The cost The best meaty mains are around £17.

To book a table at Blue Boar Smokehouse, visit, call 020 3301 8080 or email

Tags: Baroness Scotland, Issue 61, Lunch with

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