Friday, February 08, 2008

The Wheel Is Spinning, But...

It says much about the state of Wendy Alexander's leadership of Labour in the Scottish Parliament that the best news she's had in months is that she's not going to jail. Deck the halls, hosanna in exelsis, let joy be unconfined etc ad nauseum... somehow, though, a wiping of the brow and a sigh of relief seem more appropriate than champagne in the circumstances.

The Electoral Commission has delivered what is probably the right outcome, but by wholly inappropriate means. Their role should have been to establish if there had been a breach of the law (the Actus Reus – which in this case was admitted freely) and from there, to arrange the forfeiture of the donation before reporting matters to the Procurator Fiscal, who could then determine if there was also the guilty mind, or Mens Rea, which together are required for a criminal offence to have taken place.

For what it's worth, I don't reckon any Fiscal in the land would have taken matters further, but that's not really the point. Instead, we now have the ridiculous sight of Wendy proclaiming self-righteously that "My honesty and integrity have been confirmed by this judgment." Er, no they haven't, Wendy. The law was broken, but the Commission didn't find “sufficient evidence” to suggest an attempt to conceal the impermissible donation. That's hardly the same thing.

The ruling offers no certification as to the soundness of her reputation, which as far as I'm concerned, is no whiter or indeed sullied than it was before. I really couldn't care less how she sees herself in this regard. Rather, it's the attitude, the hubris, the attempted blame-shifting and sheer unadulterated insouciance towards the whole thing which gets up my nose, and I suspect those of a great many others. In this case, 'sorry' really does seem to be the hardest word.

But to our tale. She got creamed again yesterday at First Minister's Questions and made a complete and utter sow's ear of her party's approach to the budget, laughably failing to vote for the motion which her party had already amended successfully. If there's only been 'not much' in the way of backstabbing, it can only be because Labour is so bereft of talent in Holyrood that there really is no-one else who could take over at the moment.

I'll go further. Bluntly, I don't think that the next Labour First Minister has even been elected yet to the Scottish Parliament. As for Wendy, she now has to get Labour acting like a sensible opposition and make a show of getting people behind her proposed reforms to the Labour Party – no mean feat given the way she's managed to alienate the party's MP's, Councilors and even the cheerleaders over at Pravda the Daily Record.

In reality, I suspect that no matter what she tries to do now, she's going to get nowhere fast because quite simply, she lacks the necessary clout and respect both within and without her party. The wheel might be spinning, but that hamster looks dead to me...


Richard Havers said...

To be fair Richard I don't think she was ever likely to go to jail :)

However, I do agree that she's damaged goods, but where's the choices? The Grey man? Held in high esteem in labour circles but not for me leadership material.

the best they can hope for is some stubbing of toe in SNP you're going to say that's not going to happen, but this after all politics. I think more worrying for Labour is what's likely to happen in Scotland come a UK election.

Richard Thomson said...

"Events, dear boy..." yes, it could always happen like that.

I think you may be right about what could happen to Labour in Scotland at the next UK election. There's been a whole lot of demons exercised over the past few months, and only a fool would now go around asseting that Labour couldn't be beaten in Scotland.

Actually, I think the best hope for a Scottish Labour recovery is for Gordon Brown to get the heave-ho, since he's the roadblock to any kind of serious reappraisal and reform in the Scottish party. Trouble is, any talented Labourites who've opposed him in the past now sleep with the fishes. They may need to lose office in Westminster before it gets any better for the Labour Party in Scotland.

Richard Havers said...

Actually, I think there's no hope for them as they are presently constructed. It's just a shame you lot want independence.


p.s. That and AS's broken promises on wind farms.

Dougthedug said...

I think the state of Labour under Ms. Alexander is defined by the response to Alex Salmond's threat to resign.

The Budget was critical to the SNP minority government. It was a chance for the Lib-Dems and Labour to take the hated SNP government down, or even just make it a close run thing to show that the SNP was very much a minority government and working on a knife edge.

If the budget was stopped then the SNP could not have functioned as a government and in the end it would most likely have gone to another election.

But both the Lib-Dems and Labour simply could not take the risk of a "no" vote which could result in another election when they're both down in the polls. They had no choice but abstain and look like fools. They were probably pretty certain that the Budget would go through but they simply couldn't risk winning a "no" vote.

Alex Salmond said, "Outside if you think you're hard enough", and neither the Lib-Dems and Labour blinked, they shut their eyes and whimpered till the bad man went away. It was a theatrical delivery but the content of the message was a stark warning of what would happen if the budget failed.

Do you know why there are three names missing from the Budget Bill voting list, Robert Brown and Ross Finnie, (Lib-Dem) and Marilyn Livingstone, (Labour)?
Official Report 6 February 2008

If they weren't present then there was no way the SNP could have been defeated, even if Margo had voted "no" with the Green's, Lib-Dems, and Labour.

As far as the Electoral Commission farce goes it simply shows that politicians are allowed a buffer zone between themselves and the judiciary. A Goverment appointed Commission judges whether a member of the Government party should be referred to the police. It's Banana Republic time.

I'm not unhappy that Ms. Alexander is staying on, she's much more likely to be a initiator of, "Events, dear boy, events", than Alex Salmond.

Richard Havers said...

dougthedug, fascinating. Thanks for some great info.

Ricky Simpson (fortheunion) said...

As you mention - both actus reus and mens rea are required to suffice criminality. With the absence of guilty mind, there is no offence - if a rather bruised reputation. Again, another fundamental key in the establishing of whether or not a crime has taken place is intent - with the absence of such, it was embarrassing that the EC referred her.

However, Ignorantia juris non excusat seems to suggest something different all together. I would have though that public servants were even more obliged to ascertain the facts for themselves.