Monday, 30 June 2008
Saturday, 28 June 2008
Yes, she's resigned and we can get back to politics instead of her nonsense, but she resigned without any humility and without once apologising for her actions.
Instead of admitting she was wrong and saying sorry, she claimed that she was the victim of a 'partisan' decision and that she had been denied 'natural justice'. This is not true - she was investigated by an independent commissioner, judged by a jury of her peers and her actions were found wanting.
Her lack of good judgement has been her Achilles heel all along and her refusal, even now, to accept responsibility for her actions and their consequences is an indication of just how bad her judgement is.
She said in her statement that "My pursuers have sought the prize of political victory with little thought to the standing of the Parliament." It would be better argued that those who questioned her actions and their admissability did so to protect the standing of Parliament and not allow the reputation of Scottish politics to be further sullied. That determination to champion what is right is to be welcomed, not criticised.
What is clear is that Ms Alexander was under attack from within her own party. It was a series of leaks from within Labour that revealed all the information on her donations - the other parties active in Scotland were surprised, to say the least, to discover that anyone would seek donations to run an internal campaign, never mind donations on the scale revealed, it was a leak from within Labour that revealed the "Wonderful Wendy" cribsheets, and the continual dripping of negative stories from within Labour has been consistently undermining her.
Her policy platform was unstable and incoherent, her analysis of situations was abysmal, she shed staff one after another, she performed incredibly poorly in the chamber and just as badly outside it. She was bad for Labour, bad for Scottish politics and bad for Parliament, it is good that she has resigned, she should add some humility to that resignation.
It's time to get back to politics.
Friday, 27 June 2008
Labour's on 28% - which is actually up on last month when they had their lowest-ever poll rating. It appears that they are both taking votes from the Lib Dems - that party is now sitting on 15% - in the shoogly peg zone, Lib Dems took 22% in 2005 and appear to be getting seriously squeezed, they're likely to lose heavily in terms of number of seats taken.
Labour's problems are growing. Whether or not it's true, Brown appears to have taken on a bunker mentality and it's affecting the view people have of his party - 71% think his Government lacks direction and 61% say Brown is a liability. While I take John Major's point that Brown's family will be suffering and much of the criticism is personal rather than political, politics isn't a non-contact sport and Brown was part of the New Labour Project that eschewed proper political debate in favour of personality politics and presentation.
What's missing from the Telegraph story is the score for 'others' which will include the SNP on this UK poll. The figures for the other parties add up to 89% though, indicating that the SNP vote will still be incredibly strong.
Mind how you go!
Stephen Kearney (LD) 9,680 (28%, +1.8%)
Mark Stevenson (Green) 1,321 (3.8%, +0.5%)
Timothy Rait (BNP) 1,243 (3.6%)
Richard McKenzie (Lab) 1,066 (3.1%, -11.7%)
Chris Adams (UKIP) 843 (2.4%, -0.1%)
Bananaman Owen (Loony) 242 (0.70%)
Derek Allpass (Eng Dem) 157 (0.45%)
0.81% swing LD to C
Thursday, 26 June 2008
Instead of doing the obvious and honest thing - apologise, accept the penalty and move on - Labour appears determined to continue to argue the case that Wendy did nothing wrong. Wendy Alexander kept saying we should draw a line under it and move on but when presented with the chance to do just that Labour passed it up. Instead, Labour members have been claiming that all of Wendy's pain has been caused by the SNP.
For example, I've just seen David Whitton on Newsnight trying to bully his way through the difficulty - exactly the wrong approach. He made claims about what was in the Commissioner's report - I don't know whether he was right about it, but he shouldn't actually know what's in that report - it's not public. He also said that there was another complaint to be considered - he shouldn't know that either. So has David Whitton and an unnnamed co-conspirator broken the rules again to give him sight of documents or was he just making stuff up for effect?
Labour's farce should be over so we can all get back to talking about politics. Apologise, accept your punishment and move on.
1.1.2 The schedule to the Act sets out the circumstances in which financial interests must be registered. In this Code and in the Act these interests are referred to as ‘registrable interests’. These registrable interests are described in detail in Section 2 of this Code. Penalties and criminal sanctions apply in the event of non compliance with the requirements for registration. If a Member is uncertain about any aspect of the operation of the Act or the Code, the Standards clerks may be asked for advice. However, each Member must ensure that the provisions of the Act are complied with and may additionally wish to seek independent legal and other professional advice prior to registration.
1.2.11 Where an interest is acquired after the initial registration, the procedure is largely the same as for initial registration. A Member must register an acquired interest by lodging a further written statement within 30 days after the date of acquisition (section 5 of the Act). The form of written statement is again the same as that provided for initial registration but in this case the Member fills in only the information relating to the acquired interest.2.6: Gifts – schedule, paragraph 6
A member has a registrable interest:
(1) Where a member or a company in which the member has a controlling interest or a partnership of which the member is a partner, receives, or has received, a gift of heritable or moveable property or a gift of a benefit in kind and—
(a) the value the gift, at the date on which it was received exceeds 1 per cent of a member’s salary on that date (rounded down to the nearest £10); and
(b) that gift meets the prejudice test.
Seems perfectly clear to me, simple to understand, easy to follow. Any gift over £520 should be registered - even if it wasn't cash that was received, but just a benefit of some kind.
You've got to believe that someone in the Labour party will now have the decency to tell Wendy Alexander that it's over, or move a vote of no confidence? A wee shove and the pain will be over for her, she can go and do something she's good at instead.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Saturday, 21 June 2008
Friday, 20 June 2008
Monday, 16 June 2008
Thursday, 12 June 2008
He's already run into some of the discomfort that he must have expected - rumours of disagreements with his leader and this being an attempt to bounce Cameron; the BNP backing him because they agree with his stance; UKIP offering to campaign for him, and so on - but he must be a little concerned about what's coming next.
Clegg has already stood his party down from the election, so the only real decision left to be made is Labour's - what position can Labour take which will give least benefit to Davis' move? Given that the result last time wasn't exactly a close call, will the decision be the Dennis McShane sniffy dismissal or will Brown decide that this is an opportunity for a fightback?
David Davis (Con): 22,792
Jon Neal (LD): 17,676
Edward Hart (Lab): 6,104
Jonathan Mainprize (BNP): 798
Philip Lane (UKIP): 659
After all, it's going to be difficult for Davis to improve on his showing against Labour from 2005, and there would be the opportunity for Labour to claim that a move towards it was a regaining of some ground after the kicking it took in Crewe. The rumour currently is that Labour will not contest, seeking to leave Davis with a hollow victory. That, of course, allows the Conservatives to say that Brown is afraid of testing his policy in a public vote.
Labour might have made the wrong move yet again. There is little doubt that Davis will win and win handsomely, particularly given the revelations that Brown bought votes for 42 days at a very high price. It might have been a bit of a rough ride for Labour and the defeat would have been sore, but it would have been an expected defeat and it would compare favourably with what appears to be a fear to ask the electorate to vote Labour - building on the fearty reputation that Brown got after delaying the general election.
Of course, Labour actually has a secret weapon it can use - MPs can't resign, they have to apply for a job which prohibits them being a Member of Parliament - taking the Hundreds. The Chiltern Hundreds is in the gift of the Chancellor of the Exchequer - Darling could refuse to grant it. It's not been refused since 1842, but it's still an option ... The other option is for Darling to grant Davis the Hundreds and then refuse to release him from the appointment so he can't stand in the bye-election. Not much chance of either, I suspect.
Mind how you go!
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
1 Terrorism: interpretation
(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where—
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it—
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.
(4) In this section—
(a) “action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,
(b) a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,
(c) a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and
(d) “the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.
(5) In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
The story fell apart when Robbie Dinwoodie of the Herald phoned COSLA to ask what the background to the story was. COSLA expressed some degree of surprise and it transpired that Labour - in the form of Arthur Midwinter - had made it up.
I hear that Labour press officers are now blaming each other for the mess, none willing to admit that they peddled the lie. What's worse, telling the lie or trying to cover it up?
In the midst of this farce, Labour held its strategy meeting - without Mike Elrick, chief policy advisor to Wendy Alexander who was left in Parliament while Labour met in Glasgow - to decide what vision it could offer Scotland.
What is Labour's vision for the future then? A Childhood Consultation (no, I don't know either), one-to-one tuition (I assume in schools, it's not clear), John Park's apprentice Bill (paying employers to take on apprentices they don't need), and the Calman Independence Commission (he doesn't know yet). That's it- except Wendy's promised a referendum again.
So there you have it - no ideas, no policy, and no vision, Labour is a party at war with itself with no idea what direction it should be heading.
Lies, damned lies and tantrums - is this really the best we can now expect from Labour?