Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday, 3 December 2007

Jackie Baillie on Newsnight Scotland - blood pressure alert!!

I speak, of course, of the latest scandal that has engulfed Labour since just before the weekend - the illegal donations accepted by Wendy Alexander MSP for her campaign for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party. I find it quite astonishing that she has not resigned already. Why is she not under investigation by the police?

Throughout today I have had to endure Labour toadies obfuscating, prevaricating and downright stone-walling in their so-called responses to straight-forward questions about the circumstances surrounding donations made by a gentleman called Paul Green, a non-resident of the United Kingdom (he apparently resides in Jersey). Acceptance of such donations for UK electoral purposes is illegal. No ifs or buts!

So I have just watched the surreal performance of Jackie Baillie MSP giving today's Labour Party line that the law-breaking by Wendy Alexander was 'unintentional' and that she is 'not dishonest'. The fact that Ms Alexander has broken the law, admitted doing so and has been shown to be a liar having denied that she knew Mr Green was not entitled to donate whereas she had prior to this written to him at his Jersey address thanking him for his donation. People standing for election are expected to know the law governing elections; when I stood (unsuccessfuly) for election as a local councillor some years ago all of us in our group of candidates were given guidance as to what we had to do to comply with electoral law and I imagine that similar procedures are followed by all the major political parties (and if not they should be); possibly some of the very small parties or independent candidates may not have the resources to know all the finer detail, but the rules governing donations are a pretty basic part of electoral law and there is no excuse for any candidate seemingly wilfully remaining ignorant of them. The explanations offered by a large political organisation such as Labour over the past couple of weeks simply will not wash!

As I wrote here, Labour people really do seem to think that laws don't apply to them. They do and their protestations of ignorance of the law are irrelevant; it is laughable, too, for the Labour Party and its apparatchiks to claim ignorance of this particular law, or 'good intentions' in both the David Abrahams and the Paul Green donations scandals, because the illegality of these donations arises out of legislation pushed through Parliament just a few years ago by this self-same Labour government. Don't these clowns take the trouble to inform themselves of the content of the legislation they champion?

As for the nonsense also being peddled today and for the past few days by these brazen crooks that the 'problem' is one for all political parties to solve and that the 'solution' is to have some kind of tax-payer funding of political parties - no! no! no! The solution is for politicians, of all political parties, to obey the law! The should also pass legislation limiting both the amount of any individual donation to a political party (the suggestion is that this be £50,000-, and it should certainly be no higher) and the amount that a political party may spend on campaigning for election.

Until the political parties get it into their heads that we DO NOT owe them a living and that they are expected to abide by the laws that they themselves have passed over the years then I will continue to treat them with considerable suspicion. They are merely our paid servants, not our masters. Neither they nor we should ever forget this.

PS/ So it's not just Harriet Harman and Wendy Alexander, now we learn it's Peter Hain too! These serial law-breakers make it increasingly unlikely that the explanations that it has all been an unfortunate 'oversight' can retain any credibility. It's almost as if there has been a deliberate strategy by the ruling political party to flout the law, the arrogance of power having made them think they can forever get away with illegality; it's yet to be shown they are wrong, unfortunately.

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