Scots Labour in crisis as sleaze rows reach new high

See Updates below the fold. Full statement, first reactions and another quits!

BBC News are running the scoop of Wendy Alexander’s sensational decision to quit after less than a year as Scottish Labour leader over a footling error in her leader’s campaign expenses.

Only a year ago Alexander was tipped to lead the pro-Union fight back against Alex Salmond’s coup in winning office for the SNP and holding onto it brilliantly.

The long-running expenses row may have thrown her political judgment. She stumbled badly over suddenly calling for a referendum on Scottish independence, attracting the ire of her former mentor the Prime Minister and the derision of most of her own colleagues, as this Constitution Unit report explains (p29 par 3.2 et seq.)http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/devolution/MonReps/Scotland_May08.pdf.

But there’s much, much more. Fresh sleaze charges are throwing both parties at Westminster into turmoil at a time when the public’s need to trust them is greater than ever…At Westminster, Labour’s golden couple Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls, both Brown babes and cabinet members in their 30s, are mired in an expenses row over claiming second-home expenses for their London residence. And Conservative chairman Caroline Spellman seems on the brink of quitting over disputed claims that her nanny was paid out of the public purse for doing some secretarial work. While to cap it all in the same piece in the Mail, journalist Peter Oborne accuses Tory Industry spokesman Alan Duncan of “receiving significant sums of money” from an oil trading company. Duncan denies the claim and told the BBC this morning he was going to sue.

Update Wendy Alexander’s resignation statement may win her some sympathy. She’s won some already from a surprising quarter, influential Conservative blogger Iain Dale. But the grief piles on for Scottish Labour. Behind the stated cause of yet another resignation, of a Scottish MP this time, it’s the Sun wot sticks its neck out.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London