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.

  • Dewi

    Resignation coming up here Love that “footling” word by the way Brian – ain’t heard it for ages.

  • willis

    “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…”

    To be honest I don’t think you can honestly describe the Tories as being in turmoil. Except that the entire country expects them to be the new government with a massive majority and then to make good on their vague promises.

    Neither am I surprised that Iain Dale goes easy on Wendy Alexander. Dale, Oborne and Hitchens still see themselves as gents unlike Littlejohn.

  • You really can’t help feeling bad for Wendy (especially after Any Questions last week jeesh she took a beating). Poor poor Wendy… Still, that’s a little weight off of Gordon’s shoulders.

  • paul kielty

    Shame that Wendy Alexander didn’t have the good grace to hold her hands up and take it on the chin and to, at least, try to maintain her dignity. Instead, in true west-coast of Scotland, Labour mafioso style, she arrogantly went down the road of begrudgery. The way she painted herself as some kind of a joan of arc character, more sinned against than sinner, was quite frankly laughable. Although, she shouldn’t get too upset. She still has her MSP wage and pension, so all is not lost.
    She is seen, by labour, as a bright spark with family connections, who will be expected to lie low for a year or two, before she re-emerges(mandelson style) into another cushy number.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Agreed Paul the begrudgery comes through loud and clear, although with the labour party news sheet, sometimes known as the daily ranger, the daily record carrying the nonsense that St. Wendy has really done no wrong, it was the opposition wot don it. She was thought of as the bright young thing, though considering her ineptitude in the top job, those making these kind of judgments might be a part of the problem and not the solution. Andy Kerr is an affable chap, performs well at Holyrood and took his slagging well when myself and the boys got a hold of him at a community event a few years back. A good sign.

    The by-election in Glasgow east will be interesting, with a 13,000 plus majority the SNP would not in their wildest dreams believe they can take it, but, but, but………….That was before the success of the government and the Godsend that is the unpopularity of Billy Britain Brown. I can sense Dewi’s excitement from here, you are always welcome to come up and do a bit of canvassing ;¬)

  • Cynic

    “She is seen, by labour, as a bright spark with family connections, who will be expected to lie low for a year or two, before she re-emerges(mandelson style) into another cushy number.”

    ….of course that all depends on what happens in the General Election and in the Scottish Referendum……

    Personally I think that Labour are shattered. Politically and morally bankrupt, tired and increasingly devoid of talent or ideas. They are just worn out by 11 years of power. The electorate are sick of them and want change. That may all limit Wendy’s future chances.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Cynic

    Scotland is a totally different animal.

    The die hards still voted for Labour en-masse at the last Holyrood election. I really hope I am wrong, but I can see most of them sticking to their loyalties. Despite the fact that their loyalties are to a bygone era of Labour. Thus labour would still be virtually guaranteed around 30% across the country, much higher in places like the west of Scotland, fife, parts of Lanarkshire and central Scotland.

    It’s messed up.

  • Dewi

    Tony – we’ve been on another thread….

    Ouch

  • [aside]Eoghan, you’re a man(?) with your ear to the Scottish ground. Are you picking up any tremors from the Rathlin Soundami? I’m detecting quite a bit of ‘movement’ in Edinburgh and Glasgow via Google Analytics.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Nevin

    I’m a man you don’t meet everyday. As for the Rathlin Soundami, I’m sure they had a hip song released lateley eh……….dude! and the LP is shooting up the hit parade. Seriously not got a clue auld boy ;¬) Enlighten me.

    Dewi

    You carry on Dewi, at least you cite me when copying my patter. There are a few buggers on here, one in particular who repeats my factoids (too much radio 2 lately) and never thinks to mention where he got the heads up. Just good manners. So you fancy a bit of canvassing ;¬)

    How do you think the by-election will go?

  • paul kielty

    Prionsa Eoghan,

    Spot on about the daily record!!
    I, like many before me, have lived, studied and worked in Scotland for many years. Hey, I even married one!!
    I love Scotland and the people. They really are second to none(ourselves excluded of course!!), but there is this almost tangiable feeling, especially from ‘outsiders’, that they could be doing so much better. I think the winds of change are blowing there and its great to see.
    Sorry I can’t take up your offer, I’m back home, but every scottish election night in our home is watched the whole night through.
    Best of luck in the by-election and beyond.

    Cynic,

    I think there is still a lot of fight in labour, especially in the west, so I, unfortunately do not think they are on the verge of a total collapse.
    Although, I hope you are correct in your analysis of labour, and that the electorate put them in their place.

  • Dewi

    I got a week off week after next – was going to go to Connemara – but a week’s canvassing in Glasgow has real attractions as a Summer holiday ! – Tony – you inside or just outside the constituency ?

  • Dewi

    Totally totally aside but turgon posted about hymns about a month ago – I just couldn’t find the best of the lot – Pantyfedwen on video – but here we go – sound quality not great but writ in 1967 and absolutely magnificent.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZDG0261UA

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Sorry I can’t take up your offer<< Lol! No worries Paul, but I was talking to Dewi. As if I would proposition a perfect stranger;¬) Dewi I'm In the Glasgow central seat, Mohammed Sarwar's my MP. You know there might be the possibility of 3 Scottish by-elections in the next year. Glasgow East, Paisley North and Motherwell & Wishaw. Jack McConnell the defeated former first minister is under pressure to resign his seat as he is the new High commisioner to malawi, a country that Scotland has to all intense purposes "Adopted" He has really been ripping the arse out of it in holding onto his seat so long, I guess to save Labour any further embarrassment. They really are like the wee Dutch boy with his finger in the Dyke(shit is that the right spelling lol) Anyhow I wonder if Alexander may well even resign her Paisley North seat. So that the SNP have the very real, in fact I'll stick my neck out here. We really should be in possession of the seats of two former Labour party leaders at Holyrood. Now how is that for a coup? So my prediction would be two clear victories and one maybe, did anyone mention............ "Bring it on?" And you are always welcome Dewi.

  • “Enlighten me”

    Just a little local difficulty with a link to Holyrood, Eoghan, this time the SNP – and with echoes in Uist.

    And the cryptic clue is lobster, Salmond and CO’D.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    The only thing I’ve heard from the news is the odd low key story that Cal Mac’s monopoly and indeed subsidy is something that the government want to see the end of, mainly in favour of more local and less expensive operators. Anyhow I’m glad someone has finally raised the issue of Rathlin, one of Scotland’s long lost isles. Perhaps following the plebiscite in Berwick upon tweed, one in Rathlin might be in order.

    Best of luck with your pet projects.

  • Dewi

    No snakes on Rathlin Tony…..

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Oh I don’t know Dewi, I’ve heard the Paisley’s often visit………..

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    btw

    Update on Wendygate. The Sunday Herald are calling that she resigned knowing she could blame it on the SNP(only in part true) When in fact she had been “overwhelmed” by Salmond especially at FM questions, who was beating her with misses in truth. Seems they believe she was forced to go whilst trying to play the martyr. Exactly the way the Sunday Mail have pushed it as it happens. In their editorial the SNP have attacked all politicians with thei dogged determination to have labour play by the rules that, eh……..Labour initiated. She got caught pure and simple despite the labour party spin. Jeezo does anyone remember when these guys used to be good at spin?

    Also seems my call about Andy Kerr might be on the money, seems he is 1/4 favourite to succeed Wendy. If i was him I’d run through a brick wall, after all the only way is up under any new stewardship.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Hence the stress Nevin, getting caught does that to you.

    Thank God that like gorgeous George Galloway, the SNP are under so much scrutiny by those implacably opposed to our destiny. That we do not have the crooks attached to the Tories and Labour, or other Unionist parties ;¬) for that matter.

  • dewi

    Thanks Nevin – they seem to imploding – has Mr Marshall actually taken those Chiltern Hundreds things? If not Mr Brown might want a word….
    Btw – Nevin – have a word with Pete’s vikings – they could stop at Rathlin on way home and provide a temporary solution as penance for past sins.

  • “That we do not have the crooks”

    Eoghan, could you clarify that comment please? It can be taken in two opposite ways!!

  • “a temporary solution as penance for past sins.”

    Don’t you think we have enough dumb blondes in the Kingdom of Moyle, Dewi? 😉

  • dewi

    Btw Nevin why did Gaelic not last longer on Rathlin cf Tory or the (other?) Scottish islands?

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Nevin

    A badly phrased and yet unproven(on Marshall’s part at least) generalisation that appears to be prevalent in the Unionist parties. This kind of corruption *of sorts* used to be the preserve of the Tories did it not? I simply meant that because of the intense scrutiny, either we don’t have crooks full stop, or they are simply more ingenious. I prefer the latter ;¬)

    Note I did not mention sleaze, as I know someone would probably mention the SNP guy up in the islands with the two young girls a few years back.

    Dewi

    No bastard seems to be biting.

  • I don’t know the answer to that, Dewi. Perhaps it was less remote than the others; perhaps there was an influence from the Gage family, the local landlords, post the 1850 Famine.

    Brian MacLochlainn might have an answer in his talk: Scottish Gaelic and Antrim Irish. I’m wondering about Brian’s ‘Mac’ – local pronunciation and older spellings suggest a ‘Mag’ form rather than ‘Mac’.

    I was driving down the hill towards Corrymeela in 1987 when I spotted a prick under a balloon drifting down towards the sea behind Rathlin.

  • Eoghan, I’ll continue to work on the presumption that patronage pays, irrespective of political affiliation.

    The detail in Schedules A, B and C IMO would seem to indicate fraud and cover-up on a fairly extensive scale, even to the inexperienced eye.

    According to the Grapevine – and it’s been fairly reliable so far – the Scottish political establishment has been asked not to say too much about the fate of their companies, including staff and assets.

    I’ve briefed folks in Glasgow and Edinburgh on a number of occasions so they can’t say it was too late to act.

  • Eoghan, I thought you might like this quote from the Uist link above:

    As we went to press, the chairman of Storas Uibhist, Angus MacMillan, described Mr Stevenson’s letter as “absolute dynamite” which showed that “one way or another, the South Uist community has been misled over a matter of fundamental importance to its economic future”. He said that the Minister now had an obligation to explain exactly why the “Lord of the Isles” option had been dismissed as “non-compliant”.

    Mr MacMillan said it was remarkable that the Scottish Government was only now acknowledging the existence of an alternative proposal from CalMac —“even if it is only in order to say that they didn’t consider it”. He added: “Right enough, they could hardly deny it, now that they have been forced into publishing the CalMac tender documents.”

  • Dewi

    Thanks for that Nevin – however whether it’s my ear or the poor sound quality I can’t understand a word that Mr MacLochlainn is saying !!!

    Nice site though – I now know what a Clachan is.

  • Peat Blog

    Dewi,

    For further stuff on clachans etc. you should read Irish Folk Ways by Estyn Evans, published in the 1950s. He was a Welshman I believe, and lecturer at QUB.

    There is a great example of a clachan at Coolanlough, near Fairhead – just outside Ballycastle. Well worth a visit and offers great views of Rathlin.

  • vacant house black this tree all keyboard land

  • Dewi

    “vacant house black this tree all keyboard land”

    Quite liked that kitchenglass – I think you are on to something !!!