Is Scotland really about to make lying (by politicians) illegal? #Awkward

Now, in Northern Ireland we know loads about lying politicians. But whilst we acquiesce in their fabrications (and wonder whether our Legislative Assembly members will ever see another clean shirt) Scotland is well ahead of us, apparently.

Over there, lying by elected politicians may be about to be made illegal. Punishable by being made to face the electors again. [Erm, not so sure that actually qualifies as a viable punishment in Northern Ireland? – Ed]

Okay. So, political activists on Shetland and Orkney, incensed at the leaking of memo from the Foreign Office which suggested (apparently, quite innocently) Nicola Sturgeon had privately told a foreign diplomat she was hoping for a Conservative victory, have scraped together enough cash to force an electoral court to sit for the first time in fifty years and adjudicate on whether the denials of the then Minister at the FCO who authorised its leak should render his election null and void.

As Euan McColm points out if successful and there is a re-run, it is unlikely that the last dastardly Lib Dem MP in Scotland will hold his seat. (Yay!) And then he points out that any such judgement would make it illegal for any politician to tell any class of a lie before an election. (Double yay!)

Ah. But McColm finally references the rub. Alex Salmond’s infamous interview by Andrew Neil in which he claimed he’d had legal advice on Scotland’s position viz a viz Scotland’s independent status within the EU, which his then deputy (albeit tacitly) later admitted he had not.

OUCH! [Form an orderly queue and no sniggering at the back, please! – Ed].

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  • runepig

    Bit disappointed by the standard of analysis here. I’m reminded of Renton’s incredulity in Trainspotting but instead of Mikey Forrester and Russion Sailors – ‘innocent’ memo, Euan McColm, that old Salmond legal advice canard?

  • Robin Keogh

    I wonder could we pass a law making it a crime for a journalist to lie ?

  • mickfealty

    It thought it might be just a canard when I read McColm. But if you follow the links you’ll see the moment when the FM does indeed affirm to Neil he has had advice, then Nicola implicitly admitting they are commissioning such advice after the act

  • mickfealty

    My suspicion Robin, is that these activists are wasting their money. Having opened for business for the first time in 50 years, how on earth would the Court ever expect to return to the quiet life again?

    Every misspeak, mistake or blunder could see an MP run from office (if your opponents of course have the money and resources to do so)… It’s Tea Party politics gone just a little bit insane, IMHO.

  • mickfealty

    Sorry, I thought I was replying to you runepig. See my cannard comment above (or wherever it ends up)…

  • kensei

    Well presumably Alex Salmond can’t be turfed out for that given it was in a different role. And if the side effect is that everyone needs to be a bit more truthful, I am not sure you are selling the downsides.

  • gendjinn

    Why would you want to hurt SF’s rise like that? Every time the establishment in Ireland attack SF on swampy ground (like the OTR & this latest BS) they just confirm SF as the official opposition. The old “If them bollixes are agin them, then I’m for them.”

  • gendjinn

    “…So, political activists on Shetland and Orkney, incensed at the leaking of memo from the Foreign Office which suggested (apparently, quite innocently) Nicola Sturgeon had privately told a foreign diplomat she was hoping for a Conservative victory….”

    You mean the false statement? The statement that was released maliciously for electoral advantage? That “innocent” one?

    The final surprise is when you are no longer shocked.

  • Scots Anorak

    For a less flippant and more detailed analysis, follow this link.

    While it’s a big ask to petition a court to order an election to be re-run (I don’t think there’s any question of throwing Mr. Carmichael in jail or banning him from standing again), the bald truth is that he very likely *would* have lost had he admitted that he was the source of the leak (which he is unlikely to have believed himself) before the election rather than immediately after it. In the absence of an electoral pact with the other Unionist parties, he would also almost certainly lose any fresh election to the SNP candidate, who was less than a thousand votes behind.

    Mick might also have mentioned that the proceedings are to be televised, which will heap further pressure on Mr. Carmichael of a kind likely to circulate on the Internet for all eternity.

    Personally I find him rather an unpleasant character, not least because his illiberal and ethnically tinged election strategy focussed on threatening to turn Orkney and Shetland into a midnight-sun version of South Ossetia. I suspect that his party would have disowned him long ago if the scale of its own losses at the general election had not rendered him indispensible.

    For a nationalist take on the Salmond story, click here.

  • Zig70

    Has there ever been a government, a business or marriage where lies are absent? Oh the humanity.

  • mickfealty

    Lallands is a class act, no doubt. I’d have rolled that in if I’d seen it. Stu’s piece I did see and I weighed it as a fisking of a poorly focused London Indy article rather than a defence of Salmond in terms of the allegation that he lied to Neil.

    For me it doesn’t really carry any water in that second regard. I’m with Lallands. Getting found out should be sufficient to allow the electors to draw their own conclusions even if they in their wisdom decide not to punish.

    The classic test for an MP’s wrong doing is not misleading Andrew Neil or the press more generally, but misleading Parliament. I suspect both avoided that one rather carefully. Though it might be worth someone’s time trawling Scottish PQs to find out?

  • aquifer

    Lies damned lies and statistics. Ministers could not be trusted with statistics so there now is a separate system to assure accuracy. Maybe we need a damned lies commission to make rulings on the most outrageous porkies. Or maybe just an annual top five verbal smokescreen puffers’ competition judged by barristers, who may have a sneaking admiration for champion misleaders. Who are your nominees?

  • Scots Anorak

    Lallands Peat Worrier has just blogged again with a postscript to the effect that if Carmichael is found to have lied for the purposes of the Act, he will be barred from standing again in any re-run.

    Under those circumstances, I think I’d concur with you that a judge would be very loath to find Carmichael guilty, which lets him off the hook on that front.

    I still think it’s possible that he will be shamed into resignation at some stage during the process, however.

  • Chingford Man

    “force an electoral court to sit for the first time in fifty years”

    Fermanagh South Tyrone in 2001 and 2010?

  • hugh mccloy

    Can they be factually incorrect ? that seems to be the most common phrase this past few years