Parliament: June 2008 Archives

It's true, she's gone.

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selfdestruct.jpgI just watched speeches from Wendy and Cathy Jamieson, both of whom claimed others had made this donations scandal run on. 

Others might reasonably take the view that there were earlier points when she could and should have gone, like the one where she accepted a donation from a Jersey resident that she knew was illegal. 

No-one should take any personal pleasure in her absolutely torrid year, but she really only has one person to blame for this.

They're saying it's all over.

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wendysuit.jpgBBC are reporting the imminent resignation of Wendy, something they wouldn't do lightly. Glenn must be very sure indeed. Either that, or he just read Magnus in this morning's Record.

Statement at 11.

Apologies for moving quickly, but... odds on a successor? Andy Kerr seems to be grimly inevitable, if you listen to the chat at the steamie. And earlier this month Standards ensured he'd be available.

One day in the sin bin.

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wendy.jpgSo that's Wendy's sentence. Actually, her real sentence is to be the IDS of Scottish Labour; a failure as a party leader so dire that she won't get to fight an election. Every other Labour leader since devolution has been First Minister too, but no-one expects her even to be given a shot at that, let alone to win, if she made it to May 2011. Labour people I speak to included.

One day in the sin bin has presumably been chosen by the SNP as enough punishment to damage her further, but not enough to force her out, which is a real dancing-on-pins calculation. Now Parliament must vote on it, where "now" means in September.

So a long ugly summer for Wendy beckons, followed by a vote where it appears Parliament will be more or less evenly divided - I understand the Tories have backed Labour's line, while the Liberals voted with the SNP, although reports vary on that.

There's plenty of time for everyone to have a good long think about it and go through the report. That includes the Presiding Officer, who has a stack of related points to sort out from Presiding Officer's Question Time, another term for a mild outbreak of POOL. Please can we have a better alternative on procedural matters?

Unionisht Conshpirashy.

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alicequeenhearts.pngFor some people who shall remain nameless, any opposition to the SNP is part of said conspiracy.

There have been occasions where SNP members have tried to use the term to include us, even though we're somewhat closer to them on the constitution than we are to Labour, the Liberals and the Tories.

But this conspiracy, it doesn't exist.

You can see the evidence today. Wendy's tortured donations saga rumbles on, and the Standards Committee voted five to two against her. The Committee has three Nats on it, two Labour members, one Liberal and one Tory. This means the non-Labour Unionishts backed the SNP and sent Wendy down.

Personally, I'm with the Queen of Hearts on this (no, not that one). Sentence first, verdict afterwards. Wendy's already been sentenced to having her credibility removed. This is just a verdict that recognises that.

The only surprising thing is that the SNP didn't decide to vote the other way and absolve her. Nothing could please them more than having to face Wendy in May 2011, although I don't know a single person who expects that to happen.

One very disgusted elector.

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salmond.jpgAlex Salmond got a letter this morning, complaining about his plans for pensioners' travel and the Ministerial Code of Conduct, amongst other things. How do I know? Because the same letter was copied to the Presiding Officer and to all the party leaders in Holyrood, including Robin. It was signed as per the headline above.

One section related to First Minister's Questions, and it made me smile.

"You have a great propensity for not answering questions put to you. Why is this?"

Methinks that's one more question that won't get answered.

Getting one's kilt on.

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mackenzie.jpgUnlike my old man, who wears his kilt nearly daily (see Mackenzie tartan to the left), I only seem to find myself in one when I'm about to encounter drink. Weddings, mostly. Or, once a year, at the Scottish Political Journalists' Association dinner. 

So thanks this year to the Scotsman for the invite. Please don't put me next to you-know-who.

The SPJA is a very relaxed sort of trade union. One annual dinner, and a golf game against the politicians. And very very occasionally they go on the warpath, usually over drink, fittingly enough. 

The dinner is (I think) meant to be Chatham House Rules, which is why it took so long for the famous punchup in 2000 to come out. And it also means that I will blog any gossip that comes my way on Wednesday strictly without naming my sources. Promise. Probably.

Top two relationships.

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swinneysalmond.jpgOfficially, Nicola Sturgeon is Salmond's #2 as Deputy First Minister, but the reality on the floor of the chamber and elsewhere is that the key relationship is Salmond-Swinney. It was put to me last week that Salmond is better understood as President, with Swinney as his Prime Minister. Maybe that makes Sturgeon Deputy President?

When Swinney took on his gargantuan portfolio in May last there were jokes about it; it's similar the role Wendy and Iain Gray had in 02-03, which the Nats slated as Minister For Everything. Still, much as he's implementing policies on the economy and on transport which I broadly disagree with, no-one's yet suggesting he's not up to the workload. 

The same President/PM comparison used to be made about Blair/Brown, of course. But the difference is the brooding: Swinney's had his shot at the top job, and wasn't great at it. I doubt he wants to go through that again, and in any case, any succession to Salmond would probably see a major battle between Sturgeon, Russell, MacAskill and others.

So the boil has been lanced, and Salmond can look down approvingly from Mount Olympus (Ben Nevis?), knowing his powerful finance secretary isn't sharpening the slide rule. The only other person I can see in a similar position to Swinney in UK politics is William Hague, another who had his shot at glory, who failed, and who subsequently found a leader who understood his talents.

Apologies to both men for comparing them.

How Parliament works.

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linda.jpgWhen Parliament gets its knickers in a twist, as it has done today the chamber descends into Point Of Order Lunacy (POOL). It's like the last day of term at an unruly school.

Two of my favourite Nat Ministers, Bruce Crawford and Linda Fabiani, failed to persuade the chamber that the finances stack up for Creative Scotland, via a dip in the deep end of the POOL.

With Linda not having made the case, and because Bruce sought to withdraw only the financial document, Labour and others scented a chance to defeat the Nats, albeit on a proposal they broadly backed.

Cue an utter POOL feeding frenzy. Some members, like Ken Macintosh, asked sensible questions, masquerading as points of order. Some asked actual points of order, I think, perhaps including Dr Simpson, the fireman's friend, but it was hard to keep up.

Others, like Karen Whitefield, hardly bothered - she just knew she had to start her contribution with the magic words "Point Of Order Presiding Officer Point Of Order", then went on to tell the chamber how important her role was before eventually offering nothing more than a pretty spurious debating point.

What POOL actually is is an unscheduled debate about the correct procedures to follow, working like a regular debate, except that Members have to shout and wave their arms in the air, shout the magic words, barrack each other and generally give a poor impression of the place.

POOL is profoundly not a good system, with or without top hats. And the end result today? A Bill with (admittedly relatively lukewarm) support across the parties has fallen altogether. Although Labour's tactics can easily be represented as divisive game-playing, the fact is that this farce has diminished the SNP's authority in the chamber.

Are the SNP Green?

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salmondM74.jpgI think the answer's in the question. But the Scotsman asked anyway, and apparently the SNP do think they're green. Seriously.

Here's Shirley-Anne Somerville for the defence, and Patrick Harvie for the prosecution. You'll note she doesn't mention transport. How could she? Exhibit A shows Alex Salmond in a JCB, personally building the M74. Case closed. Next!

Kez gets it.

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Of the various Holyrood bloggers, three stand out for me.

Calum The Nat along the corridor, lover of motorways above all.
Scottish Tory Boy, whose site curiously shows him to be closest ideologically to Obama.
Kez Dugdale, who is far too consistent and principled to be in Labour much longer.

I don't know of any Liberals here who blog, but any tips on that front would be appreciated.

kez.jpgAnyway, this is about Kez. She came along to the Scotsman debate previously discussed here. In a post on oil earlier this week she not only compared Alex Salmond to JR Ewing, which I love, especially with the pic chosen, but also praised one of Patrick's contributions to that Scotsman debate - the idea that we should be independent from oil, not try to build independence on oil.


She also listed some sensible things the Nats could be doing, including investing properly in public transport. And then notes that instead Salmond's "actively opposing the Edinburgh trams whilst building roads, bypasses, motorways and blocking rail expansion."

So when you get back from your holidays, Kez, let's talk about which roads, bypasses and motorways we think Salmond should scrap. And you've been flagged as "future Green".

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Parliament category from June 2008.

Parliament: May 2008 is the previous archive.

Parliament: July 2008 is the next archive.