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West Wing, this ain't

Brian Taylor | 14:21 UK time, Sunday, 3 February 2008

There is a notably acerbic scene in “A Man for all Seasons” by Robert Bolt.

Sir Thomas More confronts his accuser, Richard Rich, whom he suspects, rightly, of giving evidence against him in return for material advantage. The bold Rich wanted to be richer still as Welsh Attorney General.

More says sadly: “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to lose his soul for the whole world . . . but for Wales?”

The question for Wendy Alexander may be “for Jersey?” Or, more comparably, “for Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament?”

The disclosure that Holyrood’s standards commissioner has alerted the fiscal re the donations to her campaign takes us back to the founding puzzle at the core of this long - exceptionally long - saga.

What on earth did Wendy Alexander think she was doing seeking corporate donations for a relatively minor campaign where she was uncontested?

This wasn’t an episode of the West Wing. She wasn’t seeking to occupy the Oval Office. She wasn’t even seeking to be first minister.

She was seeking to be the leader of the largest opposition party in the Scottish Parliament. Nobody stood against her.

So why did she need to raise thousands of pounds? Why did she need to trouble the Phoenix Car Company (who had previously helped her with the publication of a constituency calendar)?

Why did she need to tap business folk like Nicholas Kuenssberg or David J Pitt Watson? Why take £995 from former MP John Lyons or the former Solicitor General Neil Davidson?

Above all, why take £950 from Paul Green who lives in Jersey and is, therefore, outside the realm of British politics?

Her explanation? That, under Labour rules, the “contest” went ahead even with a single candidate, that she had to fund visits around Scotland and a website.

Carried away

But couldn’t they have done it on the cheap, especially when there was no real contest? Couldn’t she have stayed with friends or Labour supporters on her campaign tour round Scotland?

Couldn’t the local parties have laid on tea and buns? Couldn’t she have skipped the website?

My guess? Team Alexander - Wendy plus her close advisers - got carried away.

They saw themselves as the vanguard that would transform their party. They saw themselves stirring the stubborn, thrawn beast that is Scottish Labour.

They were to be the bright new dawn.

Remember the early bold talk about changing the very nature of the Labour Party, sorting out HQ, altering the ground rules. (That project, by the way, is now somewhat on hold and won’t, as promised, be presented to the spring party conference.)

How could the vanguard, how could the bright new dawn scrimp and save? Big, serious, transformational politicians had big, serious, corporate budgets. They must have one too.

So why keep the donations deliberately below £1,000, the point at which they must be declared to the Electoral Commission? Same reason. It’s what big, smart people do.

Legal advice

So why did Charlie Gordon revive his contact with Paul Green to attract £950 for the cause? My guess? Charlie wanted to show his new boss he was a player.

The Standards Commissioner, Jim Dyer, originally thought she didn’t have to declare these donations on the parliamentary register because they were received by her campaign and NOT personally in her capacity as an MSP.

She was advised to that effect, in writing, by Parliamentary officials.

Dr Dyer has now changed his mind, on legal advice. Hence, he is obliged, atuomatically, to report same to the standards committee - and to the fiscal.

So what new have we learned? Firstly, that Dr Dyer is investigating, presumably in response to a complaint.

By the rules, he doesn’t confirm whether or not an investigation is taking place. Strictly speaking, the complainer and the target should also keep quiet - but no matter.

Secondly, that Wendy Alexander broke the rules in not disclosing the fact of these donations to parliament.

Her defence on that point is pretty sound: she was advised that declaration was not required. One might say she should have declared anyway, to avoid any doubt.

Alexander's future

But she has a defence, in writing.

Which brings us back, once more, to the original issue which the Electoral Commission is studying . . . and studying . . . and studying . . . and, for the avoidance of doubt, studying once more.

Was the law broken when Team Alexander accepted the donation from Jersey? Yes.

Such a donation is impermissible. As the sands shift around her, Wendy Alexander is adamant on at least one point. She did not knowingly break the law.

Notwithstanding, will the commission, when they rule, choose to report that issue to the fiscal, quite separately from Dr Dyer’s automatic referral on another point?

That is the question which will help determine Wendy Alexander’s political future. And it is, in essence, the same question as at the outset of this long, long affair.


  • 1.
  • At 03:15 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • louise wrote:


I found Ms alexander to be evasive in the extreme not once did she take responisbilty for her and her parties actions. Instead she blamed anyone and everyone but herself, ranging from the electoral commision to snp researchers. It was a suprise that the two year olds and pensioners were not also at fault for ms alexanders failing which i thought was where she was going when she mentioned them. Shameless completly shameless. It was disgusting to watch her squirm and wriggle.

  • 2.
  • At 03:19 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand,
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover's fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!

  • 3.
  • At 03:20 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • sacrebleu wrote:

Can't help thinking this just isn't going anywhere. The Fiscal will mark the case 'No proceedings' as it's not in the public interest.
Wendy will get a symbolic slap on the wrist from the Commissioners and it'll all be forgotten in a month's time. She'll be weakened, but will thole it out.

Maybe I'll be proved wrong and the case will go to court. A low-level fine, or admonition most likely.

Hopefully, though, lesson learned all round.

  • 4.
  • At 03:45 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Dan.Ritchie wrote:

Everyone is fed up of this now and the fact is she lied and her party have continued to lie on her behalf. She is doing huge damage to a party that quite frankly deserves it. Lets keep her in position for as long as possible. The people of scotland aren't stupid. Just look at the past couple of Prime Ministers and advisers etc. mostly Scottish.

  • 5.
  • At 03:46 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • R Macdonald wrote:

Is ignorance of the law/rules a defence?
If I, as a mere member of the public break the rules/law I hope that line of defence will apply to me as well?

  • 6.
  • At 04:01 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Dan.Ritchie wrote:

Lets keep her in post.
The Labour party are showing how little regard they have for the people of the UK so long as their little gang is protected. They are obviously above the law..

The longer she stays the more damage is done to Labours public image. Keep up the good work the opposition couldnt ask for more...

  • 7.
  • At 04:05 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Ross McLean wrote:

It is a sorry mess, this. I think the time has now come for her to stand down as leader. Peter Hain did as soon as the law got involved - so should she.

But I repeat: it's a sorry mess. A sad thing, not a cause for celebration or glee. Nobody should take any pleasure from it.

  • 8.
  • At 04:13 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • merry mac1 wrote:

brian.must say i saw wendy alexander
interview glen campbell on the politics show, both were wriggleing
on the end of a hook,not very impresive,is that what they call a
gentle hint of things to?

  • 9.
  • At 04:15 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Parsnips wrote:

If you don't realise you're speeding when a hidden speed camera picks you up, you still collect the fine and the points. Admit it Windbag, you done wrong!
You should have thrown your hands up weeks ago and avoided all this nonsense. A cushy wee number in London would have been on offer - now you're just embarrassing everyone.

  • 10.
  • At 04:18 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • neil robertson wrote:

Why, indeed, Brian? What did she have to spend all that money on?

The answer was I think a video,
wasn't it? A complete makeover
because her PR skills are not
exactly her strongest point -
but judgement is also lacking.

The political damage is huge;
but then she did for Jack as
well remember, with the most
negative of performances in
the 2007 Holyrood elections.

Quite bizarre side-show to the
first year of the SNP in power.

  • 11.
  • At 04:20 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Scott Smith wrote:

There is a good phrase in Scots Law, it is "Ignorantia legis neminem excusat" ("ignorance of the law excuses no one")

  • 12.
  • At 04:20 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Parsnips wrote:

If you don't realise you are speeding, and get caught on camera, you are still fined and given the penalty points. The fact that you didn't realise you were speeding is not taken as an excuse.
Winbag is now embarrassing the whole party. She should have thrown her hands up at the outset and shown some grace. You have to imagine she was under heavy pressure from above to stay put. Not fair on her.
But she should go now - she's done her best and will surely resume her career in London.

  • 13.
  • At 05:02 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Gerry Flynn wrote:

So Ms Alexander views an investigation by the PF as a "distraction"!

Seems to me that she is saying exactly what her level of respect is for the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Judicial System and the Scottish public.

Very little.

  • 14.
  • At 05:22 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • C. Mclellan wrote:

Keep Wendy Alexander where she is. She will guarantee the demise of the Labour Party in Scotland.

  • 15.
  • At 05:24 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Neil Small wrote:

I think she needed the money for cushions - after all, in the Question Time programme in Glasgow she was sitting on TWO so she wouldn't disappear under the table. TO be fair, Nicola Sturgeon had one as well.
If you don't believe me - ask them.

I think she should just resign and let Andy Kerr take over. Then they can focus on Alex Salmond's recent forays with Trump and others.

But she will not go because Gordon Brown needs her in place. If she resigns it only adds more pressure on him.

  • 16.
  • At 05:27 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • G Ford wrote:

I see Brian that you have swallowed the Alexander "impermissable" line.
Sorry Brian its illegal, unlawful or criminal,take your pick.......... end of story.

  • 17.
  • At 06:51 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • wen d wrote:

Brian wrote
My guess? Team Alexander - Wendy plus her close advisers - got carried away."

Carried away?? Carried away??

Utter nonsense brian-and you KNOW it!

The answer, my dear chap, is simple-GREED!

This has been endemic in nulab for generations, to the point where it is the NORM!

Only difference is, now, they are NOT in charge!This little mistake is proving their undoing, for all to witness!

  • 18.
  • At 07:17 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • john duguid wrote:

was wendy alexander running for leader of the labour party or trying to convince labour in scotland that she was trying for first minister for the reason for needing all that money.

  • 19.
  • At 07:28 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • JB wrote:

Why does nobody seem to be aware of the laws on donations?

I'm assuming that volunteers who run leadership campaigns do not receive any training on these matters. Should they?

Wendy Alexander's team obviously sought advice on some issues, but even that turned out to be a problem in the end, ie the advice was wrong.

I think it's impossible to know in how far Alexander is at fault. She cannot control all her team's actions.

Brian makes a fair point re: campaign money was maybe not really needed. I do think a lot of that was about projecting Alexander as a future FM, which could have waited. However, it was also an attempt to re-energise Labour's membership (with limited success).

What I'm wondering is: Should parties be assigned legally trained people to advise them at all stages to sort out this donation/funding mess?

  • 20.
  • At 07:34 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Bill McLauchlan wrote:

The Woman has no grace and should step-down from Office.

  • 21.
  • At 07:40 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Andrew wrote:

All weekend Wendy and her people have been saying that she got "advice from parliamentary officials". You now suggest Brian that she got this advice from the Standards Commissioner himself and that it is in the form of a letter.
If so I can't believe that Wendy wouldn't have revealed this herselfto gain maximum sympathy. So can we see a copy of the letter please?

If there is such a letter,signed by Dr.Dyer, then that raises another question. Why would he send a letter giving advice BEFORE he got legal opinion? That smacks of incompetence.

Wendy is playing for high stakes here. I reserve judgement on her "defence" until I see/hear answers to my questions.

  • 22.
  • At 08:02 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Stephen Davidson wrote:

Is the Scottish Labour Party itself looking at the leadership in disgust? Could there be any potential challangers lurking in the background? Or is it a case if Alexander goes Labour is sunk?

  • 23.
  • At 08:28 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Ken Kennedy wrote:

Granted Wendy has broken the law, however she has not lied about it as some are choosing to beleive, she has stated and has material evidence that she was acting on advise. This of course does not excuse her and she should be punnish according to the law, it is not however an excuse for opposistion parties to attack her, god forbid any of them should receive bad advice

one more thing, a message for thos who are complaining that wndy is blaming everyone but herself, watch first ministers questions every week and count how often overlord salmond refers to mistakes of the previous administration.

  • 24.
  • At 09:24 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Hector Falconer wrote:

I quite agree with many of the comments listed here.

Let us not forget the famous Iran/UK boating incident! Des Browne notably admitted making a gross error in allowing our forces to sell their stories.

But his response, "I made an honest mistake, from which we should all now move on."

The other day I purchased the wrong train ticket. I made a truly honest mistake buying a non-virgin fare. An honest mistake which cost me £60.

One rule for them, one rule for us. Disgusting

  • 25.
  • At 10:15 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Guthrie wrote:

Why, why, why are Scottish Labour dragging this out?

Why, why, why won't Wendy just go?

Big budget? Transformational politics?

What an embarrassment to Scotland. What self-centred people.

They are making my 15-year-old son an utter cynic about politics. He tells me he won't ever vote. Right now I can hardly blame him.

  • 26.
  • At 10:55 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • Bob wrote:

If you get caught speeding, you get fined. You're not usually required to resign from your job and give up your career as well.

Wendy Alexander is a figure in the Labour party who they cannot replace. She is the only person available with the ideas and drive to make Labour electable by making it into a pro-Scottish party. If she goes, then the Labour Party will remain but only as a zombie. It will be alive in a sense, but deprived of any ability for independent thought or action, just with a reflex to oppose anything that would advance Scotland's autonomy. The party's undeath will be a painful experience for Scotland - we need a proper opposition.

  • 27.
  • At 11:17 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • mike docherty wrote:

I think WA was let off the hook in the interview today (3.2.08). What WA avoided saying was when did she first seek advice from the Commissioner (or other officials) regarding these donations. If it was in early November then she needs to have received the donations no later than early-October otherwise she breached the 30-day rule. Given that the leadership "campaign" was well and truly over by September it looks like Ms Alexander has some questions to answer.

  • 28.
  • At 11:28 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • walt wrote:

Wendy is only a reflection of the labour party as a whole.They all thought they had some god giving right to be in power.I like so many others are glad to see the back of them.I do not care if she stays or goes as she will only be replaced by another unprincipled labour polition.My reason for saying that,is all this drip drip that is comming out in the news must be comming from her undying loyal friends.The interview on the politics show today left me wondering who was interviwing who.

  • 29.
  • At 11:42 PM on 03 Feb 2008,
  • ron oliver wrote:

methinks that there is within the ranks of NuLabour in Scotland those who remember the Wendy/Jack McCandle situation and are dropping Wendy in it as pay back. i beleive it was said of the Bourbons (French family not the wee biscuits)that they "forgot nothing nor did they learn anything" it could have been written for the west of Scotland labour party apparatchiks.

  • 30.
  • At 12:06 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • LegalExpert wrote:

Hopefully the Fiscal will not make any mistakes this time...not that the crown office has ever made any boo boo's

Lest We Forget.

All this mess because the Labour Party was worried about the SNP getting money from Sean Connery who lived abroad.

So they thought that they would change the rules, which they did.

Now it turns out that they cannot understand or abide by their own rules, and in opposition they have deprived themselves of more money, and Wendy is complaining that she doesn't have enough money to run her department.

What favours did Charlie Gordon do for Paul Green that he writes two cheques out for him, just for the asking ?, and at a figure that doesn't have to be reported.

You just couldn't make it up.

I didn't intentionally break the law !

Such sheer incompetence.

And they want to run the Country !.

What's the betting that the Labour Party will get off with it again ?.

Now there are more revelations that the Labour Party have broken more Holyrood rules in using MSP@s facilities for fundraising.

When the people in charge of justice are selected by them, rather than elected, then we will always have this kind of problem with accountability.

Ron Gould’s Report wasn't good enough for them, so they should be sent to jail if found guilty, as it's the only way that they will learn a lesson.
Either because they are so thick that they can't understand their own rules, or they are so arrogant that they know that they will get away with it again.

This is Mis-Representation of the People Act, as Gordon Brown has all but admitted that their behaviour was illegal.

Their incompetence is breathtaking.

Their General Secretary and Charlie Gordon’s resignation are such small and unusual step these days.

This big delay about reporting the matter to the Procurator Fiscal has been to explore all the avenues out of the problem, and a former Solicitor General’s involvement as well !.

My they’ve got friends in high places.

We look forward to further developments, especially inside and outside both Parliaments.

The pantomimes continue.

Let Democracy Rule.

"ITS TIME" for Labour to come clean.

If not then let Wendy continue to be the best wee recruiting sergeant for the SNP that they've ever had.

When will it all end ?.


None of this is doing Holyrood any good. We must have a quick judgement from the procurator fiscal to either clear Wendy or signal that she must go.

How are we to scrutinise the budget with the main opposition leader possibly having to resign, a major leadership contender about to be fined and Charlie Gordon still facing having to resign his seat.

I don't care what happens as long as it's quick.

  • 33.
  • At 05:59 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • calum mcneill wrote:

Another fine mess theyve got us into.
Where stands the reputation of Scots politicians, if this is the best Scottish Labour can do.
Time to say goodbye to "Alexander's rag tag band".
Above term available for general use with my compliments.

  • 34.
  • At 06:25 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

I find it quite sickening that the people in our society have become so numbed by years of the same behaviour by a Corrupt Political Party, that they are willing to accept that this woman may get a slap on the wrist and no more from a public body which is meant to represent the interests of the People of Scotland.

If we want to improve the standards of observance of the Law of the Land, Wendy Alexander must be made an example of. She put her ego up there and decided she was more important than the Laws of Scotland. For Christ sake there is no one above the Law, and its about time we all made a stand on this point. Its not about the person Wendy Alexander, its about a system of political corruption that has held the people of this land back from their entitlements to an open and Fair Political System.

Here in our Country we have a fantastic opportunity to create something special for our future generations to grow and develope in. The mistakes of the past much be shown by way of education, to ensure we never fall back into the same trap that brought us occupation by a foreign power.

The French, Dutch, Belgium, Italy, Greece and many other countries were given back to the people after the second world war. Why is it wrong to expect the same for our Nation of Scots.

  • 35.
  • At 06:59 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • craig wrote:

Mr Hain has fallen on his sword, Miss Alexander will have to be pushed,either by this investigation or by her party immediately after the next elections when the people of Scotland have spoken.

In the interim 71% of the nation trust the SNP government 4% dont trust any government.

SNP now ahead in the polls by 11%, the largest margin ever.

I often wondered whether if I would see a free, independent, democratic Scotland in my lifetime, Wendy by her actions has given me more hope than ever,and perhaps my 46 year old dream will come to fruition.

Long May She Reign At Labour.


  • 36.
  • At 07:55 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • redcliffe62 wrote:

i am sure brian and others know a great deal more than is currently published in the public domain. after months of this dragging on he must surely have a good handle on it.

the problem remains the deception. any gifts from august 8 are due to be reported by september 8, this was not done, in fact the gifts from august and later of 530, not 1000 as limit is LESS, are due to be passed on in 30 days. it is in black and white. stupidity is not a defence. some of the mistakes are only being reported now in FEBRUARY. that suggests there is something to hide.

if the electoral commission takes the donation records computer away for analysis, assuming they wish to question wendy's evolving version of events, then wendy can no doubt prove she is innocent?

derek conway is proof that even when you are caught with your nose in the trough that admitting guilt even when guilt has been admitted is a hard thing for a pollie to do. and alexander is no exception. but facts rather than rhetoric are needed. and wendy as of now may not have provided the facts, or if it is looking bad may try the watergate defence and try to "accidentally" wipe them. we shall see!

  • 37.
  • At 08:47 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Jock Politicaljunkie wrote:

From Brians Blog - "The Standards Commissioner, Jim Dyer, originally thought she didn't have to declare these donations" "She was advised to that effect in writing" "Mr Dyer has now changed his mind" "Her defence on that point is pretty sound"......

Brian, I beg to differ. The enquiry to the Standards Commission was made AFTER the expiry of the date for declaration. In other words, regardless of the answer to the query - she was always in the WRONG.

That said this is small beer. There is no way the Fiscal will pursue this. Slap on the wrist and move on.........and quite right too.

Moving on........the soliciting of an illegal foreign donation and conspiring to hide its source behind a locally based company with no connection to the donor........THAT AIN'T small beer!!

  • 38.
  • At 08:50 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Donnie wrote:

I'd be pretty hacked off the PF took this up. I hear constantly of PFs declining to take actions against much more serious issues like illegal eviction (which is a criminal offence). I despair at the ihe idea that the PF would waste time on an issue which is already under investigation by other authorities, at the same time as neglecting more serious offences.

  • 39.
  • At 09:02 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Lachlan wrote:

This issue is really starting to drag on. Scottish politics has been turning the corner as far as public respect and interest is concerned. But the bungle over lost election votes was bad enough, but now Wendy's debacle is becoming an embarrassment. I think the press and the public want a decisive end to this. Wendy seems to be damaged goods, but this affair is damaging Scottish politics as a whole.

Thanks Brian, I was looking forward to your comment on this one. It isn't good news. As a nationalist you'd expect me to be gleeful, but I'm not. A strong Scotland needs a healthy body politic. What we're seeing in this, is two things:

First, that in the West of Scotland at least, in the Labour Party at least, minor low level chicanery is endemic. I think that both Wendy Alexander, and, before her, Henry McLeish, honestly believed that they were playing the game decently by the rules as they understood them to be. They were not intentionally corrupt, but corruption was so much part of the 'standard operating procedure' that they did not notice when they were.

Secondly, and more seriously, our politicians - or at least Ms Alexander - are in denial.

McLeish, at least, is a real loss to Scotland: someone with talent and competence who had much to offer. Ms Alexander is also, we're told, someone with talent, even if that hasn't been apparent in her current job. Scotland is profoundly a nation of the left; it's in our psyche from five hundred years of presbyterianism. It's essential to Scotland that our Labour party is sound and healthy - even if only as a sound and healthy opposition.

It's in Nationalism's short term partisan interest to see Ms Alexander sit and stew in the mire as leader of the opposition, but it's not in Scotland's long term interest. In Scotland's long term interest we need to cut out the rot in our public life, and that means that Ms Alexander ought to be looking for another job - ideally outside politics altogether.

  • 41.
  • At 09:28 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • stephen wrote:

If she stays would she be able to present a credible opposition. I doubt it. Any questions on governmental competancy would have to be fielded for her by other Labour MSPs or the Lib-dems. Any questions on financial irregularities or mismanagment also.

So what is Labour to do?

I think the westminster bosses have decided to draw a line under the whole thing, Allow Wendy to take all the flak then after a period (8-12 months) have her stand down (no challege as this would bring up the reasons for this afresh to the public eye) and move on with a new captain at the wheel to reinvigorate the party and push with more positive policies towards the next Scottish parliament elections two year later.

Its what I would be suggesting if I wasnt a firm believer in the SNP

  • 42.
  • At 09:31 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Steve Tait wrote:

As the old saying goes, if you dig deep enough you'll find some skeletons. It won't be too long before there is an internal Labour leak which will bring down Ms. Alexander on her own sword. Rather than Labour being a "thrawn beast" it will be a "wounded beast" morally, not fataly.

  • 43.
  • At 09:36 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • JohnMcDonald wrote:

I saw Ken Clarke on Question Time dismiss the Alexander affair simply because the sum in question was only £950.

Sure, that figure pales against the sums related to huge donations to London Labour, or the Conway affair or even to Peter Hain's mother but, as had been said before, the scale of the donation is not the most relevant issue.

Buying political influence has always been around and, I suppose, always will be. But the reason we have rules is to keep it under check. The crime here, in my eyes at least, is to see those rules so blatantly disregarded and then for "Team Alexander" to use bluff and bluster by way of defence.

Clearly Kenneth Harry couldn't care less about the well-being of Scottish society but the Procurator Fiscal should.

  • 44.
  • At 09:49 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Fiona McLean wrote:

Wendy is just "getting on with the job" that no one in her party was given the opportunity to vote upon.

See a parallel with her UK master here after he got he timimg of an election wrong (or was that Wendy's brother?)

  • 45.
  • At 09:58 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Jeff wrote:

Wendy must stay
If only for the entertainment value! If her and her team had put up their hands at the beginning, admitted the mistake and took their punishment, then this would have been over with by now. Fortunately, they didn't. Labour is not used to showing humility, and I believe, are incapable of it. Wendy is only one example of this, Brown, Browne etc in Westminster are much the same. Unfortunately, she will go, but only when dragged out by her party. Who's next? Andy, Margaret? Bring them on

  • 46.
  • At 10:35 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • billy foy wrote:

If wendy is the only one to lo lead
her party - God help the labour party
but more importantly Scotland should
that party come back to power.

  • 47.
  • At 10:41 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • John wrote:

By asking for clarification as to whether the donations should be declared indicates there was some doubt in Ms Alexanders mind. Why, therefore, not be open and transparent and declare the donations in the first place? After all there was nothing to hide - or was there? Probably nothing but now we are all left wondering. No wonder few people trust politicians when their first instinct appears to be devious and furtive.

  • 48.
  • At 10:49 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Cory MacRae wrote:

#5 Posted:

Is ignorance of the law/rules a defence?

Generally speaking it isn't and as such the process must be undertaken.

However, if Wendy Alexander did ask the authorities responsible if the donation should be declared and she was advised that it wasn't necessary then she is not the only one ignorant of the rules. If the body that is there to scrutinise and advise gets it wrong then it is hard to find the blame with the person who has asked for, and received, the advice.

This is all a mess. The SNP would be well versed to back off out of this and get on with proving that they are capable of meeting the requirements for running the government. This might involve slightly more than knee jerk reaction policy decisions and meeting up with Trump representatives.

  • 49.
  • At 11:00 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Alex Cox wrote:

This ongoing saga will effectively finish the Labour party in Scotland.

People who once voted Labour now feel stigmatised for having done so in much the same way as former Tory voters did. The party has haemhorraged members, activists and councillors. Looking at the blogospere it is almost impossible to find anyone arguing articulately for the Labour cause.

They're going the way of the Tories, and by huddling together in the Constitutional Commission, the LibDems and the Tories are making the fundamental error of making Scottish politics a two-horse race. Scottish Nationalists v. British Nationalists. As the leader of the latter, Wendy Alexander has lost a greater prize than simply Scottish Labour's leadership - she has broken the Union.

Perhaps if elections can only be lost and not won, Unions can only be discarded and not broken.

  • 50.
  • At 11:02 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • megz wrote:

i think you will find that claiming she was given dodgy advice will not wash considering she was already in breach of the law by the time she asked for said advice. Pleace stop spinning the labour line brian you are better than that.

  • 51.
  • At 11:20 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Claire wrote:

If Alexander broke the law, in her position she must go. The fact that she has surrounded herself with such people show a clear lack of judgement, before anything else. Her interview with Glen Campbell was just embarrassing, she sounded even more shrill and out of her depth than usual; like a housewife on the Women's Institute accused of stealing a jam recipe.

One of the earlier comments points out that if you're caught speeding, you get a fine and don't have to lose your career; that Wendy can't go as she's all Scottish Labour have. Perhaps that latter point is true; but... TOUGH. It isn't the fault of the electorate that Labour consider Edinburgh their B team, and Labour can't be held to different rules on the basis of their general lack of ideas.

Sorry Wendy, but it's time to be off to Never Never Land with Peter.

  • 52.
  • At 11:23 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • gillon johnstone wrote:

Yes she has broken the law, of course she has

How would any person in a Scottish court be treated if in front of the Sherriff or the district court there defence was "I did not know I was breaking the law, my friend said it was okay"

The attitude of the Labour party really concerns me as they have his belief that they are above the law and should be treated differently than anyone else.

Dear Wendy

Wendy, Sorry but you broke the law, regarding Jersey even the lay man in the street knows you cannot accept donations from Jersey, Yet you thought you could, You knew he was from Jersey because you thanked him.

You are either extremely inept and foolish else there is a tang of dishonesty. Any of these things show you do not have the qualities to lead a country such as Scotland.

Do the right thing and resign, sort your self out and perhaps in the future there may be a place for you at the head of Scottish politics, But at this moment in time that is not possible, You must know the people of Scotland deserve better.

  • 53.
  • At 11:35 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Jim Currie wrote:

Is this the beginning of the end for team Alexander? I think not! These two are extremely clever at thinking we're not extremely clever. 'Oh what a wonderous web we weave'. You have to give to them: they have covered their options in both camps and have learned at the feet of two of the most devious politicians of our day - 'Gorgeous Gordon' and his mentor Tory Blair.

  • 54.
  • At 11:37 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • john of onich wrote:

so what happened to the idea of Andy Kerr as Wendy's successor?

  • 55.
  • At 11:41 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • R. S. Tornaway wrote:

Well said Simon at #40.

I'm dismayed to see such little comment on Andy Kerr's faux pas of failing to declare hospitality of somewhere between £1000 and £2000 from McDonalds.

Can I ask a simple question, what did McDonalds have to gain from cosying up to the former health minister?

  • 56.
  • At 11:48 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • David Evershed wrote:

There are two regulations and regulators involved.

The Electoral Commission re donations and the Standards Commissioner re MSPs interests.

I understand Alexander set up an organisation to receive donations which were then passed on to her without having to be declared to the Electoral Commission - but she did not realise that they would have to be declared to the Standards Commissioner.

Why did she want to avoid declaring the donations to the Electoral Commission?

  • 57.
  • At 11:51 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Wendy Smith wrote:

Brian - has a copy of the advice letter (from the Parlimentary Officials to Wendy Alexander) been produced? I assume it exists but am a little suspicious as to it's exact contents. What did the letter say exactly?

  • 58.
  • At 11:53 AM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Wansanshoo wrote:

Under electoral law, Ms Alexander was the regulated donee of all contributions to her campaign and as such legally responsible for ensuring that all such donations were lawful.

Ms Alexander's donation from Mr Green was impermissible in addition to being unlawful.

The regulated donee,in this case Ms Alexander has committed a illegal act,of this there is no doubt or argument.

Frankly,I dont care what punishment she receives, as long as continues to lead Scottish Labour down the garden path whilst First Minister Salmond leads us to the promise land.


  • 59.
  • At 12:09 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

in the Sunday Herald, it was stated that a shadow cabinet colleague leaked the news about Wendy being reported to the Procurator Fiscal.
Which one of the fraternal comrades is wielding the knife?

  • 60.
  • At 12:11 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Neil Barnes wrote:

What I don't understand is how someone can be a legislator when they have clearly broken the law, and their own law at that. It doesn't set much of an example to society at large, does it? Or is it that there is one law for Labour politicians and another for everyone else? Of course Wendy Alexander should resign.

  • 61.
  • At 01:01 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Wee Weegie wrote:

I heard Wendy on the radio this morning making out it was just a SNP researcher that complained about her recent law breaking - I don't think so Wendy cos I complained to Lothian and Borders Police too and copied Wendy and other more honourable MSP's to register the complaint.

So this wee voter complained about the double standards too but hey I don't matter either do I?

If Team Wendy think that their recent evasive and bolshy performances on interviews is fooling the public - Wrong!!.

Yer time is up Wendy.

  • 62.
  • At 01:04 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • ie wrote:

Wendy Alexander is showing her contempt for the Scottish people when she calls this serious matter 'a distraction'. i don't think she should be forced to resign but if she had any integrity she would do so voluntarily in order to protect the good name of the Scottish Labour Party what would John Smith and Donald Dewar think of her?

  • 63.
  • At 01:13 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Fiona Borthwick wrote:

Correct me if I am wrong Brian, but did the SNP not receive a donation from Sir Sean Connery in their election campaign last year for a substantially larger amount than £950? I understand he lives in Spain, and therefore not a UK voter. Was this not regarded as illegal and therefore should not have been accepted?

  • 64.
  • At 01:24 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • HughB wrote:

This is a crazy situation.

How can the Labour party in Scotland and its new leadership be taken seriously in any matters in the governance of Scotland when they can't even manage properly something which should have been a minor leadership campaign funding issue?

There is no opposition in Scotland now. Labour have fallen on their swords, and have no effective means of recovery in the eyes of the Scottish population, even though they delude themselves that they can continue to sling mud in all directions hoping that it will deflect attention from their demise.

The new Labour party slogan: Look at what we can do for our party, just imagine what we can do for Scotland!!!

  • 65.
  • At 01:29 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Owen wrote:

An interesting point was made by Mike Rumbles yesterday on the politics show which seems to have thus far been missed.

Regardless of any advice given, it is ultimately the responsibility of the MSP to ensure full disclosure of donations.

The defence of "but a big boy told me to do it that way" just doesn't hold up to this.

  • 66.
  • At 01:36 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Dougie McPhail wrote:

The longer Ms Alexander holds on for both selfish and party reasons, the greater shame she brings on Scotland, its politicians and its parliament.

How are we suppose to encourage young people to vote?

I like so many have now completely lost faith with the Labour party. The future of Scotland is now obvious and it does not include MsAlexander or her party in its current guise!

  • 67.
  • At 01:45 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • richard wrote:

In your piece you say......"Her defence on that point is pretty sound: she was advised that declaration was not required. One might say she should have declared anyway, to avoid any doubt".

Fact is she sought that advice months after she should of declared these "gifts" thus rendering that advice academic?

So Brian her defence is far from sound.

  • 68.
  • At 01:59 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • J Smith wrote:

Brian's title, "West Wing this ain't", says it all.

Too many folk in New Labour - and to be fair, Holyrood as a whole - think they are living the dream of the West Wing. Remember John McTernan, advisor to Des Browne, famously and modestly liked to compare himself to Josh Lyman.

The West Wing was a very entertaining work of fiction, with some particularly idealised characters. Nobody in new Labour, including Queen Wendy herself, has anything like the qualifications, wit or savvy of the fictional characters in that TV programme.

  • 69.
  • At 02:01 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Willie wrote:

I don't understand why so many people are making excuses about Wendy's ignorance of the rules. To me the most important point is that when the Paul Green donation was first discovered lies were told about "a UK company cheque" in an effort to pervert the course of justice. Was Wendy still asleep when this was done? She also signed the letter thanking the donor in Jersey.

Exceeding the Parliamentary £520 max. rule may seem marginal as offences go, but perverting the course of justice is serious stuff. If the EC whitewashes this then our political system will suffer total loss of credibility.

  • 70.
  • At 06:53 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Dougthedug wrote:

"They saw themselves as the vanguard that would transform their party. They saw themselves stirring the stubborn, thrawn beast that is Scottish Labour.

They were to be the bright new dawn.

Remember the early bold talk about changing the very nature of the Labour Party, sorting out HQ, altering the ground rules."

Which goes to show that Ms. Alexander can't think her way out of a wet paper bag. She was only going to be the leader of the Labour Parliamentary group in Holyrood. How she was going to restructure the Labour party based on being the section leader of the Labour MSP's in Holyrood is beyond me.

Maybe she started to believe all the nonsense about the, "Scottish Labour Party", and the, "Scottish Labour Leader", that the media keep coming out with.

That's how she was captioned as on the, "Politics Show", on Sunday afternoon and that's how Gordon Brewer referred to her on Newsnight when he was talking with Magnus Linklater and Douglas Fraser.

If your analysis is correct and Ms. Alexander has got delusions of grandeur then I put it to you Brian that it is you, along with all the other mainstream media outlets in Scotland, who have fuelled her delusion. That your careless and malicious references to a, "Scottish Labour Leader", are responsible for her delusion and the unseemly scramble for money that went with it.

Annabel Goldie and Nicol Stephen are both junior members of their respective parties in the context of the UK but definitely Scottish Leaders of their parties. Ms. Alexander doesn't even have a Scottish section in the Labour party to lead, even if they had a leader.

Brian, you must take full responsibility for Ms. Alexander's mental state and apologise to her immediately while gently breaking the bad news that there is no Scottish Labour party and therefore no Scottish Labour Leader.

Practical jokes such as these always end up with somebody hurt.

  • 71.
  • At 08:39 PM on 04 Feb 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

"But couldn’t they have done it on the cheap, especially when there was no real contest? Couldn’t she have stayed with friends or Labour supporters on her campaign tour round Scotland?

Couldn’t the local parties have laid on tea and buns? Couldn’t she have skipped the website? My guess? Team Alexander - Wendy plus her close advisers - got carried away."

Oh, Brian ! I think we all know by now that politicians simply will not stint themselves when it comes to shameless self-promotion. And when it is not even their money, they simply don't understand the concept of value for money or thrift.

After all, if someone else is picking up the tab, why not get your snout in that trough, after all, 'everyone else is at it' ?....

  • 72.
  • At 12:27 AM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • murdo wrote:

brian can I add some further thought to the last couple of posts? For the moment give Wendy the benefit of the doubt and assume that she did indeed want to transform the Scottish end of the party with a wide spread of support from across the current Scottish polity; that she really wanted to establish a clear Scottish identity for her sub-party and lead a cross-party group into further constitutional reform. All very logical and indeed perhaps laudable- except that in order to do so she effectively has to do a 'Blair/Mandelson'. She has to highjack an old party with all its traditions and values (ignore for the moment that it has been corrupted by years of power, indolence and self-interest), a party that sees just how they were shafted by said Blair & co and who cannot help but try to hold the line in the old West Central Scotland heartland. At that point the old guard rebels. One of their number who probably remains true to the memory of Maxton (at least that is how he persuades himself he can still sleep at night) - and is in the inner circle, judges that it falls to him to make the last stand. He briefs the good Mr Hutcheon, he publicises confidential papers-what matter if she goes down? Better that the old party be allowed to die than that it be stolen

  • 73.
  • At 01:55 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Dougie McPhail wrote:

West Wing this aint, West of Scotland Labour Party sleaze this most certainly is!

There are three guarnatees in life, death, taxes and West of Scotland Labour Party corruption.

  • 74.
  • At 06:49 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Parcel O'Rogues wrote:

Yon MSPs, MPs an awbody in politics are leears an reivers, och am stawed wi thaim aw!

  • 75.
  • At 06:57 PM on 05 Feb 2008,
  • Parcel O'Rogues wrote:

Yon MSPs, MPs an awbody in politics are leears an reivers, och am stawed wi thaim aw!

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