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A blog about blogs

Brian Taylor | 14:49 UK time, Thursday, 17 December 2009

This blog is about blogs. Or, rather, a particular blogger.

One Mark MacLachlan who used to work in the South of Scotland office of Mike Russell MSP.

Not content with that role, Mr MacLachlan apparently sought to advance his party's cause by writing a blog. Under a pseudonym. With an enigmatic title.

Seemingly, this blog contained alleged smears against political rivals, both in the South of Scotland and in Holyrood.

In the customary fashion, the author was disclosed. Mr Russell deplored the content of the blog.

Mr MacLachlan resigned from his post.

Mr Russell told BBC Scotland that he had known nothing of the blog's content and had, indeed, been "shocked".

Political integrity

This morning The Herald published email correspondence between the MSP and his former staffer in which Mr MacLachlan is shown asserting that Mr Russell had known of the blog - and had suggested content for it.

To date, I have not troubled you with this story on this site - or, indeed, anywhere else. An error, no doubt, on my part but I felt that minor matters like the state of the economy might command more public interest.

I only raise it now because Iain Gray chose to major on this topic in questioning the first minister.

Mr Gray suggested it was a question of the minister's integrity.

Further, he quoted a suggestion from Mr MacLachlan to the effect that he had been obliged to stand down and that his resignation note had been written by the FM's special adviser.

Labour's Holyrood leader demanded a parliamentary statement from the minister on the matter.

In response, Mr Salmond cited Mr Russell's previous denials - and suggested that Mr Gray might have usefully chosen another topic, such as the collapse of the airline Globespan or the climate talks in Copenhagen.

'False' alegations

And there's more. Mr Russell has now reiterated his insistence that he knew nothing of the blog's contents.

He has asked his lawyers to advise his former employee that his allegations are "totally false".

He says, further, that any repetition of these allegations by Mr MacLachlan will result in legal action.

Further, Mr Russell has, in effect, referred himself to Holyrood's Standards Commissioner for investigation.

He does this, he says, confident that he has acted properly in every way.

Purely in the interests of balance - and before you all rush to your keyboards - I will also note that Mr Salmond raised with Mr Gray the issue of a donation from Prestonpans Labour Party to the Holyrood Labour leader.

I have not, to date, troubled you with this story either. However, it is to the effect that East Lothian council previously provided a marquee to Labour in Prestonpans over a number of years for use at a fund-raising barbecue.

The suggestion is that this was, improperly, a donation in kind to a political organisation.

It is further noted that the branch provided a donation to Mr Gray's campaign to be Labour leader at Holyrood.

PS: Have any of you read Wilfred Owen's wonderful poem, Futility. It ends:

Was it for this the clay grew tall?
O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

PPS: If you think I am grumpy because the SFA are after United's manager, you are right.

PPPS: Have a Good Yule

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