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'Toughing it out'

Brian Taylor | 17:49 UK time, Friday, 30 November 2007

Wendy Alexander is said by her supporters to be “toughing it out”.

Answers to questions posed by the media as follows.

Why write a personal letter to Paul Green in Jersey?

Answer: still thought it was a corporate donation - but you don’t write to a company, you write to a human being.

He lives in Jersey. That’s why she wrote there.

(One I asked) Who was the “regulated donee” under law?

That’s the person who is liable for monitoring of donations.

Answer: Wendy Alexander.

You might wonder why that matters.

Here’s why. The regulated donee is liable to check the admissibility of all donations above £200.

Wendy Alexander, therefore, was liable, in law, for checking the validity of Paul Green’s donation.

Her team say they did check - but, as with the answer above, believed at that time that the donation WAS valid, within the law, because it was corporate.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 06:10 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • William McMeechan wrote:

It seems that these people are not too sure about the law. How then do they expect the public to cope with the welter of legislation they have extruded from Holyrood.The donation was believed to be corporate, the lack of candour and integrity seems to be corporate.

  • 2.
  • At 06:23 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • P Robertson wrote:

Nice Comment Brian,

I really cannot see how Wendy Alexander can wriggle out of this one with the usual Labour "everyone is to blame" line , like the election fiasco, Cash for Honours, and the latest Westminster donations.

What does it take to make a minister resign these days?

  • 3.
  • At 07:25 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

If anything, this is starting to look even more serious than the original row. Even the "UK" news have now picked up on it. Given Wendy Alexanders less than auspicious start to her role, the revolving-door in place for her spin doctors and now this, are we about to see her pack it in??

After the Cash for Peerages scandal, the Red Rose Dinners, Loans for Peerages, you name it, I don't believe for a minute that any candidate for an elected office in the Labour party wasn't advised of the regulations on campaign finance including donations. If Wendy can't check over a few cheques and make sure they are in order, how can we expect her to lead a country? Answer: we can't, we won't.

  • 5.
  • At 07:50 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Iain wrote:

I wonder if the bookies are taking bets on Wendy lasting the weekend as Labour Leader..her credibility is surely gone

  • 6.
  • At 08:18 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • iain morrison wrote:

Funny how labour can't understand a law they introduced. I have always wondered about the IQ of Unionists, when they argued we were too incompetent and too stupid to govern ourselves - now I realise they were judging all of us by thier own standards.

  • 7.
  • At 08:40 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Wladyslaw Mejka wrote:

Does this kind of political analysis and reporting mean that every time I uncover someone in the public sector fiddling expenses they should resign? Maybe we could start with the BBC and have all staff expense claims put onto the BBC web site so that the public can scrutinise them and ask questions where there is any reason to be concerned?
I suspect that will not happen. Those who want to judge others seem more than a tad reluctant to put their own form of public service under the same degree of scrutiny or require the same penalty -resignation - when they are found to have broken regulations/the law.
What exactly are the consequences to the public interest of this latest illegal donation? What tangible, measurable loss has their been to the public interest? Come on Brian, get off the bandwagon and report on issues that matter to the non-chattering classes. Try reporting [and blogging] on why domestic violence continues to rise and that even with new refuge spaces having been built in the last few years, there are still women being turned away because there is not enough room.

  • 8.
  • At 08:40 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Ron Wilson wrote:

Wendy's position is no longer tenable. Either she does the right thing and submits her resignation forthwith, or trashes what little dignity she has left in a vain attempt to tough it out.
Either way Wendy is finished.

  • 9.
  • At 08:48 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • clamjamfrie wrote:

Brian,

you are fulfilling the noblest cause of the Third Estate. Continue in your probing, fair and persistent manner, and you deserve the thanks of the citizenry of this land.

This mess reminds me of Watergate in one respect. The pattern of denial, then claim of motiveless error, then admission of error in fact but still claiming complete personal innocence. It stinks.

The stripping of all integrity from Wendy Alexander and her team is not an edifying sight. It does not serve our democracy well. The test now for them is can they do what is right; can they do what is in the interests of the Scottish body politic, can they, for once, do the decent thing.

  • 10.
  • At 08:59 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Othello:
I pray you, in your letters,
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice.

  • 11.
  • At 09:02 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • David Airth wrote:

Who cares, give the £950 to the sick & needy and get on with far more important issues like health,education,crime and the elderly. why involve police!!! The taxpayer winds up paying for all the eejits in holyrood. Has Ms Cunningham not got better things to do.

  • 12.
  • At 09:05 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Craig M wrote:

Ignorance of the law is no defence unless it appears you are a Wendy Alexander. As far as I can see the laws governing political donations aren't exactly rocket science, so how could she possibly be ignorant of them?

  • 13.
  • At 09:11 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Can someone please explain how it is possible to spend £17,000 on an election that didn't take place?

If I donated money to help fund a campaign in an election that never actually happened, I'd want to know where my money went?

Where did the money go?!

  • 14.
  • At 09:41 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Peter, Edinburgh wrote:

I detect a certain amount of glee in some of the responses to the blogs you have initiated on this subject Brian. It is however an extremely serious busines for Scotland's (still) fledgling Parliament.

I don't think for one minute that Wendy, Tom (even Charlie) set out to circumvent the law. I do, however, think they were guilty of extreme sloppiness and not taking seriously the legislation which Labour itself (for Heaven's sake) had introduced at Westminster. This, as some have suggested, may well be a hang-over from the days of the west of Scotland Labour "mafia" when corners were cut and not enough questions asked or answered. If this episode does nothing else it may at least perform some service if it clears up, or exposes, that murky area.

However the most serious consequence is that this affair threatens to rob the leading opposition party of all credibility. How can Labour hold the SNP to account when it itself appears to have made such embarrasing mistakes. If there are no convincing answers then Scottish parliamentary democracy is the real loser.

The cards certainly seem to be falling Alex Salmond's way but it would be a tradgedy if the arguments for and against separation (the most serious issue Scotland has faced for 300 years) were to be won or lost simply because one side has collapsed in an undignified heap paralysed by the taint of illegality.

  • 15.
  • At 09:52 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Doug Morrison wrote:

And you sometimes wonder why anarchists get such a bad press!

  • 16.
  • At 10:02 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Ayrshireman wrote:

Is it not an old saying that "ignorance of the law is no excuse"?

  • 17.
  • At 10:22 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Othello:
I pray you, in your letters,
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate .....

  • 18.
  • At 10:35 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Gail wrote:

#7 The reason for involving the police is because the law has been broken irrespective of the amount.

When a crime is committed it is then a police matter. It is not rocket science

  • 19.
  • At 10:35 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • david reoch wrote:

What is the significance of Wendy Alexander alway,s
wanting donations of £950.00 and not above that
figure.What is she trying to avoid having to do ??
Can someone explain

Poor Wendy - all this AND she's 87 points behind Alex Salmond in a Scotsgait poll on who is proving to be the best party leader.

Worse still, she's only 2 points ahead of Nicol Stephen !

https://www.scotsgait.co.uk

  • 21.
  • At 11:04 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Ron Wilson wrote:

Peter,
Labour have had this coming to them for years.
After decades of political control of this country, where the national interest was strangled for the interest of Scottish (sic) Labour, the chickens are finally coming home to roost.
The debate as to whether the Scottish people ought to rejoin the international community as an equal & sovereign nation in its own right will be won on its own merits, regardless of Labour's slide into moral and political bankruptcy.

  • 22.
  • At 12:20 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • will wrote:

#6 Wladylsaw posts the only sensible comment on this blog so far. Are people so naive that they expect donors to give to political parties out altruism? Are those donating to the SNP, Tories and Lib-Dems doing so out of the goodness of their hearts?

All donors, to political parties have a vested interest in the party to which they donate. Grow up everybody, and join the real world. Money is donated to parties for influence and access nothing else. Cynical, yes. Realistic. you bet!

  • 23.
  • At 12:40 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Richard the Rogue wrote:

I am a nationalist but it gives me no pleasure when I say Wendy must go.

The sums involved may be small but that is not the point. The people who we have entrusted to run our country must follow both the letter and spirit of the law. I wanted to believe that this was some sort of honest mistake, but with this latest revelation I just can't any more.

To #6, you seem to think this is not important. Sorry, but it is.

To #9, I, for one, care. And what, pray tell, is more important than the honesty and integrity of the people running our country on our behalf?

  • 24.
  • At 01:55 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Ignorance is not a justification for breaking the law. I cannot for the life of me understand why there are posts on this forum putting forward the idea of sloppiness, ignorance, intent as some form of justification for an illegal act by an organisation who operate within the wording of the law covering their profession. Sloppiness is usually a sign of arrogance, that somehow this lot are above the common law that holds society together. Why dont we elaborate the terms of the laws of our Nation by excusing robbery, murder, common assault, rape etc. or are there now grades of laws that demand variations in culpability.

Whether its Wendy, Alex, Nicol or Annabel the law is the law and Wendy must go.

  • 25.
  • At 02:39 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Scott wrote:

To David Airth - Roseanna Cunningham is an advocate and Ms Alexander committed a crime. Ms Alexander accused her (Roseanna) of breaking in the law in the Chamber, do you think she will let it lie?

Far more of your taxes end up in, (any one of the following)- Northern Rock, the Jubilee Line, 2012 Olympics, Faslane and Iraq than will ever end up in Holyrood.

"Why write a personal letter to Paul Green in Jersey?

Answer: still thought it was a corporate donation - but you don’t write to a company, you write to a human being."

Aye, but you write to them at their place of work ...

  • 27.
  • At 09:42 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Will this be a reversal of the reported issues of 2002 with colleagues becoming discontented with the possible disunity these revelations could cause and changes in their personal and professional relations with Wendy?

Friday, 3 May, 2002, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
“...BBC Scotland's political editor Brian Taylor said she had become "increasingly discontented with her workload and relations with colleagues".
He added: "This is a substantial blow to Jack McConnell's attempts to preserve the unity of his Labour group.
"Wendy Alexander's resignation is thought to be linked to personal disaffection with her role in Cabinet."...”

“I to the hills will lift mine eyes,
from whence doth come mine aid...”

  • 28.
  • At 11:11 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Nick Johnston wrote:

I wonder if the muted response of the Supine Party, previously known as the Scottish Conservatives, has anything to do with the name Lord Laidlaw, whom I believe is still a tax exile, and a provider of the only rubber ring that is keeping Goldie et al afloat. Wendy is many things but I firmly believe that venal is not one of them.

  • 29.
  • At 12:03 PM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

If Wendy remains the leader of the Labour party she will have to keep quiet on all issues concerning money or the First minister will surely raise this debacle every time she questions the SNP on financial matters.

This is an unatenable position for the leader of the opposition, Scotland need a good opposition wether you belive in the union or not

  • 30.
  • At 01:26 PM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • cerea wrote:

A payer pays and a payee is paid.
An employer employs and an employee is employed.
So a donor dones and a donee is doned?
Sure.

  • 31.
  • At 02:19 PM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • mr angry wrote:

#6& #9 you two don't seem to get it , they broke the law , if it was you or I the police would have been there already and charged us. It matters a great deal that our politicians obey the law same as we do.

  • 32.
  • At 02:47 PM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • sandymac wrote:

I fail to see how Wendy resigning is the right and proper thing to do. The whole Tory sleaze fiasco was worsened by the fact they became splintered. Of course Salmond wants to weaken Wendy Labour are rivals best rid of. Wendy needs to stay, she'll be stronger for it.

You would think the wages of ALL at Holyrood were enough for election pamphlets, they need to remember they are all at our expense in a privileged position.

In comment #6 above, Wladyslaw Mejka writes

What exactly are the consequences to the public interest of this latest illegal donation? What tangible, measurable loss has their been to the public interest?

I get the feeling that other people, too, are viewing this as a storm in a teacup, an academic furore about something that doesn't matter very much. You're wrong, Wladyslaw. This does matter - to you, to me, to everyone.

This is about buying elections. Fighting elections in this country is very costly. Parties which can spend more money really can get more votes out. The leaflets, the adverts, the walkabouts all over the country which turn into prime time TV soundbites, the telephone calls to the voters who have not voted by 6pm, the cars which offer lifts to the polling station - all these things cost money.

This puts parties which don't have wealthy supporters at a disadvantage. Historically, in Scotland, it's put the SNP at a disadvantage, although that's becoming less true. It still, definitely, disadvantages the Greens and the Scottish Socialist Society of Sunbed Worshippers, or whatever Tommy Sheridan's mob are called this week.

Of course, elections in a country where the majority of the popular media is owned and controlled by foreign interests are never likely to be free and fair anyway; and of course all the parties bend the rules. But that's precisely to the point. The rules are there to protect a semblance of democracy and all of us who care about democracy need to ensure that they are enforced. And we should care more about making sure whichever party we support cleans up its act than that other parties do.

I'm not saying that what Ms Alexander - daughter of the Manse, no less - has done is uniquely corrupt and sleazy. On the contrary, the problem is that it wasn't. In the medium term I think the only solution is going to be to ban private donations to political parties altogether, but in the short term we at least need to ensure that those who break the law suffer - prosecution - for it. Resignation isn't nearly enough.

In the end, he who pays the piper is going to want to call the tune. And do you really want the Scottish Government dancing to the tune of a Jersey-resident businessman (or, indeed, a Bahamas-resident ex-actor), rather than to that of the electorate of Scotland?

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.

Such sheer incompetence.

And they want to run the Country.

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

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's resignation is such a small and unusual step these days.

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

The pantomimes continue.

Let Democracy Rule.

  • 35.
  • At 10:37 AM on 02 Dec 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Gordon will be urging Wendy to stay even if she is too damaged to be effective. As if someone resigns north of the border over £950 (however illegal) then surely someone of stature will have to go over £600,000+ in Westminster? Domino effect could be the result of Wendy "doing the decent thing". Even without Gordon backing her to the hilt - I doubt she will/would have gone anyway!

  • 36.
  • At 03:03 PM on 02 Dec 2007,
  • Megz wrote:

The fact that these donations are deliberately below the threshold for declaration suggests that they were trying to circumvent the law (that they introduced no less). How many of these donations (ten donations under £1000 according to the herald) were illegal? The police should already be investigating this since an illegal act has been committed. I'm glad to see that the media haven't just brushed this under the carpet.

  • 37.
  • At 04:05 PM on 02 Dec 2007,
  • Brian McHugh wrote:

Wladyslaw Mejka asked...

"What exactly are the consequences to the public interest of this latest illegal donation? What tangible, measurable loss has their been to the public interest?"

In answer to you, there are rules for a reason and the consequences of flouting these rules are of utmost importance. It is not the monetary value of the donation but the attack on democracy and open & transparent government.

If we allow political party's to operate outwith the rules of democracy then we damage democracy itself. Even worse, we give a green light for even greater abuses of power which I contend would absolutely be a measurable loss to the public interest.

What this issue does is highlight the levels of secrecy and corruption which exist in government (in both the UK and Scotland). for anyone who thinks this is not the case, do some research on an organisation called "Common Purpose" and be prepared to be shocked at where 'your' public money is going.

  • 38.
  • At 06:12 PM on 02 Dec 2007,
  • Elaine Young wrote:

Wendy Alexander's only excuse is that I didn't mean to do anything wrong, I wonder if during her study of law she ever thought that defence would one she would call upon. If the Labour party allow her and her team of self confessed incompetents to continue to lead them, it will make the party and more worriyingly the country a laughng stock. Time to Wendy

  • 39.
  • At 06:14 PM on 02 Dec 2007,
  • mt wrote:

Politicians must command respect. As Wendy Alexander is under suspician of breaking the law then she should be removed from her position, investigated by police and charged accordingly. If found guilty, the penalty should be far greater because politicians should know better than break laws which they themselves have made.
Justice should not only be done, it should be seen to be done

  • 40.
  • At 08:47 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Hamish Whiteford wrote:

The Wee Wendy Book of Excuses (Vol.1)

It wizny me. A big man did it and then he ran away.

The law's awfy complicatit: ye canny expect me tae ken evrythin.

Ah didny ask whaur the money comfy; Ah'm no that daft.

Well,aye,Ah did ask whaur the money comfy an they sed "Dinny worry, hen, keep shtum, act daft if emdy asks".

Aw ma pals wur daen it tae.

Sno fair. It's just unner a thoosan quid. Ma brither kens folk in Lunnon gittin loads mair'n me.

Ah wroten thankt the man, aye, but d'ye think Ah read aw the letters Ah write?

How am Ah suppost tae ken where Jersey is?

Ma brither kens the Prime Meenister.

(Vol. 2 surely coming soon)

  • 41.
  • At 02:45 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • L Telfer wrote:

Like her mentor Clown Brown, wee Wendy left her honesty and integrity with her childhood back home in the manse. She , like Brown is a pathological liar and not a fit person to be taking a leading position in public life. If she can remember what honesty means she should get a little and resign from the Scottish Parliament completely.

  • 42.
  • At 05:36 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Silent Hunter wrote:

How can someone who breaks the law remain as leader of the Scottish Labour Party.........unless of course the Scottish Labour Party are all crooks?

She should just go now!

Stop dragging Scotland through the mire with you Wendy.

You are guilty and you know it!

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