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Keeping the faith

Brian Taylor | 14:02 UK time, Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The phrase “in good faith” has been deployed rather frequently in the controversy over the donations to Wendy Alexander’s campaign team.

It was used by Charlie Gordon who solicited the donation which subsequently proved to be illegal.

It forms the substance of Ms Alexander’s defence: that she did not break the law intentionally, that she acted in good faith.

Now that argument has surfaced again. This time from Paul Green whose cheque is at the core of the controversy.

I interviewed Mr Green today in the studios of BBC Jersey.

The interview was broadcast live by “Good Morning Scotland” and has since been used by other BBC outlets. (It is incidentally the lead story in Jersey itself.)

While outwardly affable, Mr Green is angry.

Furious that he has been, as he sees it, drawn into a political row by muddle, confusion and mismanagement on the part of the Labour Party.

He says he was approached by Charlie Gordon and asked for a donation to Wendy Alexander’s campaign. He sought and received assurances re legality.

That done, he stumped up, signing a personal cheque, with a personal covering letter – and despatching that from his Jersey home address to Mr Gordon.

Couple of clues there, one might think, to suggest that this not a corporate donation.

The cheque was payable to the WA Campaign.

The snag? Jersey, while part of the British Isles, is not part of Britain.

It is a Crown dependency. Its citizens, including Paul Green, can’t vote in the UK – and so can’t contribute to UK political parties.

Paul Green fervently hopes that his interview with me is the end of the matter for him.

One rather suspects it is not the end of the matter for Charlie Gordon, Wendy Alexander and the Labour Party.


i dont want to be one of those who redirect the attention away from the politicians onto the donors, but it is UNBELIAVABLE that Paul Green did not know that if you are not a registered voter you cannot donate, almost as much as it is unbeliavable that Wendy did not know. its not a matter of familiarity, it is a matter of common sense.

that might mean that part of the responsibility is also with him; which, by the way, in no way decreases Wendy's responsibility. She has done two things are that individually sufficient to resign: she has broken the law; and she has lied about not knowing about the donation.

maybe that's it: she has done so many things worth resigning for, that she cant decide which one to resign for ;-)

my guess: she'll stay on for another week/10days waiting for the story to go quiet down south, and then she'll go

  • 2.
  • At 02:36 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • JohnMcDonald wrote:

It's not the size of the donation that was involved - the £950, it's the way that the issue has been handled that is the crux of the matter.

Of course Wendy Alexander isn't a crook. Of course she acted in good faith. But that's not the point and that's not why she will end up resigning.

Most people will feel a good deal of personal sympathy for Ms Alexander and I do too. But I have to say that there is a sad irony in that the rules Labour introduced to block Sean Connery's donations to the SNP have come back to bite them.

And I am sure had it been Alex Salmond, and not Wendy, the First Minister would already have been locked up and Gordon Brown would have been fit to burst.

  • 3.
  • At 02:57 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Chris Jones wrote:

As Bernard Woolley might have said:

It's another irregular verb: I made an adminstrative error; You acted within the spirit of the law; He accepted an illegal donation contrary to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

  • 4.
  • At 02:58 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • john wrote:

Brian - on what bank was the cheque drawn? Was it a channel isles branch? If so, how could Wendy possibly be able to plausably deny knowledge of the off-shore nature of the money? Can you ask Mr Green for a copy of the paid cheque from his Bank?

  • 5.
  • At 03:05 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Euromac, Brussels wrote:

I can understand the short-term political expediency in keeping Wendy Alexander in post; the lack of any natural successor may be another factor.

However surely the long term damage it will do for her to stay far outweighs nay potential benefit to Labour? It is sucidal

  • 6.
  • At 03:10 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Robert McGeddon wrote:

I'm no fan of Labour but it would be a pity to lose Ms Alexander because of negligence and stupidity. I can't imagine even her worst enemies think that she did it for the trivial amount of money involved. If she is charged with an offence she'll have to go though. Still, Labour are no strangers to playing dirty in politics so a lot of folk will see it as a well deserved comeuppance.

  • 7.
  • At 03:18 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Archie Andrews, Edinburgh wrote:

Wendy Alexander is what we'll get as long as we allow the corrupt and malignant in society to worm their way into positions of power where they can apply their "don't do as I do, do as I say" philosophy with impunity.

  • 8.
  • At 03:19 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Mags MacLaren wrote:

Don't try to shift the blame...on wendy's website there is a section for donations - even this warns that any donation over £200 will be checked to see if the donor is on the electoral roll.

It's clear that Wendy broke the law, perhaps knowingly, perhaps due to incompetence.

Whichever way you look at it the leader of the Labour party in Scotland is either a crook or incompetent - or possibly both!

So much for her unsubstantiated claims of being intelligent!

  • 9.
  • At 03:26 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Archie Andrews, Edinburgh wrote:

Great to see that we've progressed from the "guddle" to the "muddle". To save you the bother of working it out, the next stage if the "fiddle". Of course, most of us have been there from day one. The public aren't as stupid as politicians would like to think.

  • 10.
  • At 03:33 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Not one do judge (well ok I can be) but it does seem to me that someone, who has been a Glasgow Labour supporter for years did not know his Jersey citizenship barred him from official donations is a little incredulous.

The next point which is the most important, is that Charlie Gordon MSP did know this was illegal and took Both a donation of 950 pounds in April and another for Ms Alexanders election campaign later in the year. This is all out there for every other Law abiding citizen in scotland to see and what is so remarkable to me is that so far the Scottish police bodies have done nothing so far. We are all to aware of stories involving wee Mrs Mack forgetting to pay 10 quid for her messages and being dragged through tghe courts for it. However Our leading Law officials would seem to be more politicians than policemen at this time. This is the real National disgrace not Charlie Gordon being caught with his hand in the Cookie Jar.

  • 11.
  • At 03:36 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Conway wrote:

I cant agree with Yucca ,the responsibilty lies with Labour . Its ironic that due to the make up of the UK that the arogance of certain people in that they have assumed that Jersey was part of political Britain.
A federal UK or an Independent Scotland ,England and Wales gets closer every day.

  • 12.
  • At 03:40 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • BenAlder wrote:

There is a an air of arrogance about WA not stepping down. She has broken the law , full stop. She has to resign in order to restore faith in the electorate. If you or I acted outwith the law, we could not stick our hand up and say, 'it wasn't intentional'. That is the crux of the matter and it doesn't matter what sort of spin she is putting on this, it doesn't wash with the people on the street. She has to step down.

When devolution was launched it was obvious that the great and the good of scottish politics didn't fancy the lighter side of politics planned for Edinburgh, and they stayed in London.

We were left with 3rd rate ex-councillors as our MSP's and this fact has now came home to roost. I've never known in my lifetime the lack of intellect and gravitas currently on display with scottish labour. Just look at the options of WA stepped down - anybody fancy Andy Kerr as the next first minister ? Jacqui 'at the end of day' Baillie?

Nope didn't think so

  • 13.
  • At 03:46 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • John wrote:

Whether Ms Alexander is an intentional criminal or an unintentional clown I'll leave others to judge. What is beyond doubt however is that she is unfit for purpose. As an opposition leader who might one day have the reins of Office in her hands, she simply can't be trusted to be on top of the brief. To be unaware of, or to have misunderstood your own Party's legislation is unforgiveable.

  • 14.
  • At 04:00 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Alexander Bisset wrote:

To me it is very telling that the donation was solicited and for the amount of £950. An odd amount, and "co-incidentally" just under the £1000 threshold that is intended to preserve anonymity.

To me it screams that the people who solicited the donation knew exactly what they were doing and are fully culpable, and should face up to their actions.

  • 15.
  • At 04:00 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.


  • 16.
  • At 04:07 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Corruptdonation wrote:

Lets face facts - the LAW was broken.

Do not lecture others about ASBO`s etc etc any more.

As neither Ms Alexander or any others in her party have ANY idea what honour means she will never resign.

Still she does us a favour by remaining - shows what Labour think of us - ZILCH.

  • 17.
  • At 04:16 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • karin wrote:

Not the end of the matter jer say brian i jersey your right.

You can just hear the put downs coming to wendy alexander in the parliament

Let me just "cheque" that figure ms alexander.

We will certainley "cheque" out ms alexanders concerns

I ms alexanders attempt to turn the other cheque are going to make her a laughing stock

ms Alexander should cheque where she left her coat and resignation letter and just leave before we start calling her "wan cheque wendy".

  • 18.
  • At 04:18 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Charles Allan wrote:

Hi Brian,
What amazes me about the whole saga is people say it's only £950. SHE BROKE THE LAW. To say that she did not know is no defence. That defence would not be accepted if it was someone defending any offence in court.Does this whole episode not tell us loud and clear about Labour Party ethics. One law for them and one for us. The woman is DISGUSTING.

  • 19.
  • At 04:20 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Big Al wrote:

This chap, Paul Green. What`s the connection here?
Why would someone in Jersey support a Scottish politician? What was he expecting to get out of it? Surely he didn`t think we were a Third World Country needing donations to build wells and schools?

Charlie Gordon. How did he know to approach this chap for money? Is there a list available to Labour Party politicians listing sympathetic donors?

Ms Alexander surely must have good geographic knowledge, knowing the Crown dependancy status of Jersey?(it isn`t even on the weather map) Why did she write a personal letter of thanks for the donation from abroad.

I`m going to drive home at 90 mph tonight hoping in good faith that in don`t hit anyone. Well, if i do i can use that plea.....

  • 20.
  • At 04:27 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Disgusted, Tonbridge Wells wrote:

And the Labour Party once moaned about Tory Sleaze. A bit of Sleaze is one thing but this lot is quite exceptional. I for one am looking forward to Inspector Knacker feeling a few collars.

  • 21.
  • At 04:33 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Royston Jones wrote:

What's really annoying me in all this is the continuing lies and spin. Just read a fellow Welsh Labour MP claim that Peter Hain was totally upfront in volunteering the info about yet more undisclosed donations. Hain only 'volunteered' the info about the £1300 fund-raising dinner - paid for by a supporter - because he knew the media was about to break it. That's not volunteering anything - that's confessing when you've been caught bang to rights!

  • 22.
  • At 04:34 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Anne wrote:

How dare Paul Green, a tax exile, think that he can have a say on how Scotland should be run or our future. What an arrogant man.

  • 23.
  • At 04:40 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Wendy must be doing this for Gordon's sake down south! Why else would she hang on in a completely unsalvagable situation? She is damaging Scottish Labour in a way not even Jack McConnell managed to ... personally I hope she will stay and as someone put it earlier, be a reminder for all time of Labour sleaze, but somehow I doubt it. Think she may well go in around a weeks time: if things have cooled down south, or more likely there is a new disaster pushing party funding off the front pages.

  • 24.
  • At 04:42 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Scott wrote:


That's the fundamental issue.

I hope Wendy stays put especially till the next election, what a recruiting seargent for any other party.
What will her manifesto be.
Please sir it wisnae me, ah didnae understand, it wis complicated, ok ah broke the law, but ah didnae dae anything wrang.

I am arrogant and hold the electorate with complete contempt, the law is only for the minnions not for us important labour politicians,who are above reproach and should never be questioned, all other politicians should have to be squeaky clean.

  • 26.
  • At 04:47 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Jimmie wrote:

All Labour MSPs backing WA is very high risk for the Party. They seem to be gambling all on her "vindication" when she is a law breaker. I think the situation for Labour is now critical in the extreme. They have raised the stakes on the future of their Party. Double or quits is bound to end in tears.

The rule of law is a fundamental to any democracy. There can be no way out for Alexander. Labour played fast and loose with the BAe investigation. That is not over by any means even though it takes the USA to make it stick. It is up to the people of Scotland to make it stick with the Labour Party.

  • 27.
  • At 04:53 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Quick thought, Wendy Alexander is now said to have "the unanimous backing of Labour's MSPs". Take it no-one fancies the job then?

For a supposed brain-box you would think Wendy would know when it was all over!

  • 28.
  • At 04:55 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Jim Henry wrote:

Brian I was surprised you didn't ask Mr.Green a multi millionaire why he was asked for such a small sum of money as he himself described it allowing it to avoid the maximum threshold

  • 29.
  • At 04:58 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Hugh Miller wrote:

I doubt Wendy Alexander is corrupt in the way the word is generally thought to mean - ie. lining her own pockets with shady funding arrangements.

What I do think might be happening is something which certainly appears to be endemic in the labour party by the events of last week, being cavalier. They know the money is shady, so they hide it's true origins and it's blown up in her face. If not, why is the company that has been cited as the source of the donation stating that they have no shareholdings by Paul Green?

This is the real problem, it looks as if they honestly thought lying their way through something was better than just looking elsewhere for the money.

It's still against the law - not the rules, the law. And because of that the law must be seen to work.

A whitewash or further cover up just will not do.

  • 30.
  • At 05:12 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Arthur Graham, Boston, USA wrote:

As an expat I have been following this story closely. Clearly WA has to go - however I imagine the SNP are in no hurry for that to happen. The manner in which the Labour Party have acted only strengthens the SNP's hand. How many of us remember the headlines from the Labour press the day before the election declaring what a disaster it would be for Scotland if Eck became FM. I bet Eck is having trouble keeping a straight face these days. Funny old world.............
P.S. Great commentary Brian - keep it up!

  • 31.
  • At 05:16 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Ron McBrien wrote:

Honesty and Integrity both words that can no longer be associated with Wendy Alexander.
We now see quite clearly she will act only for her party and not for Scotland and it's people.
She will not be forgiven.

We culled the Tories after their sleeze now we have Wendy and her cronies sticking 2 fingers up at us.
Enough, roll on the election always providing GB can work up the bottle to have one.

ex Labour voter

  • 32.
  • At 05:18 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Nick Lyon wrote:

Wendy says she has to continue to hold the SNP to account.

How she can come out and talk about holding people to account when she has broken the law really is laughable.

I really hope First minister Salmond wipes the floor with her on thursday at FMQs.

  • 33.
  • At 05:21 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Ron Mc wrote:

Honesty and Integrity both words we can no longer associate with Wendy Alexander.

We can now clearly see she is only a puppet for GB

Ignorance of the law or "Good Faith" is not a defence and to insult the people of Scotland in this manner is disgraceful.

Roll on the election providing GB can summon up the bottle to have one.

an ex Labour voter

  • 34.
  • At 05:23 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • iain smith wrote:

The fate of Wendy Alexander is not important.The important fact is that Scottish labour is dead and buried.Who would ever trust them to form a government again now?

  • 35.
  • At 05:30 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • john field wrote:

two labour lords,baroness adams and lord maxton have given the labour stance on this problem, as it was for less than 1,000 pounds nobody should have known about it so it was alright.the sheer arrogance of this party leaves a bad taste.nobody will fully resign as that would mean giving up the opportunity to carry on milking the electorate of all they can vote themselves.

  • 36.
  • At 05:40 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • John Leven wrote:


The bigger story now must be that all 46 Labour MSPs are now in the frame. They know that the law has been broken, but by supporting Alexander they are condoning an illegal act.

I always thought that a few of them Malcolm Chisholm, as an example were fair and decent ministers, but they have all associated themselves with sleaze. Where is their moral compass now.

Now no matter who takes over when she eventually quits, if they are from the existing 46 MSPs, they will be an easy target for any opposition party as they were signed up partners by condoning an illegal act.

How will the other parties react when Labour asks them to join them in anything at Holyrood. Will they be tarred by the same brush? They deserve to be if they support this sleazy lot.

P.S. Has anyone seen the invisible man Nicol Stephen? He has gone AWOL.

  • 37.
  • At 05:51 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • iain morrison wrote:

Oh smile they are getting better - moving from war crimes to fraud its a step in the right direction.

  • 38.
  • At 06:01 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Paul Delaney B.A.Hons/Dipsad wrote:

It time for Wendy Alexander to step down. From the information now released in to the public domain it is quite clear that Wendy knew about the legality of the donations, however knowing the truth and hiding the truth are two different things. Wendy Alexander’s campaign team including Tom McCabe seem to have adopted the philosophy of what the public don't know the public don't need to know till we're caught with our fingers in the till. Wendy Alexander should not attempt to hide behind the shield of the electoral commission and should face Police interrogation. It's time Wendy!

  • 39.
  • At 06:15 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • dt wrote:

Imagine if this were the Tories? I can just hear the likes of Brown, Alexander and Hain telling us about how they would never do such a thing. Well this is all about internal Labour elections. No kiss and tell here. This is corruption and in the USA (yes, the hated USA) people go to jail for breaking the law. Brown and Co will delight in Lord Conrad Black ending his days in a jail. Well they should too.

  • 40.
  • At 06:26 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • David wrote:

One definition of privilege by Encarta is:

"the right to or granting of special treatment or benefits such as freedom from prosecution to members of a legislative body"

Obviously applies in Wendy Alexander's case, eh? Why is there no BBC story on why Police have not investigated this issue? The police are straight on to investigating "the mole" but not the crime that "the mole" leaked. That will be our fair and just Scotland then, eh?

  • 41.
  • At 07:24 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • horace wrote:

You all seem to be losing the greater picture,how do the Tory's manage with the off shore money of Lord Ashcroft?

Well done the BBC for hunting out the best photos of Wendy.

  • 43.
  • At 07:55 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Jack Krim wrote:

There is a level of sympathy, understanding, and reasonableness about the way the media has reported this story in Scotland. Any other country and this politician simply couldn't continue. But, in Scotland the journalists are gentle, considerate, and balanced. I have no doubt the journalist's motives are all about relaying proper information to the public in a balanced way. I just wonder if their reasonableness would apply to all parties. I'm sure, I have no doubt, I'm certain, it would, undoubtedly, be the same for all parties.
Or, the Labour bias among Scottish elites has finally tipped over the edge and press coverage has become altogether worthless.
This goes to the very highest level in Scotland and the UK but so long as the media remian balanced then happiness, evidently, like ignorance, is bliss.

  • 44.
  • At 08:22 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • neil robertson wrote:

It might be worth trying to get hold of the internal Labour Party rules on elections of leaders, Brian, to establish whether they were adhered to even is the law was broken? The rules for Labour's Deputy Leadership contest apparently stipulate that of funds raised, 15% had to go the the Party and unspent balances had to be yielded up to them as well - not used for e.g. promotional videos.

  • 45.
  • At 08:38 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Lord Ashcroft though not the favourite person of many donates his money legally and without hiding his identity. Labour broke the law, Labour's Scottish leader broke the law - she must go.

  • 46.
  • At 08:41 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Diana wrote:

Brian -
Is it possible for MSPs to have a vote of (No) Confidence in the Opposition Leader? Or is a vote of that only applies to the actual First Minister?

  • 47.
  • At 08:42 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Mark, Easter Ross,Scottish Highlands wrote:

Its clear this lot have no honour and its the kids of the Manse leading the retreat, not much of an advert for The Kirk are you Gordon, Douglas and Wendy?
Since Scotland seems to be leading England by the hand in most things now, couldn't someone put up a website with the following question:
"We the electorate of the United Kingdom having lost all confidence in Gordon Brown and his Labour Government to show any degree of probity in its dealings call on Gordon Brown to submit the resignation of his Government to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and ask her to dissolve Parliament enabling a General Election to take place as soon as practicable thereafter and let the people of the UK decide whether we believe Harriet, Wendy, Peter and anyone else in the Labour party didnt mean to fail to comply with their own law" Maybe if it achieved a few million votes Gordon Brown might finally rediscover the reputation for honesty which even his harshest critics credited him with but now due to his lack of backbone in recent days must bring it into question. John Major at least knew how to sack Ministers who broke the law.

  • 48.
  • At 09:05 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Brian McHugh wrote:

"As the white billowing foam crashed thunderously against the rocks below, her fingernails straining against the stone and then starting to draw slow downward lines in the moss at each fingertip...

She just knew that this was the end."

  • 49.
  • At 09:31 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Derek wrote:

During his interview Mr Green spoke of how small the amount of money involved was. Now its one thing for a multi millionaire to dismiss £950 as small change but I've seen many commentators and some polititians do the same thing, with words such as paltry and miniscule being bandied about with an abandon that suggests some people are having difficulty relating to the real world.

For a great many people in our society, the vast majority of whom I suspect vote for the Labour party, the sum of £950 is the equivalent of a months take home pay.

Hard as it may be for millionaires and the great and good in our country to grasp but describing this amount as though it were pocket change is both an insult and a slap in the face to a lot of hard working people.

Perhaps you could make this point the next time a polititian dismisses the amount involved as a "mere" £950.

#2 "It's not the size of the donation that was involved - the £950"

I disagree. The sum of money involved is absolutely crucial.

Paul Green said on the radio this morning that he was asked to donate that amount. He was not asked to make any size of donation - he was asked to make a donation of £950.

It's obvious why.

  • 51.
  • At 09:42 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Curley Bill wrote:

On the news that the other Alexander Brother told his sister to do up her girdle and battle on -
'Greater love hath no man that he lays down his sister's (political) life for his boss...'

  • 52.
  • At 10:01 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • fiona wrote:

WA position is untenable, I for one am dismayed at the lack of police interest in WA.

This is just typical Labour arrogance.

If I did something illeagal in my job I would not only have to resign but I would be struck off and not able to work again.

WA has showed arrogance and contempt for the Scottish electorate, I actually hope she stays now, it will hopefully remind the electorate how corrupt they are.

  • 53.
  • At 10:33 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • AMD wrote:

Can anyone tell me if any of these politicians have ever heard of moral integrity and personal accountability?

Had I broken the law - in any respect - I would be out of my job and have a criminal record. How can they even consider that they can get out of this mess? The amount of money given to Ms Alexanders' campaign is irrelevant - it is the principle - the law has been broken and her position is untenable.

  • 54.
  • At 10:43 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Disgusted, Tonbridge Wells wrote:


Two observations.

1. Brian McHugh gets my vote.

2. It seems that Inspector Knacker is off duty. Hope he's back soon

  • 55.
  • At 11:25 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • wee folding bike wrote:

Wendy says she did not mean to mislead. If that were true then why set up a dummy account so the money did not go to her and was not declared in the register of interests? If she was not trying to pull a fast one then why have a sum just under the limit for saying where it came from?

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck... possibly even looks a little like one too, then it's a duck.

  • 56.
  • At 11:32 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Iain More wrote:

I will invent my own political party I think and ask for donations from anyone - beats working for a living. I wonder if I can have some of an amount I dont have to account to the inland revenue for!Since why should I pay taxes to an institution that gives me nothing in return!Where is the policing - laws have been broken and no one has been arrested yet?
Last time I checked the leaking of information from the offices of suppossed political institutions was not a criminal offence?Why is it being investigated this time?Will Labour Party have to produce copies of the documents leaked to the unionist press and media?Thereby incriminating themseleves in criminality?

  • 57.
  • At 11:51 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • neil robertson wrote:

Clearly Wendy Alexander pins hopes on The Electoral Commission - a UK
body it should be noted 'advised' by
one of her own campaign contributors
Lord Elder of Kirkcaldy (ex-fellow Special Advisor to Donald Dewar and former Scottish Labour Party Gen Sec who shared a flat in Marchmont with his old schoolmate Gordon Brown MP)!

Murray Elder is listed on their web
pages under 'Parliamentary Advisory
Group' - and the website also has a copy of Ron Gould's report into her
brother's election fiasco which was highly critical until spin-doctors
got to him for that 'clarification'.

  • 58.
  • At 11:57 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • rob wrote:

I for one do not want Wendy to resign, this will guarantee that Labour do not get back in at the next election, leave the woman alone she can do more damage to Labour where she is.

  • 59.
  • At 12:07 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Death in the Afternoon?

What is clear is that during her rise to the top Wendy has made some bitter enemies within Scottish Labour. Now it's payback time. This must be hard to take for a woman drunk with ambition. Wendy probably wants to be Prime Minister one day, don't see it happening now. The SNP have been right to remain silent, they need do nothing, merely observe the marionette become tangled in her strings. We are like spectators watching the bull spitting blood in the last throes of the corrida. We all know the ending.

  • 60.
  • At 12:16 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • mt wrote:

Labour have tied this country in knots with their red tape which the authorities strictly enforce....the public but not the criminal.
It is said that everyone has a price for their honesty. We have found that Wendy Alexander's price is £950.00. Who knows what we will find out in the future, it might be lower.

  • 61.
  • At 12:24 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Saw the interview on News 24.

A little light through yonder LCD did shine.

That light was from Paul Green's insider information not the tangerine glow from LBC's new presenter.

At least if the cheques are returned Children in need will gain by £1900, unless of course a handling fee has been deducted.

  • 62.
  • At 01:58 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

Wendy cannot survive in her present position. She can of course refuse to resign. She can have the unanimous backing of all labour MSPs. She could remain in position but she cannot survive. If she stays she will have no authority from now on. Any criticism she makes of any politician, official or individual is defended by "my error was unintentional"
If she considers that she still has something to offer her only way to do this is to resign, spend some time in the wilderness and make a slow comeback. The reality is that either way the SNP win, if she stays they could not be more pleased if she goes there is no credible replacement.

  • 63.
  • At 03:12 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

As another expat I am saddened to see that Scotland has sunk so low to be governed by leaders like WA and there is a real problem in most countries these days of leaders that want power so that they can have power.

I am not clear how WA can possibly argue that she is the best person for her job right now given she has to defend her integrity to the press every other day. Surely that must distract her from the job she is paid to do by the taxpayers of Scotland and therefore she should resign and let someone more able step in. She undoubtedly knows that if she is charged with an offense she has to go, so she is wasting everyone's time by postponing the inevitable. GO NOW!

  • 64.
  • At 06:12 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

To me the biggest disappointment is the attitude of many of the contributors to this forum and the media in general. The reason these scumbags keep stealing,lying,cheating their way into positions of power is purely because we get this near sympathetic reaction to somebody who would kill whoever got in her way to the top. It is definately time for Scottish Society to state that they are not going to settle for this type of behaviour anymore, and that they want those who cheat the commonweal are going to go to jail. Lets not forget many of the same folk who "dont think it was malicious and intentional" are also making a statement confirming why Scottish Society is not as good as it could be. Lying, Stealing,Vandalising,Stabbings,Rape,Drugs and Alcohol abuse,Betraying their Country for personal benefit and the rest are why we have found ourselves exactly where we are. I say that the whole lot of them should be facing prison time. It will surely cure many of the ills in our society when an example is made of those that would lead our Nation.

By the way as a SNP Supporter I fully support the same penalty for All who would be in the same position. The difference is none of the other Parties have been caught doing similar things and deserve to be given praise for doing things correctly.

  • 65.
  • At 07:38 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • BrianMcL wrote:

Does anyone think that Wendy will have the bottle to ask Alex about the 1000 extra police at FM Questions this week?

  • 66.
  • At 08:31 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Stephen Davidson wrote:

Am I right to state that ignorance of the law is no defence for breaking the law?

  • 67.
  • At 08:49 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • s wilson wrote:

Mr Green writes a personal cheque, alongside a personal letter. And receives a personal letter in return. I assume the police should be interested in these to shed light on the affair.

The bottom line is that like their counterparts down South, they have accepted money illegally according to laws they themselves formed. Surely there is little defence in being ignorant of your own laws.

I dont think they are crooks per se, their sins somewhere in the range between carelessness/incompetence to an illegal arrogance based on their self defined belief in their own good faith. Blair attacked Iraq in good faith apparently, and now illegal money collection is deemed as good faith.

This is the really unpalatable part - politicians carry out illegal acts in good faith. The logical outcome of that, is that every criminal lawyer in the land should be entering pleas of good faith for every client using the politcal use of it as a time served precedent. Of course if it doesn't wash in the courts, why should it wash in politics?

Incidentally where are the police - do they not have to act in cases of illegality ? They surely dont have different rules for politicians, do they ? They certainly seem to treat them better than they have recently treated some footballing people - dawn raids and all.

  • 68.
  • At 08:51 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • djmac wrote:

So now we have W Alexander embarking on a campaign to defend her own 'integrity' by holding up that well-worn deflect shield already used by one D Alexander and repeating that now worn-out mantra 'it wisnae me, it was yon bad boys'

If she actually is leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, someone should tell her that one of the key principles of leadership is called 'taking responsibility'. Was this someone's else campaign that these donations were being made to? No, this was the 'WA Campaign' for which W Alexander is responsible. Whatever the actions of her team, collectively or individually, one WA carries full responsibility. Any real leader would come forward and take a principled stance, but WA now seeks to shelter behind a couple of potential 'fall guys' in order to protect her own 'integrity'.

And then we see 40-odd Labour MSPs falling in line and condoning all this deception, chicanery and cowardice!
The Labour Party in Scotland - 'sic a parcel o' roques in a nation'

  • 69.
  • At 09:08 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Ed Gray wrote:

Why should a Scottish political campaign be bankrolled from Jersey, London, or anywhere else outside Scotland??

It is time to stop the big boot of London and international finance stamping its influence all over Scottish affairs.

And note:
It is the same parties who accuse Scotland of being subsidised who are the very ones so heavily backed by London money – i.e. the London-led unionist parties!!

  • 70.
  • At 09:54 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

More fundamental question to ask is;

Do people have faith in the Electoral Commission?

The Commission has an bad track record in bring politicians to account. The Commission was deeply involved in the voting fiasco in May's Scottish elections.

It is not just polictians credibilty on the line here.

  • 71.
  • At 10:03 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Helen wrote:

A slight correction - Guernsey and Jersey are part of Britain but are not part of the United Kingdom - this is why donations from Channel Islands residents are not permissible.

  • 72.
  • At 10:25 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Ed Martin wrote:

I agree with Scotsgait #50
From the very start of this underhanded mess it's been the precise £950 figure which is important. They knew and he knew it was kept at that to avoid awkward questions. I would now like to see all the other £950 donations now similarly scrutinised.
Throughout the years when they appeared unassailable in Scotland this Labour party have become so arrogant that they really do believe they are above the law.
Their loss of power has exposed them for what they really are.
WA should resign and all of them should be hanging their heads in shame.

  • 73.
  • At 10:30 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Ted Harvey wrote:

I just want to pay tribute Brian to the superb early legal work you did on this and then your excellent scoop of an interview with Mr Green; I was transfixed by the entire conversation.

What a pity that a politician of the potential and calibre of Wendy Alexander, having gotten herself into this mess, cannot act with the same competence and dignity.

Instead we are forced to witness an wretched and undignified refusal to resign, with all the consequent damage to what will remain of the Labour movement in Scotland and to Scottish politics in general.

  • 74.
  • At 10:44 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • john wrote:

in her letter to paul green in jersey wendy said she was priveledged to lead labour. when correctly spelt, privilege means 'private law'. wendy plainly thinks she has different laws applying to her than to the rest of us. if labour no longer intend to apply the law, why are they in parliament?

  • 75.
  • At 12:08 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • HughB wrote:

Tried putting "Wendy Alexander" through an anagram generator. Came up with:

A Darned Wee Lynx

Deal Warn Deny Ex

amongst other things.

Has she got a middle name?

  • 76.
  • At 12:24 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Jackie wrote:

hmmm isn't it strange how we now have documentary evidence that can clear Ms Alexander in all of this.

Now I knew about the speed camera but I didn't know my car was travelling at 37mph.

Must have some EMails somewhere where I reported my speedo as being faulty......

  • 77.
  • At 12:46 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • js wrote:

knighthoods for £950 - where do i sign up?

  • 78.
  • At 12:52 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

How long can wendy hide for? Cant wait to see her scuttling to the chamber tomorrow for FMQs ... I hope the bbc will be in the lobby waiting with cameras rolling! Labour seem to have taken the "duck and cover" approach to a political crisis to the extreme this time.

She needs to resign: she knows it, we know it, the Labour Party knows it, her political opponents know it and so do the press ... the human shield explaination is the only possible way of explaining this!

  • 79.
  • At 12:59 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Quintin wrote:

I know this is not perhaps the place but, please Sir, may I vent my spleen on the Scottish 'Government' calling in the decision on Trump's planned development. Local democracy, it seems, is fine as long as it makes the right decisions. The local folk (or some of them at least) seem capable of independent thought, while the Holyrood shower are (I suspect) bewitched by money and hypnotised by people who have it. I could cite the prospect of something horribly similar to a place called Cardrona in what used to be called Peebleshire appearing in Aberdeenshire. But my point is not the planning issue itself; it is about the arbitrary use of power.

  • 80.
  • At 01:16 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • John wrote:

I cannot believe that WA is defending her actions on the grounds that she didn't intentionally break the law. I'm not a lawer, but my understanding is that ignorance is not a defence in the eyes of the law.

  • 81.
  • At 01:41 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Jackie McNaughton wrote:

We seem to get diverted from the facts by Labour lies and spin.

Wendy Alexander and her team are guilty of breaking the law. As such, the police should get involved and charges brought. Ignorance, unintentional acts and a "a didnae ken" are no excuses.

The Fiscal needs to get involved to uphold democracy in Scotland and root out corruption and law breaking in Labour!

J Mc

  • 82.
  • At 01:44 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • John Hailey wrote:


Today's BBC news site story on this matter stated that "Edinburgh University public law lecturer Navraj Ghaleigh said this could make campaign treasurer David Whitton liable.".

I have two problems with this.

Problem 1: Campaign treasurers are only liable in public election campaigns. This was an internal party leadership campaign. When fundraising for internal party leadership contests such as this one the leadership contender is the registered donee.

Problem 2: In the 2005 general election Navraj Ghaleigh was a Labour party candidate for the seat of Edinburgh West (he came third behind the lib dems and the tories). There is no mention of this in the BBC article! I reckon this Labour supporter (and most likely still fully paid up party member) is attempting to distort the truth to dig Wendy out of a hole!

I'm aware you generally don't respond directly to comments, but i think the issues i raise are slightly important given how many people will have read that story on the BBC news site.

  • 83.
  • At 01:47 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • sandymac wrote:

Above someone wrote they thought the Scottish media have been reasonable and sympathetic towards Wendy Alexander, I must share a different planet as I believe the journalists have been very aggressive.

It is in my opinion the job of journalists to dig for stories, this past while they are just reacting, do some investegative work to enlighten us, on everything we can't readily find out for ourselves.

  • 84.
  • At 01:56 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Brian McHugh wrote:

Looks like the 'Wendy Alexander dream team' are busy beavering away at setting up David Whitton to take the fall. Either that or it is simply a stalling tactic to protect Broon down south. Either way, the voters will decide her fate and Broon's.

The soap opera is hotting up.

  • 85.
  • At 02:01 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • martin wrote:

So the bbc lawyer (thats the same lawyer that stood for new labour in Edinburgh west in 2005) says that it could now be wendy's defence that cheque to green was by her campaign team and not by her means she could get away with it. And its took a week to come up with this.
Grubby, no integrity whatsoever and not fit to be in the Scottish Parliament. What an insult to all people in Scotland for the democracy of our country.
She broke the law but said it was unintentional! Staggering and labour cant get away with this.

  • 86.
  • At 02:43 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • embraman wrote:

If the massed ranks of SNP spinbots are able to whip themselves into hysterics over something so trivial, how on earth will they cope with a real issue? I only ask.

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, there's no reason at all for Wendy Alexander to resign, based on current evidence. The only thing that would change that is new evidence showing that she said, in effect, "Hey guys, this donation to my campaign is obviously illegal - but let's take it anyway because I really need that £995." An unlikely scenario, I would suggest.

  • 87.
  • At 05:04 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Paul H wrote:


I enjoy your blog a great deal. I think your analysis is often spot on. But the last week or so have been deeply frustrating. Surely there are countless important decisions being taken right now, more important events in the political life of our nation - affecting Scottish people in real ways (their liberty, equality, financial status! - than a bunch of dodgy contributions. Why is the press so obsessed with these (obviously corrupt, but not obviously important) goings on. I think it was Chomsky who said that when the press stars devoting its energies to corruption and sleaze, you should watch your wallet. How about reporting on politics in Scotland? Its what you do best.

  • 88.
  • At 05:23 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • alex wrote:

I think it would be a useful way to spend taxpayer's money if the BBC sent a Freedom of Information request to Glasgow City Council asking whether they or any of their employees or councillors had received any "donations" from Paul Green, or any legal entity connected to Mr Green since he began his business career in the city in the 1960's.

If Mr Gordon, MSP and Ms Alexander, MSP are happy to take money off him now, how much have others like them taken in the past.

I imagine Mr Green has given money to lots of people and other legal entities over the years, but wonder how on earth we will ever know for what, and how it was spent.

  • 89.
  • At 10:03 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Alan Gray wrote:

Why is it that "honest Mistake Wendy" can now produce huge amounts of documents, e-mails and computer files to prove her "innocence" Pity she hadn`t read a little piece of paper that said "Donations cannot be accepted from a person who is not registered on the Electoral Roll" and did she not look at the address she was sending a letter of thanks to, signed by herself!! Maybe she still thinks a Jersey is a Jumper! somehow "It wisnae me" comes back into the Labour vocabulary!!

  • 90.
  • At 11:08 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Sandra wrote:

OK if her website says donations are checked etc, why was she writing 'thank you letters' to Jersey, if she was dubious about the legality or otherwise of said donation?

The thing should've been screaming at her that this is wrong. She wanted to be leader; why did she not lead in querying this and stamping on wrong-doing in her name?

She seems to be in it up to her neck and beyond. I just hope that the Electoral Commission are thorough and transparent.

  • 91.
  • At 11:09 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Gavin wrote:

This is off-topic, but I wanted to encourage you when the dust settles to give some of what is going on with this Aberdeenshire golf course your attention.

The rights and wrongs of the decision, and the process, are there to be debated. Serious discussion of either would be welcome.

I find it immensely depressing, though, that so much flack has been directed at Martin Ford, especially by national politicians (who should know better), and by the print media.

I don't know him personally, but he seems to me to have done a fantastic job of explaining himself in terms which are understandable and consistent with the proper conduct of the planning process. He has also defended the members of his committee who took the contrary view.

The decision of opponents to play the man and not the ball in the terms which have been used is monstrous and cowardly. Just occasionally, you get glimpses of how ugly the tone of our political debate can become - not least via user-generated content such as this - and it reminds you how vulnerable democracy and due process could be.

This may only be a golf course in the scheme of things, but it is remarkable we have councillors like Martin Ford who (with not even the merest hint of impropriety on his part, even if he is mistaken in his view) are courageous enough to make their case and put up with it all. Our media (especially the press) should treat them better, and try to promote civil debate. (even some understanding of what the tightly defined role of councillors in planning matters actually is would be nice)

I would be delighted if you felt able to give this dimension of the issue the benefit of your insightful and fair-minded analysis.

PS - I've just seen excerpts of committee business at Holyrood on TV. Are they saying there should be no planning constraints if enough money is on the table, and no local input?

Brian Adams on Newsnight seems to think planning committee chairman are supposed to judge whether a development is popular. And that taking an unpopular decision is ground for no confidence. On that basis I have no confidence whatsoever in him.

I would only add that I live hundreds of miles from Aberdeenshire, have no links there and frankly no interest in the substantial decision at the heart of this.

  • 92.
  • At 06:38 AM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

New Labour Kareoke songs:

Love me like a rock - A.Darling.

Behind the'Green' Door - W.Alexander.

Who's sorry now - C. Gordon.

Im sure the public can come up with hundreds of these?

  • 93.
  • At 03:42 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • djmac wrote:

No. 92 - Craig,
And here's another wee song for the three WAGs (Whitton, Alexander, Gordon)as led by Bendy:
'Jokers to the left of me,
Clowns to the right,
Here I am stuck in the middle with you'!!

  • 94.
  • At 07:52 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • louise wrote:

Hi Brian

Most interesting the lecturer who said that if the cheque was made out to the WA campaign then wendy is not responsible. Would this be the same lecturer Navraj Ghaleigh who stood as a LABOUR candidate in the 2005 elections in edinburgh. As I said Brian. Interesting very interesting.

  • 95.
  • At 09:28 AM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Has Mr. Green/Children in need received the cheque/cheques totalling £1900?

  • 96.
  • At 11:48 AM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • RabD wrote:

Louise, I posted a heads-up yesterday about Navraj Ghaleigh (after utilizing that secretive journalistic technique known as 'Google Search') but Brian deemed it unworthy for you to read. Maybe there was something else inappropriate about the posting but who knows...

Let's see if this gets through. Holding breath 1,2,3...

  • 97.
  • At 11:20 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • W Alexander wrote:

If the Scottish referendum on independence takes place the "Scottish" labour/lib-dem/conservative parties will be awash with Westminster money to ensure the result is positive for Westminster and Big Oil ( read US interests)
Will the current rules stop this abuse? Unlikely!

  • 98.
  • At 03:49 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Colin Dexter wrote:

Do you think the Electoral Commission will help me fight my case for speeding. They have such a way with words so I am sure that if I apologise for my silly mistake and I say I have learned my lesson I will be forgiven.

  • 99.
  • At 08:18 AM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • BrianMcL wrote:

Re Colin Dexter's speeding analogy, this does look like another useful legal plea.

Following on from the "plenty ifs, plenty buts" defence from the former work and pensions secretary might we now have a "I fitted a speedometer and knew the speed limit" (both reasonable steps) "but didn't bother checking it to see how fast I was going" (all possible steps) defence in law?

Does anybody think this defence would work for a non politician?

  • 100.
  • At 09:13 AM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ken Greenaway wrote:

Wendy Alexander is an intelligent lady, I'm sure, but her oversized ego is pushing her head deep into the sand if she thinks that by carrying on (an apt phrase!) as leader she is doing the party a favour. If she doesn't go now I'm sure the electorate will have their say at the next election and will confirm the labour party in Scotland as a long-term opposition group. Do the honourable thing for once, Wendy.

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