Some people just can’t take a hint

What on earth does it take for disgraced MP Alistair Carmichael to do the right thing and resign?  For someone who is allegedly committed to the service of the people he claims to represent, he has done a damn good job of ignoring their wishes.  If he is to hang on to his seat against the greater will of his constituents and the wider country, he will have to survive a 3-pronged attack for justice.  Adding to Alistair’s ongoing woes of the ongoing police investigation, his loyal constituents Court of Session petition against him, is an investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Hudson. I have visions of Colombo turning up in Orkney and saying ‘just one more thing, Alistair!’.  Let’s hope these are more effectual than the ‘completed’ investigation by Jeremy Heywood, the Head of the UK Civil Service, which merely scratched the surface.

There are STILL many unanswered questions over the #frenchgate scandal, for example what did the wee sleekit cowerin’ timorous beastie, David Mundell know? After all this time only one thing is clear; the only way Carmichael will go, is if he is forced to go.  If he is forced to go, he will forego the opportunity to sit in the resulting by-election, although let’s face it, he would not stand a Murphy’s chance in an honesty contest.  It’s time for Carmichael to get off the gravy train at the next station and stop wasting people’s time and money.  After all, they only want fair and honest representation.  ‪When Nicola Sturgeon said ‪Carmichael should “consider his position” I considered the position he was in, was akin to his neck being in a hangman’s noose.

The purpose of a memo is to input data to the political decision making sphere, to help achieve a given set of goals in light of the relations between the policies and the goals (thanks Wikipedia). The memo may be denoted as either “for information” or “for decision” (not “for mis-information” or “for smear” Alistair!).  Given all that, here is a memo of my own to new LibDem leader Tim Farron, to aid his decision-making process.

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Memorandum:

To: Tim Farron

From: Craig Sheridan

Re: The #frenchgate #CarmichaelMustGo scandal

Tim, your man Al Carmichael misused his authority as Secretary of State for Scotland to tell porkies, low political smears and cause a diplomatic incident, which he then publically lied about in stark contrast to the long traditions of civil service ‘impartiality’. As a devout Christian looking to rebuild and reunite, I’m sure you do not condone this behavior.  In a proportionally representative system where views are mixed between wanting him to resign, definitely wanting him to resign, demanding he resign and hating him because he has not resigned, it appears the common denominator among the electorate is the ‘resign’ part so even under PR it’s a landslide.

P.S.  I know you have lost Business Secretary Vince Cable, Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander and the late Charles Kennedy but Alistair will do more long-term damage if he stays.  By the way, I think I heard someone saying you are actually a Tory (I did, it was me), so I’ve just informed the Daily Telegraph. 

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If Farron plans to actually ‘lead’ the LibDem’s, and give them any hope whatsoever of regaining credibility and therefor voter share, dealing courageously with Carmichael would not be a bad place to start.  If he does not, then his tenure is destined to reach levels of ineffectual mediocrity comparable to a certain Irn Bru swigging, blustering narcissist (yes, that one). Given his comments a couple of days ago, on Good Morning Scotland that “most decent people” want to give Carmichael another chance, he has badly misread the widespread anger among even (now possibly former) LibDem voters and he has fallen at the first hurdle.  I think he is taking advice from Willie Rennie who called Carmichael’s attempt to distort democracy an “aberration” and says he deserves a second chance.  Wrong word Willie, I think you were looking for ‘abhorrent’.

carmichael-buggerThe Liberal Democrats are already a discredited party following the betrayal on student fees and is why they have been punished at the polls.  They are a party who placed short-term party advantage over doing the right thing for the electorate and Farron seems set to continue their demise.  Rather unbelievably, they have learned absolutely nothing from this, proven by the fact that consecutive leaders have decided to take no further action on Carmichael, the man who eventually admitted responsibility and lies only when left with no choice.  Again, they prefer short-term party gain; by not causing a by-election they would likely lose, above doing the right thing for the betrayed voters of Orkney and Shetland. For a party apparently trying to rebuild credibility, this seems counter-intuitive towards the realisation a liberal third force in British politics, and frankly, myopic.  Does it really matter so much if their 8 seats (UK wide), down from 57 in 2010, is further reduced to 7?  I guess not as much as losing their lone Scottish seat.

I recall someone wondering whether Ian Murray had survivor guilt as the only Labourite to hang on to his seat (by the seat of his pants) all be it with the help of tory tactical votes.  Alistair Carmichael though, is clearly not an individual that worries about such traits as guilt.  Indeed it is clear he is missing some other fundamental traits that one would expect in an elected representative, the foremost of these being honesty.  If he had a shred of integrity he would go, but he is trying to weasel out of it by saying this was something that happened only in his role as Secretary of State for Scotland but of course this cabinet role is merely an extended responsibility of being an MP.

Ryan Coetzee was/is a political strategist for Clegg and the Lib Dems, who’s last tweet was on May 8th, and read ‘time for a break’.  Fortunately for Carmichael it seems, Lib Dem strategy decided to have a post-election sabbatical for a while, but now that strategy has allegedly returned to the struggling party and they have a shiny new leader, Carmichael has still not been asked to step down.

Now, where on earth are the Kathyryn Hudson findings on Carmichael, have they been reported to the Committee, do we need a FOI request to see them? Essentially she is the MP standards watchdog and the interpretation vehicle for advising the Committee on Standards of the rules set out in the House of Commons Code of Conduct that should be adhered to by it’s members.

Where allegations are deemed to be in breach of these rules, the technically ‘independent’ Commissioner Kathyryn Hudson will report her findings to the Committee on Standards, for the Committee to adjudicate and recommend any appropriate sanction.  For those interested in remit and process, here we go:

Code of conduct

The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards deals with the application of the Code of Conduct and related Rules that apply to Members of Parliament.

The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is responsible for the Code of Conduct and related Rules that apply to Members of Parliament.

This includes the registration of financial interests held by MPs and the investigation of allegations that MPs have breached the rules set out in the House of Commons Code of Conduct.

Background

The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards was set up by the House of Commons in 1995 following recommendations made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is appointed by a Resolution of the House of Commons for a fixed term of 5 years and is an independent officer of the House. The current Commissioner is Kathryn Hudson, whose tenure started on 1 January 2013.
The Committee on Standards oversees the work of the Parliamentary

What can the Commissioner investigate?

The Commissioner can investigate allegations that a named Member has breached the rules of conduct set out in paragraph 10-16 of the Code of Conduct.

The Commissioner cannot decide whether a Member has broken the law (even in the way that a David Torrance book is a crime against trees) nor can she decide whether a Member has breached the rules of another organization (like when Carmichael didn’t pay his poll tax), such as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

Key responsibilities

  • Overseeing the operation of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests and the other Registers
  • Providing confidential advice to individual MPs
  • Advising the Committee on Standards about the interpretation of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members
  • Monitoring the operation of the Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules and, where appropriate, proposing changes to the Code to the Committee on Standards
  • Providing guidance and training for MPs on matters of conduct, propriety and ethics
  • Investigating allegations that MPs are in breach of the Code of Conduct and its associated rules
  • Where appropriate, reporting her findings to the Committee on Standards, for the Committee to adjudicate and recommend any appropriate sanction
  • Presenting an annual report to the House of Commons on the work of her office

We look forward to Kathryn Hudson doing her duty as according to the above remit and subsequently, the Committee on Standards taking appropriate action.  If this happens, Alistair Carmichael will be told, not asked to resign.  He has already dodged a bullet some years ago with expenses irregularities and non-payment of council tax, ironic then that Andrew Dunlop the new junior minister at Scotland Office and appointed peer was in the anti-Scottish Thatcher tory HQ during the poll tax years.  

This time Carmichael has went way too far.  He lied, he covered it up and substantial sums were wasted investigating his folly. He says he will take ‘full responsibility’ and will be good from now on.  The only way to do this is by resigning.  If Hudson and the committee fail in their duty, the legal case by his constituents should remove him from office or the independent police investigation can easily equate his actions to criminal slander. If not, then the good old, pooling and sharing, bastion of democracy and integrity Better Together United Kingdom of Great Britain is more corrupt than even I thought.

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