Sunday, 9 October 2011

Second go

I wrote half a blog earlier on today, pressed the wrong button and consigned it to the dustbin of history.

It's been a pretty boring weekend. Saints didn't play; England got beat but so early in the morning that it felt inappropriate to be unduly ecstatic; Scotland won, but even the most blinkered patriot would find it difficult to be  overenthusiastic about scraping a result against Lichtenstein.

And as for politics............................

The Sunday Herald ran a "story" about Christine  Grahame. Apparently, somebody she has sacked has made complaints to the Police, The Corporate Body, The Standards Committee, and.....................failing anybody else paying the slightest bit of attention, the Sunday Herald.

Now, I don't particularly like Christine Grahame. She is an SNP politician of long standing and she is, in my opinion, a bit of a crank. But I have no reason to think she is a crook. She's just somebody I disagree with politically.

The Herald however seems to be seized of the idea that all politicians are bent. Two or so weeks ago it was a disgruntled employee of Frank McAveety who had made a complaint to the Police, via the Sunday Herald. Further back still, it was David McLetchie who had, we were told, questions to answer.

All of these stories, of course, actually come to nothing. Indeed, in a much less prominent way the Herald reported on Saturday that the Police have absolutely no interest in Frank, as they didn't have in Mr McLetchie, and  as I'm sure they will in due course indicate that they have nothing to investigate regarding Ms Grahame.

The problem however is that our political class haven't worked out that in feeding these stories (and I use the word story deliberately) they damage not just their political opponents but democracy itself. Some, unnamed, "Labour Party Spokesman" is quoted as demanding answers from Ms Grahame, just as some unnamed SNP Spokesman was alleged to have demanded answers of Frank and, no doubt at some point in the past,  unnamed spokesmen for one or other Party (or both) demanded answers of Mr McLetchie. Answers to what? Unspecified allegations from people who have lost their jobs as a result of their own alleged inadequate performance would appear to be the only conclusion.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will rule on the legality of Damages (Asbestos Related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009. There is a widespread view that this legislation will be struck down as incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. This will be a big story. It would, if Scotland was a remotely sentient democracy, lead to questions as to why nobody in the Parliament raised the question of this being retrospective legislation at the time.  More probably, it will lead to another spat between Salmond and the Supreme Court and a somewhat awkward tutorial being required for those Labour MSPs who should not have allowed their hearts, and, regrettably, their election expenses wallets, to rule their heads when they supported the legislation in the first place. On any view it will have major implications for whether the SNP can actually conduct their much trumpeted Referendum within the current constitutional settlement. Given the amount of ink already expended on this latter subject, and the fact we are assured it is the only real issue in current Scottish politics,  one might have thought that the same journalists who have written so much of this might have been paying attention.

That's not, however, really my point. This was not the story that the "political" desk on the Herald chose to run today. To do so might have involved some actual research, indeed some actual journalism. Why bother with that when a disgruntled employee of a minor politician provided them with so much easier copy?

And who the f... authorised an "Labour Spokesman" to legitimise that?

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