08 November 2006

John Home Robertson

According to the Herald, John Home Robertson plans on standing down from the Scottish Parliament. Many observers, including those within his own party, suspect that this is linked to the embarrassing revelation that he's renting a flat owned by his son at the taxpayers' expense. Senior party figures say it's to give the Party ample time to choose a successor. This is rubbish. If he wanted to give them that time, he'd have announced his intention last year, to give the local Party time to choose a candidate and raise their profile. That can't happen now, so I'd say it's the flat, and the claims that he was 'not expected to fight the election' look fairly weak.

The former MP is being linked with a return to Westminster, in the House of Lords. Again, Labour sources say this is to avoid suggestions of a fix, but 1) he's become an embarrassment to the Party and this is a good way of quietly getting rid of him; 2) the Flatgate-stand down-Lords chain of events stinks to high heaven; 3) if he were standing down for honest reasons he'd have gone earlier, and the announcement of a peerage would pass without comment or incident; and 4) if you haven't done something, you aren't the first to raise it by saying that you haven't done it. By denying a fix before it's even suggested, Labour have if anything increased the possibility that it is in fact a fix.

Of course, there's a wider point here: the possibility of a wave of Scottish peers has been raised on the Our Scotland Forum, in what is being viewed as an echo of 1707. If this is true, then it suggests that the parties are trying everything to enhance feelings of Britishness in Scotland to try and hold off the SNP attack. It won't work: firstly, few people would be able to recognise members of the Lords if they walked around with a neon sign over their head saying 'I'm a member of the House of Lords!'; secondly, those that care about the Lords are usually the ones who want to see the chamber abolished, so they won't warm to this announcement; and thirdly, the only reason the House still exists in its current form is because the House of Commons hasn't decided what should replace it.

Incidentally, Iain Gray has been linked with the seat. Like he's been linked with every vacancy since 2003. While Gordon Brown might like to see him in - he's Douglas Alexander's special adviser - I don't think it's going to happen; Gray's best shot would have been Edinburgh East & Musselburgh, and that particular ship may have sailed.

(By the way, I'm adding a new category to the awards: Daftest Political Statement of the Year. Submissions welcome.)

1 comment:

Huttonian said...

All this is being followed with greatinterest at the Home Robertson seat-country as opposed to his son's flat! go to 'Musings from the Merse' to see what I mean