06 December 2007

On 'Experts'

In every political debate, the parties are keen to trot out 'experts' who claim to offer total proof that their ideas are right. Then the other parties find other 'experts' who claim to offer total proof that the first expert should be given psychiatric care.

Experts argue. Experts challenge one another. Experts have journals, where one puts forward an idea, and others spend the next six issues debunking it. Why is this? Well, put simply, experts are people too. The only reason they are considered experts is that they have spent a long time absorbing what previous experts said when they were knocking seven bells out of each other, and - this is the important bit - forming their own conclusions. And just like the laiety, experts can use their own in-built approaches - which is why I always had trouble with recent developments in Binary Syntax as it involved giving determiners like 'the' or 'a' an enhanced status which I didn't think they merited, so as far as I'm concerned, the determiner will always be in Spec-NP, and NEVER at the head of a Determiner Phrase.

Anyway, one such expert who has been cited is Navraj Ghaleigh. Ghaleigh notes that the illegal donation by Paul Green to Wendy Alexander's campaign was made out to just that: the "W.A. Campaign", and not to Wendy Alexander. Therefore, Ghaleigh asserts, Alexander herself is not responsible for the donation, but her campaign treasurer, David Whitton is.

Ghaleigh is, of course, the same Navraj Ghaleigh who stood as the Labour candidate in Edinburgh West. And it overlooks various points: for example, why did Brian Ashcroft's computer (Ashcroft being Wendy's husband) keep a record of donations, including questions at to their permissability, when this was David Whitton's job? Further, a cheque to Wendy Alexander herself rather than the WA Campaign would enter the legal answer to the Bermuda Triangle. This would no longer be a campaign donation, it would be a timely gift to her, to spend as she wished. But there would surely be issues with the Members' Interests register at Holyrood. And if Ghaleigh is correct, then why does ultimate responsibility for a campaign not lie with its leader?


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for that, which explains a very great deal. I'm a lawyer and I'd been struck by how unconvincing were the tortuous logic and sophistry behind the attempt to implicate anyone other than Wendy Alexander. "Cui bono" is a fair forecast of the approach a court would take, I think, when dealing with any ambiguity about the intention of Parliament in relation to this part of the Act. And the suggestion that that would be David Whitton seems pretty absurd (however enjoyable the outcome of that would be).

I don't understand why this has not been commented on elsewhere. Then again, is Glen Campbell a member of the Labour party, do you know, or just a supporter?

Surreptitious Evil said...

Morally, Wendy is clearly culpable - the letter to the Jersey home address (as well as her position as the person seeking and winning election) shows that.

Legally? Not sure, not a lawyer - much as I would like her (and her election agent) to be publicly defenestrated, I'll wait for the Commissioner's report.