Alex Massie

The Dreary Downfall of Wendy Alexander

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Briefly*: So, Wendy Alexander is resigning as leader of the Scottish Labour party. In the brave new Scotland even our political scandals are pygmy-sized and fourth-rate. In normal circumstances scandal and disgrace should provide fine entertainment for the public who from time to time like, after all, to see one of their tribunes tossed to the lions. But there was no mirth, no schadenfreude to be enjoyed in this instance. After all, Wendy is leaving because she forgot, or couldn't be bothered, to register donations to her office worth a few thousand quid. Well, colour me un-enraged. The complexity of the registration details and all the other stuff is head-melting stuff I imagine. Yes, yes, yes she broke the law, but in much the same way as someone going at 35mph in a 30mph zone is breaking the law. The scandal - if there is one - is why Alexander felt she needed to raise £20,000 to contest a leadership campaign in which she was unopposed.

Anyway, Wendy joins the list of MSPs forced to stand down for fiddling their allowances or expenses or other examples of office mismanagement. There was Henry McLeish and his office in Fife, then there was David McLetchie's scandalous abuse of taxis (how shameless is it for hacks to complain about that?) ad now Alexander joins the list. Dreary stuff, this sort of penny-pinching, faux-serious transparency.

Meanwhile, the real scandals - the crippled state of Scottish schools, the government's hostility to individual liberty, the extraordinary wastage of public funds and so on and so on - trundle merrily along without anyone bothering to examine them.  Woods, trees, etc etc.

So, the question for the day must be: Is independence needed if we're to have any hope of enjoying the spectacle of a proper, no-holds-barred, entertaining political disgrace? Where-oh-where is there a tartan Charlie Haughey?

Can we no do anything right? I mean, surely we can do better than this? Right?

*Briefly, as I'm skipping out the door to play cricket for Selkirk against St Boswells this afternoon. Another tense Border League tussle is in store. Perhaps. We're still, for the love of god, seeking a first victory of the year...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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