Monday 8 August 2011


Quite often I wonder about the wit of politicians (and by that I don't mean how funny they are, but how bright they are), but today's news that Iain Gray and Cathie Jamieson are demanding that Alex Salmond come clean over the fact that Brain Soutar got a knighthood, has left my chin on the floor all day. Indeed, it's only in the last half hour or so that I've managed to raise it.

The jist of the story is that Brain Soutar did indeed agree to match pound for pound any donation to the SNP up to a maximum of £500,000, back in February of this year. There was no attempt to hide this. It was in all the papers. In the Queen's birthday honours list Souter was knighted.

A spokesman for the First Minister said: "Scottish Ministers make no nominations, and are only informed of those receiving honours shortly before they are publicly announced". The entire process does not involve Scottish ministers, but a committee of civil servants, and Alex Salmond in 2007 actually gave up his right to scrutinise the list before it is sent, through the English PM, to the Queen.

I imagine that this committees is quite careful in its scrutiny, since the Cash for Honours case, so, erm, expertly handled for the Metropolitan Police by...who was it again...oh yes, Yates of the Yard, the man who can review a case of 5,000 pages in a few hours and find no case to answer. That will be why he was forced to resign his post. Again I'd just point out that this particular donation, and indeed Soutar's previous donations to the SNP, were well publicised.

Anyway, the jaw dropping part of it all was the incredible stupidity of Jamieson and Gray. If I were in the Labour party, the subject of cash for honours is one I would steer very very clear of.

Why? Well quite apart from the fact that there are calls for the above case to be reopened in the light of Mr Yates' resignation, and heaven knows what that will throw up, I can mention a few names that the two hapless Labourites might like to cogitate over, before they make too much more of it and have it thrown back at them by bigger beasts than Munguin's Republic.

1997 - David Sainsbury, who, they might recall, had donated £3 million to the Labour Party became Lord Sainsbury

2004 - Paul Drayson donated £555,000 to the Labour Party and became Lord Drayson and a privy councillor to boot.

2006 - David Garrard and Barry Townsley whose names were submitted to the Lords for investing in Blair's Academies. Downing Street first said it was ridiculous to make connections with their donations, but after it was shown that this had figured largely in the argument put forward for their elevation, they said that they wanted lords who knew about education... they were not allowed.

2011 - Lord Noon, originally knighted and most recently sent to the Lords having "lent" the Labour party money.

And that's off the top of my head...there were many more whose names escape me for the present.

Now Cathie and Iain, what was that about openness?


  1. What incredible hypocrisy! And it’s not even as if the Labour Party in Scotland can claim to be anything other than part of the same sleazy lot in Westminster. Seeing as the dead man walking Iain Gray is only the leader of their Holyrood clique and nothing else. Will Jack McConnell now be letting us all know who he recommended for an honour when he was FM? And can we assume that every person who got a bauble or a title in the years from 1997 to 2010 got it from the Labour Party and not from either the Queen or the committee that is supposed to recommend these people?

  2. I thought it was incredibly stupid of them to bring it up. If I were them I'd certainly have steered clear of it. But they obviously hadn't bothered to find out that Alex removed the government from the process altogether.

    The public propose people, the Permanent Secretary and his committee scrutinise and reject any obvious chancers, and make their views known to the palace through the English FM.

    As usual with Labour, badly researched case, open mouth, wayward foot.


  3. Tris

    John Swinney answered a question from George Foulkes about this.

    Question S3W-21587 - George Foulkes ( Lothians ) (Scottish Labour ) (Date Lodged 04/03/2009 ) :

    To ask the Scottish Executive what the arrangements are in Scotland for consideration of nominations for honours and what changes there have been since May 2007.

    Answered by John Swinney ( 25/03/2009 ):

    Nominations are received from a variety of sources, including members of the public, outside organisations and Lord-Lieutenants. Prior to May 2007, Scottish ministers added their own nominations to those from other sources. Nominations from all sources are initially assessed by Scottish Government officials who assist the Permanent Secretary in preparing recommendations for the UK-wide selection committees to consider. Since May 2007, the First Minister has chosen not to exercise the right to approve the recommendations by the Permanent Secretary. The UK-wide selection committees submit their recommendations to HM The Queen through the Prime Minister.

    Posted at Moridura by Peter.

  4. Tris there is also a bit in The Herald which other papers and the BBC have not bothered to report.

    The spokesman pointed to the letter written to Ms Jamieson by the UK Government’s permanent secretary, Peter Housden, in which he wrote that “Scottish Ministers have no involvement in the Honours process”.

  5. Thanks Dubs.

    I seem to recall that Labour was always improperly informed about these things.

    They never did their research properly and as a result the FM was frequently able to point out that they were just plain wrong.

    Clearly if Jamieson had read the letter she got from Housden, she would have known that Scottish Ministers had no involvement.

  6. "Alex Salmond in 2007 actually gave up his right to scrutinise the list before it is sent, through the English PM, to the Queen."

    What English PM would this be? There is no English Parliament just a UK parliament. Also in 2007 the UK Prime Minister was either Tony Blair (born in Edinburgh) or Gordon Brown (born in Giffnock) from June onward.

  7. In Scotland, QM, we see the London parliament as the English parliament for various reasons.

    One, of course, it is in London, the English capital. I know, and I suppose we all know, that London is also the UK capital, as you know that Brussels is the EU capital, but we see our capital as being Edinburgh as you see yours as London.

    Two, for most of the week the parliament in England deals with English domestic matters. It deals with roads and schools, with policing and prisons, doctors and hospitals, local government issues, transport and culture and a host of other English matters.

    For a very small part of the week it deals with UK matters, most of which don't really touch us personally, and once a month or so there are some insignificant questions to some buffoon who is supposed to be the Scottish man in the cabinet, but of course is David's man through and through. I've forgotten his name but I do remember that he's a Liberal (in name only, as he appears to be Cameron's representative on Earth).

    You have to understand that in most day to day things, Edinburgh and it's parliament is what matters to us, despite what the BBC may put across. Most of what is announced in the 6 o'clock news has absolutely no connection to us. And most of us have given up watching it. It is like foreign news. The exam results, the policing cuts, the hospital blunders...what care we about that?

    I suppose Cameron is the UK prime minister, but as the Tories managed to get only ONE seat in Scotland, he can hardly be said to be a representative of our people and we don't think of him as such. he's like some foreign bloke supposedly in charge, but who treats us with disrespect. He is widely despised in this country.

    As an Eton boy he knows nothing of our country and I suspect cares very little, except of course he hardly wants to be the prime minister that loses the colonies, or the oil revenue, which still counts. I suspect that when it ceases to count we may be dumped, if we haven't managed to escape before that.

    The fact that Blair was born in Edinburgh and went to Fettes is of little import. He didn't like Scotland and after he left it and only came back when he had to. He kept no connection with this country. As an ambitious man he hardly felt that being from the capital of an unimportant little country like Scotland was going to further his career and his love of big money.

    I'd almost forgotten about the madman Brown, who refused to acknowledge that he was Scottish, preferring the term North British. Most Scots prefer to think if him as being North British too. From what is always termed the North East, when they mean Newcastle, or the North West when they mean Manchester, forgetting that there's a whole country farther north.

    I mean no disrespect but the English sat by and watched Blair make their parliament and the federal parliament the same place. It was an idiotic idea and the kind of administrative nightmare you only an incompetent fool with no contact with the real world could have conceived. And Cameron has shown no inclination to give the English their own parliament. But then, Blair...Cameron; what do you expect?

    Or is it that he expects that before it was built there will be no need for it...

  8. Well said Tris.

    Conan, who is going to go round to blogger and kick some arse...

  9. Kick some for me, Conan... I'm fed up guessing who you are.

    Have you tried Danny's suggestion of Google Chrome? I'm using it and it has solved most of the problems, although none of the colours works and the fonts are similarly useless...