Monday 11 February 2008

Bring it on back Wendy, Wendy, bring it on back to ...

Sorry, got carried away there. Much and merry have been the messages pouring in - comments on the post from yesterday, emails, text messages and a right strange phone call. Let me be clear, as the invisible man said, I'll fire these thoughts out into the ether and you can do with them what you will.

The Ashflame donation was declared to Parliament but not to the Commission (it was one penny under the limit for the Commission). Any politician who really did have honesty and integrity written through them would surely have declared it for the sake of clarity - even if it was a penny under. The Electoral Commission doesn't have the right to decide what it publishes and what it doesn't - declare a donation and they must publish.

Wendy Alexander - the donations and the Electoral Commission
On that point - Under Section 69(5) of PPERA (as applied by Paragraph 15 of Schedule 7), where any donation is reported to the Commission it shall cause details to be entered in the register in respect of the donation "as soon as is reasonably practicable". It still hasn't published the donations which Wendy Alexander claims to have reported to it when her donations scandal broke.

The Commission's obligation is to publish the details as reported to them under the donation report. It has no power to delay publication of the details of any donation. The phrase "as soon as is reasonably practicable" has been strictly interpreted by courts over the years. In this case, it simply recognises that there will be a very short delay between receipt of the report and the entering of the details from the report in the register.

Either Wendy Alexander lied about making the declaration or the Commission has failed in its statutory duty.

Dodgy Dinners
Labour sources claimed that the rip-off dinners were not direct fund-raisers for Ms Alexander, they were business networking dinners and, if they returned a profit, that money was used to help Labour candidates - so why has no-one else declared a contribution as a regulated donee?

Indeed, since the SIF was doling out dosh, why wasn't it a registered third party?

Intentional wrong-doing
I'm beginning to believe Labour about "no intentional wrong-doing". When Wendy Alexander gave her "Electoral Commission said I didn't do no wrong, George" press conference she did it in a Parliament Committee Room - which is against the rules. Maybe there is no intentional wrong-doing because Labour never bothers to think about the rules before ploughing ahead.

Ms Alexander claims to apply a Buddhist mantra of "is it true, is it necessary, and is it kind" - I think she misunderstands mantras and Buddhism - although I may be wrong.

A mantra is a spiritual lead, and it is the vibration of the sound that is important, it exists to help focus, not as a guide to right and wrong.

Maybe it's just the Buddhists I've met and spoken to and the writings I've read, but Buddhists don't seem to me to be much concerned with truth necessity and kindness. Buddhist concerns appear to be more about harmony on the road to enlightenment. Perhaps Wendy is the monk who did not physically lift the woman but is still carrying her, or perhaps she has a koan for all of us?

Working Mother
We were treated at the weekend to a long whinge from Ms Alexander about how hard she was finding being a working mother and a politician. Her husband only works part-time, so I'm sure she's in a better place than couples who both have to work full-time to make ends meet or single parents who have no-one else to rely on. She complains she has to employ a nanny for 40 hours a week as well as help to look after her house - I'm sure that there are some other mothers who would gladly swap places.

There are thousands of other parents in this country who just get on with it. Even among politicians there are plenty of parents who just get on with the job. There are parents in more senior positions than Wendy Alexander in Parliament who cope and there are plenty of parents around her who just cope. Most of those politicians who are parents also do everything they can to keep their children out of the public eye and would never dream of using their children as a shield - most of them would never mention the two twins.

She complains that she isn't always there for her children's bedtime. The same is true for parents who do things like clean Parliament buildings, work in pubs or garages, or even on the checkout in supermarkets.

Oh, the poverty
Ms Alexander claims that she is poorer now than at any time in the last 20 years. Like the little matchstick girl she can only look through the windows and marvel at the wonders. Aye, right.

The last eight years she was a member of the Scottish Parliament and so had an MSP's salary. OK, for some of that time she had a Ministerial salary as well, but that's the rub of politics - when you lose you lose - get over it.

Immediately before she was elected she spent a bit less than two years as a Special Adviser to Donald Dewar - less of a salary than an MSP.

Before that she had some time as a graduate recruit to Booz Allen & Hamilton - a grunt in an international consultancy which takes in about 1,200 recruits a year. That's only listed as being 1994-1997. We know that she was away by June 2007, so that might be three years.

There were two years before this when she was a student. A student better off than an MSP? I think not.

From 1988 to 1992 she was a researcher for George Galloway. Politicians' researchers really don't get paid very much - and certainly not more than an MSP.

So, in order for Wendy Alexander to be worse off now than at any time in the past 20 years she must have some devilishly expensive habits and her husband's part-time earnings as an academic must be terribly poor.

A high-flyer
Part of the claim about her genius is the constant assertion that she was a high-flying business consultant. She was a graduate recruit for three years - she never even got off the ground.

One of her erstwhile colleagues says "there was always a trail of destruction in Wendy's wake" - indeed. She has signally failed to achieve anything in politics - even when she was a Minister. The one thing she is remembered for is the section 2A debacle when she ignored all the principles of change management and rushed at it, determined to be the irresistible force, with the result that she raised the hackles of everyone on both sides, drove the issue into impasse and had to be relieved of responsibility for it.

There's some comment that she supplied the ideas for Donald Dewar's devolution dreaming. I have seen no evidence of any great intellect in Ms Alexander, but Donald Dewar was her father's friend for 50 years so perhaps he knew better.

Her performance leading suggests that she just isn't up to it, though, the budget nonsense was remarkable. She claims that what people will remember is the budget outcomes rather than the Parliamentary tactics - how the Dickens does she think those outcomes are reached?

Social Justice
Ms Alexander claims that she is staying in her job to deliver social justice for Scotland. Can I just point out her party's had since 1997 (at least) and has failed dismally.

Wendy Alexander herself was a student at the British-American Project for the Successor Generation - Baby Bilderberg - not exactly the beating heart of social justice.

Rant ends
To return to Buddhism for a moment, it is time for her to let it go and get on with the rest of her life.

Never forget, though - If you meet the Buddha on the road - kill him!

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