Labour’s Scottish leader Wendy Alexander has found herself embroiled in her own donations row over the last couple of days.
On Wednesday, it emerged that Alexander’s leadership campaign team had accepted a donation from Paul Green, a businessman based in the Channel Islands. Her campaign manager Tom McCabe claimed the donation had been made through a UK registered company.
However, today saw the disclosure of a personal letter from Alexander to Green, at his home address in Jersey, thanking him for his donation. According to Brian Taylor, Alexander was responsible as the ‘regulated donee’ for checking that the donation complied with the law, which it didn’t because Mr Green was based outside the UK.
The row has overshadowed a significant speech from Alexander today, in which she called for a Scottish Constitutional Commission to consider the devolution of more powers to Holyrood:
One key issue, which must be part of these efforts, is to strengthen
the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament. In short the
financing of the Parliament almost wholly through grant funding does
not provide the proper incentives to make the right decisions. Hence
strengthening the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament
by moving to a mixture of assigned and devolved taxes and grant is
something the Commission should consider.
A beneficial by product of strengthening the accountability of the
Parliament through greater autonomy would be to address some of the
concerns elsewhere in the UK around relative spending levels. In
short the grant element would be smaller and so potentially less
contentious. As one commentator has put it – there is not much point
in getting a divorce over the housekeeping bills.
But for those committed to the UK, financial transfers within the UK –
the grant element – must continue to ensure that areas with greater
spending needs have the resources to fund them. Such equalisation
systems are commonplace in all modern democracies. (Scottish Labour)