Donations row overshadows Alexander devolution call

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)







5 responses to “Donations row overshadows Alexander devolution call”

  1. DougtheDug avatar

    I’ve just read Ms. Alexander’s speech on the Labour site and it’s mince.
    The basic philosophy of Labour devolution is as always the standard philosophy of Scotland, Wales and NI as devolved regions within a unitary English/British State.
    It’s best illustrated by the phrase, “it has always seemed self-evident to me that Scotland should have democratic control over its own domestic affairs.” Why in Ms. Alexander’s view does England not also also need control over its domestic affairs to protect its, “culture, legal system and view of the world.”?
    It ties in perfectly with the devolution mindset of Labour where England and Britain have merged into one entity.
    There is also the idea that nationalism in Scotland is simply a reaction against centralisation and not driven by a sense of identity. This is exactly what Gordon Brown was spouting in 1975,
    “We suggest that the rise of modern Scottish nationalism is less an assertion of Scotland’s permanence as a nation than a response to Scotland’s uneven development … the discontent is a measure of the failure of both Scottish and British socialists to advance far and fast enough in shifting the balance of wealth and power to working people.”, Gordon Brown, Red Paper on Scotland, 1975
    But Ms. Alexander is a Brown babe so it’s not surprising that she keeps to this view.
    What else?
    Scots don’t really want independence. Of course, as always the missing elephant in this speech is a referendum to find out once and for all. The Labour party may be confident enough to claim that Scots don’t want independence but they’re scared to put it to the vote.
    A new constitutional convention. Same as the old one in that you musn’t mention the independence option. “This cannot simply be about thwarting the SNP”, of course not Ms. Alexander, but if you set up the convention like this they’ll refuse to join same as the last time.
    Financial Autonomy. Ohhh, yes. Lots of muttering about Grants, EU rules and assigned and devolved taxes. Not a hint of how it’s going to be implemented or what taxes will be involved. Even someone like Ms. Alexander can spot that the square peg of financial autonomy is going to be difficult to fit into the round hole of devolution.
    A line on parochialism. Yes, Alex Salmond wants to lead a country, Ms. Alexander dreams of reaching the top in Local Government.
    And England. Not a peep about an English parliament, just English regions, even though she mutters about looking at other systems of federal government. Federalism is not what we’ve got in the UK Ms. Alexander. It’s devolution we’ve got here.
    If this is the best of Labour in Scoland they’d be onto a hiding even without the dodgy donations scandal.

  2. Mike Small avatar
    Mike Small

    Dougs right. This is nothing. Her speech is meaningless. She is a void. Wendy’s career is over as she plunges into corruption charges and her big boss Gordy and her wee bother try desperately to keep her in post. Labour is left with a coterie of functionaries and half wits.

  3. Tom Griffin avatar

    No doubt a lot of this is about pushing a rival to the National Conversation. The key issue it seems to me is how to ensure these competing tracks deliver something, given that the SNP don’t have a majority at Holyrood, and Labour do have a majority at Westminster.
    There does seem to be an emerging consensus around some form of financial devolution as the minimum that is necessary. How does that consensus get translated into reality?

  4. Alfie the OK avatar

    Oh goody – another one about to bite the dust (after a couple of days saying she is staying and that she’s done nothing wrong, obviously). If she really wants to stay, she’d better ring Commish’ Ian Blair and see if she can borrow his bumper book of stonewalling – quick.
    I don’t think it will do her any good though, pretty soon I reckon we’ll be hearing the nerve jangling screech of a politian’s nails scoring across the floorboards as plod drag her away – back to a life of bingo-calling….

  5. Tom Griffin avatar

    There’s no doubt she’s in a lot of trouble, perhaps the most trouble of all the Labour politicos at the moment. Maybe, therefore its a bit pointless blogging about her contribution to the constitutional debate.
    But when the dust settles, the likelihood is that Labour will still be in power at UK level, so Labour’s position will remain important.
    One danger, I think, is that Labour will be reduced to a state where it is incapable of doing more than acting as a John Major style block on reform, in which case, I suspect the SNP will be pushed further into the arms of the Tories.

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