I write on Tuesday morning while it looks like our MP is still determined to ignore the shame and embarrassment he has brought on himself, his party and his constituents. If he has indeed resigned by Thursday this letter will be redundant, but even so I will explain why I think he is right in doing so.
We are told that our MP admits he made a mistake, has apologised, and therefore we should all move on. But what mistake is he referring to? Only that he did not read a memo in the weeks after receiving it? Or that, not having read it, he then authorised it to be published? Why would anyone agree to publish a memo they had not read? He has apologised now to the person whom this leak was most likely to have been damaged, and then to another person whose reputation ( who happened to be a leading French diplomat) was “accidentally” tarnished. He has not apologised to anyone who thought at the time that he was behind the leak, or to us in Orkney. He seems now to be relying on the inherent kindness of Orcadians to forgive and forget, but what is at stake if this is so?
I believe Mr Carmichael was leant on to publish this memo, which if he is to be believed ( and his credibility now and for the future is one of the moot points) and he didn’t know precisely what it contained ( which he should have, being the Secretary of State for Scotland, not a junior ministerial post), he must certainly have been aware that it contained material VERY likely to damage the First Minister of Scotland ( again, not a junior ministerial post) otherwise what was the point of publishing it. Right there is the crossroads where he traded his soul. For musicians, the myth is that the reason for bargaining with the devil is to become a better guitarist! What was the Carrot or Stick offered to Mr Carmichael? Does he genuinely abhor the First Minister so much that he would want to damage her reputation in this way? Does he genuinely fear independence so much that he would wish to influence the outcome of a General Election in his own favour? Is he now so in thrall with David Cameron who appointed him as Secretary of State, that he would simply comply with anything he was asked to do?
Please let us not ignore some absolutely fundamental principles. We are not talking about about accidents and emergencies. This was a very carefully considered plan designed to be released at the time most likely to cause damage. The people involved are not insignificants, but holders of the highest public office. Mr Carmichael knew full well that he was doing wrong ( he is on record for stating that public smears during campaigning are wrong) but calculated it was worth the risk.
This is what we should be reflecting on. The rest of the fall-out- that he repeatedly denied any knowledge of the affair, that he allowed a vast amount of money to be spent in trying to find out the truth of the matter which he could have saved the public purse, that he only apologised when the inquiry was published- are only ripples of the stone being thrown.
I repeat, how does this man deserve our trust?
The irony is that had Mr Carmichael kept to his own principles he really would still have a role to play- I do believe there are still some Liberal ideals worth promoting. But I also believe the Coalition has done more than sap the nation’s spirit, it has actually corrupted an erstwhile fine character and politician.
The only way that Mr Carmichael can truly apologise for this sorry affair is to resign.