I bought the’Orcadian‘ on the Hamnavoe on the way back from the Court of Session. When I saw what our MSP, Mr McArthur wrote I was more disappointed in anyone than I have been for some time. He had always seemed decent to me and better than his party.
“Good weather certainly helps, but I strongly suspect the ongoing centenary commemorations for the First World War have had an effect too; reminding people about the sacrifices made on our behalf and the importance of the act of remembrance.
Sadly come Monday morning, this solemn and dignified occasion had been replaced by the latest chapter in the vindictive hounding of my colleague Alistair Carmichael.
The scars of this unpleasant episode look set to endure long after the current trial is concluded, with divisions in our community now deeply rooted. That is a source of considerable regret.”
One of the most moving moments of my life was the eleventh of November this year; I was present with the other petitioners at the Court of Session for the final day of the hearings on the Alistair Carmichael case. The court adjourned and we went into Parliament Hall where we stood with our legal team and all the other people in the building with our heads bowed and we remembered.
All of us have family who suffered in that great fight for justice and decency. There are gaps at all our tables because of the people who did not come back and those who were slaughtered in their own homes – and that is before we look at our welcome new citizens, the children of Poland, the Ukraine and other parts of Europe where such wickedness happened. Our parents and grandparents all fought against the Nazi horror across political divides and they won.
If that war had been lost there would have been no opportunity to challenge elections in courts because there would have been no elections, no opportunity to settle disagreements in the courts because no disagreement would have been allowed.
“We bear the lot of times and races
Because we watched the wrong
Last too long
With non committal faces.”
His message was that if democracy is allowed to slide away, then all horrors will happen and people will simply not understand why.
Our opponents in the Carmichael case are not Nazis and neither are we. They are as committed to their cause as we are and I hope when it comes, they will accept the integrity of the judicial process as we will. Our reason for going ahead with his case is to uphold the democratic process. Mr. Carmichael lied to electors during an election – no crime is worse – under British law we have taken the only course of action available to us.
So Liam McArthur did us a terrible wrong in what he wrote in last week’s Orcadian – he blamed us for the division in our community and said that we were in contrast to the solemnity of Remembrance Day.
No, we were honouring it in the best way possible.
As citizens we are using the democratic rights that were won for us in the war by those whom we remember.
The divisions in the community are caused by what Mr Carmichael did and his refusal to allow us to forgive him in the ballot box.
I wish to give Mr. McArthur the benefit of the doubt this time. Mr. Carmichael told us in Court that he had lied to Mr. Clegg, his party press office, Channel 4 and even to the Cabinet Inquiry. He acknowledged that the only reason we could believe him in Court was because he was on oath and that he remembered the Tommy Sheridan case – in the words of our lawyer, ‘a Homeric catalogue’ of mistruths.
I assume that Mr. Carmichael lied to Mr. McArthur as well. Now he knows the truth, I expect him to apologise to us for what he said and to cease talking of us in such inflammatory and unnecessary terms. This is the poison that is hard to forgive and to get away from – but we all use the same shops and walk down the same streets. We have mutual friends. We must learn to be more civil in how we disagree.