Lucy Allan made a statement yesterday on social media where she blamed activists for her lies. It was not her fault but disappointed people who did not get the MP or Government they wanted. Fascinating this, she seems to be quoting our own Orkney and Shetland MP himself who says the reason he was taken to Court was because we wanted to silence the opposition in Scotland – ‘it’s not me, its them – they should not notice our mistakes or hold us accountable.’
We expect the same standards of politicians that we would of anyone else – that they tell the truth and don’t make up things to smear other people.
This is the official statement from the Courts on what happened today!!!
A petition challenging the election of Alistair Carmichael as Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland has been refused after judges ruled it had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt that he had committed an “illegal practice”.
Following an evidential hearing in proceedings brought by a number of constituents, the Election Court held that Mr Carmichael was duly elected and that his election was not void in terms of section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
Lady Paton and Lord Matthews had previously ruled that “a false statement by a candidate about his own personal character or conduct made before or during an election for the purpose of affecting his return at the election has the effect of engaging section 106” of the 1983 Act, but ordered that evidence be led to assist in the resolution of the two remaining issues, namely: did the words complained of in the petition amount to “false statements of fact…in relation to the personal character or conduct” of the first respondent?; and were the words complained of uttered “for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election”?
On the first issue, the court observed that the first respondent [Mr Carmichael] had told a “blatant lie” when, in the course of a Channel 4 interview on Sunday 5 April 2015, he claimed that he had only become aware when contacted by a journalist of a memo leaked to the press by his special adviser Euan Roddin, which stated that First Minister and leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon had told the French ambassador that “she’d rather see David Cameron remain as PM”.
Lady Paton said: “There is no dispute that the words ‘I told you the first I became aware of this, and this is already on public record, was when I received a phone call on Friday afternoon [i.e. Friday 3 April 2015] from a journalist making me aware of it’ constituted a false statement of fact, in other words, a lie. Obviously the first respondent had been aware of the existence of the memo and its contents as described to him by Mr Roddin since the flight to the Faroe Islands in March 2015. Moreover he had authorised Mr Roddin to release the memo to the Daily Telegraph.”
However, on the matter of whether the lie could properly be characterised as a false statement of fact “in relation to [his] personal character or conduct”, the judges were left with a reasonable doubt.
“It is of the essence of section 106 that it does not apply to lies in general: it applies only to lies in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate made before or during an election for the purpose of affecting that candidate’s return,” Lady Paton said.
The judges gave some examples of what might be regarded as false statements of fact in relation to personal character or conduct.
They explained that if a candidate made a false statement that he would never leak an internal confidential memo, no matter how helpful that might be to his party, as he regarded the practice of leaking confidential information as dishonest and morally reprehensible, and he would not stoop to such tactics, when in fact that candidate had leaked an internal confidential memo containing material which was inaccurate and highly damaging to an opponent, they would be likely to conclude that the candidate had given a false statement “’in relation to [his] personal character or conduct” because he would be falsely holding himself out as being of such a standard of honesty, honour, trustworthiness and integrity that, in contrast with what others in Westminster might do, he would never be involved in such a leaking exercise.
“In the present case, when speaking to the Channel 4 interviewer, the first respondent did not make such an express statement about his personal character or conduct,” Lady Paton continued. “We are not persuaded that the false statement proved to have been made was in relation to anything other than the first respondent’s awareness (or lack of awareness) of a political machination. Accordingly we are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the words used by the first respondent amounted to a ‘false statement of fact in relation to [his] personal character or conduct’. It follows that we are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that an essential element of section 106 has been proved. Even if we were to apply a lesser standard of proof (i.e. the civil standard of ‘on a balance of probabilities’), we would not be satisfied that the first respondent has been proved to have made a ‘false statement of fact in relation to [his] personal character or conduct’ in the course of the Channel 4 news interview…”
That conclusion was sufficient for the resolution of the case, but for completeness the court gave its views on other matters.
On the second issue, the judges were satisfied that it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the first respondent made the false statement of fact “for the purpose of affecting (positively) his own return at the election”.
Lady Paton said: “As the first respondent said in evidence, he wanted public attention to remain focused on that important political message, rather than becoming side-tracked by revelations that it had been he and his special adviser Mr Roddin who had leaked the memo to the Daily Telegraph. In his view, if public attention remained focused on that political message, voters who had anxieties about Scottish independence might find voting for the SNP a less attractive prospect…The inescapable inference, in our opinion, is that if the SNP became a less attractive prospect, the first respondent’s chances of a comfortable majority in what had become a ‘two-horse race’ in Orkney and Shetland would be enhanced.”
Furthermore, the judges considered that the evidence established that there was another purpose underlying the false statement, namely a desire not to be identified as being involved in the leak.
“Thus on the basis of all the evidence led before us we are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that another purpose underlying the false statement was self-protection (a self-protection extending to Mr Roddin, provided that neither of them could be identified). Such self-protection would avoid attracting critical comment, losing esteem in the public eye, and being the subject of any disciplinary consequences, all at a very inconvenient time during the lead-up to the election. Such self-protection would avoid his presenting as a less attractive electoral candidate for the voters in Orkney and Shetland.”
The full determination can be accessed via the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website (see link below) from 12 noon on 9 December 2015:
The persistent question we are being asked again and again is why we are not challenging other politicians who have told lies.
There are many obvious examples to choose from – ’no top down changes of the NHS’ Cameron springs to mind and of course, ‘I am so sorry’ Clegg.Much of this has been said in this blog before, and in other places, but it seems to need to be said again as Lord Foulkes campaigns against one of the judges in something that seems to be an attempt by a member of the legislature to intervene in what is an unusual judicial process but still a judicial process.
I need to stress in this post that this is me squeaking as the Vole. I am not speaking on behalf of the other petitioners who are more than capable of speaking up for themselves and, not being a lawyer, I am no Andrew Tickell. He has been by far the most accurate and astute commentator on the case so far, not because he is on our side but, because he has been shown to be right again and again.
The case is under legislation passed by the UK Parliament of which I am a member and have a share in responsibility https://t.co/0b4r2lzqVO
The most important reason for bringing this case against Mr. Carmichael alone is a matter of law.In the UK the only people who are allowed to challenge an election are constituents within 21 days of the result.The grounds on which this can be done are very specific and date from legislation that has roots older than universal suffrage. The four of us, the named petitioners, are able to do this because we are voters in the constituency who could raise the£5,000 necessary to start the process. We are not allowed to do this against anyone else. The only people who could have challenged Mr. Salmond were members of his constituency.
This is not double standards but the law.
Political lies are exempt and IndyRef2 is not relevant in law. Nor is it about the truth of the memo.
This case is not about anything that Nicola Sturgeon said or has done. The content of the memo is not at issue – what is important here is the leak and the subsequent lie.
No politician can say what is going to happen in the future, not even Ms. Sturgeon because she is not a prophet. She may not be in office next year or the year after, nor is it reasonable to expect her to have predicted how this last election would have run from the standpoint of 18 months ago. No incoming chancellor knows the full details of the economy before coming into office and so ‘no new taxes’ is one frequent promise that is nearly always broken – it is not so much a promise as an expectation.
We have already crossed the first big hurdle. The judgement of September 29th set the precedent that false self-laudatory language by candidates is not allowed. They must describe themselves clearly and honestly – think of this as rather like the legislation in place to regulate how estate agents talk about houses. In itself, this should help make elections cleaner.
Many legal experts thought that this first stage would have finished us but then some of those people said Mr. Carmichael would never have to appear in Court.
Personal or political?
There is no question that Mr. Carmichael lied. The questions that remain are about the context and purpose of the ‘mis-truth.’
The best defence that Mr. Carmichael can use is that he told a political lie to influence the outcome of a national election. That is perfectly legal. The case we are making is that he made false statements about himself to influence the outcome of a local election and this we have to establish to a criminal standard of proof.
The judges decide
The Court, in its own time, will send a certificate to the Speaker of Commons that will declare whether the election is to be upheld or not.
The decision is not for the House of Commons to make or for the Speaker.
Lord Foulkes is simply wrong when he thinks that the Speaker has any existing power to challenge the decision of the Court or to intervene in any way. There is no mechanism for this in the legislation nor is there any appeal from the Court. The Woolas case established that a decision can be judicially reviewed if something has gone wrong with the procedure. I think that the only way that the process can be stopped by the House of Commons is by immediate and retrospective legislation – an unusual process that would smack of maladministration and seems impossible politically.
We need a new system
Clearly this system is not perfect. It is cumbersome, antiquated and expensive. The length of time it takes and the very narrow grounds on which it can be implemented are huge causes for concern. The cost of the process is astonishing both to bring and defend. Consultation is currently taking place about how the situation can be brought up to date and in line with international standards. No doubt our experience, and I mean of both sides, will become part of this.
No other mechanism exists in the United Kingdom to challenge a sitting MP. Legislation was passed by the last Parliament to enable their recall but is not yet in force. That dishonest, corrupt or abusive behaviour by our elected representatives cannot be challenged by voters is dreadful- we need mechanisms in all our elected bodies to make sure this process of accountability can happen in a fair and efficient way.
Has the process been fair?
There is a great deal of Twitter anxiety about the impartiality of the process due to the background of one of the judges. From my experience, as one of the petitioners, the Court has been scrupulous and taken great care to ensure that both sides agreed the process that took place. This has been necessary because of the novel situation we find ourselves in and the sheer lack of precedent. The Liberal Democrats made it very clear to Tom Gordon of the Herald that they accept the impartiality so far. I agree. I believe that we have had as fair a hearing as possible. The results will come soon – we all have to wait – and there is nothing anyone, including members of the House of Lords, should try and do to influence the judges now.
This has nothing to do with the SNP.
When Tavish Scott MSP on TV called this process a show-trial, he was disrespectful and wronged the victims of the real show trials where verdict was pre-ordained and the purpose was to demonstrate guilt.
We have no idea what the outcome will be and, now, nor does anyone else. Mr Scott did not stay to hear the rest of the evidence, but then, he seems to think this is a plot to unseat him.
Our motivation is not at issue and we are carrying out this case within our legal rights. If it had no merit at all, it would have already been dismissed.
I know that none of our opponents believe us but this has nothing to do with the SNP. We have had no guidance from the Party or any cash. Many of its members support us but then so do many Liberal Democrats. It is clear from comments in LibDem Voice that some of them wish that Mr. Carmichael had just gone away. This is also born out by the failure of his attempt to crowd fund his defence, notable only for its lack of contributions from many political heavy weights or anyone much outside the party.
Immediately after initially posting this Lord Foulkes got in touch and asked me to confirm that I am a member of the SNP. I am. I pay my subs each month but I am not an office holder and have never been to a meeting. Indeed, I have attended more Liberal Democrat meetings in my life (but long ago and to support a flatmate). Oh, and I have never met Ms. Sturgeon let alone taken an instruction from her.
If we win…
I am not trying to predict the case – that is for the judges – but there is no doubt that we are closer than we were. Closer is not winning by any stretch of the imagination.
The outcome, if successful, is a by-election. If that happens, if, if, if, both the SNP and the LibDems will put a lot of resources in to win the seat. That is not our concern at the moment – it is only since the Referendum that this seat could be considered marginal in any way.
As one of his constituents, I want a new vote now that we know how our MP has behaved. He will not be a candidate in any by-election because, if Mr. Carmichael loses, he could be debarred from public life for a number of years. In that case, the Liberal Democrats will be able to put forward a new person and we can all make a fresh start. They may even win and then, perhaps, even, keep their seats in the Scottish Parliament.
The decision of the Electoral Court in the ‘People versus Carmichael’ case was published today. The judges have agreed that Mr. Carmichael’s behaviour may be covered by electoral law and have dismissed most of the arguments raised in his defence.
So, thanks to you, the law is being clarified – and this is a real victory – candidates can no longer make false statements about themselves at a General Election – they must tell the truth.
The judges now want to hear evidence about the nature, purpose, and context of Mr. Carmichael’s lies and this will probably involve him having to testify on oath.
Farewell to Stromness by Max – the most famous piece of protest music to come from Orkney.
Waiting for our troubled MP to make up his mind feels rather like being caught between storms, the quiet day between weathers.
Feeling quiet and reflective, I feel as if I have seen more of what I value about Orkney than I have ever done before. This is a good place with decent folk. We are nothing special, just ourselves. We are not romantic or remote, just people who live on islands. It has been good to me, as a gay man, as someone who was very ill recently and who needed a great deal of love and support which my neighbours gave without counting the cost. That is the islands at their best, egalitarian, hospitable. The worst thing anyone can be called is ‘bigsy’ To not be ‘decent’ is terrible.
I am speaking of Orkney of course. I know little of Shetland, know London far, far better. That may sound strange to many, but it is true. These island groups are very different from each other, very far apart geographically (a whole day’s sail on the ferry) and anyone who claims to speak for both island groups is an idiot or an MP, or Michael White in the Guardian, or some combination of the above. White pontificated last week,
“Scotland needs political pluralism, and the Northern Isles needs it even more if it is to keep the centralising government in Holyrood safely at arm’s length. “It’s Orkney’s oil”, eh?”
“Contrite Carmichael, warts and all? Sounds OK to me at this distance. But it’s not up to me, it’s up to his local party activists and, in due course, his voters who may barely remember it all by Christmas.”
I have no idea if White has ever been here or spoken to anyone with any direct experience of us in the last thirty or so years. It has been a long time, if ever, since anyone has said ‘its Orkney’s oil.’ He certainly thinks we have short memories and seems to confuse distance from London with stupidity.
It is not a mistake people often make twice.
We have a long history of dealing with bullies and often use their beliefs about our innocence against them. There are many, many stories told with delight about this. One of my favourites goes back to the Napoleonic wars. When the press gang was hunting down men to take off to the Navy their prey would hide in the hills. Women left food out for their men folk on cairns that still stand near many farm houses and it would be collected at night. Soldiers were of course suspicious but actually believed us when we told them it was being left out for the fairy folk, the trows and the hogboons. Who were the idiots?
Consider the uranium scare. In the late 70’s it was found in the West Mainland. Thatcher’s crew wanted to dig open caste mines under this very burrow for the damn stuff. Stromness would have been destroyed. I was very little at the time but I well remember hearing old women discussing how best to make and store Molotov cocktails. They knew how to do it and they meant it. The miners kept well away.
That was when Max wrote ‘Farewell to Stromness” as a protest piece for the “Yellow Cake Review.” Now, played at every funeral in the parish, it has become part of the folk tradition which is the highest accolade any composer can achieve.
Or think about those numpties who tried to trick Shetland out of its oil cash. They forgot how badly treated those islands had been by the establishment at the end of the Second World War. Unemployment soared as the demand for wool and fish declined. There was real hardship that lasted for generations and so the Shetland Islands Council was determined not to make that mistake again. Ian Clark, the negotiator prepared himself well and soon sorted things out. In his own words.
“We were called down to a meeting in Shell Centre and they told us that they had done all their calculations, and, on the basis of what we were demanding, they couldn’t afford to come to Shetland and that they were going to the mainland of Scotland. My response to that was to say to them that it was a very happy day. I wanted to begin by congratulating them on their technical expertise that they could take the gas and the crude to the mainland of Scotland . Secondly, since our previous discussions had seldom been happy ones, when we went back to Shetland and gave them this news, we would be heroes indeed. And we got up and walked towards the door. And physically we were put back in our chairs and told ‘We’ve got to come to Shetland. So that was another wee piece of pressure which really didn’t quite work for them. And it was at that stage we realised we really had won the battle.”’
Of course Ian Clark had the support of a fine and conscientious MP, the fondly remembered Jo Grimond. His legacy has meant that the islands stayed Liberal and then Liberal Democrat since. Grimond opposed Polaris and supported Home Rule. It is hard to imagine him ever voting for the hated bedroom tax. He never had to apologise for lying to the electorate during a general election campaign. No one has ever had to defend his reputation. He has been dead a long time now though.
I have also seen some of the worst of the islands too. We have lived for too long in a mixture of a one party state, and something worse still, a no party state. Our local councillors do not stand for any political party but are all independents. They tend to be older, and drawn from the magic families that own the big farms, big shops and businesses, from the entitled This gives far too much power to the bureaucrats and vested interests. This kind of oligarchy between big families and dignitaries has governed the islands for hundreds of years in one guise or another and has let them confuse island identity with their own political and commercial interests.
To see how fierce their anger is look at the facebook page that carries the interview I did for Radio Orkney. The fury this caused is positively GilbertandSullivaesque n tho less well scripted. One well known local stirrer has called me a ‘traitor to the islands’ which stung far more than I would have liked. It is to be foreign.
To him, I am bad for trade, ‘putting the islands in a bad light.’ This forgets that democracy and free speech are values held dear, even when people are on holiday.
One tourist who saw us protesting outside the Cathedral wrote to the Yes Orkney page,
I have just returned from holiday in Orkney and came across the silent protest at Kirkwall two weeks ago on the way into the children’s’ fiddles and accordion concert. Rather that discouraging us, we were interested to read the placards and pleased that in one part of the UK the spirit of democracy is thriving. I have been told by several people that Mr Carmichael is a good constituency MP, but the easy-going Orcadian manner should not allow him to allegedly break the law. Letters in the Orcadian have been generally over-excited on the anti-SNP side and well reasoned on the other. Scotland has gone through huge changes in the last few years and the old Liberal tradition, alive there and in Cornwall, is sadly dead, replaced by a much more rightwing party … Good luck with the Petition.
Again and again, the little islanders ask of us in the protests. ‘are you really from here, where does the money come from?’ Most of us no longer answer these questions. To entertain it is to give then currency and that encourages the idea that some are more islandish than others. Nonsense. When it comes to politics, being a citizen is what matters. We should all be judged by how we choose to be and live; not by origins, birth and kinship these connections over which we have no control. Identity politics framed by these things has led to much of the intimidation members of this campaign have experienced. This intimidation has come from those who should know better. Not from those who would normally be considered rough but from the wealthy, the prosperous and the self-righteous. Their hatred of what we are doing seems visceral and that is amongst some Labour supporters too.
This whole issue is divisive. There is no getting away from that. The root of the division lies firmly with the one man who lied to the electorate and his core supporters were having to try to defend the indefensible. One of the things they say again and again is that “He has said sorry. Surely that should be enough. He did not take his severance pay”
Indeed, Carmichael has confessed his lies, his own words in the Orcadian newspaper bear repeating;
“I understand that my behaviour has done damage to the relationship of trust that I have with many of you as your Member of Parliament.
I regret that more than I can say. and I am truly sorry for what I have done- not just for giving my agreement to the disclosure of the Scotland Office memo but also for not subsequently been truthful about it.”
His contrition does not contain the key elements of repentance because he is still living off the fruits of his wrongdoing. That is unacceptable for it will lead to no amendment of life, but is no more than being upset at being caught. He claims his record of excellence as a constituency MP should save him. Tosh. No husband has ever succeeded by pleading his fifteen years happy marriage before the murder of his wife as a defence or set the level of his own punishment. That is cheek, special pleading. If our opponents accepted that we had a point, perhaps, things would be better but they insist that we are nefarious conspirators, perhaps because they do not believe that ordinary people possess the skills, resources and sheer power to bring them to book.
We do, we are living as if we are in the first days of a new country.
Enough of bullies and the politics of entitlement.
Radical freedom. That’s what we want. No more bullies. No more politicians pretending to speak for us without asking our permission. If Carmichael doesn’t resign now and the case goes to Court and he loses, his epitaph will be like that of Phil Woolas, a piece of case law, ‘Morrison and others versus Carmichael, 2015; we will be joined, Vole and MP. together forever in the Law. If he survives this proceeding, and at best it will be a Pyrrhic victory , then there are two more cases to go. They will take up all his time and his constituents will be forgotten as he tries to save his skin. And to what point? He has already admitted he is finished by saying he will stand down in 2020 – sounds like much pain for little gain, a long slow withering away and a wretched end to what was up until its last few weeks a glittering career.
At the very least, he could put his party first.
Carmichael seems to not care about the damage to the party. In 2016 there are the Scottish Elections, the ones that will pave the way to the next referendum. If Carmichael stays, then Liam is finished. I disagree with his politics and will campaign against him, but I would like him to lose because there is a better candidate, not because he is collateral damage. He has done as well here as anyone in his party could and he deserves a lot better than that.
Orkney is a wonderful place to live. It is the home of the Vole, a fine place to burrow away but it can be hard to stand up for your rights in a small place where employment opportunities are limited and grudges can last for a long time.
We have been called all sorts of things, brown shirts, Fascists, lynch mobs, traitors to the islands and so on but the truth is that we are not the powerful people in this community. Here the wealthy tend to be Liberal Democrats and they have a lot of resources – power that they use to entrench their opinion by making sure that we do not raise our heads above the parapets. They have over the last 50 years tried to claim that their politics are synonymous with island identity. To challenge it is to be disloyal, bad for the tourist trade. This is the post that will provoke the most response because it challenges the idea that there is no place finer than here, especially on a fine day.
This is one email I was sent today – the sender wants to be anonymous for obvious reasons. I know the person but not well and am astonished at her trusting me so much.
“If it is you who has launched the legal bid to test the legitimacy of Carmichael’s election last month, then I would like to thank you and all your more visually apparent supporters for standing up for due process, for our democratic rights, truthful governance and freedom of speech.
There is plenty of local support for your actions and not just from SNP voters – many Lib Dem supporters are also outraged at his lack of liberal and democratic substance.
Since my employer is a staunch NO voter can you please keep this email entirely confidential whether I have the right Tim Morrison or not. If I have the wrong Tim then please also understand that this is just as expression of support for the legitimate and democratic process of legal testing and not a nationalist or SNP campaign for this constituency.
I wrote back and asked permission to quote and this is the answer I received.
It is a crying shame but ultimately I risk too much for my family to speak out myself and that’s how power and corruption works – and it works most strongly in small communities no matter how good most folk are in that community and I speak even of the culpable. Dishonesty is deeply corrosive and can’t be accepted in any walk of public life.”
Zara the Selkie has been out and about in Lerwick – tho not in her seal skin of course and no, she does not wear leather shoes but is rather fond of herring.
There has been much talk of the fundraising efforts for a legal challenge of Alistair Carmichael’s election as some kind of Nationalist attempt to over turn the result and paint this as SNP or yes movement politically motivated move but what I hear from all across Shetland is disappointment that Alistair first made this ill advised choice and then lied about it during the election campaign.
Every one I meet who has donated is saying the same thing it about democracy,and if one of the true features of liberalism as we have been told this week is second chances then I join with my fellow constituents in inviting Alistair to stand again as candidate for Orkney and Shetland , to not be pressured by the risk to the party over it being the last liberal seat in Scotland.
Some of the things people have been saying to me in Lerwick that they wish they could say to him:
Do the right thing resign and seek re-election it show the same faith and respect to the people of Orkney and Shetland they placed in sending you to Westminster as our MP.
If you stand down and stand again before Friday thirty to sixty thousand pounds will be donated to food banks and your reputation begins to be rebuilt, I firmly believe the man who entered office to represent Orkney and Shetland in 2001 would be just as shocked and disappointed as we are about what has happened.
There comes a time when we all have to choose between what is right and what is easy.
Make the right choice for both yourself and your constituents
And in case anyone still thinks this is all about the SNP and yes movement, I voted for Alistair more than once and was impressed by his performance as local MP in the past. If he stands down and then goes back to the electorate, I may do so again.
Day one of the campaign to raise funds to take Carmichael to court #carmichaelmustgo
First point is that £26,353 was raised by 1627 people. There have been a few donations of more than £100, the biggest has been £1000 – nearly all the others have been in the £5 – £30 range. This is a real campaign of the people, ordinary folk, Carmichael’s constituents.
It is all astonishing. The campaign team hoped that enough cash would have been raised by the end of the week to ensure that the first part of the action could begin – that was about £5,600 – rather than that we have raised 43% of our final target.All excess funds will go to food banks in Scotland. This is a fitting memorial for Carmichael who said at the Orkney hustings that they were in place because people did not plan for debt, not because of benefit sanctions. Maybe he will stand down and all the money can be handed over as soon as Indiegogo releases it. A lot of people will be thankful.
This has been a colossal team effort – from the petitioners, the Orkney voters who are signing the action to enable it to take place; the solicitors who are working so hard in Edinburgh and all the people who are retweeting, sharing links and making this a general resurgence campaign.
We have got the full attention of the media. And of course the media has been unbiased as we would expect. On the STV voxpop that was done in Kirkwall (and it was an excellent programme – Lesley Riddoch was fantastic) one of ‘the ordinary voters’ interviewed was the ‘chairman’ of the remaining Orkney LibDems.
Columnists like Michael White of the Guardian has called the #carmichaelmostgo campaign an SNP lynch mob and takes comfort from the idea that its supporters will tire before Carmichael does. Fat chance.
We are many people who are looking after each other and sharing the work. We are not SNP in any sense. We have no idea of the politics of our supporters. The SNP leadership has not contacted the team in anyway and are not welcome to do so unless they want to cough up a fiver. If any of them as individuals want to be involved they are of course very welcome, as are the LibDems that are involved.
Many local LibDems realise that the only chance of survival that their island MSPs have is of Carmichael standing down. Liam McArthur issued a statement supporting Carmichael but Tavish Scott has been silent. Indeed, if Carmichael does not stand in the by-election that may come, they may well hold the seat. If they do, that is a fantastic result for them and the people of Orkney and Shetland.
Scottish print media has been much more balanced largely restricting itself to reporting facts. Bloggers have been enthusiastic and are making all the difference to the campaign- particular thanks to wingsoverscotland and the wee ginger dug. At the time of writing, 452 people from wings have raised over £9,000.
So, it is all exciting but the huge shame is that this campaign is necessary. Alistair Carmichael has disappointed us. His apology is not enough. Once he has stood down and normal politics here is resumed, then perhaps he can be trusted and forgiven but not before.
Humans who want to see Carmichael accountable in court have been almost as busy as us Voles. Me and the goodwife are speachless to see what has been achieved so far.
Their campaign has managed to raise £21,00 just over 11 hours – that is an average of over£31.00 every minute!!! You can donate to the campaign here. That’s not bad for half a dozen people in Orkney and Shetland who, with excellent lawyers, have organised themselves and are not seeking any support from the political parties.
The petition has to be lodged within 21 days of the General Election, meaning by this Friday (the 29th of May). That process will cost in the region of £5,000 for each party. That only gets the process started.
The case is extremely unusual and the organisers may find themselves facing three teams of barristers. Their lawyers have said, that if costs are found against them, they could be liable for something like £40-50,000 in addition to the original deposit. Indiegogo also takes a cut of any funds received – hence the figure of needing to raise something like £60,000.
People are making this possible.
This action could not be considered without the support of people throughout the country. The 1315have contributed so far are true democrats who want to see everyone subject to the law irrespective of their power or possessions.
If Carmichael does the decent thing and steps down or if exceess money is raised, all available funds will be distributed to food banks in Scotland. This way, there may be some tangible result from this sad business.
The campaigners are trying to keep a low profile because this is not about them as individuals, nor about their politics, it is about bread and butter democracy, keeping our politicians honest and accountable. The issue is Carmichael and he must go!!!
The first stage is to raise an election petition in the Courts. This could begin a process which could have the recent result in Orkney and Shetland overturned. £5,000 must be raised by Friday and the legal team estimates that £50-£60 000 is a realistic amount that will need to be raised in the next month. Any excess funds raised will be donated to foodbanks in Scotland. Donations can be made here.
Tim Morrison, one of the campaigners involved said,
“This is is not a party based campaign. Mr. Carmichael said that he would have had to resign as a cabinet minister over this. We do not understand how he can stay on as our MP. We know that our friends and neighbours want this to happen.