Why did we ‘pick’ on Alistair Carmichael?  The Vole squeaks.

220px-Lord_Foulkes_of_Cumnock
Lord Foulkes

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 Law

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.

Self-talk

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?

CQGTwevWsAAQcLPThere 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.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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.

This is what the case is about and nothing else.

image credit  

Orkney Voles against Carmichael – campaign update!!!

Lewis_chessmen_23
shocked political commentators hearing the ruling today

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.

Continue reading

Sweyn Asleiferson branded a traitor by Orkney LibDems for voting SNP – ‘they deserted me’ he claims.

Lewis_chessmen_23
Shocked LibDems contemplate their defeat  and look for people to blame.

The well known local trader and traveller from Gairsay, Sweyn Asleiferson tells us why he has left the LibDems and now votes SNP.

 ‘I was branded a Traitor and victim of SNP spin. It is time to tell the truth.’

After being attacked by Orkney LibDems for voting SNP, Sweyn spoke to the Intrepid Vole.  This is his story, in his own words. We were glad to offer him sanctuary in the Burrow and a little fortification.

The Vole: I know this is painful for you to remember but can you tell us about your LibDem past?

Sweyn: The first election I was eligible to vote in was the election of 1979. Both parents were ardent conservatives but I had other thoughts. I voted Liberal for a number of reasons.

The main reason was, despite my being, at the time a member of the armed forces, was the Liberal commitment to unilateral nuclear disarmament.

The commitment to the environment was my second reason, long before it became the “Thing” to believe in. They had a commitment to the sick, the disabled, the disadvantaged. The Liberals cared, they gave the only true alternative to the far left and the far right of British politics.

What about the SDP?

Even with the joining of the party with the Social Democrats in 1988 sat well with me as they supported these ideals as well. My interest in politics grew over the years, and I became more involved in helping my party by delivering leaflets and campaigning for my local LibDem MP after his election in the South of England in 1993. He was a great help to me personally after a motorbike accident in 2002 robbed me of a portion of my left leg.

So what has happened that could drive a devoted supporter away? What could have turned you from  a path you had been on for  985 years?

Less and less of liberal policy since the mid nineties has reflected true liberalism.

  • Gone was the commitment to unilateral disarmament.
  • Gone was the unwavering commitment to de-centralisation.
  • Gone was the unwavering commitment to the environment.

The very soul of the party was evaporating slowly but surely.

Was being LibDem part of your reason for coming to Orkney and settling in Gairsay?

Yes, When I moved here in 1127  I truly believed I was moving to the heartland of Liberal values. Whilst the population still have those values, I was to find out the party did not. The end for me with the party started the day they jumped into coalition with the Tories. When I voted in 2010 for Alistair Carmichael, it was because I wanted the LibDems to represent me in Westminster. What they did was take my vote and hand it on a silver platter to the Conservatives without a care for my choice or opinion. I did from that point onward feel disenfranchised. I had nowhere to go. Then along came the independence referendum, I chance at last for redemption. Support for the Yes campaign would have been support for liberal values, but no, the party I once had faith in, instead supported a vile campaign against freedom and justice for the people of Scotland. They joined with disseminating lies and spin, making out that all north of the border were scroungers, miscreants and troublemakers. They assisted in the sham of promises they had no intention of keeping. Liberal values no longer.  I did the only thing I could, I withdrew my support.

How have they responded to your crossing the great divide?

Since then, I have been accused of many things, ‘Traitor’. being a sheep following SNP spin, even being selfish and caring only about myself. In truth I am still a Liberal person, I still have the very same ideals I had back in 1979. I did not desert the LibDems … The LibDems deserted me. I am now SNP.

image credit: “Lewis chessmen 23” by Nachosan – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lewis_chessmen_23.JPG#/media/File:Lewis_chessmen_23.JPG

 

Earl of Morton attacks Danus Skene for being too common to represent Orkney folk

11245237_10206887121043476_696091849_nIn the strangest election intervention we saw this week, the Earl Morton wrote to the Orcadian to complain that Danus Skene was too common to represent Orkney and Shetland. He had only been to Eton and was only the chief of his clan. We Voles, condemn this snobbery and think the aristocracy should be able to rise above their privilege and serve ordinary people as candidates.

Danus did well. Better than anyone would have thought. On behalf of the mythological creatures, vermin and assorted fictional creatures of Orkney, we salute him for being prepared to stand and enable democracy to function in the islands.

Orkney Trows prefer Tories to SNP – Labour loses plot and says Sod off Scotland’

Two_Völuspá_Dwarves_by_Frølich
Orkney Trows sulking at the voters.

Orkney Trows break the mythological consensus. Jim Murphy in the poots tries to elect a new Scottish people that will finally appreciate him. 

Orkney Trows are sulking that Scotland is fed up with middle class politicians pretending to be in touch with normal people. It shows its contempt for the electorate as it commits the greatest sulk in British history by saying that it will not co-operate with a democratically elected party of the Left. Milliband and Murphy would rather have the Tories in Government than any form of agreement with the SNP.  So vote Labour, get Tory.

Mrs Vole read out Sillbland’s comment,

“I am not going to have a Labour government if it means deals or coalitions with the Scottish National Party,” he said, ruling out a so-called confidence and supply arrangement. ”

“The man is daft as a box of bonxies”

In latest news, the Hogboon is still swithering, ‘My vote is all to play for, I know Alistair Carmichael has done things to hurt real people, that farmers are worse off, expanding and that he wants to deal with the Tories. I am sure that there is no truth in the cover up stories really, honestly, definitely. But I just don’t like change. Things might happen

 

 

Alistair Carmichael wants Orkney and Shetland ferry prices to go up!! The truth about Road Equivalent Tariff

The ferry link Carmichael wants
The ferry link Carmichael wants

Alistair Carmichael, the LibDemSleaze candidate for Orkney and Shetland is lying when he says that we are being untreated unfairly in the Northern Isles because we do not have Road Equivalent Tariff .

He is doing everything he can to foster division between the Northern Isles and the rest of Scotland.  This is a daft policy of the kind of thing his colleague, Tavish Scott came out with when he wanted home rule for Shetland and got laughed at by everyone.

RET is a distance based fares structure, which underpins the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing one single overarching fares policy across Scotland’s entire ferry network.

The Scottish Government makes no secret of why.

For the Northern Isles, due to the longer distances involved, rolling out RET now or in the next few years would mean an increase on a range of fares currently available.

We have said that no one will pay more for an RET fare than their current standard single fare, therefore the intention is to phase in the introduction of RET to the Northern Isles over a much longer timeframe.”

The current system was begun in 2006, by no other than Tavish Scott when he was transport minister in the Labour/Lib Dem coalition. He was responsible for the current boats that many say are not cost efficient. The ferries are yet another mess that the LibDems have left us with that the Scottish Government now has to sort out.  Many skeptics thought that in the last consultation they would take the boat from Stromness but they listened to local concerns and made sure that we continue to have a choice of routes and that, in Orkney at least, no company has a monopoly.

Oh and Alistair, don’t forget to answer our questions about Cyril Smith. You will one day to the Goddard Inquiry  and under oath. Then we will find out what you have been covering up for Mr. ‘I am so sorry’ Clegg. Oops, not ‘covering up,’ I meant the files that you have decided not to release and the papers Liz Lynne is alleged to have burned.

Where is Cleggie? Carmichael’s leaflets do not show Nick Clegg and admit, its the SNP or Him.

Slide2

Who in their right minds would trust the LibDems to keep a pledge?  We remember what they did last time. 

Alistair Carmichael has been distributing leaflets around the county that do not mention the truth about what he has done in Government. You would almost think he was in opposition as opposed to being one of the most powerful people in Britain. His leaflets make no mention of  Nick ‘I am so Sorry’ Clegg. Is he ashamed of him? He should be. We are!

The worst of Carmichael’s policies do not affect him or his family but people in England and Wales. Students have to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year and have to take out a loan.  In England and Wales the cost of a prescription is £8.20. How much would a trip to the Doctor cost him back home, nothing. He is making other people pay.  Scottish Liberal Democrats are in a Government that makes English and Welsh people suffer, but thanks to the SNP they and their families are protected.

Carmichael seems to think that his personality should be enough and that he is not accountable for what the Government he has been in has done in power. He hardly mentions policy and behaves as if the LibDems own the people of Orkney and Shetland. We have had enough of being taken for granted. It doesn’t matter if he is a nice man or not. His policies have meant that 600 people in Kirkwall are using foodbanks. Even in Shetland, in the middle of all the oil work, the Salvation Army had to give out food- parcels. No matter what he says, Alistair Carmichael is part of the Government that has done that, has taken away the dignity from ordinary people/

Carmichael  admits that it is a clear choice between him and the SNP. Look at the reality of what he has  done in Government.   If you vote Labour, he WILL get back in and he will support the Tories, or anyone else who might just give him a job. Vote LibDem and nothing will change for the better.

Vote SNP and send Danus Skene to Westminster as part of a team that will represent Scotland’s interests and support a Labour Government. It is the only chance that ordinary people have of clearing out the corruption that has made our politicians a disgrace.

Jo Grimond opposed Trident. Carmichael abstained. Danus Skene of the SNP is his true heir.

Jo_Grimond (1)Jo Grimond was always opposed to nuclear weapons. Alistair Carmichael abstained  in the vote on the renewal of Trident. The SNP’s opposition to nuclear weapons makes them Grimond’s true heir.

I have always approved of mushrooms and all forms of edible fungi much to the despair of Mrs Vole. We agree on our opposition to mushroom clouds. Flushed with all the attention our little posts have had, even being parodied, the Voleings have been running around to see what else they can find.

“Who was Jo Grimond?” the oldest asked.

“You know Jo, he often comes over from the Kirkyard?”

“Old Bones, the ghost with the chains? I like him.”

“So did a lot of people in Orkney and Shetland but he is dead now although a lot of people think he is still standing for Parliament and vote for him. Why do you ask?”

This human called David Steel made a speech about him

“Jo Grimond …  was opposed to the Polaris project and later the Trident one believing them to be “unnecessary, dangerous and expensive” and argued that they made little additional contribution to that of the West as a whole and that they were maintained for “out of date reasons of national prestige”. In the 1959 election he set out the policy: “We of the Liberal Party say that Britain should not make its own nuclear deterrent. We believe the nuclear deterrent should be held by the West on behalf of the West as a whole and not by individual countries.”

‘What does our MP think now?’

Mr Carmichael once asked the Labour Government when they wanted to keep nuclear weapons,  to the the House of Commons, “In recent years, the arguments in favour of possession of nuclear weapons have become progressively thinner… Where will be our moral authority to attend the nuclear non-proliferation treaty talks in 2010 if we back the Government’s position today?”

‘Well, what does Mr Carmichael say now?’

“I don’t know,” I answered,’because he abstained when there was a vote to stop Trident in January but when he was asked in the Referendum campaign, ‘How can you justify renewing Trident when so many people are in poverty?”  He replied, ‘we are working to reduce poverty and we have a responsibility

‘Has he changed his mind?,” the youngest asked me, ‘I don’t know,’ I replied but he is Government minister now.”

Thank you, said the Voleings alltogether, I understand everything now.’

The great property swindle

This Vole, looking out over the view, knows that by far the most important questions for any country is how the land is used.  My neighbours here on the farm are impressive folk who do well.

But look what is happening in the rest of the country. The best achievements of the Scottish Parliament have been how land has been opened up to us the Voles, Moles and assorted creatures (including humans) of Scotland.  The sooner we sort out the big estates down South in the Highlands and so on, the better.

The great property swindle

“Modern British history, excluding world wars and the loss of empire, is a record of two countervailing changes, one partly understood, one not understood at all. The partly understood change is the urbanisation of society to the point where 90 per cent of us in the United Kingdom live in urban areas. Hidden inside that trans­formation is the shift from a society in which, less than a century and a half ago, all land was owned by 4.5 per cent of the population and the rest owned nothing at all. Now, 70 per cent of the population has a stake in land, and collectively owns most of the 5 per cent of the UK that is urban. But this is a mere three million out of 60 million acres”

via The great property swindle.