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The truths they don't want you to read....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

No charges in 'Cash for honours'

At least, according to the BBC. I had this feeling when the DPP asked for more information and further interviews with key witnesses.

Update 20/7/07: With both Sky and the BBC having exactly the same story at the same time, it looks like one of the 'innocent' parties has successfully leaked the tale to the media to maximise coverage. I say that, because were it from the CPS or the Police sources, it is highly unlikely that the journalist would have shared the story.

Presumably, those who were arrested and interviewed under caution have been told that nothing further will happen and they are off the hook, leaving the rest of us bemused and apalled at the behaviour of politicians.

Ming the Hopeless has perhaps the best take on the matter, although it is grounded more in hope than expectation: there were still "many questions of political responsibility" to be answered. He added: "This whole affair has diminished politics and politicians in the eyes of the public. "Never again must there be any question of any link between preferment and financial support."

Let's look very carefully at the next LibDem list of Peers and see if there is any correlation with assistance to the LibDem Party.


Anonymous said...

"Nobody is above the law, and it is vital that the police are allowed to continue with their extra investigations requested by the CPS. With Blair out of office, and with no claim to the Number 10 spin machine, it will be very interesting to see what the next few weeks hold."

28 June 2007

Anonymous said...

Responding to press reports this morning (Sunday) that the Government may have been responsible for leaking damaging information against itself relating to the Metropolitan Police's investigation into "cash for honours", SNP MP Mr Angus MacNeil, whose complaint triggered the investigation, said Such a step would be extremely serious.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

"Perhaps things are so serious from a criminal justice point of view that some in the eye of this investigation will take massive political damage to escape the long arm of the law.

"If it is true that Downing Street, or anyone connected to the investigation is leaking information to wreck the police investigation, this will be one of the most audacious attempts to pervert the course of justice ever.

"Such a step would be extremely serious. As an attempt alone even without success this would be a more serious offence than selling honours. Labour could be irredeemably damaged."

Anonymous said...

So, apart from the Cash for Honours faisco, the infidelity, and threatening the survival of the North Harris Trust, just WHAT has Mr MacNeil done for the Western Isles?

Anonymous said...

Cash for honours was always something that the public always knew went on and didn't really care about, it's a bit like rich people dodging taxes. The whole thing has been a complete waste of time and deflected from more serious issues.

Anonymous said...

This is the reason why MacNeil was the frontman for this story. Don't for one second believe that he worked it out for himself.

Any success, and Salmond would have turned up in Westminister (at long last!!!!) claiming the glory. But only disaster and excuses beckon for the message boy.

Look in your hands MacNeil, that's not a golden egg you were given --- it's a turd.

That's his credibility lost with the press, and there is nowhere for him to go but obscurity.

Anonymous said...

At least we can be confident that MacNeil instigated this inquiry for truly honourable and moral reasons, he being a truly honourable and moral individual.

Ma botty.

Anonymous said...

What is the one trick pony going to hang his hat on now then?
Have just heard that the police investigation cost £1m of taxpayers money. What with that and the cost of his proposed public enquiries all he seems good at is spending our money on time wasting activities including his own jollies.

Anonymous said...

A little known politician, according to the Telegraph. A clever stunt gone badly wrong.

As the furore over the revelations gathered pace, Angus MacNeil, a little-known Scottish National Party MP, lodged a formal complaint with Scotland Yard under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. Initially seen as a clever stunt, Mr MacNeil's intervention triggered an investigation which will leave a deep stain on Mr Blair's record.

Anonymous said...

"The difficulty with a nod and wink culture is finding anything tangible for the police or indeed a prosecution."

Angus MacNeil - 20/07/07

Well he should know from his expoits in Orkney and be grateful.

Anonymous said...

A quick glance over this morally-bankrupt individual's comments during the enquiry -
" would be extraordinary if no charges were brought...", "...if...this will be one of the most audacious attempts to pervert the course of justices ever.", ...the storm clouds are gathering over Downing Street and the outlook is extremely bleak...", "This is corruption...", "...looks like the most serious and significant development to emerge...", "These latest murky revelations...", etc. etc. - shows just how desperately he tried to peddle this smear.

And then the SNP had the audacity to claim that MacNeil himself was being smeared over the revelation of his 'indiscretion' (I'm being kind, here...).

He who lives by the smear shall die by the smear.

I feel ashamed that this man supposedly represents me.

Anonymous said...

"Mr MacNeil's intervention triggered an investigation which will leave a deep stain on Mr Blair's record."

As if it wasn't stained enough already! Puppet to George W. Bush, a lost war in BlaIraq, another lost war in Afghanistan, total loss of control with immigration, an incompetent Home Office, the surveillance society with a CCTV camera for every 14 Britons, bloody supercasinos, 24-hour drinking leading to increased there any room on his record for more stains?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic own goal MacNeil.

Blair exhonerated and delighted with the outcome, and you with egg on your face.

Anonymous said...

Angus MacNeil is right and the massed ranks of lawyers in the CPS are wrong when they write: -

For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to emphasise that today’s decision indicates unequivocally that there is insufficient evidence to support proceedings against any individual, for any offence under either the 1925 Act or the 2000 Act, or for any offence of perverting, or attempting or conspiring to pervert, the course of justice.

Apart from that, what have you done for us MacNeil?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:35

I couldn't agree with you more.

Mr. MacNeil has used this investigation to try to boost his political career over the last year / 18 months whilst simultaneously complaining of being followed and the smear campaign against him, the details of which he admitted.

How many innocent individuals have been hurt by his persistant jibes and claims and had their own careers left in tatters (and I don't mean Tony Blair)?

If I were any of the "accused" I would sue him for libel, as Mr. MacNeil was never discreet about his accusations.

Now, Eyoop, over to you for the defence

Anonymous said...

All you people hiding behind the anonymous banner, why don't you front upand say who you are and tell us all what any previous member of parliament has done in their complete time in office? Alasdair Morrison - 8 years
Calum MacDonald - 20 years
Do you really think the neglect by Tory and Labour administrations can be turned round in 3 months? Who authorised the under investment that has seen these islands infrastructure fall so far behind? I think you will find that it was both Tory and Labour. So what would you expect if we had a Labour MP elected at the next Westminster election? Within 2 years the Western Isles would be a land of milk and honey where problems were a thing of the past? Of course with a SNP government at Holyrood a Labour MP would struggle to achieve much. So maybe we elect a Labour MSP in 2011 and bring Labour to power then we can start to change things in the islands for the better. After all we have not been in that situation since when?...oh that's right! Not since April 2007!!

Anonymous said...

Obair Deoch
Why does it matter if you know who is posting?

Your blog name is hardly going to inform anyone of who you are. We can all make up silly Gaelic names if we want.

By the way, alcohol abuse is one of the biggest issues on these Islands so yours is probably not a name to be proud of.

Anyway, back to the case in point.

Past performance of previous incumbments should not be a yardstick by which our current politicians are judged by otherwise we may as well all give up hope now.

We all know Calum and Alasdair didn't do anything, but neither has ABM or AA.

Also, Angus MacNeil has served half his term, at least, and has acheived nothing in over TWO YEARS.

Show me the business case demanding under investment in the Islands.

I think you will find it has worked the other way, our elected politicians haven't asked for investment in the Islands. They would rather pocket their huge salaries, go on jollies and try to get recognition for big ticket / national issues rather than do anything for a small group of Islands that most people couldn't point to on a map.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that some people are criticising Angus MacNeil for this?

Trying to stop corruption which is widely acknowledged as having taken place?

Obviously the Labour party supporters on here do not mind the party selling peerages to get the itself funded?

One minute you slag Angus Mac for not having done it himself, then you slag him off for doing it himself!

I smell agendas. I smell hypocrites. I smell a lot else.

Tony, Calum and Alasdair all walked in his tenure so far. Labour Party skint. Alex Salmond first minister. Good work Angus!

Finally, certainly this holier than thou attitude towards Angus's private life..

Lets not forget the Labour Party in the Western Isles not only got at Angus with this. There are at least four families out there from the Western Isles, which the local Labour party sacrificed with this story. The good of the Western Isles at heart do you not you think?

The new standards being applied rules out a few potential Labour candidates with skeletons in every cupboard. Sober, chaste, self controlled married hetro types
only to apply for you guys?

Aye, right we'll see! :-)

Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

SNP fans, just keep shooting the messenger and avoid the message...


don mac said...

Hello obair deoch.

I'm not hiding behind 'anonymous' any more. Do you know who I am now? No, I didn't think so.

What have the previous incumbents done for us? I'm not an expert in this area, but I do recall Calum introduced his own bill, one that should help to both beautify the Islands and earn individuals some hard cash.

He also opened a constituency office (first in the Islands?) and seemed to me to be back here most weekends - I'm sure there are countless 100's of individuals who owe him a big thanks for his help.

He has been a tireless supporter of Gaelic (even tho' not the most fluent himself!), and also campaigns equally strenuously for land reform.

His approach to windfarms - community ownership - seems to me to be the most clear-sighted and rational around, and should, if handled properly (take note, ABN) provide the 'land of milk and honey' you so desire, o d.

I'm sure you'll find he was working strenuously behind the scenes - oiling the machinery - to gain many grants and monies for housing projects and suchlike.

One thing he WASN'T, however, was a self-publicist (take note, again, ABM).

He was, in fact, the antithesis of the current (but to be short-lived) smug, arrogant, self-promoting, morally-bankrupt and, frankly, stupid, MP.

So, what has Angus MacNeil done for us? Oo-oo! I know! I know! He made the BBC modify the weather map... (excuse me while I weep).

(I still remember the late, great Nick Clark on R4 literally spluttering with disbelief when ABM argued that the weather map reduced Scotland's status in Europe.)

Anonymous said...

So the CPS have decided not to prosecute anyone after a lengthy investigation. Everyone should just accept this decision (yes, including ABM) and move on.

It doesn't change the fact that there is a staggering correlation between those donating money to political parties and those being nominated for honours. Awarding honours in exchange for cash IS illegal, and it was right that this was highlighted and investigated.

Is it not surprising that the investigations into the legality of our war with Iraq (note that we've still not found any WMD yet!), the death of Dr David Kelly or "cash for honours" have not resulted in anyone being brought to justice.

Whilst not going as far as to call these a "whitewash" (the CPS would need to be confident of getting convictions before deciding to proceed to trial), those accused hardly come out smelling of roses.

As for Denis Macshane calling the SNP "sectarian" on Newsnight last night, I'm sure local Labour supporters would be extremely disgusted and would distance themselves from such pitiful comments. If Malcolm Macmillan and Donald Stewart were still around, I'm sure they would be desperately disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Calum MacDonald's policy on windfarms clear sighted and rational? Thats why he changed his tune on the big projects willy nilly before, during and since his defeat.

Was his policy not "only if the communities want them/vote for them"? mmm..yes it was..I think I might still have that leaflet from 2005 somewhere. And the letter sent out during the campaign to clarify his (changing) position in desperation.

Aye, clear sighted. :-)

madrudhach said...

Don Mac I could not agree more about Calum except that you missed a few points. The number of new schools in our Islands and two new hospitals in the Islands including one which he gained while in opposition. Also you have projects like the Scalpay bridge and the spinal route. Also in his short time as a Scottish Office minister the changes in planning so that we would never again have another debacle like the Lingerbay inquiry.

As for Obair Deoch Alasdair's achievements you can look at his work on the land reform bill, his petition against self assisted suicide his non stop efforts for affordable housing in the Islands, the superb Bridge project outside the SNP Office the millions spent on Lews Castle College and the ADS scheme. This is only sum of Alasdair's achievements in his 8 years as our MSP. So Obair Deoch have you been asleep for the last 22 years or do you just not want to admit to what our previous MP and MSP achieved. To compare the Alasdair and Calum with our two monkeys is like comparing night and day.

ps. I am looking forward to the arrogant Brendan's downfall.

Anonymous said...

Is there no limit to Bonking Brendan’s stupidity? He has conducted a running commentary about the police investigation for the past 18 months (it’s about all he’s done). And now since the Crown Prosecution Service: no charges M’lud. What does the Bonking Barrach do - he decries the system, and starts asking for the details submitted by the police to the CPS… obviously a man who knows how an independent justice system operates…..

By the way, what ever happened to the inquiry by the General Teaching Council about certain events in the Orkney in May 2005 ? If MacNeil can crassly ask what details the Police submitted to the CPS – should not the parents of young girls in the Islands find out why the GTC didn’t take action against one of their members who’s got a penchant for buying under school pupils strong drink and….. maybe what clinched it for the GTC was the fact that he only took his jacket off…. Aye,right.

don mac said...

Madrudhach, thanks for filling me in! As I said, I'm not a political expert!. However, I was beginning to despair at the pitiful throw-away comments such as 'Angus is as useless as Calum...'. That's not political comment - it's just idle cynicism.

Sir igotmine fromtony 2, my understanding of Calum's thoughts on wind-farms is that the big multi-nationals shouldn't be allowed to take ownership, exercising control and milking most of the profits. And each community should, surely, have the right to decide whether they want to have the generators in their area (what's so strange about that?).

I'll repeat - I'm not an expert. But tell you what - next time you come across Calum, why not ask him? I think you'll get all the answers even a cynic like your self could cope with.

And then PROMISE ME you'll ask the same of Angus.

Anonymous said...

And yet, Madrudhach, both Calum and Alasdair were voted out at the last set of elections.

Perhaps the public grew tired of the nasty, vitriolic attitude of their local supporters. Using cheap language such as "two monkies" or referring to our MP as "Brendan" shows how pathetic the level of debate is in certain quarters.

And I'm sure the behaviour of certain individuals at hustings, TV debates, etc hardly endeared the electorate to Labour. Frankly, some of it was embarassing.

Keep it up though. I'm sure the other parties will be delighted if Labour carry on with their negative campaigning.

madrudhach said...

Anon 9.36 As far back as I can remember when ABM was a pupil in the Nicolson Institute he wanted to be known as Brendan. Why has all this changed over the last 3 years "Can you tell me". Also Calum and Alasdair were defeated at the last two elections and took their defeat as gentlemen, and got standing ovations from all those present at the count. Another thing you cannot say about them was that they were arrogant unlike ABM.

Oh and by the way can you tell me one positive thing ABM has done for the Islands since being elected.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's any need for local Labour activists to lecture anyone on receiving election results with grace or class.

Candidates (and supporters) of the Tories, SNP, Liberals, etc took their defeats between 1987 and 2005 with the class expected of island politics.

Remember it is also important to accept victory graciously. Did ABM and AA not comment in their victory speeches on the good work done by their predecessors? (If not, then shame on them.)

Claiming ABM is "arrogant" may be your opinion, but it is just that - an opinion. It is easy to offer negative opinions, but most non-Labour supporters choose not to do so about their opponents. Perhaps they have a touch more more class than Labour supporters.

But I agree Calum is a gentleman.

Anonymous said...

Ach well, Angus, Brendan, Angus Brendan, it obviously causes the Labour Party more of an issue than the Western Isles electorate.

Especially the South Uibhisteachs and Barrachs who increased his and Alasdair Allan's lead 10 fold as the votes came in, just as they used to before for Sweet chariot "Carry me home" Morrison.

Wonder what changed?

bitter to a man the local labour party. Just as I said. Sacrifice the daughters of Western Isles ministers so they would. And have done.

As for Morrison and Macdonald getting standing ovations! Thats because they had LOST you fool! Everybody was cheering!!

Binnie for next labour candidate pleeeeuse!

Anonymous said...

So Don Mac

So you agree with the SNP and our former MP Calum Macdonald's position (at a time) on wind farms, that the communities should have a say?

Whats so strange about that you ask? Well..where do I start with you Labour hypocrites!?

madrudhach said...

Anon 6.56 You can spout as much as you like but please tell us one thing that ABM has done for the Western Isles. Also remember if AA does not deliver RET or his promised inquiry on the local Health Board with in 100 days he will also be taken to task. Also for goodness sake have the common decency to let us know who you are.

Oh and another thing no matter who the Labour party put up as a candidate he would not bring shame to the Islands like ABM has done.

ps. You only have to look at page 2 of the Sun today to remind you.
Quote: He admitted a drunken three-some in a hotel room in Orkney in 2005.

Anonymous said...

Madrudhach has kindly provided a list of Alastair Morrison's significant achievements over 8 years representing the islands.

To give a fairer comparison against Alastair Allan, could he outline how many of these achievements were accomplished within his first 100 days as MSP? This perhaps isn't fair, since he was part of a government with a massive majorty, whereas Alastair Allan forms part of a minority government.

Similarly, it would be interesting to see which of Calum Macdonald's achievements over 18 years were accomplished within his first two years as an MP.

I don't know who comes out ahead in the Morrison v Allan or Macdonald v Macneill comparisons - I suppose Labour and the SNP will argue for their men - but this is surely a more appropriate way of judging their respective early political careers.

PS, the SNP manifesto said they'd look at RET by the end of the year, as previously mentioned on this blog.

Anonymous said...

"ps. You only have to look at page 2 of the Sun today to remind you."

The Sun, eh? I thought you couldn't get much lower than the Sunday Mail, but...

Do they still have tits on Page 3 of the Sun, across from important political stories of the day??

Anonymous said...

Is that the best that you can do Eyoop? I find your last post quite offensive. The reason this quote is in the Sun is that this is the level that ABM has brought himself and the Islands down to and that was before Cash for Honours.

Anonymous said...

"I find your last post quite offensive."

Just my last post? :-)

I see you've missed the point again by a country mile. And the islands have only been 'brought down' to any sort of 'level' in your and a couple of your buddies' fevered imaginations. Everybody else has moved on, including no doubt the families cruelly used by the gutter press and some desperately sad and bitter people in Lewis.

Anonymous said...

Apparantley eyoop the tit was on page 2 of the Sun yesterday.

madrudhach said...

Anon 10.37 You are way of the mark as the two previous Scottish Parliaments did not have a huge majority. But the Labour Party were able to go in to a partnership with the Lib Dems to deliver for the Western Isles. It is funny no one wants to go in to partnership with the Racing Pundit except the two Greens.

As for eyoop I suppose the only newspaper you read is the SNP supporting Stornoway Gazette.

Anonymous said...

Ah Yes, eyoop Western Isles Labour Party. "We'll deliver young Western Isles girls to the Sunday Mail."

Anonymous said...

should ABM now not be charged with wasting police time ?? (and our money)

Anonymous said...

"the families cruelly used by the gutter press"

No Eyoop, I think you will find that they were "cruelly used" by Mr MacNeil, our illustrious MP, for his own sexual fulfillment and to their detriment whilst his wife, family and child to be were in Barra.

Anonymous said...

"Just my last post? :-)

You're happy to be offensive Eyoop, well at least you're in good company with your pals AA and ABM

Anonymous said...

"should ABM now not be charged with wasting police time ?? (and our money)"

That's right, he should not be charged with wasting police time. He has made NuLabour very nervous indeed, especially poor old TB himself, who crawled past the 10-year finish line looking very drawn out indeed. I've a funny feeling it ain't over yet either. Of course they're all innocent, right? Oh look, there's a pig flying past.

Anonymous said...

Madrubhach, I am not "way of (sic) the mark".

Although the Labour Party on their own didn't have a majority in the last two Parliaments, Alastair Morrison was part of a government with a large majority (that government being a Labour/Liberal coalition) for 8 years. Alastair Allan is part of a minority government (that government being an SNP/Green coalition). Which is what I said.

I trust you or another Labour supporter will now provide a list of Alastair Morrison's achievements in his first 100 days as an MSP, and that an SNP supporter will do the same for Alastair Allan so that we can compare them.

don mac said...

Sir igot. Strange you should choose Wind Farms from my list as a contentious issue, when you are clearly an apologist for Angus 'I won't comment on Wind Farms before the Election' MacNeil. Yes, hypocrisy indeed.

Anon 5:35. No, ABM shouldn't be charged with wasting police time - there is no case there to answer.

He simply tried a politically-motivated trick and - unbelievably - the police picked it up and ran with it. ABM must have been as gob-smacked as the rest of us (well, the 'rational' rest of us...) that it went as far as it did. The police wasted their OWN time - shameful.

ABM's litany of near-actionable smears throughout the investigation (thanks for the list, Anon 12:35), was, however, truly shocking. Has he no shame? Don't answer that.

Oo-oo! I just thought of something else that ABM has done for us! He 'rescued' an ickle li'l puppy-wuppy and 'carried it on his lap' on the flight to Barra (?). 'Don't worry, it'll be safe with me...' says he. (Well, the owner was hardly trusting him with her daughter, was she? Sorry, I couldn't resist that one - smack on wrist).

That 'story' was in a National Broadsheet - the Saturday Telegraph - for pity's sakes. Now, how did it get there?

Of all the shallow, sanctimonious, self-publicising, ego-driven, untrustworthy...

Anonymous said...

to both Labour and SNP fans and indeed those of every colour and creed - ALL governments are perfect...until they get elected. LS

Anonymous said...

Anon 6.52 - If you consider Angus's indiscretion as "sexual fulfilment while his wife and children were in Barra" then you really need to get a sex life!

Don Mac -Your not very good at this are you?

madrudhach said...

Anon 9.16 I will answer your question? Alasdair Morrison or the Labour party did not go in to government saying what they were going to do in the first 100 days unlike the new SNP led government. As a matter of fact Alasdair did deliver with in the first 100 days with Bord na Gaidhlig. Which has created numerous jobs all over the Highlands and left numerous organisations benefiting from it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:05pm

Why do you say that Alastair Allan is "offensive"? Our MSP is a very nice guy and, whilst you or I may not agree with his politics, you should be ashamed for such a poor post. In the cold light of day, I hope you realise your error and post a retraction.

don mac said...

Sir igot.

Oh, the irony.

(I've just compared my last post with yours...)

Anonymous said...

Arise, Sir Sean.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Madrudhach,

The Executive's announcement of the establishement of BnG is here:

Very useful. Though BnG was established in 2003 (not 1999) and announced by minister for gaelic Mike Watson. Whatever happened to him now?...

Still, as you say, gaelic does provide a lot of jobs for islanders.

Alasdair Morrison appears fairly regularly in the Executive's press releases in 1999, with a heavy workload as Deputy Minister for the Highlands & Islands, Deputy Minister for Tourism and Minister for Gaelic (before being removed from the cabinet by Jack McConnell in 2001).

Chris Paul said...

Just fallen on this site. Interesting discussion.

I am however amazed that anyone, however party partisan, could blame opposition parties rather than finangling Angus for wining and whatever those young women.

Did anyone owe the daft and dirty bugger a cover up for this drunken idiocy and sexual activity?

A fool three times over. A teacher/crofter who fancies himself a constitutional lawyer but cannot keep his teine cock under rudimentary control and then objects to being interesting to the press.

Anonymous said...

Just for clarification...the 2 young ladies involved were over the legal age of consent and Angus MacNeil (although once a teacher) did not have any 'in loco parentis' care for them so having any kind of sexual relations with them was not against the law. The fact that they were someones daughters should not matter either, I regularly bonk another man's daughter - she's well over the age of consent! The fact he had a wife and family back home is a mild concern for the rest of us and was a great concern for the MacNeil family but they seem to have sorted it out so who are we (or the Western Isles Labour Party) to take any further issue with it - it is a tiny bit of history for the electorate of the Western Isles and no amount 'bonking Barrach' tags are going to affect more than half the readers of this blog and its subsequent comments. These young ladies were treated badly by the journalist from the Sunday Mail who told them he was writing the story anyway but offered them the chance to 'put their side'. If there was bonking why did he not mention it in the story? Because he had no evidence. He could only get that from someone in the room at the time and none of them has admitted so. In this country (in spite of UK government violations on civil liberties) we are innocent until proven guilty (unless you're a Brazilian sparky).

Anonymous said...

PS. I understand ABM was on the Scottish Teacher's Registry at the time, and buying alcohol for under 18 year olds is a criminal offence.

So, OTHER than that, "...who are we (or the Western Isles Labour Party) to take any further issue with it..."

Anonymous said...

You cannae let it lie!!
He did not have any role as a teacher to either of the girls and only one of them was under the age of 18. There was no evidence presented that he purchased alcohol for someone under the age of 18. What else have you got?

Anonymous said...

Fair enough, Pipe Dream; you make such a good case I retract everything.

Ma botty.

Anonymous said...

At last we get to the centre of your argument where we find it has as much substance as the centre of a polo!

Anonymous said...

"Obscure MP" wrong on "Cash for Honours"

Brian Wilson, regluar columnist with the West Highland Free Press, writes:

On the Andy Warhol principle that everyone is entitled to 15 minutes of fame, Angus Brendan MacNeil is well ahead of the game. His sound- bites on the "cash for honours" allegations must have run in aggregate to several hours, not to mention all these glowing profiles of this super croftah chap who was going to bring down the Government, spade in hand. Last Thursday, however, Mr MacNeil's luck ran out and he looked none too pleased about it.

Sixteen months of smears, innuendoes and unsubstantiated allegations had finally run their course. There were to be no charges because there was no evidence. No more sound-bites.No more requests from the sweet young things of the Westminster media village to look fearlessly into the camera and utter that golden word "corruption", round which so many smears can be spun, just one more time.It is remarkable how rapidly ephemeral celebrity can evaporate. By the weekend, Mr MacNeil had disappeared from the story. He had outlived his usefulness to all these new friends he had accumulated over the past 16 months. The caravan had moved on and nobody was really interested in the "obscure MP" (copyright 'Daily Telegraph') who would oblige with the words "corruption", "cover-up", "net closing in" at the sight of the most humble microphone.

Let us be clear about what Mr MacNeil was not, throughout these 16 months. Most assuredly, he was not a diligent seeker after truth who brought scandal to the surface. Rather, he was the opportunistic recipient of someone else's bright idea. When reports first surfaced of honours being vetoed for people who had lent money to the Labour Party, it was a retired policeman in the north-east of Scotland who offered the SNP the wheeze of making a complaint to Scotland Yard under a Parliamentary Act of 1925.

This task was handed to Mr MacNeil who, at that time and thereafter, added precisely nothing to the sum of human knowledge about the case. His role was solely to be on hand — or more precisely, within convenient reach of the Millbank television studios — whenever some fresh development was orchestrated. And each time the same sound- bites rolled — "corruption", "cover-up", "net closing in". But never once did Mr MacNeil produce an ounce of original information to substantiate his smears.

One of the questions which Scotland Yard will now have to answer is why this gadfly complaint was ever given houseroom. Their mantra is that all complaints have to be investigated and the allegations — made by Mr MacNeil alone — were of a very serious nature. However, this does not stand up to much scrutiny. The police are well used to individuals with axes to grind making serious allegations against their enemies. If all of these were pursued to their limits, without an ounce of prima facie evidence to support them, the police would have little time for anything else, like catching murderers.

What was required in this instance was both a willing seller and an eager buyer. Mr MacNeil was certainly the willing seller — but what did he have in his suitcase other than a bundle of newspaper cuttings? If the answer is indeed that he had no actual evidence, then it becomes ridiculous to claim that merely because the complaint was made it had to be pursued in the way it was. Both Mr MacNeil, the seller, and Deputy Commissioner Yates, the buyer, should now have to answer that question: What was in the suitcase?

Neither was Mr MacNeil a champion of Parliamentary reform — though, heaven knows, there was opportunity aplenty to broaden his involvement into something that might have been both useful and honourable. But he was not remotely interested in reform or in anything that might involve sustained intellectual effort, far less work. He had one focus only — which was to smear as much dirt as a grateful media would allow all over anyone who could be drawn into the web of Scotland Yard's investigation. In stoking the fires of false innuendo, Mr MacNeil was both indiscriminate and ruthless.

In his own self-image, Mr MacNeil may have been engaged in some great crusade to bring down a Prime Minister. The truth was more mundane. Most of the people whose lives were blighted by this inquiry, based on Mr MacNeil's allegations, were pretty ordinary citizens who had achieved positions of responsibility in Downing Street or elsewhere within the orbit of government. They were decent people doing decent jobs even if Mr MacNeil might tar them all with the same brush as apparatchiks of a hated regime.

When he suffered his own personal difficulties, there was nobody with any humanity who did not sympathise with Mr MacNeil's family, whatever their views of the man himself. But Mr MacNeil never displayed an ounce of concern for any of the people (all withfamilies) whose lives were torn apart over the past 16 months as a result of his mischief. Whoever the victim and whatever the event — dawn raids, high-profile arrests, damaging leaks from the police — you could be sure that the MP for the Western Isles would be in close attendance to parrot his catch-all, catch-phrases:"Corruption… .cover-up… net closing in".

So what was the truth of "cash for honours"? It was, as it always has been, that there is a correlation between those who give money to political parties and those who end up in the House of Lords. That is the structural scandal within the Parliamentary system of this country which deserves to be campaigned against to the point at which the existence of a patronage-based Upper Chamber becomes unsustainable. If Mr MacNeil had concentrated on that objective through Parliamentary channels instead of trying to destroy individuals, he would have been untouchable.

But that was never his interest or intent. It was all about seeking to destroy individuals and milk advantage for the basest of political motives. And in the meantime, so preoccupied was he with his short- term casting as a star in the Westminster soap opera, that he forgot to take much interest in anything to do with the Western Isles. The questions that are now being asked about what he has delivered for his constituency in the past two years are entirely legitimate and the inability of even his supporters to provide answers is revealing.

Now the ego trip is over — and so too is the reign of fear and smear which, at the end of the day, is all that Angus Brendan MacNeil succeeded in engendering. I wonder how many of the people who courted and flattered him over the past 16 months he will ever hear from again?

Anonymous said...

'Brian Wilson, regluar columnist with the West Highland Free Press'
Don't forget he is also a founder and owner of this once quite good newspaper as well as being a member of the Labour party and a minister in Tony Blair's government (the same one that was being investigated)and he once claimed to be a socialist.
'Sixteen months of smears, innuendoes and unsubstantiated allegations had finally run their course. There were to be no charges because there was no evidence' 'One of the questions which Scotland Yard will now have to answer is why this gadfly complaint was ever given houseroom'
There were no charges because there was not enough evidence to secure a convitction. This is different to there being no evidence at all. The reason Scotland Yard gave this serious complaint a full investigation is because there was some evidence of wrongdoing.
'So what was the truth of "cash for honours"? It was, as it always has been, that there is a correlation between those who give money to political parties and those who end up in the House of Lords. That is the structural scandal within the Parliamentary system of this country which deserves to be campaigned against to the point at which the existence of a patronage-based Upper Chamber becomes unsustainable'
Congratulations to Mr. Wilson on his efforts to rid us of the unelected upper chamber. His 20 years in parliament with 8 of them in government he, like his fellow former socialists in the Bliar govt, did very little to bring real democracy to Westminster apart from a small tweaking reform that removed a substantial Tory element from the Lords.
'When he suffered his own personal difficulties, there was nobody with any humanity who did not sympathise with Mr MacNeil's family, whatever their views of the man himself'
The WHFP front page headline in the week after the 'scandal' broke shows how far this paper has sunk from its award winning days in the early 90s. It also shows how out of touch it has become with the area it purports to serve when a large number of that edition were still lying unsold on the shop shelves the following Thursday.
Brian Wilson and the WHFP have become a fanzine for the declining number of Labour party supporters in the Highlands so if you posted Wilson's rantings expecting them to affect anyone outside of the Labour minority hereabouts you have wasted your time.

don mac said...

Ok then, whf pipebender, let's look beyond the "...fanzine for the declining number of Labour party supporters..."

Let's ask, say, Joshua Rozenberg, legal editor of the Telegraph (hardly a lefty newspaper...). He said "With the law as it now stands, it is difficult to question this (the CPS's) decision."

Does that help you see things from all sides? No, of course not - you're stuck in your blinkered hole.

Ok, let's let's see what Charles Moore has to say on the matter (ooh, we're getting seriously right-wing here...). Hmm, he acknowledges that the "police did not have to take seriously the obviously politically motivated complaint from the SNP...", and then goes on to examine why the case - rightly - failed. Good heavens, he actually ends up expressing SYMPATHY with those - mostly very decent - people caught in this debacle, who clearly had done nothing wrong.

I'm not even looking at Labour supporters here, just a couple of political commentators who are quite prepared to look at a situation with some level of impartiality.

So-o-o unlike yourself, unsurprisingly.

Anonymous said...

Of course the CPS decision cannot be argued with! I'm sure they looked at the evidence and decided there was not enough to secure a conviction in court. In a criminal trial the crown has to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. That does not mean that there was no evidence at all which is what was implied by by Mr. Wilson in his WHFP column.
Bringing in right wing journalists to defend Labour viewpoints must be something that would make Kier Hardie so very happy. Maybe some of the more left leaning journos would defend the Tories questionable awarding of gongs.

Anonymous said...

this is going well. whats the record for comments on your blog Angus

Angus said...

This is the all time record at present, just ahead of "Our MP's successes"

don mac said...

Dearie me, fwtpf.

AS WELL YOU KNOW, this case shouldn't even have been taken up by Scotland Yard in the first place.

AS WELL YOU KNOW, if the CPS decides there is no evidence of corruption, then the 'suspects' should be presumed entirely innocent.

Good grief, I think we've completely run out of options for some of you on here; we've had agreement with the CPS's decision from the 'left', consensus from the 'right' - I mean, that just leaves extreme political bigots.

You aren't an SNP supporter by any chance?

Anonymous said...

AS I WELL KNOW now that charges have been dropped the people involved can consider themselves to be innocent of the allegations and I acknowledge that.
'...AS WELL YOU KNOW, this case shouldn't even have been taken up by Scotland Yard in the first place...'
Do you believe that members of government are above the law and should not be investigated even when the police believe they have enough reason to do so? Do you believe that an officer as high up in the Met as Asst. Commissioner John Yates would carry out this investigation just to pass the time?
'...that just leaves extreme political bigots..'
Are you BNP or UKIP?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Gordon Brown say just after the 'result' that it was 'right and proper' that the original complaint was fully investigated by the police?

Of course, it could just have been unconstrained delight that NuLabour had scraped through another nasty patch in their history/catalogue of crimes that made him say it.

Anonymous said...

p.s. Brian Wilson's got a helluva lot more to answer for than any other politician of any party associated with these islands - ever!

don mac said...

I'm pleased, wtf piping, that you acknowledge the complete presumed innocence of those involved. This is a definite improvement over your previous assertions (assuming 'whf pipebenders' 11:31 was you) where you state "...there WAS some evidence of wrongdoing." (my 'bolding'). Hmm.

Do I 'believe that members of government are above the law?' No, of course not - what a fatuous thing to ask.

Do I 'believe that an officer as high up as John Yates would carry out this investigation just to pass the time?' Well, not to pass the time, obviously - that would be silly.

I'm certainly not alone in suspecting there could have been other reasons, however. Why did he push the Commons Public Admin select committee aside, who were investigating this very matter? Well, Ian Blair was certainly feeling VERY vulnerable following the July 7th bombings and the highly unfortunate Charles de Menezes shooting. An investigation against the PM et al would certainly secure his position for some time.

And, no, that's not my suspicion - that would be the 'Telegraph' again.

What is quite clear is the police seemed to be almost as underhand as ABM with 'leaking dark suggestions of amazing evidence' and dramatic dawn raids.

I really don't think they were being completely impartial.

Anonymous said...

Ah we are starting to find common ground! When a man on his way to work is pulled out of his seat on the train and shot several times without warning it would seem to me to be an illegal taking of life and that the peretrators of the crime should be punished. This would not be a resigning issue for the police commissioner or his namesake boss merely an opportunity for them to show that justice in the UK is fair. However two years on no-one is going to be charged and every time there is a terror alert lots of heavily armed police appear among throngs of travellers - surely it is only a matter of time before someone else is mistakenly shot in cold blood by our boys in blue.
Now that I've got that off my chest, the common ground. If Asst Comm Yates was told to pursue this because his boss' job was on the line then surely AB MP has scored an own goal because if Blair (Ian) went then Blair (Tony) would have found his jacket hanging on a shooglier nail.
However, I cannot let Brian Wilson off with saying there was no evidence - at the very least there donations/loans to the Labour party and some of the lenders/donors made it to the House of Lords(and in the interests of balance go back 10 and bit years and apply the same suspicion to the Tories). How many people throw away a million quid just for the philanthropy of politics, these guys wouldn't give a pound to blind one armed beggar. There was only one reason for giving money and that was to get a return (of some sort) on it!

don mac said...

WHFPipes, I would certainly agree that the current system of allocating honours and peerages is far less than ideal, and can leave itself open to a fair amount of abuse.

However, making a sizeable donation in the hope or wish that it might help pave the way to a 'prize' is NOT an offence. Neither (bizarrely) is it an offence for someone to be offered an honour as a reward for a financial gift.

For an offence to have been committed, two people will first have had to agree that the gift was being made in exchange for the honour!

UNDOUBTEDLY, many of the large donations are made with this 'hope' in mind, but that is NOT the same as 'buying a peerage'.

Sleazy system? Yes. Open to abuse? Certainly. But that's what's currently in place, and the sooner it changes, the better.

Do bear in mind, however, that being recommended for an honour only gets you to the stage of being scrutinised by the committee, and at least this committee appears to be working effectively as it has previously blocked clearly inappropriate nominations!

(And, the CPS did add in their statement "there is, furthermore, substantial and reliable evidence that there were PROPER reasons for the inclusion of all those whose names appeared on the 2005 working peers list... Each one was a credible candidate for peerage, irrespective of any financial assistance they had given...")

For what it's worth, I'll declare that my political sympathies lie with the Labour party (no surprise there...), but I believe I am not blind to their faults - the Bernie Ecclestone affair, for instance, was a truly cringe-worthy embarrassment.

Regardless of this, however, I also do sincerely believe that the comments made by ABM throughout the investigation (and many by the police, for that matter) were highly inappropriate and clearly made for purely self-serving, and party-political purposes.

(PS. I am going to try very hard not to contribute any further to this thread - I think it's all been said!)

Anonymous said...

Rats! I thought this thread might reach a hundred comments but Donmac and I have reached a concensus. Thats the modern approach to politics.

don mac said...

Ha-ha!, pipe end.

I'm very pleased!