Sunday, June 29, 2008

Resignations and Blood Money

The Tories haven't yet lost their chairman over her payment of expenses to her nanny, but they are hardly likely to take much comfort from today's Labour resignation - Wendy Alexander standing down as Labour leader in Scotland. She has not been an impressive leader in Scotland in the short time she has had, failing to combat the SNP's challenge to Labour north of the border and on one occasion - her call for an independence referendum now - clashing clearly with her boss and usually ally, Gordon Brown. Nonetheless, her resignation is over a failure to appreciate the full demands of the complex legislation governing campaign contributions, rather than a big issue of principle, and certainly suggests that even the slightest deviation now from wholly accurate and transparent financial dealings - with or without public money being involved - will considerably shorten your political shelf life. That's the cold comfort for the Tories.

Another resignation - of Glasgow East's Labour MP - could well lead to another Labour slaughter at the polls, this time to the benefit of the SNP. Mind you, the Tories could do with a strong showing here if they want to convince us they're back as a truly national party. Tory deputy leader in Scotland, the former student firebrand Murdo Fraser, did wryly admit that this wasn't traditional Tory territory...

So, Labour is in trouble north of the border, while Cameron's MPs are in apparently upbeat mood at their weekend retreat in Buckinghamshire. It is possible, though, that the Indepedent on Sunday's front page might dent some of their optimism, citing as it does 6 Tory MPs - including the newly promoted Dominic Grieve - as having business interests in Zimbabwe. And not interests designed to make life more difficult for Mugabe I think we can surmise!

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