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Rush to mis-judgement

All my friends know that I am a big supporter of the SNP. That does not mean that I will follow it blindly and endorse everyone of its policies, regardless of my own reservations.

For example there was Police Scotland; as I’ve said on several public platforms, having grown up in a burgh of around 75,000 people with its own self-governing force, I believe that local police accountability at the highest level is important. It’s anathema to me that policing in the likes of Lerwick, Stornoway, Eyemouth or Stranraer should be under the command of an individual in Glasgow, who may never have walked a beat in Scotland in his entire career. It’s anathema to me that oversight of the  new Scottish police service should be vested in a body whose members are appointed directly by the government of the day. That is part of the mechanism of a police state.

As a second example, there is the current rush to abolish the centuries old law of corroboration, which is unique to  the Scottish judicial system. This proposal was part of a wide-ranging report by Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice Clerk, into criminal law and practice in Scotland. The most obvious benefit of such a move lies in the assumption that it would make it easier to secure convictions in relation to sexual offences. If that was the case, pure and simple, no-one would object. But it isn’t. Corroboration is a shield against wrongful conviction. It means that nobody can be found guilty on the basis of one person’s word alone. It’s a safeguard for the innocent, far more than a loophole for the guilty. Lord Carloway, a man I know, like and respect, may believe it can be discarded, but not a single one of his fellow judges are in recorded agreement with him, and all three surviving former heads of the Scottish judiciary are in outright opposition. They believe that the sexual crime issue could be addressed by finding a middle ground.

The common link behind these two dangerous polices is the Justice Secretary, Kenny Macaskill, MSP, the man who let Megrahi go. I don’t blame him for that one, but I do believe that he is fundamentally wrong about the others. However his statement in a TV interview yesterday indicates that he is determined to see his view on corroboration prevail, in spite of such powerful and experienced advice that it is an open door to wrongful convictions. For sure, he has a track record of making things happen.

What do I think? Put it this way, if Mr Macaskill was the local rat-catcher, and followed the same principles as he does as a cabinet minister, I would not be calling him in to solve a rodent problem.


Categories: Politics
  1. January 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Agree 100 % but I’d go further.
    My own view is that one isolated incident – when Ian Gray was advised to do a runner rather than face a protester and saw him gain public perception as a ‘loser’ – caused the defeat of Labour in Scotland.
    If the SNP continue to give McCaskill and that other ‘loser’ Mike Russell – a notable failure in each post he’s held – air space, it will come back to haunt us all.
    Heaven forbid

  2. January 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I don’t go with that, Andy. Iain Gray (my constituency MSP) hung on to his seat against a very good maverick SNP candidate and against the trend, so I don’t think he can be held personally responsible for the defeat of Labour; that was always going to happen. You’re forgetting the effects of the weakness of the Tories, and the post-Coalition destruction of the Lib Dems. But if you want to talk about his successor, who’s she again?

    I don’t share your view of Mike either; I know him and rate him highly. Education is one of the worst portfolios going and he’s held it for four years now. I’d like to see him moved into Macaskill’s post.

  3. January 8, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Apologies I didn’t express myself very well.
    The issue I wanted to highlight was public perception not actuality. I respect Ian Gray I also respect Mike Russell – although consider both to be too nice for the job, That’s why the word loser is in italics.
    I’m just concerned public perception skewed by the tabloids could have a detrimental effect,
    Both have been pilloried by the press in the past.

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