Sturgeon humiliated as Salmond wins case against her Government
Nicola Sturgeon is under mounting pressure to reveal the details of private conversations she had with Alex Salmond about allegations of sexual harassment against him, the i reports.
This comes after the First Minister was forced to issue a “humiliating apology” after her predecessor won a legal challenge to the way the Scottish Government had handled the complaints. The Telegraph reports:
“The judge Lord Pentland ruled the inquiry was “procedurally unfair” and “tainted with apparent bias” after it emerged the investigating officer had “prior involvement” with the women before they complained.”
As a result of what Salmond calls the “abject surrender” of the Scottish Government he has been awarded costs, which apparently run to £500,000. He has also demanded that Leslie Evans, Sturgeon’s seniormost civil servant, resign. The Scotsman reports that Evans has apologised but has no plans to quit, and that the First Minister has given the mandarin her support. The Timesdedicated an editorial has to calling for Evans’ scalp, accusing her of “an egregious lapse of judgement”.
Jackson Carlaw, the interim leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has announced that the Tories are going to push for a committee of the Scottish Parliament to investigate why Sturgeon met with Salmond five times, including two at her home in Glasgow, whilst insisting that she had not interfered in the investigation. She has also now admitted to not informing the Permanent Secretary about at least one of these.
Welsh and Scottish Labour re-admit anti-Semites
Not the biggest stories of the week, but in light of Rachel Riley’s attack on Jeremy Corbyn for “sharing a bed with holocaust deniers and virulent anti-Semites”, two stories this week serve as an unhappy reminder of how far through Labour this problem runs.
First, the BBC reports that a Labour member of the Welsh Assembly has been re-admitted to the party after having made “offensive” remarks about Jews, despite the fact that the party has not yet concluded its investigation into the incident. Jenny Rathbone apparently suggested that the security fears of the congregation of a Cardiff synagogue could be “in their own heads”.
She also said she was “uncomfortable” with synagogues turning into “fortresses”, adding that a “siege mentality” probably played a significant role. Michael Rose, the Chief Rabbi, branded the remarks “extremely offensive”.
Meanwhile in Scotland the Jewish Chronicle reports that Labour have re-admitted a councillor who directly peddled an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Mary Bain Lockart claimed that a joint front page by the UK’s three main Jewish newspapers – organised to signal the strength of feeling about antisemitism in the Labour Party – was a Mossad plot to discredit Corbyn.
An ex-Labour MP who originally complained about the post said the decision to re-admit Lockart illustrated that Labour was not a safe space for the Jewish community.
Fianna Fail and SDLP propose merger
Northern Ireland’s smaller, more moderate nationalist party is looking to merge with one of the major parties in the Republic of Ireland in a bid to inject some life into the flagging alternative to Sinn Fein.
The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which was Ulster’s pre-eminent nationalist party during the Troubles until it was eclipsed – along with its unionist counterpart, the Ulster Unionists – by the rise of the DUP-Sinn Fein duopoly, is reportedly preparing to subsume itself into Fianna Fail, long deemed the Republic’s ‘natural party of government’.
According to the Irish Times the proposal would result in “one all-island party which will be called Fianna Fáil” – which has prompted Margaret Ritchie, a former SDLP leader and Member of Parliament, to say on the record how much she would regret the disappearance of her party’s distinct brand and identity.
Lord Empey, who as leader of the Ulster Unionists led his party into their ill-fated alliance with the Conservatives at the 2010 general election, warned Colum Eastwood, the SDLP’s current leader, that he might be ushering in the “obliteration” of his party. It’s internal coalition might fracture and only a smaller part of its already waning vote and membership end up inside Fianna Fail’s tent.
In other Irish news, new polling suggests that Irish people believe that the backstop will make a ‘united Ireland’ more likely – which perhaps explains why the DUP continue to believe Theresa May’s deal poses a greater threat to the Union than ‘no deal’.