Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Motes and beams

Over the last few days there has been a growing story about Women for Indy and some possible shenanigans with money which was donated to the organisation prior to its adoption of a formal constitution and 'robust and appropriate systems' back in March of this year.  It's been interesting to watch how the story has developed.

Let's take the Guardian as an example.  The first we hear of the story is on Monday morning in this article in which we gather:
  • there are significant discrepancies between the organisation's income from donations and its expenditure for financial year 2014/2015
  • the problem became apparent in late summer after an extensive information gathering and investigation exercise
  • that all possibilities of an explanation have been explored
  • that the matter has been handed over to the police for further investigation

The next article is in Monday evening, in which Natalie McGarry is linked to the missing money.  This is because Ms McGarry was alleged to be the only person with access to the Paypal account into which donations to Women for Indy were paid.  Aside from the above, the article consists of a rehash of the text from the earlier article, a short biography of Ms McGarry and a statement from Ms McGarry's solicitor saying that she will co-operate fully with any police investigation and giving assurance that she is not aware of any wrongdoing on her part.  The article also contains a quote from the SNP which simply says that they are of the situation but have not yet been given any details.  There is also an attempt to link the story to that of Michelle Thomson.

Today there is yet another article on the story, this time about Labour in Scotland demanding that Nicola Sturgeon take action over the matter, preferably by suspending Ms McGarry from the party.  This has been raised by the ever-sanctimonious Jackie Baillie (why not Kezia Dugdale, one wonders?).  Ms Baillie has sent a letter to Nicola Sturgeon making various demands.  For example, if Michelle Thomson's membership was suspended, surely Ms McGarry's should be too?  Of course, Ms Baillie is comparing apples with oranges here, but it's never stopped her in the past.  She goes on to adds that it would be a “very grave matter” if anyone within the SNP knew of allegations before May’s general election but failed to make them public.  Well, given that Women for Indy didn't become aware of any issue before 'late summer', why would anyone from the SNP know about it?  Either Ms Baillie is incapable of understanding that 'late summer' comes after May, or she's trying, with her usual lack of subtlety, to score points against the SNP.  The latter explanation is more likely, as she then goes on to point out that seven of the Women for Indy committee members are SNP candidates.  Of course, Women for Indy and the SNP are separate organisations, but Ms Baillie never lets facts get in the way of political points-scoring.

Labour in Scotland should, however, be somewhat cautious over this matter.  They aren't exactly squeaky-clean over financial irregularities.  Edinburgh Eastern constituency has recently reported the matter of £10,000 missing from their bank account to the police, after having waited for 18 months for Scottish Labour HQ to take action.  Many of the same questions that Ms Baillie is asking of the SNP over the Women for Indy affair could be asked of Labour over the Edinburgh Eastern affair.  Edinburgh East is the constituency that Kezia Dugdale intends to contest in May 2016.

If Ms McGarry is responsible for any wrongdoing then it is right and proper that she should face the consequences.  However, at the moment the principle of innocent until proven guilty should apply pending the outcome of the police investigation.

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