Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Flea on the Back of The Organ Grinder's Monkey

In today's Herald, Alistair Darling bombastically declares that "I speak for Scotland" and claims David Cameron is irrelevant to the ­Scottish independence debate.

He even has the gall to say that: "The Better Together campaign leader accuses Alex Salmond of putting his ego before Scotland's interests and says the First Minister would have had to resign over the EU legal advice row if he had been at Westminster, saying: "He'd have gone. Down here, you would never have got away with that."

Let's just savour that for a moment: The expenses cheat and serial house flipper who, had he been in any part of the public service other than being an MP would not have had a tap on the wrist, nor been given the opportunity to resign, let alone be invited to pay a wee bit of the money back and be told we'll forget all about it, but would have been prosecuted for fraud has the gall to say that Alec Salmond, in following the UK Ministerial Code and refusing to disclose Government legal advice, would have had to resign "down here".

It is a mark of Alec Salmond's probity that, long after the Scottish electorate have been bored to tears by the EU legal advice canard, Darling is still reduced to trotting it out.  However, his attempt at smearing the First Minister backfires. Note Darling doesn't say Salmond would have had to resign "down there": The man who purportedly speaks for Scotland shows that his heart is where his trough is. Presumably Scotland is "up there" in his lexicon. Not "right here" as it is for the people of Scotland.

Darling claims that "Mr Salmond is all about personal status but is now "struggling" because people are increasingly unwilling to accept his bold claims as they once did." He goes on:
With Scottish Labour having denounced Mr Salmond for implying Mr Darling was the "monkey" to Mr Cameron's "organ grinder", the No campaign leader suggests his opponent is focusing on the Prime Minister to distract voters away from the core issues of the campaign.
He says: "He wants (to debate with) Cameron because that's purely an act of displacement, a distraction because he wants to make it a Scotland-England contest. "There is a lot of evidence now that a majority of people in Scotland think Salmond is putting his own political interests above those of Scotland and that is something he should reflect on." 
But asked if the Conservative leader was a help or a hindrance to the No campaign, Mr Darling replies: "Neither. Cameron himself said he would prefer the Union to continue but it's a matter for Scotland and he's dead right." He then adds: "Cameron, for this argument, is neither here nor there. This is an argument we have to have out in Scotland."
Let's go through that. It is Darling who is concerned about his status. On 18 September 2014 the Scottish People will be asked which of two polities they wish to govern Scotland. It's not quite as simple as to say "be governed by."

If Scotland votes Yes, the supreme sovereign authority in Scots Constitutional Law is the Sovereign Scottish People. In a written constitution we will delegate powers to a Scottish Government drawn from an elected Holyrood Parliament and both Government and Parliament are bound by that constitution.

Standing that the Scottish People did not elect the current UK Government or many of its predecessors, if Scotland votes No, the supreme and unlimited sovereign authority in UK Constitutional Law remains the The Crown in Parliament. There is no written constitution, no parliament is bound by its predecessor parliaments, there is no 'higher authority' ultimately to hold the Westminster Parliament or the UK Government to account and they can by and large make up the constitution as they go along.

Therefore the correct persons to debate those competing polities are their leaders: Alec Salmond and David Cameron.  This is a debate about the future: What possible assurances about the future can a washed-up, has-been, backbench, opposition MP who deigns to turn up at Westminster occasionally [Note 1] while earning a fortune elsewhere [Note 2] and is lucky not to be in jail like Darling give the Scottish people that would carry any weight whatsoever?  The only person who could remotely debate the First Minister of Scotland is the leader of the polity competing for the votes of the Scottish people, namely the Prime Minister of the UK, not of England as Darling childishly calls Cameron, trying to bring an anti-English element into the debate.


As for shaking off slurs of Darling being the "monkey" to Cameron's "organ grinder", yet again Darling shows delusions of adequacy. It is well reported that the real head of the UK Government's effort to keep the Scotland and its assets subsidising the Westminster / Whitehall / Canary Wharf Trough is George Osborne. Given that a major attraction for many in shaking off rule from Westminster is the fact that successive corrupt London governments have shown themselves to be bought and paid for by the interests of The City, it is plain that in reality the UK Prime Minister is the "monkey". So I am really overestimating Darling's authority by calling him the flea on the back of the organ grinder's monkey.

The correct debating opponents are therefore:

Office Scotland / Yes Scotland UK / Better Together
Head of Government Alec Salmond David Cameron
Referendum Lead in Governing Party Nicola Sturgeon George Osborne
Chair of Campaign Denis Canavan Alistair Darling
Chief Executive of Campaign Blair Jenkins Blair McDougall

Darling goes on to witter on about unanswered questions etc when in fact the only question before the Scottish People on 18 September 2014 is "Should Scotland be an independent country?".  I would far rather trust the Scottish Parliament to manage the details of setting up the far cheaper institutions we will require to cover the few areas of Government that are currently discharged by Whitehall, than the nigh-on criminal part-time fraudsters in Westminster such as Alistair Darling (see notes below).

Note 1

According to They Work for You Darling has spoken in only 8 debates and voted in only 46.92% of votes in this parliament.

Note 2

One can gain an insight into what Darling has been up to from the Register of Members' Interests (to May 2013 - see below). Obviously, globetrotting and troughing at dinners for the likes of Healthcare Privatisation companies are far more profitable than representing his constituents "up there" in Edinburgh South West. However, I dare say he still draws a full MP's salary, housing allowances and other expenses.

DARLING, Rt. Hon. Alistair (Edinburgh South West)

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.  Contract with Atlantic Books, Ormond House, 26/27 Boswell street, London WC1N 3JW for publication of book. The contract provides for a total advance payment of £75,000 prior to publication.

10 May 2012, I received a payment of £23,879.28 in respect of royalties from the sale of my book. No additional hours worked. (Registered 30 May 2012)

14 June 2012, I received a payment of £4,775.86 in respect of VAT due on royalties from book sales, registered on 30 May 2012. No additional hours worked. (Registered 21 June 2012)

In respect of the contract with Atlantic Books I have attended the following events. No fee was paid to me but transport and accommodation costs were met as follows:

9 June 2012, Hay Book Festival, 25 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye; hotel accommodation for me and my wife; cost £225, and our return flights from Edinburgh to Birmingham; cost £259.62, were paid for by Atlantic Books. Car transport from Birmingham to Hay-on-Wye; cost £400 return, was paid by festival organisers. Hours: 2 hrs plus travel. (Registered 21 June 2012)

15 June 2012, Althorpe Book Festival; transport costs from London to the festival and on to Edinburgh for me and my wife; cost £359.68, were paid by Atlantic Books. Hours: 2 hrs plus travel. (Registered 21 June 2012)

Fees for speeches paid by JLA Associates, 80 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7NW:

20 April 2012, I received a payment of £20,400 for speaking at a conference in Dubai. Transport costs of £2,669.82 and hotel accommodation at a cost of £326.07 were paid by the organisers, Falcon Group Administrative Services (UK) Ltd, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 9BF. Hours: approx 2.5 days including travel time. (Registered 2 May 2012)

8 June 2012, I received a payment of £12,750 for speaking at an event organised by JC Flowers & Co UK Ltd. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 21 June 2012)

19 July 2012, I received a payment of £12,240 for speaking at an event organised by Emap/Retail Week in London. Hours: approx 3 hrs. (Registered 24 July 2012)

6 September 2012, I received a fee of £10,200 for speaking at a conference organised by Aberdeen Asset Management. Hours: approx 3 hours, plus travelling time. (Registered 18 September 2012)

27 September 2012, I received a fee of £12,240 in respect of speaking at a conference organised by Apollo Management International LLP. Hours: approx 2 hours, including travel time. (Registered 11 October 2012)

19 November 2012, I received a fee of £12,240 for speaking at an event organised by British Property Federation, in London. Hours: approx 4 hrs. (Registered 26 November 2012)

11 December 2012, I received a payment of £12,240 in respect of a fee for speaking at an event organised by Slaughter & May LLP, London. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 20 December 2012)

11 December 2012, I received a payment of £12,240 in respect of a fee for speaking at an event organised by Scor Insurance, London. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 20 December 2012)

25 January 2013, I received a fee of £12,999 which included £249.60 in respect of travel costs for speaking at a seminar organised by Pru Health. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 8 February 2013)

22 March 2013, I received a fee of £12,240 in respect of speaking at an event organised by BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Ltd, in Hampshire. Hours: approx 6 hrs, including travel time. (Registered 28 March 2013)

22 March 2013, I received a fee of £12,240 in respect of speaking at an event organised by the Automotive Fellowship International Ltd, in Buckinghamshire. Hours: approx 6 hrs, including travel time. (Registered 28 March 2013)

28 March 2013, I received a fee of £10,200 in respect of speaking at an event organised by Credit Agricole Group, in London. Hours: approx 4 hrs, including travel time. (Registered 28 March 2013)

8 June 2012, I received a payment of £1,200 from Associated Newspapers Ltd, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry street, London W8 5TT, for an article in the Mail on Sunday. Hours: 4 hrs approx. (Registered 21 June 2012)

Payments from MGN Ltd, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP:

22 June 2012, I received a payment of £720 for an article published in the Sunday Mirror. Hours: approx 3 hrs. (Registered 25 June 2012)

5 September 2012, I received a payment of £600 in respect of an article published by the Daily Mirror. Hours: approx 2 hrs. (Registered 18 September 2012)

Payments from Guardian Newspapers, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GO, for writing articles for the Guardian newspaper:

8 December 2012, I received a payment of £342 Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 20 December 2012)

28 March 2013, I received a payment of £342. Hours: approx 2 hrs. (Registered 28 March 2013)

11. Miscellaneous

Unremunerated Director and Chairman of Better Together 2012 Ltd (from 1 June 2012).