The Wicker Man

On the day the recorded crime figures come out (down to 1974 levels – damn that single police force) it is fitting that the courts are examining a case of moral crime and showing that the venal in society are not confined to the thieving classes.

The Alastair Carmichael case has about it the taint of the Wicker Man – a befuddled character being manipulated and laughed at behind his back by a knowing public intent on his immolation.

It’s hard to think of anything more cynical, serf-serving and insulting to a democracy than the defence orchestrated by this Scottish lawyer who until recently was holder of the Great Seal of Scotland. Where, you may wonder, is the pride in office of a trained solicitor or the dignity of representing one’s country in Cabinet when a man’s defence amounts to nothing more than: Aye. I’m a liar. But not in my private life.

The Carmichael Dispensation amounts to declaring that it is alright to lie through ones’ teeth to the public who elect and pay for you – they don’t matter – and misleading them doesn’t count. Democracy is a bagatelle in which points are scored or lost on a random basis. If you elect a bad’un – hard luck.

Lying and deceiving is part of the political game, a kind of professional foul that deserves a whistle and a tut-tut but no more. It’s what you do for the team when you’re wearing the strip and the action is frantic. It’s pretty much expected.

Of course, afterwards in front of the cameras, you have returned to sanity and sobriety and can laugh it off as a bit of banter. Suited and tied as a civilian, you’d never dream of cheating. Your word is your bond. (As Arthur Daley used to say).

Carmichael got himself into this mess and must squirm his own way out. It’s a serpentine trap he laid for himself. But what are the public to make of this farce?

They see yet another tricky dicky character, one minute blustering how he knows best about Scotland’s future, the next furtively leaking inaccurate information to damage an opponent. Squealing that it was somehow alright to lie about it is unmanly and unedifying. Carmichael went to the people for a mandate knowing he had told a bald lie and keeping it from them. Having the truth revealed after the democratic process was straightforward cheating. The people were – in local parlance – rookit.

He may yet be found innocent of the charge levelled under the strict terms of the legislation but he will trail the taint of guilt beyond the court – guilt in confirming the worst fears of a doubtful electorate about the debased character of the political class; guilt now attached to his own declining party and guilt too at the hollow bombast of those who inhabit the Mother of Parliaments.

Carmichael stands as the embodiment of the Liberal Party – untrustworthy, self-seeking and broken.

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35 thoughts on “The Wicker Man

  1. Wonder what the Lib Dems’ private polling in Orkney and Shetland was telling them at that time and whether it gave Carmichael cause for concern that his seat might be under threat – hence his attempt to smear Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in general by association – so actually did it for personal advantage rather than to benefit Lib Dems generally.

  2. When Tim farron and the rest of them try and spray air freshener over this guff they fail miserably because they still don’t understand that the bad smell stays until you get rid of the turd.

  3. He is making a bizarre defence of his position. He is an honest man he says, but his position in public office is dishonest and it’s perfectly acceptable to lie and nothing personal….it’s just politics.

    It is the sort of semantic sophistry that just enrages most people with politicians and lawyers in general. They simply won’t make that sort of distinction between the personal character of the man in private and the idea that when in public office he behaves differently. He is taking a sledgehammer to his credibility regardless of his position, be it public or private. So even if he wins on this technical distinction, in the court of public opinion he is nothing more than a liar who got away with it.

    He will become an utter laughing stock that no one can take seriously and by association so too is the liberal democrats.

  4. Every School child is taught that when you’re caught lying you won’t be trusted to speak the truth in the future,It’s the boy cried wolf story, but it looks like Mr Carmichael has redefined the story

    Instead of protecting the sheep from the wolves he’s protecting the wolves from the sheep but then again being a shepherd isn’t a political job is it, so that’s different

    It’s difficult following an argument that allows breaking moral laws by virtue of being allowed as a politician to become a Jekyll or Hyde to suit the situation at hand

    Which begs the question which Mr Carmichael is actually on trial and which one was in Parliament purportedly representing his constituents, will we ever know, and even if we did, how do we know………….disappearing

    I think the First Minister spelled it out quite well when she referred to some particular folk as Serial Deceivers

  5. Often thought it might be for the best for the SNP, if he get’s a walk.

    If he goes, the SNP will be favourites to win a seat they have never won and aren’t guaranteed to win. Not beyond the realms of possibility that the Lib Dems (maybe Tavish) retaining the seat….cue ‘Sturgeon honeymoon over….we’ve passed ‘peak SNP’.

    That and ordinary punters will move on a la “Alistair who ? Oh aye that guy”….

    Whereas if he ‘wins’ and keeps his seat then he stinks out the Lib Dems until the day he leave Parliament.

    If he does go, then he will be the last of the BT ‘big hitters’ to fall, all the rest have retired or been retired by the electorate.

    I don’t think in the darkest hours of Sept 19th 2014, that anyone foresaw that EVERY single Unionist politician of note during the IndyRef would be gone from front line politics in little over a year.

  6. I don’t really approve of the Voltaire quote about defending the right to free speech as nowadays free speech is misquoted and edited to fit a ten second news headline, but I do approve of his right to be defended in court; Carmichael is the defendant and is entitled to seek the best lawyer. That right must remain in perpetuity for all.
    I am glued to the TV watching the whole thing unfold – absolutely riveting stuff and well done STV .

  7. Dennis Mclaughlin

    This is all one BIG distraction designed to throw us all off the real story here.
    This sorry wee scheme was concocted In Cameron’s office after Nicol’s popularity soared and left the rest looking like cardboard cutouts…
    Whatever the outcome,Liberal Democrats will be forever tainted by corruption in Scotland.

  8. “Carmichael went to the people for a mandate knowing he had told a bald lie and keeping it from them. Having the truth revealed after the democratic process was straightforward cheating. The people were – in local parlance – rookit”

    That’s it in a nutshell Derek. There is really nothing more to add.

    If Carmichael had any sense of human decency he would have walked the plank along time ago.

    When I was a wee boy living in Lanarkshire I used to pass through Carluke now and again. There on the main street painted onto the side of a large building was “£10,000 for an honest Scottish lawyer”

    Plus ca change…

    • I remember the billboard that said the same thing – I wonder if the person seeking and searching for that honest lawyer ever found him or her?

      As for Carmichael , with all the Liberals coming out of the woodwork to assure us that all politicians lie and this trial is just a bit of spite by the SNP and any other ludicrous outpourings , I think it is safe to say , ” Guilty as charged m’Lud” ( everyone and their Auntie knows that) .
      I wonder if the ” esteemed ” judges care about their reputations or are they just as careless of what the plebs think of them as Liberal Democrats?

  9. All parties should take note. Whether Carmichael slithers out of that court cleared of charge or not, the public were prepared to challenge politicians on how they practice the day job. We do not appreciate or want liars governing in our name. We don’t want to be deceived, manipulated, used as political coinage or otherwise abused by our public ‘SERVANTS’ and their pet media. We don’t want to have our opinions and emotions played with or tainted by some spad’s groupthink, triangulation or cunning strategy. We don’t want selective truth or policy wonk double speak and we certainly couldn’t give a flying… squirrel about parliamentary privilege.

    We want honest, transparent government end of. The people have suffered enough from politics played as a ‘game’. Its not a bloody game, its peoples lives and futures we’re talking about and if the people can’t have redress through the legal system, then at the very next opportunity (that would be 2016), his entire party should be punished at the ballot.

    Governing is a duty of care. It is a privilege granted by the people to care for their needs, aspirations and safety. A government, our government must be seen to act as caretakers of these duties. If not? If they are incapable of honesty, transparency or care? If they abuse the public trust and are caught, as was Mr Carmichael abusing their office and the public? Then there has to be seen to be public redress.

  10. Anne is right about being defended. It’s fundamental to Justice, even though the legal arguments may stick in the craw.

    I agree with all the comments. This case highlights how our politicians are not really accountable to the people. The 5 yearly ritual is nothing more than giving the appearance of democracy. Once elected they do what they like.

  11. Another wonderful message, thanks Derek, the bit missing from this particular “honourable member” is any Honour.

  12. The Lib Dems have confirmed through the likes of Malcolm Bruce that their modus operandi is to lie to people.
    Now that this is in the public domain,what does that make voters who support them?

  13. That Carmichael lied is not in doubt. In fact, he lied twice, once about Nicola and once about himself, the second lie leading to a costly and unnecessary investigation.

    His defence is that politicians, unique among all groups of people, are allowed, indeed expected, to lie as part of the cut and thrust of politics. So it’s ok for a politician to lie but not for an ordinary person.

    Should his argument succeed, surely this will open the door to politicians to be allowed to tell even more barefaced lies than they already do. The court will have said that smearing an associate of your opponent for political advantage and then lying about it afterwards is acceptable.

    While it not unreasonable for a politician to put the best face on events, to highlight favourable aspects of a situation and omit the unfavourable, surely it cannot be acceptable to tell lies. The cut and thrust of politics cannot be a defence against lying and if this is currently acceptable, it is time the rules and expectations were changed.

  14. After Coulson, I have very little belief in the Scottish legal system when a “big fish” is on trial. By the way, does anyone know who is paying for Carmichael’s defence?

  15. All that Carmichael did and then said he did, was done as the Secretary of State for Scotland under a coalition with the Tories. Carmichael stands as the embodiment not only of the Liberal Party – untrustworthy, self-seeking and broken – but of the Tories as well. Who has not entertained the thought that Carmichael is being funded in this case by the Tories. After all the LibDems are skint – and still owing Scottish Police a fortune.
    To sum up: Unionists – incapable of honesty.

  16. Good piece, Derek, and I agree with all the comments. We do want to live in a society, where even a liar can make his case in court, telling his electorate they can swivel.
    If this person had a shred of decency, character or morality, he would have bowed to the pressure to stand down, and run again. The fact he remains illustrates the pull of the Westminster trough, and a monumental arrogance, regardless of the farcical reasoning he makes.

  17. The law itself is pretty strict in that anyone who tells a lie about any candidate during an election is guilty. That includes the Telegraph who made the initial allegation and openly said that the SNP, as a body, had a secret wish that the Conservatives win the election. They may have later modified their online version of the story but at the time seemed very guarded about the part which meant they had no reason to believe it was true.

    The fun part is that if a candidate can be shown to have consented to that then they are also guilty. Which is exactly what Carmichael did when he authorised the passing of said information to the press. IT doesn’t matter that he didn’t personally do the smear. That he consented is enough.

  18. Just a quick point of order, Carmichael was never Keeper of the Great Seal. No longer the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland, the office was merged with that of First Minister upon devolution, so Nicola Sturgeon is the Keeper…

  19. Everything seems to be focussed on Carbuncle’s seat – as you’d expect in the context of the trial brought about by his constituents. But none of the commentators are picking up on the undoubted influence that the lies had on a wider scale. “Frenchgate” was headline news all over the UK, with the media pouncing on the chance to attack Sturgeon. That, along with Ian Murray’s own smear campaign against Neil Hay, must also have affected the results in Edinburgh South and Dumfriesshire.
    Without the lies, would there have been 57, 58 or 59 SNP MP’s?
    Will we ever discover if Mr Mundell was aware of the actions of the person he shared an office with? That could be fun.

  20. A new one for the lexicon. To be “carmichaeled”. To utter a “carmichael”. etc..

  21. Politicians lie. People lie. Not news.

    The specific law to constrain politicians campaigning in an election, lists “lying about the personal conduct of a candidate”, doesn’t it? So his defence is to cavill over the exact meaning of “personal”? Breathtaking.

    We need a fourth verdict after “Not Guilty”, “Not Proven” and “guilty”. And that is… “Pull The Other One”.

  22. I will be surprised if he is found guilty.

    The Establishment will look after its own.

  23. After this odious defence I wonder if Carmichael will have the effrontery to offer himself for re-election in 2020? I rather expect he will not. I would not be surprised if ermine beckoned. After all the absence of SNP Lords means Scotland will be under-represented in that bloated edifice so unionist lackeys will have to be pressed into service in the stead of the principled.

  24. And the silence from his Lib Dem colleagues in Orkney and Shetland is deafening. Liam Macarthur and Tavish Scott.

  25. “Aye. I’m a liar. But not in my private life.”

    Of course you are, especially in your private life. Once a liar always a liar.

  26. Tell me, if Carmichael is found guilty and has been proven to be a liar, shouldn’t there be others implicated in this sorry affair, shouldn’t his assistant at the time also be held accountable?

    There is little doubt that Carmichael is being hung out to dry by the UK government, Mundell must have known every detail about the original leak, isn’t he then just as guilty as Carmichael, ok he never lied after the event but must have participated in the leaking of the original document.

  27. Devils advocate for minute here,
    I have a work colleague who has the broadest Fife accent while speaking, but when answering the phone to a customer effects a perfect Home Counties accent,
    Is SHE a liar?

    • I’ll be the devil. Would you disagree that everyone’s a liar? Some are worse than others, and to be labelled one typically comes after giving offence. That said, some kinds of lying are against the law, off the top of ma heid:

      – lying like Carmichael allegedly did, about a candidate’s personal conduct to influence the outcome of an election
      – lying under oath in court is perjury
      – lying to the cops can become perverting the course of justice

      Don’t we say “pretentious” more often about accents? There again, in business it might simply be practical, it would have to depend on the specifics, the person and their thinking. You can rush to judgment or you can get there slowly. Do you think she’s a liar?

      As for “broadest Fife accent”, are you lying or just exaggerating?

  28. ….. I rather prefer the reply given by the senior British Civil Servant to an Australian Court during the “Spy Catcher” book affair, when pressed by an Aussie Barrister ….. “I suggest to you that the evidence you have given is a lie” …….. said Civil Servant replied ….. “I have not lied, just been economical with the truth” …… I’ll bet Carmichael wished he’d thought of that one !!!

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