Former Conservative MP Ross Thomson is threatening legal action against Labour Holyrood candidate and former MP Paul Sweeney. Before the 2019 election when Thomson and Sweeney were both MPs, Sweeney publicly accused Thomson of inappropriate behaviour, almost five months after the events were said to have occurred. He was subsequently cleared after an inquiry by the standards commissioner – who noted “Sweeney’s account has changed” and described behaviour that was “highly unlikely to have gone unnoticed by others in the immediate vicinity”. Now Ross wants Sweeney to say sorry – or he will pursue recovery of substantial losses. In a legal letter sent to Sweeney, Thomson’s lawyer writes:
“My client’s greatest desire is to be able to uncontrovertibly clear the stain on his character caused by these allegations. While it may be possible to put a monetary value on the damage caused to him, a clear written apology from you for the false allegations made against him would in his eyes be the most satisfactory compensation. Were he to receive such an apology, my client is prepared to draw a line under matters and take no further steps to pursue you for the losses arising from your false complaints. In the absence of such an apology however, please treat this letter as notice of the intent to pursue the recovery of all losses arising from you.”
In a further letter to the Scottish Labour Party, Thomson’s lawyers have submitted a formal complaint against Sweeney, and urged that his party membership be suspended while an investigation takes place.
If the party has not made investigation into this matter to date, please treat this letter as a formal complaint against Mr Sweeney and confirm that it will be investigated under its disciplinary rules. Pending that investigation concluding, and given the seriousness of the false allegations made, it would also seem appropriate to suspend Mr Sweeney’s membership at this time.
Read the letter sent to Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar here…
In the latest edition of ‘Labour frontbencher contradicts the party line’, Shadow Scotland Minister Paul Sweeney has said he would support either Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman as a unity PM candidate if Corbyn couldn’t command a majority in the house. Good to hear shadow Ministers have firm confidence in Corbyn…
Appearing on the Debated Podcast, the Sweeney was asked whether he would be willing to support Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman if it was clear they were close to forming majority support, to which Sweeney replied “yes… if Jeremy was unsuccessful I think we’d need to be open-minded about giving someone else the chance to do it as a neutral figure or any figure really that could command a majority, we would have to consider it I wouldn’t rule it out”. No doubt Sweeney will be receiving an angry call from Seumas any moment now…
The Labour Party has descended into fresh turmoil after John McDonnell’s highly contentious comments last night saying that Labour “would not block” IndyRef2. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP naturally jumped all over it and are now gleefully trying to widen the rift between Scottish and UK Labour.
Unsurprisingly Scottish Labour themselves have erupted at the news which threatens to rip out their electoral base yet further. To be fair, they could have seen it coming given Corbyn himself said he was “absolutely fine” with another go at Scottish independence two years ago…
Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard held what will have been a fairly robust meeting with the Shadow Chancellor this morning, issuing a statement:
I made clear to him that a second independence referendum is unwanted by the people of Scotland and it is unnecessary… The 2014 referendum was a once in a generation vote.
Scottish MPs and MSPs have since piled in. Ian Murray MP led a blistering attack on McDonnell, saying:
“These are utterly irresponsible comments from John McDonnell that betray our party’s values… McDonnell has even bought into the nationalist narrative that Westminster is an ‘English Parliament’, in an insult to the hard work carried out by Scottish MPs from every party.
We were promised by the SNP that the 2014 referendum was once-in-a-generation, and we have a duty to hold the Nationalists to their promise by firmly opposing a divisive second independence referendum.
But one of the architects of the Corbyn project that is destroying the Labour Party now appears willing to destroy our United Kingdom with thoughtless rants at the Festival”.
Murray retweeted fellow MP Stella Creasy who blasted:
Nationalism is antithesis of socialism – to prioritise passports over principles isn’t progressive. Egalitarian devolution isn’t about separation but how by working together as nations within the UK each stronger and more successful. Labour abandons such commitment at our peril.
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) August 7, 2019
Shadow Scotland Minister Paul Sweeney MP has also been on the attack, while Labour’s Scottish Parliamentary candidates have put out a joint statement. Never underestimate Labour’s ability to turn a crisis into a catastrophe…
UPDATE: Rather than apologising for undermining Labour policy, McDonnell has doubled down, saying the approval of a second Scottish independence referendum is also Jeremy Corbyn’s view. It’s clear Scottish Labour are not going to let this argument die down.
UPDATE 2: Labour’s MSPs have released a joint statement condemning McDonnell’s IndyRef2 u-turn:
The SPLP support the stance taken by Richard Leonard as our Leader and back the policy position that he outlined. We deplore any attempts to undermine the official policy position of the Scottish Labour Party and we express serious concerns about an apparent change in Labour’s position on a matter of vital importance to the future of Scotland and of the Scottish Labour Party itself.
Scottish party policy is very clear – that is opposition to a second independence referendum. There is therefore an urgent need for the UK Party leadership to engage constructively with the Scottish Party leadership on the issue of the party’s stance on the future of Scotland.
We are clear Labour’s position on Scotland’s future is a decision for Scottish Labour, which the UK Party must accept. We expect all Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs to vote in accordance with party policy.
The war rages on…
Labour’s Shadow Scotland Minister Paul Sweeney has said that that the defections of several MPs from the Labour Party were part of a “necessary cleansing” of the party. Which one of his colleagues does he think needs to be “cleansed” next?
Sweeney attacked the TIGgers as “self-centred careerists” and said that “there’s a necessary cleansing that has to happen in the margins”. These are people who have left the party in protest at the endemic anti-Semitism within it…
Ian Austin, who also quit the party over anti-Semitism, but did not join the TIGgers, summed it up:
Someone has told me he is apparently the shadow Scotland minister.
They said I should call for him to be sacked.
I’m wondering why anyone would want to be on the front bench helping Jeremy Corbyn in the first place.
— Ian Austin (@IanAustinMP) March 18, 2019
No comment from Labour on what they’re going to do about it…