An Open Letter to Brian Monteith MSP

Dear Mr. Monteith,

Your resignation from the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party, which may have been aimed at averting your expulsion for breaching party discipline, is already old news.

You have indicated that you will continue to serve in the Scottish Parliament as an Independent member for Mid Scotland & Fife until the end of its current term in 2007.

As a Scot, a citizen and a taxpayer, and therefore one of your inconveniently troublesome paymasters, it is my belief that it would be wrong for you to do so.

You should resign from the Parliament immediately.

You were elected to that body with no direct mandate. The status you hold of ‘parliamentarian’ is based on two quirks of fortune. The first of these was the number of votes cast for you by members of the Conservative Party in the Mid Scotland and Fife area prior to the election of May 1 2003, which determined how high a place you achieved on their list; and the second was the overall number of votes cast for your party in that area on that day.

The reality of your position is that you are only a Member of the Scottish Parliament because of your previous connection with the Conservative Party. You are a creature of your former party; and having severed your connection with that institution, it is only correct that you sever your connection with the body to which your party sent you as a delegate.

There has been some speculation that you might join the parliament’s ‘Independent group’, whose most prominent member is Margo MacDonald MSP. There are three compelling reasons why you should not.

Firstly, Ms. MacDonald entered the current parliament as an Independent. She assumed office beholden to nobody but herself and her electors – you, however, being a creature of party, cannot claim such a distinction for yourself.

Secondly, Ms. MacDonald was a prominent member of the Scottish National Party for many years – you were a Conservative & Unionist. In political terms, your respective parties were, and are, polar opposites. In order to accommodate you, such an Independent group would require to be the broadest of churches. Its members’ credibility would be compromised; perhaps fatally.

Thirdly, Ms. MacDonald was once the subject of a very nasty, personally vicious whispering campaign directed against her by fellow members of the SNP in relation to her Parkinson’s Disease. You resigned from the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party after having been discovered engaging in whispering against David McLetchie, your party’s leader. Having been found guilty of whispering, to associate yourself with one who was so viciously whispered against would be in the worst of all possible taste.

Concepts such as ‘honour’ and ‘duty’ sound antiquated now; yet you were a Conservative, and they should be woven into every fibre of a conservative’s being.

It was once the case that men such as you, suspected of dishonourable behaviour, would exclude themselves from public life as a means of regaining honour.

Venal men might allow themselves to be persuaded that their public service is of such importance that the necessity of its continuance cancels out the damage their own hands have inflicted on their honour.

The worst of men are those who acknowledge their dishonour and who do not seem to care; self-preservation, and the maintenance of position, are all that matter to them.

In our dreary age of relentless progressivism and moral relativism, the preservation of honour presents the sternest test for those who do not wish to be thought of as guilty of judging others; it demands that they judge themselves.

Your actions in conspiring against David McLetchie were dishonourable, and would have brought you instant dismissal from whatever post you were occupying had they been perpetrated in the private sector. Our parliamentarians are the servants of the people, not their masters - and it ill behoves a parliamentarian to maintain their position when guilty of conduct that would have anyone else out on the street.

I do not share the forgiving streak of John MacLeod of the ‘Daily Mail’, who wrote on November 10 that you ‘add to the gaiety of nations’; instead, your behaviour has brought the reputation of the Scottish Parliament into further disrepute, which its troubled first few years of life have shown it can ill-afford.

It is time to be a gentleman, and to act with honour. If you do so now, it may just boost your standing with the public the next time you stand before us as a candidate for office.

It is time to go.
With very best regards,
M. E. Kelly, LL.B., Dip.L.P,
Sometime Solicitor in Scotland


Blogger Neil Craig said...

If an MSP or an MP was to be removed because he loses the party whip (or jumps before he is pushed as in this case) then this would give unfettered power to party organisers. This applies particularly for list members. For example if Mr Blair could remove an MP & have him replaced by someone further down his list it would solve most of his problems, unfortunately. Something similar would have happened in the early 80s when Labour's left was able to introduce mandatory reselection.

The effect would be to make MSPs (or list MSPs alone) into cyphers which would make Parliament meaningless. In any case I do not believe that most people feel the constituency link to be that important - I for one am happier to have 1 out of 10 Glasgow MSPs who I voted for & who I therefore fell represents me than to have 1 Maryhill MSP who I didn't & who doesn't.

9:35 PM  
Blogger The g-Gnome said...


I'm sorry but I have to disagree.

Referencing Tony Blair in this context is not really relevant to the argument, as no List operates at Westminster.

I think I've made the distinction between directly elected and List MSP's clear enough. Monteith is only where he is because he achieved a particular position on a list which had been voted for by members of the Conservative Party.

If he is no longer in the Conservative Party, and in the absence of having a direct mandate, on what possible basis can he continue to serve?

Montieth's resignation would not give unfettered power to party organisers - it would not make an iota of difference to how the List system operates right now.

With no disrespect to yourself, Neil, it's a matter of record that you're a member of a political party which supports proportional representation, the Liberal Democrats. I can certainly understand where you're coming from when you say you don't think that the constituency link is important.

But this case falls between two stools. Firstly, he has no diirect mandate. If he did, he could easily say, 'The people of Mid Scotland and Fife voted for Brian Monteith as much as for the Conservative Party' and he could possibly, but weakly, attempt to justify maintaining his position that way. In a system of perfect proportional representation, the 'cypher' option might apply - he would resign the party whip but would then also lose his seat and be replaced by the next available Conservative.

Here, however, there is no mandate but neither is there a mechanism requiring him to resign from the Parliament (I will not dignify the position of a List MSP by suggesting that they won a seat)when he no longer takes the whip of the party whose support is the entire rationale of him being there in the first place.

No, he has to go and he has to have the guts to do it himself, as much for the standing of the Parliament, and the Conservative Party and conservative principles, as for himself.

9:59 PM  
Blogger The Three Gates said...

I'm surprised he hasn't called it a day, as he's David Davis's campaign manager in Scotland. Must be a bit compromising, to say the least. Monteith, McLetchie and the news editor involved in this are all unprincipled maggots.

10:43 PM  

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