Friday, 23 January 2009

The Trumpgate Gang of Four

A new Gang of Four has emerged out of the shocking happenings within the Liberal Democrat group on Aberdeenshire Council

There was another heated meeting of the Council yesterday relating to Donald Trump's golf resort.. This time it was the turn of Paul Johnston to face the ire of his fellow liberal democrats [sic]*.

Cllr Johnston was cleared earlier this month by the Standards Commission. However, it was the support of fellow councillor Debra Storr at the Council meeting on 2 October, 2007. Her claim in defence of Paul that he should be considered innocent until proven otherwise. Led to her being expelled by the Lib Dem council group. However, she appears to have been proven one of the few wise heads in the chamber that day.

Three different proposals were before the council.

  • Martin Ford, he who used to chair the planning committee before his casting vote blocked the American tycoon's plans, proposed that a note be appended to the October 2nd minutes that Cllr Johnston has been exonerated.

  • Anne Robertson the Liberal Democrat group leader proposed ding nothing citing that taking and action was too difficult.

  • The SNP proposed that the decision by the Standards Commission was irrelevant and called for him to be suspended for 6 months.

The Lib Dem group proposal was the one that was finally passed although the Director of Law and Administration in answer to a question said that it was perfectly easy to do what Martin asked. The director saw no issue on doing this on website, in library versions and to all locations where Minutes were regularly sent out. Ford confirmed this best try was OK with him.

The fact that the SNP were actually seeking the suspension of an elected representative who had been cleared by the Standards committee shows a different shocking opinion of democracy. Neither the Lib Dem nor SNP Group come out of this incident in a good light.

Today three of the Lib Dem group Ford, Johnston and Sam Coull left the ruling administration, to join the already expelled Debra Storr to form a new grouping within the council. I now leaves things finely balanced with 34 in the lib dem/Conservative bloc and 34 others including the 4 Liberal Democrats, SNP and independents on the same number.

*I'm deliberately using lower case for the party name in this case.


  1. The liberals are in free fall in the North East, I suspect you'll see real damage inflicted in teh coming elections to all of there seats in this part of the word.

    Tavish's Leadership has been an unmitigated disaster so far, the latest episode of which was putting mike rumbles in charge of budget talks.....

    Can the liberals support LIT with a postponed variable rate ability?

    Will they survive if they vote it down?

  2. There are a number of issues there. The councillors attitude may have the same effect in Aberdeenshire council elections in 2012 as recently happened in the Borders.

    I don't agree with you about Tavish's leadership however. He is the only real voice of opposition on a number of key issues at Holyrood. As a Wardog I'd have thought you'd have appreciated the sening of Mike Rumbles to talks.

    For the record I actually backed Mike for leader as a felt we needed an agressive streak to regain some narritive. Therefore the Tavish lead with Mike as whip works surprisingly well IMHO.

    To your to questions LIT isn't LIT without local accountabilty and local variable setting. In any other guise it is a national income tax. The concordate is showing the strains of Holyrood being Scotland's town hall. LA's are finding it hard to make ends meet.

    So to the actual questions my answers are:


    Yes, because the people will see it as a principled stance for local fair taxation with local accountability. I have more faith in them than some Nats appear to.

  3. Stephen

    I agree, if I had a vote, I'd have back Mike too, he actually believe in full fiscal autonomy unlike Tavish.

    Tavish seems to be using it simply as a tool, but the fence sitting will need to end soon when Calman reports.

    I see a split in the ramshackle 'unionist' alliance coming.

    In short , such an alliance doesn't really exist, there is a vast difference of opinion within the 'unionist camp'..... will Tavish have the courage to u-turn on a referendum if it includes a 3rd question of his making?

    With regards to LIT, it's all about what you define as 'local accountability'

    Council tax is 20% of what Local government spends, the rest comes from central grant.

    I find greater accountability in the spending rather than the raising at local level, a variable LIT would simply allow rich ares to benefit over poor areas.

    Do the Liberals have any analysis about what the different rates would be, say orkney v glasgow for instance?

    And what the costs to each council would be of collecting it?