Labour war on Scottish sleaze
Sunday 14 September 1997
Party leaders will use the model of their existing by-election panel, which rigorously excludes "unsuitable" candidates, for choosing would- be MSPs.
The aim is to root out any Labour hopefuls for the pounds 40,000-a-year jobs who have been caught up in the party's on-going scandals in Scotland or who have an inappropriate past.
A panel of top officials from Labour's London HQ will vet the records of all aspiring MSPs before they will be allowed to stand in Scotland's first one-citizen, one-vote election for its own parliament, probably in May 1999. "This is going to be squeaky clean," said a senior party insider.
Labour will look for candidates who have not necessarily been in politics before, but who have a wide range of experience. Time-serving local councillors - known as "numptys" - will be quietly discouraged. It will be a case of 'Not under my party, thank you', said a party source. The Scottish Secretary, Donald Dewar, wants to broaden the base of political life, an aim shared by the other main parties.
The disclosure that English party bosses will decide who is to sit in a Scottish parliament is bound to draw criticism and spark nationalist taunts that Labour cannot trust the Scots. But Tony Blair has decreed that Labour cannot take any chances after the string of political scandals in Scotland.
There will be 129 members in the new parliament, which will begin sitting in the year 2000. Seventy-three will be directly elected in the existing 72 Westminster constituencies, with an extra seat formed by the division of Orkney and Shetland into two constituencies. A further 56 members will be chosen by proportional representation from a list supplied by the parties.
There is unlikely to be a shortage of candidates. The rewards will be roughly on a par with Westminster - about pounds 40,000 a year plus the office, research and housing allowances that bring the package close to pounds 100,000.They will enjoy free travel, post and telephones and get mileage payments for using the car.
But MSPs will not have sit in formal session as often as their southern colleagues. The parliament will meet for no more than 26 weeks a year. The Government argues that more time can then be devoted to pre-legislative scrutiny of parliamentary bills, doing away with the need for a second, revising chamber.
Mr Dewar, who is widely tipped to become Scotland's First Minister as well as retaining his existing Cabinet post, will head a Scottish executive of between 10 and 20, modelled on the UK Cabinet. The parliament will have full powers over the pounds 14bn annual government expenditure in Scotland, and the power to raise income tax by up to 3p in the pound. Labour has said it will not use the power during the lifetime of the current Westminster Parliament but proportional representation could deprive the party of an overall majority in the new parliament.
The handsome margin of victory in Scotland has raised ministerial hopes that the referendum in Wales on Thursday will also return a "yes" vote.
Focus, pages 16-17
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Kim Jong-un proves 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...