Now Bill Walker should resign as an MSP

According to teasers and trailers on Twitter from the Sunday Herald, the SNP decided today to expel Bill Walker from the party.

Which is the right decision.  For a number of reasons.

First, the most important ones.  Bill Walker appears to have a history of abusing his wives and is alleged to also have faced an accusation of assaulting his step-daughter.  In responding to the claims in the Sunday Herald, the Dunfermline MSP did not deny that he assaulted her physically using a pot, but instead claimed more or less that she started it.

There is, as they say, no excuse for domestic abuse.  And there is no place in the Scottish Parliament for blokes who beat women.  An isolated incident is one thing;  a series of uncontested charges of violence against more than one women is quite another.

The SNP made the right decision on this ground alone.

But the party also had cause to expel him because of the lack of disclosure.  It would appear that Bill Walker did not tell anyone about these matters from his past.  Neither in the application form to become a parliamentary candidate nor to his local branch and constituency before, during or after selection.

There is no doubt that every single elected party representative (of all hues) and indeed, candidate has stuff in the cupboard they would prefer not to fall out.  Most tend to tick this box in the application process with eyes tightly shut and everything crossed.  Election hopefuls are human beings, after all, and nothing defines us as a species more than our capacity for weakness and failing.  We’ve all done something stupid at some point in our lives.

Very few take the route of one potential by-election candidate who decided full disclosure was in order.  It was, after all, a pretty high profile contest in a seat the party had a real chance of winning.  Several hours closeted with a party official got it all off this person’s conscience and imprinted onto the memory banks of said official.  By the end, the only thing unknown was the candidate’s favoured choice of toothpaste.  But it was the right thing to do.  Knowing in advance of any potential issues allowed the party to manage the risk and work out any rebuttal strategy. Sadly, such honesty is rare.

Of course, it could be argued that expelling Bill Walker allows the SNP to have its cake and eat it.  Without sullying the party whip, the MSP is likely to continue to vote with the Scottish Government on most issues, maintaining its majority.  And on issues where they disagree – such as on same sex marriage, the SNP can distance itself from Bill Walker’s intemperate and intolerant views.  Expelling Bill Walker is not only the right thing to do, but also a useful one.

However, the voters of Dunfermline are not so lucky in that they have no say over whether or not Walker stays or goes. As is the case with Labour MP Eric Joyce, the electorate cannot convene a disciplinary committee in order to dump their recently elected MSP.  MPs and MSPs cannot be pushed (unless they are convicted of an offence and imprisoned for more than twelve months) – they decide if and when they go.

The only person who can create a by-election in the Scottish parliamentary constituency of Dunfermline is Bill Walker.  And if he has any shred of remorse or decency, he will now do the honourable thing and resign his seat.  The people of Dunfermline deserve nothing less.

He was always an accidental MSP anyway: one of the many to benefit somewhat unexpectedly from the SNP landslide last May.  However, there is no reason why the SNP shouldn’t hold the constituency in any by-election and demonstrate that it wasn’t just a fluke.  The party is riding high in the polls, and while Labour and the Lib Dems think they are “on to something” with the Amazon tax avoidance issue, the electorate is not that gullible.  They can tell the difference between a reserved and devolved issue, even if the opposition parties cannot.  In any event, the hideous, giant sheds on the side of the M90 are providing jobs and that is what counts in tough times.

If Labour wants a foot on the ladder back to electoral respectability in Scotland, constituencies like Dunfermline must provide it.  It needs a by-election test and now that John Park MSP doesn’t have other matters to distract him, it’s about time he fought to win a parliamentary seat.

Whoever the two main contenders put up for such a by-election, their choices couldn’t be worse than Bill Walker.  Just so long as they conduct due diligence on the potential candidates of course.



16 thoughts on “Now Bill Walker should resign as an MSP

  1. just come across this post re Walker-two key questions when this issue was raised by family members with Ms Sturgeons constituency office why was it not raised at the pre selection confernce of Walker? Secondly why the pressure of John Park to stand in a constituency seat to gain ‘respectability’ did you say the same of Sturgeon, McAksill et al when they were regional msps? – surely equal votes equal seats?

    • Did I say respectability? I think I was jesting with him. Now he has fewer responsibilities party-wise he should seek a safe seat and berth in. I have no problem with list MSPs and would argue – and do – that they are equal to constituency MSPs. I suspect there is (or at least, was) sniffiness in his own ranks re his not having a seat. As for the other stuff to do with Walker directly, more I think to come here. His son made a devastating expose of what he is like. And still the man carries on. Shocking.

  2. I agree with Peter, this just goes to show that voters need to be able to “fire” MSPs/MPs that are not representing them the way they would expect. At the moment, I could stand for election saying one thing, then turn around and go “HAHAHA!!!! I FOOLED YOU ALL!!!” and spend the next five years totally misrepresenting my constituents.

    At the very least, they should be able to petition parliament to have the offending politician put in front of a panel to judge if their conduct is becoming of an elected representative.

    As for Walker himself, should he resign? Yes. Will he? Doubt it. Will the SNP miss him? No. With 67 MSPs, even if every party and independent voted against them, the SNP could still outnumber them 67 – 61, so there is still a working majority of six there. So even if they lost the by-election-which-won’t-happen, they would still be able to function as a majority government. The only real danger would be to the old momentum.

    John Park? Well, to contest the seat, he would have to give up his current list seat (this is what Richard Lochhead had to do to contest Margaret Ewing’s old Moray seat). Moray may have been to the SNP what Dunfermline used to be to Labour, but it would take a brave man to give up a safe list seat to contest Dunfermline for Labour in 2012. I can’t see it myself.

  3. I don’t think Walker will resign. Comes across as too arrogant.

    Better for the SNP if he goes. If they lose the bye-election it will not be that significant, not unless they lose a swathe of votes.

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  5. I agree. But this also points to something else: the need for a right to recall MSPs. It’s clear that both Walker and Eric Joyce (though, of course he’s an MP) would lose recall votes, and it would give power back to the electors.

    Time for a campaign?

  6. “…while Labour and the Lib Dems think they are “on to something” with the Amazon tax avoidance issue, the electorate is not that gullible. They can tell the difference between a reserved and devolved issue, even if the opposition parties cannot.”

    Er, isn’t the issue about what the SNP would do with powers over corporation tax and to the extent that they won’t say it demonstrates that this is yet another ill-thought out policy that’s found wanting when subject to even the most superficial scrutiny.

    • what independence is ill thought out and found wanting?! The policy is pretty simple – the SNP in indie Scotland (or before) would lower corporation tax to make the country more attractive to set-ups and global HQs and investment etc. They should just come out and say that they would expect Amazon earnings in Scotland to be subject to same tax as other businesses.

      But yes, the issue does flag up one of the many details that need to be resolved. I’m relaxed about that. We are big clever people. We can sort these things. Better than is currently done.
      For you ignore that the issue at heart here is that the rotten UK policy of allowing rich people and businesses to avoid tax continues. Anyone want to take a pop at the UK Government and successive Labour, lib Dem and Tory politicians for shoring this up? No, thought not.

    • “Er, isn’t the issue about what the SNP would do with powers over corporation tax . . .” – er, no it isn’t. It’s about what the Scottish people would want done with powers over corporation tax. It would be good to know what the London, unionist parties would do if it were their call.

      • Er, it’s not the “Scottish people” who proposed the reduction in corporation tax, it was the SNP.

        And it seems that they don’t know what they would do with these tax avoidance schemes.

        I mean, if the likes of Amazon can avoid corp tax in the way that it’s doing then the SNP’s policy is hardly going to attract investment, because in all probability Amazon et al can get a lower rate elsewhere by doing what they’re currently doing.

        The only real way that this kind of thing can be stopped is by international co-operation. That’s why the EU is frowning upon this competition between countries as regards corporation tax rates, so there’s a contradiction between the SNP wanting Scotland to be a good member of the EU and its corporation tax proposal.

        When/if it comes to negotiate EU membership it seems likely that Scotland’s corporation tax policies would be on the table anyway.

        I think some people here seem to be missing the point regarding why the SNP wouldn’t say what they would do regarding this issue.

    • What the SNP would do with corporation tax is… Collect it.

      What Westminster currently does with corporation tax is… Not bother collecting it.

      The SNP advocate lower corporation tax so we can attract businesses like Ireland does and like other small nations adjacent to bigger neighbours do. What they don’t advocate is tax avoidance/evasion.

      Let’s stick to calling a spade a spade.

  7. There is no excuse for domestic abuse, FULL STOP.

    • There is also no excuse for abandoning the rule of law, FULL STOP. Bill Walker has not been convicted of any crime. If there is evidence he’s committed one, he should be charged with it. If there isn’t, he’s as innocent in the eyes of the law as you or I. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

      • There are two parts to our law – criminal and civil. Bill Walker did not contest allegations made in civil divorce proceedings about his violent conduct towards his former wives.

        And i rather suspect that Bill Walker has been expelled from the SNP on a technicality ie the failure to disclose ie the fact that he lied when asked as a candidate if there was anything in his past the party should know about that was material to his being considered as a candidate.

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