The Gummy Bear Omnishambles


How have things changed in a few short months?

Ireland, supposed European cradle of reactionary catholic conservatism has delivered an inspiring celebration of equality – and in a liberatory moment thrown the past out the back window and transformed itself.

It seemed like a generational coup d’état.

With the #hometovote tag trending the vision of the young Irish near-diaspora returning home to sort out the Old Country featured strongly.

Three other snapshot indicators of rapidly-changing times in this moment.

Our First Minister (@NicolaSturgeon) maybe emboldened by Eurovision, tweeted:
“I bet there will be a few marriage proposals in the pubs of Dublin tonight. What a lovely thought. Enjoy the celebrations, Ireland.”
A lovely generous message.

And (back to Ireland again) Fintan O Toole remarks on Prince Charles shaking hands with Gerry Adams in Galway this week. He writes:

“Even in the early 1990s, it would have been impossible to imagine that (when the votes are counted on Saturday) Catholic Ireland just might become the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality by popular ballot. Or that Charles could have a civilised conversation in the west of Ireland with the leader of the movement that murdered his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, there in 1979. These are lovely moments, but a question lingers – when does England get to move on too?”

I don’t know the answer to that one but did like the fact that on the very same evening ‘Grumpy Norman’ writes: “Changed times, when Shetland voters march through the streets of Lerwick you know politics have transformed Scotland”.

CFuCZYkWIAA9WZ_And it’s on that note that the Ship of Positive Change gets slightly wrecked on the rocks of Lib Dem intransigence in the wake of the Carmichael debacle.

It’s just an astonishing response of almost the entire political establishment to circle the wagons in defense of one of their own.

Ultimately this is not about the SNP – it is about accountability, decency and the tragic lowering of basic standards of people in public office. That the Unionist Bloc can connive with this is actually tragic, and such crippling short-termism it’s difficult to imagine.

People seem to be forgetting too that the real target here was not the SNP – it was the Labour Party. The target of this botched smear was Ed Miliband, not Nicola Sturgeon.

It’s not a shock to discover that Carmichael was behind the leak – it had his big gummy bear thumbprints all over it. What’s really shocking is the ineptitude of the entire affair from ineffectual beginning to tawdry back-firing end. Christ knows what poor Michael Moore makes of it all, and we await with interest to discover what – say – Alan Cochrane and Willie Rennie and David Mundell knew about the wheeze. Smashing Blethers I’m sure, let’s just hope it doesn’t go all Andy Coulson on you.

But maybe the Gummy Bear was underestimated?

Does the LPW regret the description that: “Carmichael has always had something of the burst couch about him. He’s comfortable but unfashionable knitwear, good for kicking about the house, but hardly stuff to swank in. The well-worn leather shoe on the foot of an Argyllshire auldwife who makes rare tablet and scones which rise”?

Maybe not an iron fist in a velvet glove but a bit more Rosa Klebb than just a well-worn shoe?

Changed days but a few folks are playing catch-up. Of all the quickly concocted defences there seems to be three main ones coming to the fore:

a) The Desperate Technical Loophople Defense: He wasn’t an MP at the time, as if, if you nip out in your jammies you could stab someone (or something)

b) The bogus  ‘It was a leak, not a lie’.

c) Och it doesn’t really matter does it? and (my favourite)

d) ‘Let’s juts bluff it out and it will go away, we’re probably still in charge (aren’t we?).

Unfortunately for the Lib Dems and their allies A is only really applicable if you are some sort of amoral constitutional geek, B doesn’t have any basis in known reality C is funny and D wont work because:

“If MPs were to vote to suspend Carmichael for 10 days or more, this would then automatically trigger a new process under the Recall of MPs Act (championed by Nick Clegg): if at least 10% of Carmichael’s constituents sign a petition calling for a byelection, then one must be held. Carmichael could stand again but would face a huge struggle to see off the rampant SNP.Some believe Carmichael might try to argue that the investigation should not take place as he was not an MP when the Daily Telegraph published the story on 3 April, as parliament had concluded its five-year term on 30 March. However the cabinet secretary’s inquiries revealed phone calls between Roddin and a Telegraph journalist had taken place on days before publication.”

Our information from the Northern Isles  is 10% of Carmichael’s constituents is a laughably low figure.

We forget the other defense rolled out by a number of folk, the endless ‘whatabouterry’ which retrospectively recalls endless politicians badness as if to say, this is now routine?

In this sea-change of possibility what stands out is the sense of a right to rule, and not just a right to rule but a perceived right to rule fraudulently.

Scotland and Ireland actually stand apart. As O’Toole rights:

“The overwhelming victory for the Yes side in the marriage equality referendum is not as good as it looks. It’s much better. It looks extraordinary – little Ireland becoming the first country in the world to support same sex marriage by direct popular vote. But actually it’s about the ordinary. Ireland has redefined what it means go be an ordinary human being.”

And yet if Carmichael evades censure and justice, he’ll have confirmed that the political class operate somehow above the moral standards and expectations of the rest of us. Scotland will have redefined what it means to be a politician.

Shame has a useful function in any society. Are we dealing with the shameless?

What’s changed in the last few months is the idea that you can get away with this any more, that it’s okay, that you can ride it out. That’s not okay any more.

It’s all about equality. Resign now.


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Comments (36)

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  1. Will says:

    It is my view that he never received any disciplinary action from his party regarding this matter because others in the party both north and south of the border in advance may have been aware of it.

  2. john young says:

    I totally oppose same sex marriages,even our cousins the chimps go along with what is natural ffs,what is this big push for “marriage” anyway when it is all going down the plug hole,we have the largest divorce% in Europe or one of,the world is going to hell in a hand cart,why can,t homosexuals just live to-gether,we will/are reaping the benefits of this type of madness,take a look at our so called “liberal” society it is a complete shambles where anything/everything goes,i am far from being a “bible thumper” but Sodom and Gomorrah spring to mind,the ties that bound us as a unit are all but undone.

    1. david says:

      Every single mammal specis that has been examined for homosexula behavior – including the chimps – exhibit it. It is natural. Goodness even birds do it!

    2. JBS says:

      It’s an outrage. It’s all going to pot because of gay marriage.

      Why can’t we just get back to the old days when people like you and me could dictate how everyone else thinks and acts and feels? The world was better then.

    3. Allan Thomson says:

      If you oppose it I fully support your right not to do it!

  3. Neil says:

    1. Rosa Kleb.

    2. Shetland.

    3. The Liberal Democrat Party.

  4. john young says:

    It,s not about “doing it” David it is for me about the sanctity of marriage the concept of creation between man/woman,we are already a very long way down the road of tampering with all that is natural and beautiful in this world and the price will be paid.

    1. JBS says:

      I agree, the price will be paid. Fire and brimstone. I used to think that love is natural and beautiful and there isn’t enough of it in the world but now I see that I was wrong.

      You will have to excuse me now as I have to write a letter to my Local Authority. I am currently in dispute with my neighbour about the state of her garden – it’s a disgrace – and if the Council won’t do anything about the situation you can rest assured that I WILL.

  5. Isobel Mitchell says:

    Thanks to Bella for an interesting and timely article.

    Some thoughts from Shetland:

    The shift from principled MP and stalwart of Amnesty International to Chief Whip for the coalition peddling smears and lies is both a political and a personal tragedy for Alistair Carmichael. He appears to have lost all connection with why he went into politics, with the electorate and with the ethos of participatory democracy. His position as Northern Isles MP is no longer tolerable and his resignation is just a matter of time. I hope Alistair may then start to recover and reconnect.

    The delay in resignation is probably more political than personal. The Lib Dems will argue over his replacement – they have plenty unemployed former MPs to chose from – and once selected Alistair Carmichael will fall on his sword. However it is becoming increasingly obvious that senior Lib Dems – or Fib Dems as they are now known by more kindly voters in Lerwick – are themselves implicated in the tawdry business of smear and lies. Willie Rennie was widely quoted in the Telegraph at the height of the smear campaign against Ed Milliband and Nicola Sturgeon. The SNP are rightly asking who else was involved. Lib Dem inaction to the point of playing dead is understandable if unsustainable in the circumstances.

    The whole miserable tale is fundamentally an establishment saga gone wrong. The speed dial connections between the Scotland Office and the front page of theTelegraph suggest a well trodden route for personal attacks and misinformation. Tory fingerprints are all over the place. The alacrity at which the Telegraph reproduced lies and drivel without the most basic journalistic checks, such as a phone call, suggests they knew all along that their headline news could have been lifted from the Beano. The truth, or some of it, has emerged because the attempted smear was basically stupid and ill conceived. It is frankly astonishing that anyone involved, from fabrication to dissemination, could have thought the lies would stick. The bogus memo harmed Ed Milliband because he was already wounded and bounced off Nicola Sturgeon, a widely trusted First Minister of a changed, politically engaged Scotland

    Was this the last throws of an ancient regime no longer relevant in Scotland? I hope so for all our sakes. Yet the stakes are high for the Lib Dems. However the sitting MPs majority in Orkney and Shetland was decimated in the election from almost 10,000 to a mere 817 votes. It is fair to claim that many voters would never have voted Lib Dem and many more would have voted SNP if the full facts were known. We now know that the Lib Dem campaign was based on lies and deception and was entirely without integrity. That Alistair Carmichael was then forced to admit the truth at great public expense puts paid to the idea that he has the will of the people.

    For far too long the Lib Dems have taken the folk of Orkney and Shetland for granted. The whole tawdry mess of oft repeated lies and establishment collision shows contempt for parliament, the electorate and now the people of Orkney and Shetland. We will not be lied to. We expect more of our elected representatives, far more.

    Isobel Mitchell

      1. Isobel Mitchell says:


    1. Fiona McTulloch says:

      There must have been a point in this whole affair when the idea was conceived, agreed and then planned.

      You probably start with someone and or others stating to civil servants that anything negative or anything that could be modified to be negative, e.g. lost in translation, on the SNP has to be flagged, this is our secret, no one else to know!

      Possibly, someone meets with a colleague who outlines what can be done to halt the rise of the SNP, mobilisation of the dark arts commences.

      The action is now conceived, it’s revised, approved and a plan hatched how to put it into the public domain.

      The cell who conceived the idea now needs to grow to enable it to be communicated.

      The deed is done, now sit back and watch the action and have a wee Highland Park to yourself!

      Huge publicity, unionists have an orchestrated opinion supported by press and bbc, but the intended person to be smeared denies the allegations and is supported by an implicated third party.

      Then it all unravels, someone looks round for friends, none come forward, someone is all alone and starts the amateurish cover up. As everyone knows from Watergate, it’s not necessarily the story leaked that counts, it’s the cover up.

      Someone is now repentant, but it is too late. When did someone change from being a decent bloke to being an incompetent fool?

      Lastly, makes you wonder if any politicans that were in other positions prior to the election, have since this affair, been promoted and what what did they know? Someone is finished, no credibility and can’t be trusted, someone’s party is all but finished and will follow suit if its position does not change on this issue. A basic matter of decency.

      “Oh what a tangled web we weave when fist we practice to deceive”

    2. Hoss Mackintosh says:

      Great post Isobel.

      Alastair Carmcheal should consult with his electorate and should resign and either stand again or let another Lib-Dem stand in his place.

      Then is up to the Shetlanders and Orcadians to decide their future MP.

      I think they will chose wisely.

      1. Isobel Mitchell says:

        Cheers Hoss. Interested to see outcome of referral of Alistair Carmichael to the Ethics Committee. I expect further revelations will emerge. Meanwhile the establishment are closing ranks & trying to shut down the issue of a sec of state for Scotland who abused his office and tried to deceive the electorate. If he clings on, and I find that hard to imagine, the Lib Dems will be unelectable for a generation or more in the Northern Isles.

        1. MBC says:

          SNP now controls the Scottish Affairs Select Committee. They could call him to answer questions and he could be cross-examined by Joanna Cherry, QC, now MP for Edinburgh West.

          It will rumble and rumble. We need to know how a civil servant under Carmichael’s watch came to produce a memo containing complete fabrications.

          Other point. As the toxicity of this grows, it will spread to Liam Macarthur and Tavish Scott’s chances of re-election next year.

          Not very collegiate of Carmichael, is it? His hanging on to his job could cost them theirs.

          I note they have been very quiet…

    3. L.G. Meaulnes says:

      What are ‘throws’?

  6. Michael says:

    And when civil partnerships were introduced there were siren voices warning of everything going to hell in a handcart. Yet, ‘miraculously’, we somehow got through that one.

  7. Iain a f fleming says:

    Sadly, The Recall of MPs Act 2015, while having been been enacted, is not yet in force. So, Carmichael can’t be removed that way.

  8. Redguantlet says:

    Nice tie in, Bella, connecting sodomy in Ireland with the Secretary of State for Sodomizing Scotland, one of a long line of imperial sodomizers…

  9. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    I believe that LPW is tweeting today the Recall of MPs Act was passed but has not been enacted.

      1. Jon Buchanan says:

        LPW did also note yesterday though that the text of the statute in the Representation of the People Act 1983 wasn’t limited to making false statements about the character or conduct of an opponent during an election campaign. By taking to the airwaves, thus going on public record, and lying through his teeth about the scope of his involvement and knowledge of the affair, specifically denying that he hadn’t heard anything of it until a journalist phoned after the story had broken when the enquiry shows he knew of it whilst still an MP, he made false statements about his own character ‘for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election’. There are twenty one days after the election to lodge a complaint at the Court of Session, which expire on Thursday, a fact as a lawyer aware of these processes and having shown an interest in the political precedents (see his letter in The Shetland Times of 2010), which probably also influenced Carmichael’s timing.

        Having read up a little after reading the Peat Worrier’s piece yesterday, I tried to start a Kickstarter fund for legal fees and was perfectly prepared to lodge the complaint myself on Tuesday. Should the right thing have been done by the Gummy Bear himself on or by then I would have donated any funds raised to the costs of an ensuing by election. Sadly, having set up the Kickstarter project and announcing it on Peat Worrier’s Blog I had to remove my comments after Kickstarter themselves wouldn’t accept any of my disability information as corroboration of ID! I have fairly debilitating Frontal Lobe Epilepsy, am banned from driving and find most forms of travel lower my seizure threshold so don’t have a passport…I tried all afternoon to find an alternative they would accept to no avail, had to close the project early evening, sorry folks! Would gladly contribute if someone else wants to take the baton…*waves baton, panting out of breath*…any takers?

        1. ben madigan says:

          you have done the best you can Jon. let’s hope someone else picks up the baton and continues this relay race against time.
          sorry to hear of your disability. hope you’re coping – not easy at times- have family members with similar so know what you have to go through

          1. Jon Buchanan says:

            Thank ya kindly Ben, on both counts!(it’s rare anyone gets the epilepsy bits never mind frontal lobe; 90,000 sufferers in Scotland, 1-2% of those frontal lobe, as many as there are insulin dependent diabetics, but some of the old stigmas still stick, thus why I’ve written a ‘Political Ethnography of Frontal Lobe Epilepsy in Scotland’ as part of a study for the social enterprise I formed this year, two and half years after diagnosis, when I realised just how tough it might get, presenting it to the cross party group on disability at the Scottish Parliament through the epilepsy charity Quarriers, see how we go!) On the point of the thread though, who knows, maybe, ahem, ahem, erm, excuse me a mo, maybe Mr Carmichael might do the right thing! There should still be a full dragging over the coals of everyone involved to see just how far it went and how complicit any and everyone was, yes Mr Mundell, we mean you!

          2. Jon Buchanan says:

            Yes Orkney have just announced, in the light of today’s interview on Radio Orkney with Alistair Carmichael, where he gave every indication of carrying on regardless, that they will be starting a Crowdfunding project to lodge a complaint at the Court of Session, which looks like the only legal recourse the people may have open to them for genuine immediate accountability before this is simply buried in Westminster and we never find out just how far it went! Please share and give what you can!

          3. Jon Buchanan says:

            Remember they only have until Thursday to lodge the complaint, 21 days after the election, so it’s not one of those things we can get round to giving to, a couple of quid now will go a long way to accountability!

  10. David McCann says:

    The establishment have already closed ranks. Not a word this morning on the Andrew Marr show.
    Had this been an MP from the Shires, it would have been top of the bill

    1. MBC says:

      Yes, noted. This is a much bigger story than is being reported.

      1. Colin McIssac says:

        Test is what is reported n Tuesday’s papers and what SNP MPs decide to do at westminister.

        Secondary, but also important, who else was involved and what happens after this carmichael stands down.

        I feel very sorry for the people of Orkney and Shetland, they must feel stabbed in the back!

  11. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    Pompous tub of lard Alistair Carmichael said in a speech in the House of Commons last week ” We Liberals are an elite cadre. ”

    You can say that say again, at lying, Carmichael,Chris Huhne and then there’s ”Sir” Cyril Smith….

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      Funnily enough his words in the speaker’s ‘debate’ were ‘I confess this is an honour I hadn’t anticipated when I came to the chamber today but on behalf of the elite cadre of Liberal Democrats…’, sounds a little like a man surprised he hasn’t been found out yet, but then from the smug smirks and barely concealed laughter, what I am reliably informed psychologists call ‘duper’s delight’, shown in his original c4 interview through to his apparent relish at the bonhomie shown by the government benches at his speech, he clearly thought, the implication being he had been informed, his back was most definitely covered! The deafening silence from all but Ming Campbell and Wullie Rennie(the only other politician quoted in the original Telegraph article) speaks volumes; collateral damage!

      1. bringiton says:

        Got a link to your crowd funding petition?

      2. ger Connolly says:

        Tavish Scott’s “No comment” is totally unacceptable.
        He was elected to speak, not to run off and hide when things become uncomfortable.
        Grimond must be spinning.

  12. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    ” What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.” I’m glad the sanctimonious Liberals got their comeuppance, a nuclear wipe out.

    Is Alistair Carmichael sorry that he lied or that he got caught ???

  13. Allan Thomson says:

    Aberration – mental irregularity or disorder especially of a MINOR or TEMPORARY nature – lapse from a sound mental state.
    There are various dictionary definitions of Aberration. Could it be that Willie Rennie has chosen the word because he knows but one?

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