Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Devastated" Devine threatens to force second by-election in Livingston

The BBC is reporting, as I have speculated here on several occasions in the last few days, that Jim Devine, recently deselected MP for Livingston, is threatening to stand down immediately and force the second by-election of this Parliament in Livingston. He's apparently feeling devastated by his treatment by the authorities, but, to be honest, he hasn't yet offered a plausible and consistent explanation of his claims for public money.

I wonder if the NEC sub-Committee will have to think again if the Police investigation Devine invited on his claims leads to nothing - there is always that option, although I think it's unlikely because Labour are not judging on whether the law has been broken.

It isn't clear whether Devine would stand in this by-election because he has also said that he is considering holding out to the General election and standing as an independent.

It would be interesting to see whether the local party, with whom he has had a long association, first as Robin Cook's agent and most recently as MP, would back him or the candidate forced upon them by London Labour high heed yins.

Jeff has speculated that there might be an all women shortlist here which would be interesting given that Devine won in an all male contest in 2005. I remember being completely shocked at the time that they didn't put any effort into ensuring that they had a balanced shortlist, but then I've often found Labour's commitment to equality and diversity to be either dogmatic or patchy. If there is an all woman shortlist, that may not please Bristow Muldoon, the former MSP, who may be interested in standing for Westminster.

Whether it's a by-election now or the general in less than a year, I would be very surprised if Labour holds on to this seat, with or without the intervention of Devine. Their vote has been leeching away and they no longer control the Council. While Devine may have a long association with Livingston Labour, I don't sense any particular affection for him amongst local people - in fact, for those of my friends who have been to see him, it's quite the reverse.

Although the SNP runs the Council in coalition with the hospital campaigners, there is still dissatisfaction with health service provision locally, though, and the SNP Government is not achieving much at Holyrood. They have failed on Police and teacher numbers, their Scottish Futures Trust is a joke and they are being completely thrawn about increasing the powers of the Holyrood parliament. It annoys me that they just go on about independence and nothing else and have not been constructive about the Calman process. There's no huge appetite for independene, but there is for further devolution of power and it's ironic that the biggest barriers to progress and consensus in that regard are not the Tories, for once, but the SNP.

So, whenever it comes, we could see some surprises the next time Livingston goes to the polls.

However, let's leave the last laugh to the BBC's Brian Taylor. I guess someone had to do it...

UPDATE: My good friend Stephen has been doing the shelf joke thing too

UPDATE 2: Mr MacNumpty has been ruminating along similar lines - well not similar to my last main paragraph, of course, but a good read nonetheless.

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