Questions for Labour as honours accusation ‘boomerangs’

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by G.A.Ponsonby

The Labour party has been accused of throwing a ‘hypocritical boomerang’ after the party attacked the SNP over nominations for honours.

The Labour accusation, reported in the Scotsman, Herald and Sunday Mail newspapers claims the SNP nominated Stagecoach owner and party donor Brian Souter for a knighthood.

The claims from Labour are a result of a Westminster based official who described the nomination as having come from “the Scottish government”.

However Labour’s claim was immediately rubbished by a Scottish government official who explained that in 2007 the new SNP government ended the involvement of Ministers in the honours nomination process.

A statement from the Scottish government pointed out that such nominations are put forward by an independent committee.

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “The reference to the Scottish Government is not to ministers, but to the independent Honours Committee within the Scottish Government, which consists of civil servants and is led by the permanent secretary, and makes recommendations to the UK Cabinet Office Honours Committee system.”

Earlier this year when questioned on the honours process the SNP said: “We are just not involved in the process in any way, shape or form.”

The newspaper articles feature quotes from former Labour MSP now MP Cathie Jamieson who is reported as saying: “The First Minister and his party must look seriously at the relationship they have developed with wealthy individuals handing them large sums of cash.  The public will rightly be asking what’s next on Mr Souter’s shopping list?”

Ms Jamieson also alleges that the First Minister had “personal involvement in the honour” and accused the SNP leader of “misleading the public.

However Cathy Jamieson has admitted that when she was a Minister in the pre-2007 Scottish Executive that Ministers were “fully involved” in the honours nomination process.  It is also known that in 2006 Jack McConnell – as First Minister – admitted he recommended people for honours.

SNP MP Angus MacNeil has described Labour’s latest accusations of having ‘boomeranged’ and is now demanded the party reveal who they nominated.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

“When the SNP came to office in 2007 we quite rightly took ourselves out of the process of honours appointments. In fact the system is designed to stop political nominations by being a fully independent process and is the sole responsibility of the Permanent Secretary.

“That process is as distant from Scottish Ministers as it is possible and rightly so.  SNP Ministers have nominated nobody.

“Labour’s attack is completely ludicrous and reflects on how they think and operate.  As SNP Ministers have made no nominations since 2007 Labour’s questions fall at the first hurdle.

“In contrast we have admissions from Cathy Jamieson and the now Lord McConnell that they were involved in the process and did make nominations.  Labour Ministers were involved in the process so in the interests of the transparency that they call for will they now publish the names of those they put forward for nomination?

“We also know that in the past that Prime Minister Blair was embroiled in the scandal of peerages and also that previous Labour Ministers blocked honours for political reasons.

“So will Lord McConnell and Cathy Jamieson name the people they nominated or stopped from being honoured?

“The bottom line is that these attacks just show how Labour judge others by their own low standards and as a result leave themselves with questions to answer.”

In 1998, a bitter political row ensued after it was widely reported that the Labour Party had blocked plans to award a knighthood to Sir Sean Connery.  The actor was eventually knighted two years later.