Salmond apologises for getting it wrong – but for others, sorry is the hardest word

56
881

  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
So Alex Salmond has apologised to the Scottish Parliament for quoting college funding figures for 2011/12 that were inaccurate.
 
An own- goal, and quite spectacular as it goes.  That college funding and Education Secretary Michael Russell would have been the focus at this week’s First Minister’s Questions was a pretty safe bet, so to get funding figures wrong was inexcusable.

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
So Alex Salmond has apologised to the Scottish Parliament for quoting college funding figures for 2011/12 that were inaccurate.
 
An own- goal, and quite spectacular as it goes.  That college funding and Education Secretary Michael Russell would have been the focus at this week’s First Minister’s Questions was a pretty safe bet, so to get funding figures wrong was inexcusable.

Mr Salmond’s apology though was humble and sought not to apportion blame – “I take full responsibility for what I say in this chamber” he said.

The immediate response from Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was graceless and demonstrated a lack of judgement.  Her decision to interrupt proceedings with a point of order that was little more than an ill-tempered rant, that brought a series of rebukes from the Presiding Officer (PO), was unseemly.

Ms Lamont levelled a string of allegations against Mr Salmond that even the most ardent of Labour supporters would admit were an exaggeration at best and false at worst.  Ms Lamont glowered at the Deputy PO as he sought to intervene, and finally, clearly exasperated, the PO ended the intemperate tirade by saying “I think we’ve had enough Ms Lamont”.

Claims from Labour that Mr Salmond had “deliberately” misled Parliament were ridiculous, given that Mr Russell had some weeks ago provided a written answer to the Education Committee that contained the correct figures.  It is beyond comprehension that the First Minister would deliberately seek to then present false figures to the chamber.

Johann Lamont is of course no stranger to misleading the Scottish Parliament.  In October 2011, when Deputy Leader, Johann Lamont described the experience of a rape victim who had been subjected to a harrowing cross examination at the trial of her alleged attacker.

The problem for Ms Lamont though was that the trial she claimed took place, was complete fabrication.  Indeed an investigation by the authorities could find no mention of any such case and the newspaper was forced to issue an apology after admitting that the reporter had invented it.

Fortunately for Ms Lamont no-one made an issue of her mistake, not even BBC Scotland.  Had they done so then she may well have lost out in the contest to replace Iain Gray as Scottish Labour leader a matter of weeks later.

Unlike Mr Salmond, who also made an honest mistake, Lamont has yet to apologise for the false rape story.

The Salmond apology will be covered comprehensively by BBC Scotland, and others – and that is as it should be.  Interviews will be given and allegations will flow.  Mr Salmond’s media and political opponents will have a field day.

However, BBC Scotland reporters will be faced with Labour MSPs eager to make capital out of the SNP blunder. 

So, it is surely now time to approach allegations of misleading parliament in a fair and balanced manner and ask representatives of Scottish Labour to address Ms Lamont’s now year old false rape story.

Presenting falsehoods as fact might also cause BBC Scotland itself to finally address, why, in January this year, they allowed a Labour MSP to broadcast claims against the Scottish NHS that were demonstrably false – and that the BBC knew were false for fully two days prior to broadcast.

Last night Gordon Brewer asked SNP Minister Angela Constance an accusatory question on Newsnight Scotland, that began, “You were supposed to be different…”. 

Well apologising when you make a mistake is certainly different from the BBC and, if the false rape case is anything to go by, very different from Johann Lamont.