I feel very sorry for Alistair. He is an incredibly hard working MP and a lovely man who has been nothing but polite to me.
No doubt that sways my judgement. But...
Here’s my two pennies worth
1. If MPs resign every time they are proved to have old untruths we’ll have none left. Which is a pretty depressing state of affairs but a fact. So Alistair shouldn’t need to resign. Unless everyone who's ever told a journalist a great big porkie is going to do the same (more of that anon).
2. That isn’t to say Alistair shouldn’t be reprimanded (punished is a crap word in this context). The decision of the party to take no action is quite wrong and leaves a very bad impression
3. The argument that Alistair has been punished because he gave up his severance pay is not really accurate (even though it is a good gesture and the right thing to do). You shouldn’t get to choose your own punishment. I would rather he had kept the money until someone else had decided what an appropriate reprimand would be.
4. Ditto the ‘he would have resigned’ argument. He didn’t. So that’s not a reprimand either.
5. The main victim here is not Nicola Sturgeon. It’s the poor civil servant who wrote the original memo who got dropped right in it and could have got in all sorts of trouble. The stress they will no doubt have been placed under should not be overlooked
6. The SNP have set a very high bar. Every time we catch one of their MPs telling great big fibs they can expect a whole load of folk calling for their resignations. As Michael White says –
7. 8 Lib Dems served in the cabinet in the last government. 3 of them did things worthy of resignations. That’s not a great record for the party of the new politics. This makes me sad.