The grass is blue and the sky is green, both absolutely true if you happen to believe some of the statements,and press coverage from both Holyrood and Westminster with regards to the Leveson enquiry.
Prior to the Leveson report findings in Westminster this afternoon,we had First Ministers Questions in Holyrood,which is always good for a laugh, or suspension of belief,when listening to the Labour and Tory opposition leaders,Johann Davidson,and Ruth Lamont.
Today Johann decided to carp at the First Minister in her usual stairheid manner,and accused him yet again for millionth time, of not being up the job. But her object of smear today,was with an eye on the Leveson report coming later in the day in Westminster. Basically she accused his Eckness of being tainted by his scurrilous association with Murdoch,and therefore not a fit person to lead any Scottish parliament cross party talks on ways to examine press regulation. She wasted three questions in this fashion,and couldn’t even respond in any reasonable fashion to the positive consensual nature of examining the issue, but forward by the First Minister. He was endeavouring to treat the parliament in a grown up manner,with serious politics,but she would have none of it! She wanted to have yet another playground dustup.
Here is the coverage of the session, for you to examine for yourselves. (compare and contrast with how this was reported in Reporting Scotland…just a wee difference)
And so onto Westminster(where the benches are purple), and the Leveson findings.
I wont bore you with all the ins and outs of it, but rather focus on what It’s conclusions were with regards to Alex Salmonds involvement.
Leveson said this in his conclusion on Salmond and his involvement with the Murdochs and BskyB.
“6.3 Mr Salmond did not quarrel with the thrust of that email and confirmed that he had not only spoken to James Murdoch about the bid but also gone on to meet him in London in January 2011 to discuss the bid and other matters. Mr Salmond explained the importance of the bid to Scotland in these terms:
“It should be understood, I mean, BSkyB is a huge employer in Scotland. We’re talking about more than 6,000 full-time jobs in addition to the 2,000 outsourcing jobs and temporary jobs. It’s vital in Dumfirmline, Livingston, Uddingston. Some 36 per cent of BSkyB’s total global employment is in Scotland. They are in the top 10 of Scottish private sector employers. So it’s a matter of great importance and the argument being forward by Mr Murdoch was that an expansion of the digital platform on a European-wide basis would result in additional investment and that Scotland would be well placed in that context to benefit, given the strength of the Scottish offer in terms of competitiveness, to benefit from that additional investment.”
The whole section of this report, considers Alex Salmonds dealings with the Murdochs, BSkyB, and the Sun Newspaper. In short it finds him blameless in his actions and motives and transparency
“6.17 I have absolutely no doubt that Mr Salmond was motivated by an anxiety to help Scottish employment and to benefit Scotland generally: that is entirely laudable and exactly what is the expectation and proper function of the First Minister. How far that should be taken, however, is another matter. He appreciated that employment whether in Scotland or elsewhere was not a relevant consideration for the Minister and, in fact, he never contacted either Dr Cable or Mr Hunt to argue the contrary. Judged by what he did, as opposed to what he said he was prepared to do, therefore, he cannot be criticised.”
In short…No case to answer. In fact it finds his motivations laudable,and performing exactly to the expectation and proper function of the First Minister position and role.
If you really want to read the whole section of the report, Wings over Scotland have kindly provided a copy for you..which you can read here.
Leveson does not have such good things to say about the three big Westminster parties though.
“Lord Leveson’s Report (page 1438, Volume 3) on the “generic conclusions” of the “too close” relationship between politicians and the press, which criticises UK parties for a failure to serve the public interest and for developing too close a relationship with the media – but specifically excludes the parties of devolved governments.
Lord Leveson writes that he has “given the leaders of the three main parties in the UK advance notice of these generic conclusions” including that they “have not served the public interest”. However he then notes in footnote 24:
“I did not write to the leaders of the national parties of government and opposition in the UK devolved administrations in this way because, as I make clear in this Report, in my opinion the conduct of politicians of devolved government cannot reasonably be considered as part of the historical UK national pattern with which my generic conclusions are concerned.”
3.5. “The evidence clearly demonstrates that the political parties of UK national government and of UK official opposition have had or developed too close a relationship with the press.”
3.7 “I therefore conclude that politicians have conducted themselves in a way that I do consider has not served the public interest.”
It should be noted that if you have watched the FMQ’s from earlier..that the Scottish Parliament were unable to fully discuss these findings today, as Westminster,which got their copy yesterday,would not allow the Scottish Parliament, (even the Lab,Tory,LibDem regional leaders) the same advanced sight of it.
Just goes to show how Scotland is truly a second class citizen in the grand scheme of things.
Now considering all of the above, one would think that Alex Salmond having been vindicated by Leveson,and no criticism of his behaviour or actions attributable..that he was well in the clear.
And that Westminster, The Tories, LibDems, and Labour had a case to answer.
You would be entirely wrong…because you see, as far as they are concerned in Wesminster,and their branches here too, and sections of the press and media..Salmond has been found wanting, and he is criticised more than any other for his handling and relationships with the Murdochs and BskyB.
Here is what Willie Rennie said.
“29 November 2012
The First Minister has been accused by Lord Leveson of seeking to entice the UK Government to act unlawfully over the BskyB bid. Alex Salmond is the most heavily criticised politician in the report.
Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats said this had implications for future cross-party work to take the report forward in Scotland:
“It is not clear to me how Mr Salmond is going to be able to convene a cross-party group of leaders to take forward the report given he has been so heavily criticised in the report.
“He should offer to stand aside from the cross-party work. It should be led by someone untainted by the report.”
Some sections of the press and media,like their political bedfellows are happier to accuse Salmond of things which he had not done, but could have done, but didn’t!
All a nonsense of course…But the grass is blue and the sky is green after all.