Saturday, 10 March 2012
Found guilty of four counts of common assault at Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday, Eric Joyce said he was now 'deeply apologetic'.
"Clearly it's a matter of considerable personal shame," said the Falkirk MP outside the court after the chief magistrate fined him £3,000 and ordered him to pay £1.400 to his victims after he entered guilty pleas. He was also given a 12 month community order - banning him from entering pubs and licenced premises for three months - and imposed with a curfew from Friday to Sunday.
The Labour MP has been suspended from the Labour party and the process has started for his expulsion from the party.
Where does this leave his constituents now that Eric Joyce has declared he will stand down in 2015. That's over 3 years he will be able to claim a salary and expenses for a job he's no longer fit to do.
If he had been still in the army his case would have be held before a court-martial; he would have served any sentence then been dishonorably discharged. Civilian courts are much kinder. The magistrate banned him from licenced premises for three months. That will make no difference to his alcohol problems because alcoholics find ways of acquiring drink. Alcoholics, like most addicts, are devious and will use anyone willing to show any sympathy in the hope they will feed their addiction.
According to Sky news last night, few of his constituents think he is or was any good as an MP, yet they voted for him.
Eric Joyce, in his military career, accused the army of being racist, sexist and snobbish. He was suspended on full pay but the then Labour government was accused of 'protecting' him and allowing him onto a shortlist of approved Labour candidates for the Scottish Parliament in 1999. The army took no further action, although senior officers described Joyce as 'unemployable', having lost the trust of his fellow officers.
Surely such a comment from the army should have warned the Labour party about his character, but no. Any left-winger was welcome regardless of their past it seemed.
If Eric Joyce insists upon holding his post - although he's not fit to do the job - his decision can only work in the YES camp's favour. As it is, without immediately resigning, he shows the lack of respect he holds for his constituents. Hopefully this time they'll show him - and Labour - how they feel through the ballot box.
The House of Commons ought to update its legislation for MPs and bring it into line with society but that's another issue.
I've put a wee poll in the right hand column if you'd like vote.