Labour just won't give up trying to land one on Alex Salmond. Today we're informed that Alex Salmond has been cleared for a second time of misleading Parliament and the panel of former presiding officers set up to examine such complaints have criticised opposition leaders for the way they have used (or more accurately miss-used) the system.
No process existed under the first two terms of Holyrood to hold the First Minister to account, but after an initial complaint against Mr Salmond over his handling of the Donald Trump planning application, he established a system whereby former presiding officers would examine specific complaints.
Does this mean there was never any reason for any MSP to question previous First Ministers? I doubt that. It's more likely that the opposition are looking for a scalp, preferably Alex Salmond's scalp.
The labour party aren't happy being told off by the former presiding officers, they're not happy at all. In fact they're so unhappy they now have a former deputy Presiding Officer accusing Mr Salmond of using public funds to campaign. Ms Ferguson (above) has lodged the complaint after it emerged that Mr Salmond is to hold a government-funded meeting on Scotland's constitutional future in a part of Glasgow soon to be the venue of a crucial by-election. The 'national conversation' event is to be held on September 1 in Molendinar Community Centre, in Glasgow North-East and is part of the Scottish Cabinet's summer tour of Scotland.
Patricia Ferguson, the labour MSP for Glasgow Maryhill, said she had written to Mr Elvidge and claimed the SNP had been "caught red handed abusing taxpayers money to campaign in the by-election".
A spokesman for Mr Salmond denied Ms Ferguson's allegations, saying the decision to take the Cabinet to Glasgow as part of the summer tour had been taken months ago. The spokesman added that the location for the Cabinet and National Conversation event was recommended by officials. "Labour seems to be judging the SNP Government according to their own standards of conduct," he said.
I know people who have attended these Cabinet and national conversation meetings (only one an SNP member) and they considered them to be far more about current policy and the operations of the Scottish government than about independence.
Didn't the Calman Commission travel the country asking the public their opinions on how to make Scottish government better, but pedaled the unionist line? Didn't Calman refuse to invite the SNP on board because he refused to even acknowledge that a third of the country's voters wish independence? Eventually Calman was pushed into consulting with the SNP but he was most reluctant to take this step.
As yet the cost of the Calman Commission's jaunts have not been declared, but I should think it will be far in excess of the £500,000 quoted as the cost of the Cabinet and national conversations meetings. Some brave journalist may submit an FOI regarding the price of this roadshow.
It's obvious these meetings have to be arranged many months in advance and to suggest this was suddenly arranged because of the forthcoming by-election, is a nonsense. If labour hadn't decided to leave the good people of Glasgow NE without an MP until November, the by-election could have been over and done with by 1 September. The people of Glasgow, whether it be north, south, east or west, deserve the same attention as other places in the country. The Calman Commission could have visited Glasgow North East but it decided not to do so. Maybe they thought, after considering the neighbouring MP is SNP, there would be too many voices calling for a discussion on independence.
Footnote 08.56: Stephen's Linlithgow Journal has posted on the same subject. The tone is rather acerbic as you would expect from a Libdem, but it's also witty and deserves a mention.