Scottish Executive Member Stephen Low argues that the fracas around Kezia Dugdale's legal fees is far wide of the mark.
This is no longer about who picks up what legal bill. Kezia’s actions and allegations have shifted this well beyond a matter of invoicing. It’s a matter of trust – and when it comes to telling the truth, or putting this party first – we can’t trust Kezia.
Perhaps worse, there are those within the Party with a Murdoch Press like willingness not to let the truth get in the way of an opportunity to denigrate the leaders party members have chosen. We can't go on like this, we are led by decent people, who have behaved decently in this matter. They and, and we, deserve better than this sabotage based on falsehood. Kezia maintained to her parliamentary colleagues – and then any anti-Ljournalist who would listen (and they were all prepared to listen) that she had in effect , in effect been given, a blank cheque. This had never been the case.
The party’s agreement with Kezia was only to provide initial support. Even this level of involvement was odd, given that Kezia’s employers – a large media firm with decades of experience dealing with defamation cases - had agreed the responsibility was theirs. (In real terms then, Labour Party involvement wasn’t practical support in a fight with the Revolting Stu, it was a subsidy to the Trinity Mirror Group shareholders).
The party met the terms of this agreement. Indeed the party went further than had been agreed and obtained a counsel’s opinion. That though isn’t the tale Kezia told to the press.
No, what Kezia has told the press is that we can’t be trusted, when the reality is Kezia has been given more than had been offered
Kezia led the SPLP, then the press, to believe that that she had been offered an open ended commitment.
Jenny Formby says this was never the case.
The party’s finance team say this was never the case.
The party’s solicitors say it was never the case.
The tale Kezia has been telling is incompatible with what is being said about this by everyone else involved,.
So Kezia’s TV studio story of betrayal doesn’t add up.
Kezia has first of all thoroughly misrepresented the situation – and then sought to trash Labour’s reputation on the basis of that misrepresentation
Then there are Kezia’s actions after she was ‘crushed’ – but before she ran to the media with her cry of infamy.
What did Kezia do?
Did she phone Jenny Formby the General Secretary, the person in charge of the operation of the party? No. Kezia made no attempt to contact the senior party official who not only has a grasp of the detail of the issue, but decision making authority over it.
Instead Kezia texted Jeremy Corbyn, who had had no involvement whatsoever with any of this. Jeremy, acting properly and practically, passed the inquiry onto Jenny Formby , the only person with a remit to deal with it.
Kezia had two possible courses of action. One would have been would have been practical and informative, the other more likely to get a headline at the expense of the party. It is obvious which she chose.
That Labour took any responsibility for this matter away from Kezia’s employers at the Record, was in itself a scandalous misuse of our funds for their benefit. One that many labour members would like explained. The variance of Kezia’s tale of woe from observable facts, and her sustained use of that story to try and destroy the Labour’s party reputation, that is a much more serious issue.
Based on Kezia’s version of events, a degree of disquiet amongst her colleagues (and the wider party) isn’t that much of a surprise. That this was seized upon by those irreconciled to the decisive victories of Jeremy & Richard is, but for less creditable reasons, not a surprise either. Now that Kezia’s version of events has been shown to be so far from the facts at so many points – that isn’t a stance that can be maintained. Now anyone using this as an issue to browbeat or criticise the people the party has chosen to lead us is clearly saying that they don’t care what the truth is – they are just out to create havoc because they can’t live with the choices made by the membership. Our condemnation of such wreckers should be severe.
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