Given that the election court had just found that he told a “Blatant lie”, Alistair Carmichael struck absolutely the wrong note in his statement after the case. He could have said:
“I did tell a lie, and it is something I deeply regret. I apologise to my constituents, to my family and to the people of Scotland for all the trouble my lie has caused. I have learned from it. I am grateful to the court for giving me aother chance, and I have now learned never to indulge in that kind of bad behaviour again.”
Instead, with extraordinary arrogance, Alistair said this:
“I am pleased with the decision of the court.
Although I was always confident of winning the last few months have been a difficult and stressful time for me and my family.
We have been enormously grateful for the tremendous levels of support received from local people, in both Orkney and Shetland, regardless of which political party they normally support…
This case was politically motivated. It was a deliberate attempt by nationalists to remove the last Scottish Liberal voice at Westminster, and is a mark of the unhealthy polarisation of Scottish politics since the referendum.”
Co-ordinated statements were put out by Willie Rennie and “Bomber” Tim Farron saying much the same thing. So the utter lack of any humility must have been deliberate. This is an orchestrated act of arrogance.
You will recall that I predicted that there was no way that Scotland’s deeply conservative and unionist judiciary would find against Carmichael. The reasoning behind their judgement is intellectually risible. They say that Carmichael only lied in denying a specific leak; he was therefore not making a false claim about his general character. If he had specifically stated that he never leaked he would have been making a false claim and disqualified.
Here is the pathetic “reasoning” of the judge Lady Paton:
They explained that if a candidate made a false statement that he would never leak an internal confidential memo, no matter how helpful that might be to his party, as he regarded the practice of leaking confidential information as dishonest and morally reprehensible, and he would not stoop to such tactics, when in fact that candidate had leaked an internal confidential memo containing material which was inaccurate and highly damaging to an opponent, they would be likely to conclude that the candidate had given a false statement “’in relation to [his] personal character or conduct” because he would be falsely holding himself out as being of such a standard of honesty, honour, trustworthiness and integrity that, in contrast with what others in Westminster might do, he would never be involved in such a leaking exercise.
“In the present case, when speaking to the Channel 4 interviewer, the first respondent did not make such an express statement about his personal character or conduct,” Lady Paton continued. “We are not persuaded that the false statement proved to have been made was in relation to anything other than the first respondent’s awareness (or lack of awareness) of a political machination. Accordingly we are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the words used by the first respondent amounted to a ‘false statement of fact in relation to [his] personal character or conduct’. It follows that we are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that an essential element of section 106 has been proved.
There are several glaring errors in this reasoning. The first is that if I denied knowledge of a murder I had in fact committed, I would be making a false statement about my general character whether or not I had added a condemnation of the morality of murder.
The second is that Lady Paton ignores the “conduct” in “false statement in relation to his character or conduct.” In denying knowledge of a leak he had in fact made himself. Carmichael was beyond any reasonable doubt making a false statement as to his conduct, even if we accept Paton’s argument it did not go to his character. Note that there is no reference to his “general” or “usual” conduct.
This is the judgement of a woman justifying a pre-determined stitch-up.
Despite al this, I would not be tremendously concerned about the result if Alistair had the decency to be a bit chastened by it. It is only because of our ridiculously undemocratic electoral system that representation is so skewed. You didn’t ought to get over 95% of the seats on 52% of the votes, and I am not sure what is gained by magnifying that other wrong. But any mixed feelings I have on those grounds are dispelled by the utterly inappropriate triumphalism the Lib Dems are displaying, as though to be found a blatant liar by a court is something to be proud of. The brass neck of it all is sickening.