An end to the witch hunt - by Alastair Cameron

Scotland In Union director Alastair Cameron blogs on the intolerance that drove the legal action against Alistair Carmichael, and what it tells us about post-referendum Scotland.

Earlier today, I took the time to drop a note to Alistair Carmichael, the former Secretary of State for Scotland and the MP for Orkney and Shetland, wishing him well.

Following the successful resolution of his court case yesterday, I hope Alistair is feeling a weight off his shoulders after what he and his family have been put through over the last few months. It has been nothing short of a witch hunt motivated by intolerance of his constitutional views by an over-zealous minority.

There is no getting away from it, Alistair made a mistake. He took political gamesmanship too far by leaking that memo, and crucially he tried to cover it up when he got caught. We make no excuses for him.

But when you set that against some of the everyday abuses of power and trust we see from his holier-than-thou detractors, its rank hypocrisy. Michelle Thomson and her abhorrent property deals, Natalie McGarry calling for ‘community justice’ when she knew she couldn’t account for all sorts of spending and Phil Boswell campaigning against tax avoidance while indulging in his own creative accountancy.

I wonder how these stories would have played during the election.

Even this week, the Transport Minister Derek Mackay changing his story from one day to the next on who was responsible for the Forth Road Bridge closure, a decision which is causing misery to thousands of people and damaging the economy.

Should he be hauled up in front of judges to account for his actions?

We are right to hold our politicians to a high standard and as public figures they know there are consequences to their mistakes, whether they are intentional or not.

But we threaten the fundamentals of our democracy if we choose to pursue elected MPs in this way simply because we do not agree with them. I have no doubt this was motivated by a frenzied Yes movement which is intolerant of those who oppose their political project and saw Alistair as fair game because of the role he played in the referendum.

It does not reflect well on Scotland in this post-referendum period.

I have always seen Alistair as a fair, intelligent and genial individual. He made a mistake and had paid a high price. Now he should be left to get on with the job he was elected to do, representing his constituents in Orkney and Shetland.

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