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Tory London Mayor candidate scandal

Mike McCartney

30th June 2023

More evidence that devolution has not ushered in a new form of politics

Devolution has not resulted, as proponents had hoped, in a new form of politics, free from the tales of corruption which are so often associated with Westminster life.

For instance, in Scotland, if we go back to the early history of events in the newly formed Scottish Parliament, the MSP Tommy Sheridan was the centre of a very high-profile court case against the News of the World where lurid sex allegations surfaced. Sheridan won his libel case, but he faced perjury claims soon after.

Hopes that new assemblies would be sleaze free zones were also optimistic. A series of revelations about false expense claims led to a number of party leaders resigning, and then there is the tale of the imprisonment of one MSP who got so drunk at a political awards night at a hotel he set fire to a set of curtains.

Meanwhile in Cardiff Bay, the Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, resigned, largely as a result of pressure put on him regarding his handling of events after the death of Carl Sargeant.

And, of course, how can we forget the scandals affecting two of the most important politicians in Holyrood in the last twenty years, both of whom may well have been instrumental in making Scotland independent? Alex Salmond had a long running battle with the courts as a result of sexual allegations made against him (which he was eventually acquitted of). And then there is the ongoing investigation into the financial affairs of the SNP, and the unprecedented nature of Nicola Sturgeon being questioned by the police. The two former First Ministers were considered at their peak to be world class politicians, and their leadership in Scotland seems to be evidence that not all of the best political talent would be drawn to London.

Which brings us to the latest mini-whirlwind regarding the Conservative's selection of a candidate to challenge Sadiq Khan in May 2024. After Daniel Korski stood down from the contest between the final three, some have said that it looks like the Tories have given up on London.

Therefore, while devolution may have brought government closer to the people, it seems that it brought sleaze and incompetence closer to the people as well.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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