Malcolm Macaskill’s dismissal as the party’s number one candidate on the regional list vote for Glasgow subsequently opened the way for Ruth Davidson to take his place on the list, allowing her to take the reigns as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party.
With reports at the time having suggested that even the party’s then leader, Annabel Goldie, was unaware of the sacking, Macaskill sought a judicial review over the decision.
With the Sunday Herald however, reporting over the weekend that an out of court settlement has been reached, Macaskill, who has since left the party, has used it as an opportunity lambast the way the party operates.
Speaking to the Sunday Herald he explained:
“Over the past year, the treatment that I have been subjected to, along with the evidence that I have gathered, has convinced me that the party machine in and around Edinburgh central office is rotten to the core.
“I no longer wish to remain a member of such an inept and morally corrupt organisation.”
Turning his attention to the party’s leader, Ruth Davidson, who replaced him on the list, he argues that early signs “are not promising.” Addressing the apparent contradiction between Davidson declaring that the recently passed Scotland Act represented a “line in the sand” in talk of Scotland’s constitutional future and David Cameron hinting at extra powers for Holyrood, Macaskill continued:
“It remains to be seen how she will fare as leader. Early signs are not promising. The ‘line in the sand’ contradiction from David Cameron was embarrassing and severely undermined her authority.
“I can’t help but feel that the leadership role requires greater experience and that it may have been better suited to any one of the other three candidates.”
• ULSTER (still) SAYS NO 13 Jun 2012
• Tories in Scotland: A tale of two parties 20 Mar 2012
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, another Conservative politician has come in for fierce criticism from the first and deputy first ministers.
Last Thursday, Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, used a speech to the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin to declare that it is “profoundly disappointing that we are still awaiting publication of the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy from the Executive.”
This was despite the fact that just a day before the first and deputy first minister had issued a joint statement on that exact issue.
Paterson went on to announce that his office would be launching a consultation on the future organisational arrangements at Stormont including looking at the idea of establishing what he described as a “more normal system of government and opposition”.
His comments however were met with derision and outcry in equal measure from Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, with the Belfast Telegraph arguing:
“So savage was the riposte to his Dublin speech that it puts a question mark over the confidence of the two bigger parties in Mr Paterson as Ulster Secretary.”
Declaring it to be “ironic” that the secretary of state made the speech he did the day after Stormont made a statement on the shared future strategy, McGuinness went on to declare:
“Either Mr Paterson is so detached from politics here that he missed this statement, or he chose simply to ignore it for his own political reasons.”
Turning his attention to the announcement of a possible government/opposition system in Northern Ireland, the deputy first minister dubbed the idea “clumsy and ill-thought-out”, accusing Paterson of “seeking to use the bogus notion of a failure of the Executive to deliver on issues as a cover to try and start a debate on undermining the power-sharing and equality provisions of the Good Friday Agreement”.
In supporting McGuinness’ comments, Peter Robinson responded:
“We would all like to see more progress on a number of issues, including reform of the government structures, but Mr Paterson knows full well that headline grabbing will do nothing to bring it about.
“I have long argued for reformed structures but such fundamental changes will require maturity among all involved.”
Turning his fire on the secretary of state, the first minister argued:
“Many within Northern Ireland will consider the secretary of state’s comments as ill-advised when they look at the relative stability of the Northern Ireland Executive and compare it with the on-going open warfare in the Westminster coalition.”
“Mr Paterson has a growing track record of making partisan political points in an attempt to bolster his latest party political project in Northern Ireland.
“I need hardly remind him that his recent local political alliances have all ended in failure having been completely rejected by the electorate.
“I trust that in the future, this partisan secretary of state will direct his energies to matters where he can assist Northern Ireland rather than squander his time seeking soundbites.”
With the Northern Ireland Office having declined to respond to the pronouncements, shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Vernon Coaker declared:
“Owen Paterson’s ill-judged comments are inappropriate and unhelpful. While he lectures the Northern Ireland Executive on good governance, his own party and government is riven with splits and stumbling from one crisis to another.
“It may be that in due course the Northern Ireland parties decide that changes should be made to the current arrangements at Stormont. But that debate should be led by them and not prematurely ordered by this out-of-touch secretary of state.
“Owen Paterson needs to get on with his job and let the Northern Ireland Executive get on with theirs.”