Pauline McNeill – an alternative view

Apparently there are some that disagree with my view of Pauline McNeill.  One of those on the list of the carefully and scientifically chosen list of top 20 Scottish blogs (published on the Iain Dale website today and chosen by a Mr tartan hero) is Kezia Dugdale.  She wrote yesterday,

Pauline McNeill has achieved some fantastic things in her career so far in the Scottish Parliament, she showed first class leadership during the Shirley McKie case, she led moves to have the law on rape amended so that conviction didn’t depend on the use of violence and she’s done some incredible work around internet grooming, court reform, stalking and harassment – showing both real vision and values.”

Let us consider this statement from Ms McNeill’s former researcher.  Apparently, Ms McNeill showed first class leadership during the Shirley McKie case.  Well, in that regard perhaps a look at the comprehensive set of postings by Alastair which indicates the truth of the matter, with special reference to the leadership given by Ms McNeill in limiting the scope of the parliamentary enquiry or the leadership she gave barracking Mike Russell when he raised Ms McKie’s case during his earlier stint in Parliament.

I am prepared to concede Ms McNeill’s work on the latter topics (she was reporter to the Roseanna Cunningham chaired Justice committee on the subject of stalking in the first session of the Parliament) but I think the comments on a redefinition of rape, suggesting that this stemmed from leadership from Ms McNeill are (at best) disingenuous (given that a restatement by the High Court of the Justiciary followed a court case universally criticised by all branches of the legal community).  And to suggest she took the lead on court reform in a project initiated by the Executive following reports from senior judges goes too far.  This is tantamount to giving each MSP the credit for legislation they don’t understand that goes through on their watch.  If we believe that then Scott Barrie (the man who asked the Executive to congratulate Dunfermline for winning It’s a Knockout) can claim responsibility for the abolition of the feudal system.

And as for other topics not referred to by Ms Dugdale, well the questioning of Jeremy Rowan Robinson in this session on the Land Reform Act (in tandem with Stewart “Beaker” Stevenson – friend of this LJ), the bizarre amendment to preserve the feudal rights of the Crown she moved in the debates on the Abolition of feudal Tenure etc (Scotland) Act, and others indicate various limitations in ability.

I’ve followed Ms McNeill’s work on various topics in my sphere of interest.  I remain unimpressed.  And for me – and other viewers of the 2007 election coverage – she’ll be best remember for her “I have a scream” acceptance speech.

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About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
This entry was posted in pauline mcneill, scottish politics, stewart stevenson, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pauline McNeill – an alternative view

  1. Anonymous says:

    A speech which was given to a packed SECC hall where the atmosphere was frankly poisonous, with activists from all parties to blame. McNeill was subject to venomous heckling before she was even on the stage. I also think its interesting that SNP activists online are not prepared to post the video of their own Sandra White’s concession speech which immediately followed McNeill’s. A speech in which Sandra White refused to acknowledge that she had been beaten in Glasgow Kelvin for a fifth time and a third by Pauline McNeill.
    McNeill was a well regarded Justice convener, although, I think Kezia Dugdale is wrong to suggest that every matter considered by her committee should be regarded as personal triumphs. She is well regarded by colleagues on all sides of the chamber and is one of a number Labour members looked over for promotion by McConnell.

    • Thanks for the comment. I am happy to allow anonymous comments but would be grateful for a pseudonym or the like as it makes replying easier.
      I take the point in your first paragraph. I support neither party (studied neutrality from a liberal perspective is my aim) and the clips of the Glasgow count did not impress me. That speech though is one that is remembered, because it was the second declaration IIRC. Further other victory speeches faced with similar problems were not as embarassing (I’m thinking of Margaret Curran’s speech in particular – but then I think few in the chamber are of the calibre of Margaret Curran).
      I see your domain is within the Parliament. My impression of Ms McNeill was less favourable from observation within the Parliament and committees, and through work examining Justice committee material – although I accept this was primarily within my own spheres relating to private and commercial law. On these topics (which lest we forget form a substantial part of the justice portfolio – although this seems forgotten in the general obsession with criminal law and sentencing) she seemed out of her depth, although seemed happy to suggest more knowledge than she perhaps possessed. My view is shared by colleagues in other disciplines and my reaction on her appointment is not out of kilter with others (even those within the Labour party) whose views I respect. I accept (and did in my original post) that Ms McNeill seems more at home on consideration of criminal matters and some issues on “domestic” crimes – which are too often not given sufficient importance by politicians. However, on crime generally her instincts – in accordance with many prominent Labour and SNP politicians – seem illiberal on civil liberty issues. This is a matter which concerns me across the parties in Scotland as they try to outdo others on toughness.
      Thanks again for the comment. Any other thoughts you have on this or other topics would be welcome.

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