Editorial: No hiding place for integrity in local or national politics

Sunday Supplement
The editor voices his views on Moray’s most topical events of the past week…..

Marc Macrae – hit out after being ostracised by the SNP

My personal sympathies went out to former Moray SNP colleague Marc Macrae who stuck his neck out a very long way to condemn his former employers and line up with “the enemy”.

That, at least, was the view of the vast majority of Moray nationalists who were certainly not slow to line up and use their cyber powers to round on the “traitor” who dared suggest that all was not perfect in the world of SNP politics.

Marc’s story struck a chord with me of course. As well as being election agent for Angus Robertson when he won the Moray parliamentary seat in 2010 he was subsequently a parliamentary assistant for the MP and, latterly, Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead.

Marc also just happened to be my own election agent when I (somewhat foolishly, in hindsight) stood in a by-election for Moray Council.

Thing is, I was warned against using Marc as my election agent. It was felt by some people in the local SNP that indeed I should find another agent – already there was whispers that he was perhaps on the way out, damaged goods, unpopular in the party and a host of other unexplained but strong hints of trouble ahead.

I was not completely naïve about the ways of political parties – well over 20 years in the Civil Service, including time working directly with Scottish ministers and having been privy to the private goings on during the Thatcher years as a communications operator at Scotland’s HQ in London, Dover House.

All the same my year with the local SNP woke me up to the shenanigans that our politicians get up to behind your back. Marc Macrae was no angel, perhaps he was too long employed in the political arena, but there is no doubt in my mind that he was badly treated by his employers.

After his service with the SNP Marc believed when he faced troubled times, when he was diagnosed with cancer, that he deserved their support. He believed that far from receiving that support he was ostracised, gradually side-lined and ignored and ultimately forced out of a job he loved by people he regarded as close friends.

As my year at the Moray Parliamentary Office drew on I felt much the same way. Unlike Marc, I did choose to walk away (perhaps before I was pushed) – I did so because I believed not doing so would remove every remaining ounce of personal integrity I had remaining.

But those who are quick to criticise his stance in supporting Moray Tory candidate Douglas Ross this week, remember this – it may well have been done as a minor act of revenge, but who among us can really question such motives without having suffered the personal agony of being cast aside by your friends in a time of great need, as Marc Macrae most certainly was?

The other lesson of course is a simple one – in UK politics there is not much space for people of integrity.

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