How far will Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker’s conviction for a series of assaults lead to further disillusionment with politicians (your report, 23 August)?
It is worth remembering that, even in the aftermath of the expenses scandals in 2009, turnout at the 2010 general election was actually 4 per cent up on the one held five years before.
That might be explained by the fact that there was some uncertainty about the outcome of the poll that eventually led to Britain’s first formal post-war coalition; there was an increased incentive for parties to get their vote out.
But it might be that the voters simply shrugged their shoulders and took this view: there’s going to be a government anyway so we might as well make the best of a bad lot. Even in Livingston, Labour won with a new candidate despite the expenses controversy that ended Jim Devine’s short Westminster career.
Questions do need to be answered about how Walker came to be an SNP candidate in the first place. But Labour should be wary about pointing the finger in the light of its own scandals involving not just Devine, but the cases of Eric Joyce and Mike Watson. It would be pity if the serious matter of assaults on and abuse of women were to be obscured by party wrangling over who is “cleaner” in the selection of candidates.
It would be a pity too if the question of domestic abuse (and attitudes towards it) was to dominate the by-election in Dunfermline if Walker does the honourable thing and resigns. An election on 24 October, the same day as an important Fife Council by-election in the area, would allow people to focus both on the future of a historic city and its surrounds but give them a chance to pass judgment on who is best placed to take Scotland forward over the next crucial year.