Leader comment: MSP’s return casts a cloud

MSP Mark McDonald returns to Holyrood on Monday. Picture: John Devlin
MSP Mark McDonald returns to Holyrood on Monday. Picture: John Devlin
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THE return to Holyrood tomorrow of MSP Mark McDonald will, understandably, be difficult for a number of people.

Women who complained about inappropriate behaviour remain employed at the Scottish Parliament. They will be entitled to feel outraged by his return to work.

MSPs, too, will find Mr McDonald’s return problematic. While, across industry, men are being held to account for sexual harassment and abuse, Mr McDonald – by sitting as an independent – will continue, until 2021, to receive his £60,000 annual salary. There are calls for the introduction of a mechanism by which MSPs can be removed from their positions and by-elections forced. While understandable, we must proceed with caution. A democratic mandate is a precious one, which must be protected. A system allowing the expulsion of MSPs from Holyrood could be open to abuse.

In an ideal world, Mr McDonald would do the decent thing and step down as an MP. His continued presence at Holyrood may be the price we’ll have to pay to defend our democracy.