Political criticism fine but not when silly, malicious and absurdly untrue

WHAT a sad and sanctimonious letter from Dr Scott Arthur (18 January). He attempts to make three points. One; that my broadcasting, newspaper articles or speeches constitute a second profession. Two; that only a small portion of my income is given to charity and thirdly; that I am not a 'full time' MP. Let me take these in turn.

The first is pretty silly. Writing or speaking about politics in print, television or radio, is hardly a distraction from practising politics.

The second is both malicious and absurdly untrue. Malicious because while Dr Arthur has gone to some trouble to find out what I have been paid for various of these activities he has omitted to state what then happened to the funds.

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Thus, to take but one example, he has discovered, presumably from the parliamentary register, that I received £12,500 for a speech I delivered at a Bank of America event but he then “forgot” to mention that this money was immediately donated to four Scottish charities.

Dr Arthur’s point is absurdly untrue because in 2015, in addition to supporting many other charities, I donated £37,000 (around 52 per cent) of my net income from parliamentary sources to the Mary Salmond Trust to pursue its outstanding work helping community and youth causes in the North East. This is to redeem a commitment I made to my constituents to benefit from only one parliamentary income when I serve in two parliaments. Since 2007 the trust has distributed over £108,000 to 272 beneficiaries.

Dr Arthur’s claim that I am not a “full-time” MP also crumbles under examination. An analysis by the House of Commons Library last year showed that at that stage I had spoken 124 times in the Commons since the election, third among all MPs and just behind the Prime Minister. That was more than any one of the 231 members of the Labour Party who, by Dr Arthur’s logic, must all be part timers.In addition the people of the North East, who have chosen me nine times in succession as their representative, have a high expectation of the local work of their MPs and MSPs.

Dr Arthur is entitled to not approve of what I have to say but suggesting that I don’t have time to say it smacks of desperation. Finally, since I write this on Burns Nicht, can I commend to Dr Arthur the bard’s “Address to the Unco Guid”. He might just find something in there to help him along.

Alex Salmond MSP MP