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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 21:05 GMT
Should David McLetchie have resigned?
David McLetchie
David McLetchie stood down as Scottish Tory leader
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, David McLetchie, has resigned.

He said the recent coverage surrounding his expense claims had been damaging and a major distraction from efforts to rebuild support for the party.

He had been under pressure since his expenses were revealed under freedom of information rules.

They showed he had claimed more in taxi expenses than any other MSP, much of them without journey details attached.

Should Mr McLetchie have resigned? Has he been hounded by the media as he claimed last week? Where now for the Scottish Tories? You sent us your views.

This have your say is now closed. The following reflect the balance of opinion we received.

I think this was a clear Scottish Labour character assassination on a man who has had them on the ropes for six years. They knew perfectly well that under the Freedom of Information Act he had to reveal his expenses, but due to the Data Protection Act he couldn't publicly release the addresses to which the taxis went. He had no way of publicly defending himself against what can only be described as mud slinging. He was cleared by the parliamentary inspectors but still the allegations continued. This was in return for exposing Henry McLeish and gaining Pentlands from Labour. David McLetchie is my MSP in Edinburgh Pentlands and is very highly respected. This will backfire on Labour.
Chris, Edinburgh, UK

I believe this is a positive move. Whilst I believe he was an able politician he is not the sort of leader the Conservative party need in Scotland. He's an Edinburgh lawyer that very few people in Scotland could relate to. The taxi expense issue was just a lever, very few opposition politicians got involved because no doubt their expense claims would have been scrutinised. Remember McLeish? There are going to be elections in 2007 and Labour NEEDS removed, this will require a coalition, the Tories need to be able to, potentially, make themselves part of that. McLetchie, whilst able, is not the right person for this.
Hamish Brydone, Edinburgh

So this is the same David McLetchie who said of Henry McLeish that he "was a major public embarrassment to the Labour Party, which will be breathing a huge sigh of relief at this decision (to resign)". I think the Tory party will be thinking the same thing now about McLetchie. Hypocrisy is one of the worst character flaws in any politician. Keep your own house in order before you start criticising others.
Patrick, Edinburgh

He should not even be allowed to be a back bench MSP. Any normal person would be fired for the same offence in a company.
Phil Simpson, Glasgow

The amount of money each MSP claims for expenses is beyond crazy. McLetchie is a scapegoat. Whilst I'm certainly not a Tory, he was the only party leader in the parliament that I admired.
Ewan Watt, Edinburgh

Its about time. Claims made in good faith? Bah! The Tories are really really failing in the political mainstream now - a national leader standing down and a Scottish leader resigning. Can't the entire party just go away also and leave Britain to be as prosperous as it is and can be.
Ricky Simpson, Aberdeenshire

Mr McLetchie resigns over 11,500 spent on taxis over five years. A Labour councillor in Haringey spends 16,000 on taxis in one year alone (1998), and was given a peerage later that year (Toby Harris, now Lord Harris of Haringey). A curious double standard.
Seth Thevoz, Haringey, London

So many feeling sorry for him, saying he was hounded out or only an oversight. Do they say the same for the millions of false DSS claims, what about all the other fraud, is that all an "oversight" by the perpetrators? It is a disgrace that someone in his position has put in these false claims, whether they are oversight or not. I am sure it is but a tip of the iceberg for the millions that are falsely claimed. I for one have to justify every penny I claim on expenses and should I put in a false claim I would be sacked and maybe even prosecuted. His wishy washy statement just made me feel sick. Lets have all MSPs publish all their expenses and God help any that have false claims.
Chris Dwyer, Glasgow

I have had the honour of meeting David McLetchie on several occasions and I have had work experience in the Scottish Parliament and have seen behind the scenes. David really is a nice, genuine guy who has done tremendous good for the Conservatives in Scotland. He does not deserve what has happened to him. He was unfairly hounded by the leftie press! I believe that MSPs get scrutinised too much when it comes to their expenses. I am sad to see David go and I hope he remains in the parliament.
Ross Thomson, Aberdeenshire

He (mistakenly) did what they all do nowadays, stuck his head in the sand and hoped it would go away. What has been apparent throughout this and previous expenses issues is the fact that the system is open to abuse or misuse. I wonder how many of the other MSPs would come out whiter then white?
Michael Wingate, Edinburgh

I'm sorry to see him go. I tend not to vote so have no particular affiliations but I thought that beneath the dry wit hid a sharp mind and a lively sense of humour, a valuable commodity in the Scottish Parliament's insipid ennui. I don't know if he fiddled his expenses, I do know that you believe what the press prints in its rags at your peril and that politicians spend most of their time dragging each other down. Mr McLetchie knew that was part of the job.
Paul, Edinburgh

David McLetchie is a fundamentally decent and honest man who has been hounded out of office by a press pack that are quick to criticise but whose own houses are seldom whiter than white. McLetchie has led the Tories back from the abyss over seven years to the point where they are a credible force in Scotland once again and without doubt if they get the succession right will overtake the SNP to become the second biggest party in the parliament. There are 128 other MSPs who will now anxiously be watching there emails for FoI requests for their expenses chits - 10K of taxis over six years is a pittance compared to the 40k PA that it costs the taxpayer for Jack and Nicol to go swanning about in a ministerial Omega - even with dual fuel. McLetchie will be back.
William, Glasgow

Good - 52% of folk in Scotland survive on less than 10,000 a year - and David McLetchie claims 11,500 just on expenses. Another parasite bites the dust!
John, Glasgow

Westminster politicians have not been scrutinised in any way over expenses. Ever. It's a sign that things are working right at the Scottish Parliament when issues like this are exposed and dealt with. If David McLetchie had been whiter than white, if his expenses had been fully receipted and accountable, then this whole situation would not have arisen. A simple denial and full available audit would have ended this debate and cleared him. Unfortunately for him, he's dealing with taxpayers' money, as a representative of the people, in an intensely scrutinised environment. Common sense should have indicated to him that explanations might be required re his spending at some time. He failed to do so, whether through arrogance or ineptitude, and quite rightly he has now paid in full for this. The Scottish Parliament has particularly stringent rules regarding accountability, which are generally applied stringently. Controls are necessary, and they are working here.
Andrew Sharp, Stirling

In 1998/9 David McLetchie had the unenviable task of leading the Tory group in the Scottish Parliament and he and Annabel Goldie have done very well to have kept the party alive in Scotland. Irrespective of the reasons for his departure, the Tories in Scotland now have a real opportunity, like the UK party, to elect a leader who can take on the complacent Lab/Lib Scottish Government and win the argument on the future of the Scottish economy. It would be great to hear an argument in favour of using the Holyrood powers to cut income tax for Scots by up to 3%. Why not? Only the Tories are committed to strengthening and growing the economy through reducing the tax burden on individuals and businesses.
Andrew Anderson, Stirling

I know this is playing devil's advocate somewhat, but should we not try to keep smart individuals - as Mr McLetchie clearly is - in prominent positions in parliament? Mr McLetchie could almost certainly earn more as a lawyer than as an MSP, and most likely had to turn down some lucrative clients or contracts to concentrate on politics. Without adequate wages, or even expenses, there is a real danger of keeping the brightest Scottish minds away from Scottish politics. If we want to have a parliament filled with the most eminent Scottish minds we really must pay them accordingly.
Calum, Aberdeen

I think David McLetchie made a stupid mistake which was blown out of proportion by the media. People should focus now on what he has achieved as an MSP. I found him approachable and helpful and I think that's what makes someone a good politician.
Laura, Balerno

Had Mr McLetchie - as a solicitor - misused client's money, he would have been struck off as a practising solicitor. The misuse of public funds is no different and he should not be allowed to continue as a member of parliament. Just as importantly though is that all members of parliament should be open to the same public scrutiny and punishment if the case merits.
Bob Hutcheson, Kirkcaldy

Most MSPs follow the guidance for what is one of the most sleaze-proof systems of expenses in any parliament in the world. McLetchie was unable to similarly follow the rules, due to complacency or arrogance and his position was untenable. Given that journalists created a firestorm over a lesser issue involving McLeish, where everyone agreed that he had made no financial gain, it would have been double standards not to have asked McLetchie for similar transparency. He was cheating the system and has been rightly punished. His one consolation could be that he has tarnished the Scottish Parliament that he campaigned against and then, having lost, spread bile and vitriol about over eight years.
Gavin Smith, Edinburgh

It may be a step forward for the Scottish Tories. He was, like the party itself, a bit of a dinosaur. They are the only right of centre party in this country, so they have a monopoly on that axis, but many people wouldn't think of voting for them as they are perceived to be anti-Scottish. Both he and the party have failed to grasp that they let us down in government and that devolution is the settled will of the Scottish people. Perhaps now they can elect a leader who will do what is necessary to rebuild the party as a force in this country, which would be to drop their staunch unionist line and convince us all that they are not fundamentally anti-Scottish.
D MacPhail, Edinburgh

I am sorry he was made a scapegoat. There must be many others who are relieved the spotlight was not on them. I think 'expenses' should be limited to the average annual pay in Scotland and receipts produced for everything claimed

I have to say I think the media have well and truly hounded McLetchie with this and previous issues regarding the law firm he worked with. Obviously there have been discrepancies with taxi expenses but I'm sure he's not alone in that respect - the media just have tunnel vision in respect of him. And thanks to this hounding, parliament has lost a party leader who is an enjoyable and eloquent speaker with a dry sense of humour who could keep Jack on his toes any day! I am not a Tory supporter but an SNP one, but I appreciate those MSPs who are competent speakers and have a passion for Scotland and its politics!
Gail, Midlothian

Good riddance. The Tories under McLetchie have carved out a nice little niche for themselves in a parliament they fought tooth and nail to oppose, where all but two of their number are elected by a PR system that they still claim to be against. His entire reputation was built on exposing the alleged shortcomings of the Scottish political classes - how refreshing to find out that even he can't live up to the standards he set so enthusiastically for others.
Richard , Edinburgh

There will be a few smug faces in the other parties with McLetchie going so perhaps it's now time to see Nicola Sturgeon, Jack McConnell and Nicol Stephen's expenses. Let's see if they're whiter than white!
Matt Harney, Ullapool

Will the Scottish Parliament and the party proxies take the opportunity to grow up after this or will they all continue to play playground games accusing each other of increasingly petty and uninteresting misdemeanours? I have party political affiliations but the way all parties indulge in pointless nit-picking and childish point-scoring makes you wonder why it's worth it sometimes.
Stephen, Inverness

David McLetchie was right to resign and should have done so sooner. I am shocked that someone can (allegedly) spend public money on taxi fares to personal or party business. McLetchie absolutely hounded Henry McLeish over 'Officegate' and should maybe have thought at the time about whether his own conscience was clear. Shame on him and those like him who seem to think that the public are somehow too stupid to notice or be angry when our money is (allegedly) misappropriated.
Suzie, East Lothian

I would have been fired in any other job for making false claims. He says he will repay any money which he should not have been due. It means he must have known in the first place he was not entitled to it. The old saying about glass houses is apt.
John Montgomery, Anstruther

I have never shared David McLetchie's political beliefs, but I know him to be a decent man and I feel very sorry for him today. How are we to inspire engagement with politics when people see people of principle brought down by tittle-tattle, while people of little substance seem to hold onto power by media manipulation? What a sad little country we are becoming.
Duncan Hothersall, Edinburgh

He should have gone over the conflict of interest regarding his voting record and activities as a solicitor for a large Edinburgh law firm. Given his attacks on Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell he really should have been more careful. As a Lib Dem I am happy to see him go.
Douglas McLellan, Lochore

Considering the widespread financial mismanagement exercised throughout the parliament - of a substantially greater value than Mr McLetchie's acknowledged errors - I'm surprised the media has given the issue so many column inches.
Andrew Sloan, Edinburgh

Mr McLetchie should have resigned, however other MSPs should think themselves lucky they were not hounded my the media. I am sure most MSPs would have considerable difficulty explaining their expense claims.
James H Mitchell, Edinburgh

The man was hounded and punished by the Labour press organs for forcing McLeish out and to deflect him from claiming McConnell. What he did was a mistake for sure but the real scandal is not his 11,000 but the 140,000,000 + that devolution has cost a Scotland with diabolical NHS and school services.
Ron Kane, Glasgow

Unfortunately, if you pursue an issue as relentlessly as McLetchie pursued Henry McLeish over "Officegate", then you need to ensure that your own house is in order. It is clear that McLetchie's was not, and he was left with no option but to resign.
Donald Marx, Aberdeenshire

He probably has been hounded, or caught, out by the media. But on a personal level he has only himself to blame for having needlessly created the ammunition with which they shot him down. In the wider context his actions as leader of the Conservatives are reprehensible. Coming on top of a disproportionately high number of expense muddles or fiddles for such an infant institution, he has reinforced the already widely held assumption that political representatives are wantonly cavalier with taxpayers money. Is it any wonder that trust in politicians as a whole has evaporated ?
Ubi Denmark, Aberdeen

McLetchie resigns as Tory leader
31 Oct 05 |  Scotland


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