It’s a convoluted story.
First, a memorandum was leaked (shortly before the recent UK general election) which was apparently an account of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon saying, in private conversation, that she would prefer that David Cameron won the election and stayed on as Prime Minister, rather than Ed Miliband, the then leader of the Opposition.
Given that SNP and Miliband’s Labour party have much in common – especially in their joint opposition to Cameron’s Conservative party – and they seemed to be natural allies, and given that there had been much scare-mongering about the stranglehold which the SNP would have if Labour won the election, this was a hugely damaging allegation. It was damaging for the SNP as well as for Miliband’s party.
Sturgeon denied making the comment.
Then it was announced that the leak had been authorised by Alistair Carmichael, a Lib-Dem member of Cameron’s coalition government.
Carmichael denied authorising the leak.
Since the election, which the Conservative party unexpectedly won handsomely, there has been a Cabinet inquiry into the leak of the memorandum. It seems that Carmichael did authorise the leak. We still do not know whether the allegation was true or not, although Carmichael is now on record as saying that he no longer believes the story. We do know that Carmichael lied. He said he had not authorised the leak – but he did. He admits that he authorised the leak and that he lied about his role in the incident.
What makes the story interesting from an ethical point-of-view is a comment made by one of Carmichael’s colleagues, Malcolm Bruce, the former deputy leader of the Liberal-Democrat party. In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Bruce declared, ““If you are suggesting every MP who has never quite told the truth or even told a brazen lie, including cabinet ministers, including prime ministers, we would clear out the House of Commons very fast, I would suggest.” (Reported in The Guardian, 26 May 2015: Sir Malcolm Bruce: Commons would empty very fast if lying MPs had to quit.
And I cannot help thinking, MPs who tell the truth, maybe that’s not such a bad idea?