By Simon Walters and Glen Owen
29th June 2008
Labour sleaze came back to haunt Gordon
Brown today as the Prime Minister suffered a triple
blow to his hopes of political survival.
The Government faced the nightmare
prospect of another by-election humiliation as it was
rocked by three damaging new setbacks:
• The resignation of Scottish Labour
Party leader Wendy Alexander, sister of Mr Brown's Cabinet
ally Douglas Alexander, for failing to declare donations
to her leadership campaign.
• The resignation of Glasgow East Labour
MP David Marshall – triggering the potentially embarrassing
by-election – amid allegations that he wrongly used
his Commons expenses to pay members of his family.
• Claims by a Labour politician that
more than 100 MPs are using their Commons second-home
allowance to dodge capital gains tax.
The downfall of Ms Alexander is a personal
blow for Mr Brown. Along with her brother, the International
Development Secretary, she was a key player in the Scottish
political 'mafia' who helped Mr Brown plot his way to
becoming Prime Minister.
Ms Alexander's resignation, which will
trigger the second Scottish leadership change within
a year, followed a ruling by the Scottish Parliament's
Standards Committee that she should be suspended from
Holyrood for one day when the next session starts in
The committee ruled she had broken
the law by not registering donations during her campaign
to replace Jack McConnell as First Minister last summer.
Donations above £520 must be registered as gifts within
30 days, which Ms Alexander failed to do.
Mr Brown praised Ms Alexander's 'oustanding'
contribution to Labour, and in a letter to her said:
'I understand you do not want to see the work of the
party overshadowed and attention diverted because of
the decisions of one committee of the Scottish Parliament.'
While her resignation was damaging
to Mr Brown, it did not come as a complete surprise.
However, the by-election triggered by the shock resignation
of David Marshall could cause the Prime Minister much
Friends of Mr Marshall said he was
stepping down because of health problems. But Labour
figures said privately that the decision was prompted
by Mr Marshall's alarm that he was about to become embroiled
in allegations about payments to members of his family
from his Commons expenses.
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