Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Beaten to the Punch
Eric Joyce never made much of an impression as an MP - with me at least.
But ever since his fall from grace in the Strangers Bar at the House of Commons - I have to say I am rather taken with his performance.
Which I will come to in a moment but first of all it's worth saying that up until the Strangers Bar incident the Labour party had nothing but praise for Eric Joyce - of course.
Anyway coming back to the MP for Falkirk - he seems to have run rings around his labour party colleagues - beaten them to the punch, so to speak.
Firstly, he took his medicine - and pleaded guilty to various assault charges at the first opportunity.
Secondly, he didn't run away and faced the TV cameras immediately after his public humiliation - inside the court.
Thirdly, he offered a fulsome apology for his outrageous behaviour to the House of Commons - and even threw in some dry humour without seeking to excuse himself in any way.
Fourthly, Eric Joyce resigned from the Labour party - before the party could expel him which they had said publicly they would do anyway - even without the benefit of a disciplinary hearing.
So looked at from one particular point of view Eric Joyce has given a better account of himself over the past few weeks - once all the damage was done of course - than he ever managed to do over the past 12 or 13 years.
Which makes you wonder or makes me wonder at least - because the man is clearly not an idiot - even if I disagree with him politically.
What is remarkable is how quickly Eric Joyce was cut adrift by the Labour party - which immediately started leaking stories about him to the press.
Before even speaking to him the new Labour leader - Johann Lamont - announced he was not a fit and proper person to represent Labour in Falkirk - thus ending his political career at a stroke.
Yet the real purpose was to talk tough and try to limit the damage on the Scottish Labour - and Falkirk Labour in particular - but the real question is:
'How did things end up in such a car crash of a mess?
In his statement statement to the Commons, Eric Joyce apologised to four Conservative MPs - Stuart Andrew, Jackie Doyle-Price, Andrew Percy and Alec Shelbrooke - as well as Labour MP and whip Phil Wilson.
Eric Joyce also apologised to Tory councillors Luke Mackenzie and Ben Maney - whom he hit on the night in question - to police officers who attended the incident and to "everyone else affected by my actions that evening".
Before adding that this would "clearly not be an exhaustive list."
Boom boom! - as Basil Brush was fond of saying.
But Eric Joyce ended on a sombre note: "Clearly I have a number of personal issues to address, and you can be assured that this will take place."
Quite so - just a pity that no one ever took those issues seriously long before now.