earlier blogs on the potential consequences of Monday's election petition case in the Court of Session. In the comments, Roddy Macdonald suggested I might be "overstating the awesome power of the judiciary in this case." Surely, Roddy suggested, Lord Matthews and Lady Paton are:
"... merely being asked to nullify the election and remit the case back to the proper arbiters: An electorate in full posession of the facts. Carmichael could, conceivably, stand again and be elected if the good folk of Orkney and Shetland deem the admitted lie to be insufficient grounds to change their vote."
It is a suggestion echoed in the mainstream media yesterday. Writing about the election court case for the Scotsman, Euan McColm asks:
"And so, on Monday, for the first time since 1965, the Election Court will sit in Edinburgh, under the joint chairmanship of judges Lady Paton and Lord Matthews. At stake is Mr Carmichael’s political future. Should they agree that, yes, his actions do merit a re-run of the election in the constituency, it seems unthinkable that he would make a credible candidate. Who would bet against the SNP taking the seat?"
A perfectly fair point on the credibility front -- but a critical point of detail is missing. If the judges find the case against Mr Carmichael is made out, he will not be allowed to stand in the subsequent by-election in the northern isles. Under section 160 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, if Carmichael is found to be personally guilty of illegal practices - and making a false statement under section 106 is an illegal practice - he will not only be kicked out of his seat but barred from from being elected to the House of Commons or holding any other elective office for three years. That's pretty tough justice.