As you may be aware, Michael White's comments on the Alistair Carmichael scandal became ever more unhinged as yesterday wore on, culminating in him telling bemused Twitter users that it was entirely natural and desirable that there should be bad people in parliament, because they're needed to "represent" the bad people in the country at large. That statement is so obviously bonkers (should drug dealers be represented as well?) that I'm beginning to wonder if White is making good on some sort of complicated charity bet, or if we're witnessing the comeback episode of Brass Eye.
In a relative sense, his much-mocked Guardian column at the start of the day now looks like a model of sanity - well, up to a point. One of the claims he made in the article was that those of us calling for Carmichael to do the decent thing are a "lynch mob", and that like all lynch mobs, we will lose interest when we "remember it's lunchtime". That's curious, because just as he was writing those words, a fundraiser got underway seeking to raise enough money to petition the courts to declare Carmichael's election void. 24 hours on, the total amount raised is an astonishing £25,766 - more than enough to at least set the ball rolling. It looks like we're the lynch mob that forgot it was lunchtime - or maybe we're not a lynch mob at all, but just fair-minded citizens who dare to expect certain basic standards of those in positions of privilege. As I said myself when the revelation broke, I was genuinely shocked - Malcolm Bruce may truly believe that the whole world knew all along that all Lib Dem MPs routinely lie to the public, but the news hadn't reached me. I always thought that Carmichael was tiresome, but basically honest.
Mary Ann Kennedy (and I presume it's THE Mary Ann Kennedy) said it best in a supportive comment she left on the fundraiser page -
"This has nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with accountability. I would expect every elected member similarly found wanting to be dealt with in like fashion. Dhan t-sitig leis."
With such a huge amount of money having already been raised, there's now an onerous responsibility on the organisers to make sure that this legal challenge does actually take place. I think everyone understands perfectly well that there's a chance it won't succeed, but as long as the matter is taken to court and the law is tested, people will feel that they've had their money's worth.