I wrote yesterday about Murdo Fraser MSP and his letter to Duff and Phelps, Rangers administrators, advising them to rule out liquidation. You can read his letter via the link in this piece, and you will also find my “open letter” to him there too.
I submitted the letter to him via his constituency website but have not had an acknowledgement or reply yet. To be fair, it is Easter weekend, so I would not have expected one so quickly.
However I was very surprised to see the number of people who were interested in this matter too, and I know that the article was tweeted to Mr Fraser’s Twitter account, by me amongst others, as well as to his Party Leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson.
Alex Thomson of Channel 4 has also, according to his Twitter feeds, emailed Mr Fraser for an explanation.
I have found a piece online, dated 4th April, where Mr Fraser explains why he wrote to Duff and Phelps. You can find it here.
It does not answer any of the questions I asked Mr Fraser in my letter yesterday, and indeed it actually raises more!
Well done to Derek Howie, whose blog it is, for getting Mr Fraser to give him the comments.
By way of explanation about why a list MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife should be involved with a Glasgow company, Mr Fraser is quoted as saying:-
“There are many people in the area that I represent that have an affinity for Rangers Football Club and they have been in contact with me expressing their concern about the current situation…
“…this is a substantial Scottish company that is a large employer and has made a major contribution to the Scottish economy.
“I think the threat of liquidation is something that should concern us in exactly the same way as it would concern us if it were any other company of that size.”
Mr Fraser justifies his involvement in the issue as he was approached by people in the area with “an affinity” for Rangers.
Rule 8.1.4 of the MSP’s Code of Conduct states “An MSP must not deal with a matter relating to a constituency case or constituency issue outwith the member’s constituency or region (as the case may be) unless by prior agreement.”
Does the fact that some constituents of Mr Fraser have an interest in a matter outside the region justify his involvement? On that basis it would make a mockery of the rule requiring MSP’s to deal with matters with a bearing on their constituency, and not to cross boundaries.
I must also say that the reference to Rangers having made a “major contribution to the Scottish economy” is a remarkable statement.
The whole reason why Rangers is in trouble is that, over many years, it has not paid the taxes due. In addition, much of the money it did spend went to fund foreign players, and much of their income, especially if paid “off shore” would have been money out of the Scottish economy!
Rangers owe the Exchequer many millions, no matter what the result of the Tax Tribunal. Is Mr Fraser prepared to excuse the British Treasury being bilked, as long as the Scottish tax take does not have to suffer the full losses?
Further on in the article Mr Fraser makes an interesting statement.
He ‘revealed that First Minister Alex Salmond has assured him the Scottish Government would be “looking to support Rangers in exactly the same way as they would be looking to support any other Scottish company facing financial difficulties”’.
When did the First Minister give Mr Fraser this “assurance”?
Whilst, within EU and domestic rules, it is generally a good thing for Government to help troubled companies, surely that responsibility disappears where the problem is one of non-payment of tax? Asking for Government help to deal with failure to pay tax seems a ridiculous thing to do!
The Scottish Government has supported many companies where there are financial issues; some have received public money.
Can Mr Fraser tell us in what way Mr Salmond told him he is “looking to support Rangers”?
Mr Fraser is perfectly entitled, as a Rangers debenture holder, to write to Duff and Phelps. However, once he decides to do so (a) on official notepaper (b) having been approached by a number of constituents (c) having met the First Minister to discuss the issue and (d) having decided to release his letter to the public via the Rangers Supporters Trust, then he cannot complain if he is questioned publicly about his motives and how his approach to this matter fits into his political philosophy.
I look forward to a response from Mr Fraser to these and the matters mentioned yesterday. I am doubtful that I will receive it – after all, I am not one of his constituents!
He might reply to Alex Thomson however. We shall see.