It may be a legitimate business practice but, like rate-fixing at the banks, back-to-back house selling looks pernicious. It may have been an owner’s only hope of selling in a depressed market, they may have been grateful for the money, but the act of offering low in the knowledge of a high sale later looks exploitative. Legitimate companies do this, buying your house for cash in seven days knowing they can make a quick profit from buyers the vendor was unable to locate. It is, to be brutal, a function of a market – you buy at one price and sell on for another.
Setting aside the glee of the partisan, it only becomes a problem because of three factors. First is the obvious point that you can’t play the progressive humanitarian card in public life while behind the scenes, albeit years ago, your actions appear to contradict that. Were Michelle Thomson a Tory MP, nobody would be surprised and there would be no controversy – it’s what we expect. There is for example a member of the Cabinet who ran an online scam which appears to have been fraudulent but, despite a little flurry of media ooh ering…nothing. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/shortcuts/2015/mar/16/grant-shapps-business-mp-conservative-chairman-michael-green
The Labour Party was never free from the taint of real corruption from the moment Bernie Ecclestone walked out the door of Number 10 with a smile. A rogue’s gallery through Michael Meacher and cash-for honours to Alistair Darling’s £10,000 talks to NHS privatisers and Gordon Brown’s million pound office in North Queensferry framed the Labour years.
But the SNP has set a gold standard for moral rectitude and used it to assault the other parties…all part of the ritual dance, no doubt, but mother to a revenge tendency born of humiliation.
Second, this isn’t a used car or a three-piece suite, it’s someone’s home. This makes it a particularly sensitive and deeply human affair whatever the prevarications and retrospective outrage on show. Your home is a fundamental to your existence and wellbeing so, however much we play mind Monopoly with house prices, it isn’t something to be casually abused for someone else’s profit. (Lawyers apart, obviously). The unattractive side is that Thomson or her agent looked the vendor in the eye and offered a bid price in the knowledge that there was a much higher sum available, a sum that would soon be theirs.
Lastly, this case is feeding the media beast. It is dead easy to portray it as crooked and corrupt. Here is one of the media’s favourites – ‘vulnerable people’ – albeit the same ones the journalists pester after murders, hoodwink or pay for photos of the bereaved, or hack their families’ phones when they go missing. The hand-wringing over the type of folk they are otherwise happy to picture in The Scheme is the hypocrisy of the shameless. On STV, the otherwise professional and respected Dave Cowan asked Mrs Wright: ‘Do you feel you’ve been led up the garden path?’ That is what our friends in wigs and gowns like to call a leading question. It showed the zeal for pursuing the narrative – everybody else is doing it, so we have to do it too. Poor, vulnerable wifey (who knowingly signed a contract and seems to have pocketed in the region of £30,000) and dirty, guilty SNP MP.
Heaven knows if there are other issues about conveyancing, valuing, registry, Stamp Duty (at the time) or whatever. The lawyer has sure paid a high price for it all.
But you can tell by the blood lust that this won’t stop until there is a second body. Even the normally sane are losing it in the frenzy. Professor Gerry Hassan, now a tabloid hack for the Labourite Sunday Mail, expands it into a metaphor for the Scottish state and the SNP monopoly of it. Apparently the business dealings of a woman that predate her move into politics – and the obligatory TinthePark confection – are proof of the Fall of the Roman Empire. https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gerry-hassan/nationalism-alone-is-not-enough-snp-finally-shows-it-is-mortal
I expect Nicola to drop Michelle Thomson, based on previous cases. She is focussed on what matters as a real leader must be and part of the job is accepting casualties and setbacks before moving on. Everybody else is expendable. There has been a notable lack of public support for Jennifer Dempsie despite a notable lack of evidence against her either.
A last thought…isn’t it a pity that the same brave journalists pursuing a woman politician over an old business routine had shown the same guts to take on Vitol when its boss, the Tory-donating Ian Taylor, gave £500,000 to Better Together? Now there was a tainted financial deal if ever there was – accepted by Darling and, Henry McLeish apart, not a single Labour voice raised against.
There was barely a ripple outside the Herald from the indignant Thomson-chasers, preferring when the heat came on, to hide under the duvet. Who cared among the journalistic tribe that our democratic process was infected by Vitol which hired the Interpol target Arkan, responsible for multiple murders and bank robberies before being classed a war criminal, in order to settle an account in the Balkans? Who was outraged that Taylor’s company was fined millions for grand larcency in New York? It isn’t of course moral equivalence to Thomson – the BT donation was much, much worse than that. It just didn’t suit the obsequious Scottish Press to do their job.
As the BBC motto (nearly) says: Nation Shall Speak Pish Unto Nation.