Examination of Witness (Questions 220
TUESDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2000
220. You said you worked for Dunfermline East,
is that the Chancellor's seat?
(Mr Rowley) That was the CLP secretary in Dunfermline
221. You were paid, you said earlier?
(Mr Rowley) I worked for the Party, and back in the
1980s we did a massive recruitment campaign and people in the
Party were being paid by the Party for that.
222. You were paid by the Partybecause
it appeared earlier that you seemed to be saying you were paid
out of the Chancellor's pocket? That is how it came over to me.
(Mr Rowley) No, I was never paid by the Fees Office.
The Party in Dunfermline put a fund together to employ students
to do work on recruitment and I was employed at that time in Dunfermline
East to do that.
223. Has the Chancellor put money into this
(Mr Rowley) I do not know if the Chancellor put money
into the fund. What I am saying is that the Party had a fund.
224. When you said earlier that he was going
to be paid for it out of his pocket
(Mr Rowley) What I said earlier was that I have worked
for an MP's office and worked for an MP. To be absolutely clear
and clarify, if there is a need for clarity on it, certainly I
have not been paid by the MP for Dunfermline East in the past.
225. Moving on to when you left the Labour Party,
it does not appear it was in very happy circumstances. Would you
like to tell me a little bit about how you felt having been General
Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party, what, a year, quite a
(Mr Rowley) It is no secret that my view very much
was that when I went into the job, in terms of the Scottish Labour
Party, the Party was in an absolute mess. Kier Hardie House leaked
like a sieve. In the months leading up to my appointment there
was a bitter battle in the Scottish press, people briefing against
each other and the whole thing had gone disastrously wrong, in
my opinion. We were 14 points behind in the opinion polls, and
had the first Scottish General Election for this first Scottish
Parliament in 300 years so it was a pretty tough year. A lot happened
in that year. There were a lot of people drafted in. At the end
of the day, it was a very tough year. My view at the end of that
very tough year was that I would only start to do my job once
the election was out of the road, once the place was clear of
the many bodies that had been parachuted in to try and support
the campaign, and that was the time it was correct to start modernising
and building the Labour Party in Scotland. Obviously I felt unhappy
at not being given the opportunity to do that; but it became apparent
to me that there was no way I could stay in my job because I did
not have the support of my superiors in London, so I left the
226. Margaret McDonagh, the General Secretary
of the Labour Party, told you she wanted you to go after just
(Mr Rowley) Yes.
227. How did you feel about that I would have
(Mr Rowley) To begin with I felt very unhappy. I have
been in the Labour Party since a teenager. I fought for 18 years
and never knew anything but a Tory Government. My loyalty remained
absolute and total to the Labour Party. I think the point you
are trying to get is the suggestion by John Maxton that somehow
these are bitter people running about trying to take revenge.
I was absolutely clear thatwhen I left the Labour Party,
and held a meeting with all the staff and said to them I had decided
to tender my resignation and that things were not working out
properlyI believed it was in my best interests and in the
Labour Party's best interests for me to leave at that point. Those
were the discussions that took place with the staff and I made
absolutely clear my total and absolute commitment to the Labour
Party. Can I say to you that total and absolute commitment is
as strong today as it was when I walked into that job over two
years ago. So there is no question on my part
228. So you were unhappy that
(Mr Rowley) If you are getting to the point, there
is no question on my part, one, of bitterness, two, I would never,
ever do anything that would damage the Labour Party, because it
is the only opportunity for working people in this country
229. Do you not feel that what you are saying
today could be potentially very damaging to the Labour Party?
(Mr Rowley) Absolutely and that was the dilemma
230. How do you reconcile that?
(Mr Rowley) That was the dilemma I faced. I think
it was the dilemma that others faced. It was a question whether
you told the truth and possibly damaged the Labour Party, or whether
you try and lie. From the perspective of the way I was brought
up, it was not hard for me to say I was going to tell the truth,
but from a political perspectiveand that was the point
I tried to make earlierI believed it was right for everybody
to tell the truth. I argued with John Reid about this very fact.
The first time Dean Nelson actually contacted me re this story,
I contacted my predecessor, and she said to me, "Tell the
truth. Don't get yourself dragged down with this. You are going
for a seat in Central Fife. He is going down, he is going to want
to take people with him", and she told me that he had asked
her only the day before to destroy some evidence. So the person
I took over from, in answer to your question, was very firm and
clear with me, "Tell the truth." That is what I have
231. But it appears that is linked to your wanting
to get selected to stand for Parliament. Are you still looking
for a seat?
(Mr Rowley) No, I only went for that seat because
it was a chance I felt I had to take. I come from Fife
232. So do I.
(Mr Rowley) Right. The seat had been vacated because
McLeish had gone to the Scottish Parliament. Had it not been a
Fife seat, I would never have gone for a seat at that point. It
was simply it was a Fife seat. I used to be Leader of the Fife
Council, Fife politics was what I was brought up on, if you like,
and therefore it was a chance I could not miss. As it turned out,
I did not get it but a friend of mine that I worked with in local
government for many years did get it, so that was that, and again
there was no sense of bitterness. There was disappointment but
233. But losing the job as General Secretary
must have affected your chances.
(Mr Rowley) No, I do not think so. At the end of the
day people say, "Why was it only a year?" If I want
to write a book on the year in the job, I am sure I would be able
to explain it, but from the point of view of this Committee I
did not leave that job with any bitterness whatsoever in terms
of the Labour Party.
234. So you can say very honestly, frankly and
openly, that although you were unhappy to lose the job, there
was no bitterness, you did not bear a grudge, you are not being
motivated by any sense of malice?
(Mr Rowley) There is a saying, "What's meant
for you won't go by you." I was disappointed, very disappointed,
to begin with, there is no doubt about that, but I tended to take
that perspective on it. Since then I have started working in a
lot of areas I had not worked in previously, with trade unions,
a lot of the work I am doing I am really enjoying, I have spent
the last year touring around England working for the TUC, I have
really enjoyed that, so there is no bitterness on my part in that
sense. I am very disappointed because I do believe had I been
given the opportunity, the Scottish Labour Party would have been
in a much stronger position now and its membership would be rising,
not falling, but I cannot prove that. My loyalty remains absolutely
to the Labour Party. We are making a difference and we will continue
to make a difference and that commitment remains.
235. Who do you think gave the story to Dean
Nelson? Who briefed Dean Nelson?
(Mr Rowley) I have my views on it.
236. Do you wish to share them with the Committee?
(Mr Rowley) If that is an appropriate question. If
you want me to give you my views, I will, but
237. You have said it was not you.
(Mr Rowley) It was definitely not me. There was nobody
more surprised than I when I got a phone call from Dean Nelson
and he started to tell me about it.
238. Can I clarify two things to start with?
First, the situation of the dual employment, can you explain to
me whether in your mind you see it as improper or unwise, that
differentiation, for someone to work part-time, say, for MPs and
part-time for the party, even though the jobs are clearly differentiated?
Do you still think that is improper?
(Mr Rowley) If there is a clear distinction between
both posts, a clear contrast for both posts, clear job descriptions
for both posts, my view would be that it was unwise. However,
what we did was clearly not proper. So that is the difference.
Any point there is a grey line, then you are better to be on the
safe side. I think it would be unwise but what we did was not
just unwise, it was not proper.
239. Certainly the rules do not preclude dual
employment as long as there are very clear lines between them.
The other point of clarification was because something you said
about Suzanne Hilliard came as a surprise to us. You said she
was employed by the Party, are you absolutely sure of that?
(Mr Rowley) No, I am not sure. I did say when the
Commissioner interviewed me as well that I was not sure of Suzanne
Hilliard's employment. I knew we employed her because she took
over the media monitor role for us. I am making an assumption.