After spending a night in the cells following a second drunken brawl in a House of Commons bar, Falkirk MP Eric Joyce should spare his constituents any further humiliation and resign his seat.
This week's fracas in which Mr Joyce reportedly wrestled with two police officers is an embarrassing re-run of the assault on Tory MPs at Westminster a year ago. That led to him being fined £3000 and banned from licensed premises for three months. Acknowledging that he was lucky not to be sent to jail, he undertook to address his drinking problem. He has clearly failed to do so.
He resigned from the Labour Party as it was preparing to expel him and continued to hold his Falkirk seat as an independent. He has said he will stand down at the next General Election in 2015 but after this week's shameful behaviour, that should happen immediately.
Any claim that he could still carry out important work for his constituents despite no longer representing the party on whose manifesto he was elected owed more to self-justification than democracy and is now untenable. His constituents should not be subjected to a further two years of sham representation.
As Dennis Canavan, who represented the constituency as a Labour MP and polled the largest majority in the first elections to the Scottish Parliament when he stood as an independent, observed yesterday, Mr Joyce's second disgrace is sad news but sadder still for the people of Falkirk.
Although Mr Joyce has said his aggression is the result of alcohol, that is no excuse for violence, whether by a Member of Parliament or a member of the public. He has been banned from buying alcohol in the House of Commons but clearly needs specialist help and should now seek it.
As an MP, Mr Joyce cannot be forced out of office but this arrest and other examples of unacceptable or criminal behaviour by politicians should lead Parliament and the political parties to consider if new procedures are required to enable elected representatives to be recalled from office if they break the bonds of trust with the electorate.
In this case, there is no political organisation to make that decision. Mr Joyce should therefore recognise that his position as MP for Falkirk is no longer sustainable and, for the sake of his constituents, resign before the growing clamour for his departure adds to his ignominy. The only way to ensure the interests of democracy are served is to hold a by-election as soon as possible.
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