If, as expected, Stephen Deans steps down as chairman of the Labour Party in Falkirk three weeks from now, it will end his troubled time in the post, but it is unlikely to put an end to the crisis that the vote-rigging allegations have caused in the party, locally and nationally.
In the words of local party member Gray Allan, there have been umpteen reports, allegations and suppositions, but still no resolution. "We need to rebuild what is a damaged organisation," said Mr Allan.
And the damage has been considerable; there is no question of that. The news that Mr Deans, who is also an official with the union Unite, is not expected to stand again as chairman in Falkirk followed his resignation from his job at the Grangemouth refinery. There, over a number of weeks, the allegations he used company time and resources to pursue his attempt to have Unite's preferred candidate selected to fight the Falkirk West seat escalated to the point where the future of the refinery itself was in doubt, along with the jobs of hundreds of people. Disaster was only narrowly avoided.
Now the consequences for the Labour Party are becoming clearer. Over the weekend, more allegations have emerged around hundreds of emails sent to and received by Mr Deans which contain extracts from Labour's report into the vote-rigging crisis. The report appears to suggest there were problems with more than 100 applications to join the party and the associated direct debits; there are also allegations signatures were forged. In the end, Mr Deans and Unite were cleared of wrongdoing, but only after witnesses who were central to the case withdrew their evidence.
The departure of Mr Deans, although the right decision,will not put an end to these allegations and the uncertainty over what really happened. Longer term, the unsavoury episode has the potential to do considerable damage to Labour and the authority of the leader Ed Miliband and the Scottish leader Johann Lamont.
As far as Ms Lamont is concerned, local party members in Falkirk have understandably expressed their disappointment with her. Labour rules mean the UK party is in charge of the selection process for Westminster elections, but Ms Lamont should not hide behind such technicalities. She is the leader of the party in Scotland and Falkirk is a crisis of the party in Scotland. Her inaction has done nothing for her reputation and exposed the limits of her authority.
Mr Miliband must also act swiftly if his reputation is not to be damaged by this affair. He did well in announcing reforms to his party's relationship with the unions, but his continued refusal to publish the report into the Falkirk crisis is unsustainable. Furthermore, the party will have to reopen the investigation if it is to get to the bottom of the critical questions about who was signed up to the party and under what circumstances.
The departure of Stephen Deans removes the central player in this affair, but it cannot be the end of it. There must now be a thorough - and open - attempt by the Labour Party to get to the bottom of what happened.
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