MICHAEL Gove has been a very naughty boy.

The Communities Secretary has apologised after failing to register VIP hospitality he enjoyed at three football matches between 2020 and 2022.

The cabinet minister had been under investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after The Guardian revealed that he had failed to disclose the VIP hospitality he and his son had been provided by Queens Park Rangers football club and had not registered the gifts on the MPs register of interests, as he had been obliged to do by Commons rules.

In a report published on Monday, Standards Commissioner Daniel Greenberg found that Gove had breached Commons rules by failing to declare the hospitality within 28 days.

The failure relates to three separate occasions. He says it was an oversight but this was a repeated breach, not a one-off incident. Try three 'oversights' with the DWP as a benefits claimant and see where that gets you.

The DWP won't just accept your 'profuse apology' and move on. You'd face significant and harsh sanctions. Those are the draconian rules that Gove and his colleagues impose on others, but they won't accept facing similarly harsh sanctions when they break the rules themselves.

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But move along now, Gove has apologised, there's nothing to see here. It was an easy mistake to make and as Gove himself remarked after Tory mega-donor Frank Hester apologised for making racist and misogynistic remarks about Diane Abbott and wishing for her to be shot, we should show some 'Christian forgiveness.'

Gove clearly hopes that we will all empathise with him and do the same. After all, who among us has not had multiple free VIP trips to the football thanks to a man we personally recommended for a massive PPE deal and then forgotten to mention it despite clearly knowing the rules.

It's just a little oopsie, not governmental corruption at all. When you get so much free stuff it's easy to have numerous oversights.

Gove has also used MPs expenses to claim a £331 Chinon armchair, a £493 Manchu cabinet, a £135 pair of elephant lamps, a £35 foam cot mattress, a £30 door mat and patio furniture worth £219, all bought from a relation of David Cameron, who owned the shop.

When caught out Gove simply repaid the money and continued on untroubled in his career. He's used to free stuff.

The National: Michael Gove

We should sympathise with Michael and his memory lapses. Cocaine will do that to you.

His unfortunate oversight is certainly not something warranting serious sanctions, not like a benefits claimant who missed their appointment at the job centre because the privatised bus failed to turn up. They need to face severe consequences, and not like a Scottish Government minister whose teenage son ran up a £11,000 roaming charges bill watching football matches on an iPad, a bill which was fully paid back.

Christian forgiveness is something that only Conservative cabinet ministers and racist Tory donors should benefit from. After all, wasn't Jesus famously harsh on the poor and the disabled?

Yet another by-election looms for a beleaguered Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak's woes are continuing.

Tory MP Scott Benton has stood down as MP for Blackpool South with immediate effect after being found to have breached Parliamentary lobbying rules on numerous occasions. Benton had had the Tory whip removed after he was found to have offered to reporters, who were posing as investors, that he would lobby ministers in return for payments.

A subsequent parliamentary investigation concluded that Benton had breached lobbying rules and recommended a 35-day suspension from the House of Commons. This period of suspension is long enough to trigger the constituency recall petition process, but Benton decided to jump before he was pushed and there will now be a by-election in the constituency, most likely on 2 May, the same day as local and mayoral elections in England.

READ MORE: Fresh bid to have Keir Starmer investigated over SNP ceasefire vote

The Conservative majority in the constituency is 3,690, relatively slim by the standards of some other seats in which by-elections have recently been held and where far larger Conservative majorities were overturned.

Even under the best of circumstances Blackpool South would be a challenging by election for the Conservatives but with Labour far ahead in the polls and a government which is constantly mired in scandal, the Tories chances in this latest by-election are realistically zero. The only real question is the magnitude of their impending defeat.

Scottish celebrities demand UK end arms exports to Israel

A group of well know Scottish personalities from the worlds of acting, comedy and music have signed a joint letter calling for an immediate end to British arms exports to Israel amongst concerns that weaponry and ammunition produced in the UK is being used by Israel to commit war crimes in Gaza where over 32,000 people have now died since Israel began its assault on the Palestinian territory following the Hamas attacks on 7 October last year.

To put that death toll into a Scottish context, it is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Motherwell or Dumfries.

The open letter – coordinated by Oxfam – has been sent to both Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and warns that if the UK refuses to stop selling these arms, it is "complicit in the slaughter of civilians taking place daily in Gaza".

The UK is an important supplier of arms to Israel. Figures collated by the campaign group Campaign Against Arms Trade claim that the UK has licensed over £489 million worth of military exports to Israel since 2015.

Scots stars Brian Cox, Annie Lennox, and Frankie Boyle have all signed the letter as have comedian and presenter Nish Kumar, Aisling Bea, and singer Paloma Faith. Scottish Green co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie and Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth have also put their names to the letter.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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