Friday 5 March 2021

Did Sturgeon want a criminal to lead an independent Scotland?


During the day of the referendum in September 2014 Alex Salmond thought Yes had won. Polls and momentum were with the SNP. David Cameron was panicking. We might have woken up to a world where Alex Salmond was the First Minister of an independent Scotland in March 2016. In that case would he have been investigated and eventually charged with sexual assault and attempted rape only a year later?

The alleged offences that Mr Salmond was charged with and acquitted happened between 2008 and 2014. If what the women accusers said was true, then the person Nicola Sturgeon campaigned to be the first leader of an independent Scotland in centuries was a man who assaulted women. Was she wrong to campaign alongside him? If so, she ought to apologise to all of us.

Sturgeon accepts that Salmond was acquitted but maintains that he behaved badly to various women. But in that case, she wanted the first leader of an independent Scotland to be someone who behaved badly towards women. Every member of the SNP who campaigned for independence in 2014, who accepts Sturgeon’s version of events wanted a man who caused nine women to complain about sexual assault or worse to be the leader of an independent Scotland. When do they apologise for this?

The only alternative to this version of events is that what the women accused Salmond of was untrue. This is essentially what the jury believed. If the jury had believed the events that the women accused Salmond of doing had taken place, they would have convicted him. It may be that Salmond sometimes behaved badly, but the jury believed he did nothing criminal.  But to believe that he did nothing criminal is to believe that the events the women described did not happen.

So, the SNP are on the horns of a dilemma. Either Salmond assaulted women, but was lucky enough to get away with it, in which case it was monstrous that they wanted him to lead an independent Scotland, or the accusation of criminality was untrue, in which case why was there an investigation of Salmond beginning in November 2017.

We can assume that there would have been no investigation of First Minister Salmond in 2017 if he was the first leader of an independent Scotland. There might have been statues of him, but not court cases. What changed because he lost the referendum in 2014? The main thing that changed for him was that he ceased to be First Minister and leader of the SNP and was replaced by Nicola Sturgeon.

So why was there an investigation in November 2017? It is worth remembering that the initial Harvey Weinstein revelations started on 5th October 2017. A month or so later the procedure for dealing with complaints was changed to include former ministers and not long after that an investigation began to search for people who might have been sexually assaulted by Salmond.

Now either Sturgeon wanted to elect a monster as the first leader of an independent Scotland or the allegations against Salmond were untrue. But if the allegations were untrue, how did it come about that nine women witnesses came forward. Did this just happen spontaneously? But why would women put themselves to the trouble of describing a series of untrue events against Salmond? Did they all just happen to come forward or were they encouraged? To suppose that what the women said was untrue, and otherwise Sturgeon wanted a monster leading Scotland, is to suppose that there was a guiding hand behind the women coming forward. It is highly unlikely that nine women would make up stories just for the sake of it.

The courts decided that the investigation by the Scottish Government into Salmond was tainted with bias and awarded him more than half a million in costs. It was biased because the person in charge of the investigation knew those involved beforehand. But it was biased in another way. It only took place at all because Salmond lost the referendum in 2014. If Nicola Sturgeon had not been First Minister, there would have been no investigation biased or otherwise. But not only would there have been no investigation, there would have been no accusations. It is unimaginable that the nine women would have accused the first leader of an independent Scotland of sexual assault during the years prior to that referendum, not least because it is reasonable to assume that many if not most of them were independence supporters or SNP members.

What this means is that if Alex Salmond had been sent to jail, he would have essentially been sent to jail for losing the independence referendum in 2014, which is a harsh punishment for losing an election.

We know that Nicola Sturgeon was and is sympathetic to #Metoo. We know that there was only an investigation into Salmond because she was First Minister.  We know that the Scottish Government forced the women accusers to go to the police and various text messages suggest that people close to Sturgeon like her husband Peter Murrell were opposed to Salmond and keen for the police investigate him. But we are supposed to believe that Sturgeon was not involved in any of this, knew absolutely nothing and had no view or even knowledge of Mr Salmond’s behaviour.

If the accusations against Salmond were true, then women who closely worked with Salmond and probably Sturgeon too were regularly sexually assaulted for many years up to the referendum in 2014. Either Sturgeon knew nothing about this, in which case we may wonder why women were so unwilling to confide in her or she was well aware of Salmond’s behaviour but chose to ignore it because winning independence was more important. If allegations of sexual harassment against Salmond had become known in 2014 it would have destroyed the Yes campaign.

If Salmond had really been harassing women for years prior to 2014 it is as unimaginable that rumours would not have reached Sturgeon just as rumours about Weinstein were known years before he was finally accused.

But if Salmond had done nothing criminal, which the jury believed, how was it that an investigation into him started. We know that it would not have started if he led an independent Scotland. It only started because he lost in 2014 resigned and was replaced with Sturgeon. Yet we are supposed to believe she knew nothing about it and was not involved.

If Salmond did nothing criminal, then not only the investigation into him was unjust, but the court case should never have gone to trial at all. In that case Sturgeon should apologise to Salmond and to the rest of us for wasting so much public money.

If on the other hand the women who accused Salmond of criminal acts were telling the truth, then Sturgeon like every other SNP politician in 2014 wanted a monster to become the leader of an independent Scotland and wanted that even though there were rumours widely known in the party about him.

We don’t know the ultimate truth about what Alex Salmond did or did not do. There are a variety of versions of events. But either Salmond was justly acquitted or unjustly. Sturgeon’s Government either unjustly went after an innocent man, or she wanted a sexual predator to be the leader of an independent Scotland. Either way she can no longer evade responsibility by claiming implausibly that she knows nothing.